Eliminate This Risk to Your Sales Momentum        
By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Your team has pushed hard to get a successful product launch.  There is intense focus on Sales & Marketing to take the ball now to close on ever greater numbers of sales.  There is nothing like being ‘out-of-stock’ to put a crimp in your sales momentum.  With a little bit of […]
          International Team Leadership: A Real Life Case Study in How Not to Be the Ugly American        
By :  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Taking the time to meet with and understand the culture of your international partners goes a long way to boosting you entire team’s efficiency.  The following case study demonstrates the value of cultural sensitivity when leading an international team. Case Study:  (some details intentionally left vague to provide anonymity for […]
          Are we there yet? The Secret to Keeping your Company on Track        
By: Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Every summer as a kid, my family would pile in the car and drive to beautiful Lake Champlain, Vermont for a week of fun and relaxation.  The car ride itself felt like a quick detour to the 9th circle of a place a little less nice than Lake Champlain.  This was […]
          Review: ‘Pink Ribbons, Inc.’        
Indignant and subversive, "Pink Ribbons, Inc." resoundingly pops the shiny pink balloon of the breast cancer movement/industry, debunking the "comfortable lies" and corporate double-talk that permeate the massive and thus-far-ineffectual campaign against a disease that claims nearly 60,000 lives each year in North America alone.
          Cara Memperbanyak Teman di Facebook Dalam 5 Menit        

1. Masuk ke http://www.facebook.com/invite.php?ref=tn
2. Copy Seluruh Email Di bawah.
3. Paste di kolom Kepada atau To
4. Klik Undang atau Invite... teman anda akan bertambah dalam sekejap.

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chances_here@yahoo.co.uk, nemesisx2r@hotmail.com, ecstasio@ecstasio.com, pablocarbonell@hotmail.com, carol.mills@uky.edu, augchoi@hotmail.com, airslant@yahoo.com, facebook@dovesforlove.com,albertphilip@yahoo.com, dayday2@charter.net, andy.wynne@live.co.uk, jdmtalon@live.com, hazelalki3@aim.com, Muhammad.synyster@gmail.com,rapiduntouhables@gmail.com, siavach@gmail.com, vinay_bgh@rediffmail.com, w-cc@live.ca, Kindredsins@hotmail.com, A_roc636@yahoo.com, hazon-midion@hotmail.com,whuzupgirl23@hotmail.com, chris__keating@hotmail.com, inoca_14@yahoo.com, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com,courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com,Ombada@gmail.com,a.r.o2006@hotmail.com,aloyaal@hotmail.com,,j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com,raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,j.danson@sky.com, jennaneddie@gmail.com,roydebroy@yahoo.co.in, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, meiallen76@yahoo.com.au,wesprayconcreting@aapt.net.au, dpa36709@bigpond.net.au,pykeybaby@hotmail.com,darkshadow7827@aol.com, trubin54@yahoo.com,steverichards1@btinternet.com,lwnshed@aim.com, herry.limanto@imperial.ac.uk, mobbywars@gmail.com, bravesboston@netscape.net, landon_89@hotmail.com, tangiblewhisper@gmail.com, rrw2659@email.vccs.edu, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com, courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com, raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com, jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, Muhammad.synyster@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net, ginoboscariol@hotmail.com, pjcogar@yahoo.com, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, trywoody@hotmail.com, hulagirl0475@yahoo.com, jjojay@hotmail.co.uk,eli_cmk@hotmail.com, wnogay@sewickley.org, kdlowe@tstc.net, bruzer08@hotmail.com, scott.fields@gmail.com, glyphs@live.ca, ilhamsyah03@hotmail.com, rblessum@csu.fullerton.edu, ty_man10_15_10@hotmail.com, shay.graham@gmail.com, calluch@hotmail.com, united_clansmen@yahoo.ca, maxchicky2k03@sky.com, ryshtyanna@gmail.com, bruchart@gmail.com, drakus_burton@yahoo.ca, krystein@yahoo.com, miss_jordanna_lee@yahoo.com, miss_jordanna_lee@yahoo.ca, allisonmobwar@gmail.com, angelamobwar@gmail.com, ashmobwar@gmail.com, babemobwar@gmail.com, babsmobwar@gmail.com, bootymobwar@gmail.com, caponemobwar@gmail.com, candymobwar@gmail.com, chastitymobwar@gmail.com, danamobwar@gmail.com, mdtrout1983@aol.com, studio65graphics@hotmail.com, celvinsa@hotmail.co.uk, clarke187@gmail.com, darkzide79@hotmail.com, rlph_wiggins@yahoo.com, vey5001@psu.edu, dnathe4th@gmail.com, mblake@mix.wvu.edu, roger.lightbody@systoc.com, elementboarder319@yahoo.com, damatman@hotmail.com, benboccio@yahoo.com, korebuster@hotmail.com, fluffythepig69@hotmail.com, sarthebears@gmail.com, dickinsonja@hotmail.com, jferena@willschreiber.com, dvanvechten@gmail.com, tferena@willschreiber.com, wferena@willschreiber.com, mferena@willschreiber,com, rferena@willschreiber.com, eferena@willschreiber.com, deamonkateyez@gmail.com, lawrencetkc@hotmail.com, lawrencetkc1@gmail.com, pasiegosoriano@hotmail.com, alvintks@gmail.com, k.p.w74@hotmail.com, amalone13@hotmail.co.uk, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com, medy2kv@hotmail.com, s18bsa@hotmail.com, rblessum@csu.fullerton.edu, apmatte@cogeco.ca, co_1nk@hotmail.com, r.i.o@hotmail.com, freak1ofnature@yahoo.com, hillkids27@hotmail.com, sandyhill1@hotmail.com,ben_loves_jess@hotmail.com, jenta23@hotmail.com, ibmanic@hotmail.com, darwin_tayson@yahoo.com, darkvash_23@yahoo.com, darwin.tayson@yahoo.com, dv_ichigo.kurosaki@yahoo.com, jovanjox@yahoo.com, william.illingworth@yahoo.com,amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com,frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com,courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com,raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net,donnydonny66@hotmail.com,ginoboscariol@hotmail.com,pjcogar@yahoo.com, joecramp123@hotmail.co.uk, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, xtremeganesh@hotmail.com, neo_inside@yahoo.com, rajer_94@yahoo.com; amsouthworth@hotmail.com,btassignon@gmail.com,mrbags@hotmail.com,danny.solomon@gmail.com, iacovus79@yahoo.com, kullest_destiny@hotmail.com, ,Ombada@gmail.com,a.r.o2006@hotmail.com,aloyaal@hotmail.com,psyrus_10@hotmail.com, damian_amberg@yahoo.com, gen711@aol.com, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com,mike_gil@sympatico.ca, riomenajang@yahoo.com,j enmcco@sbcglobal.net, jmcco@ku.edu, cubster_05@msn.com, tombeechey@hotmail.com, whuzupgirl23@hotmail.com, geocricket@gmail.com, q.oneil@gmail.com, usmarine07727@yahoo.com, ZBTChip@aol.com, Friendlys00@Yahoo.com, mammacobb5@yahoo.com, lovinglife2326@hotmail.com, xron010110@yahoo.com, jamdiscodj@hotmail.com, old-skool@hotmail.co.uk, dgboudreau1@yahoo.ca, jeburton3978@aol.com, kristine_pamplin@hotmail.com,raiyan00@yahoo.com,roydebroy@yahoo.co.in, neilmcse@hotmail.com,camdrums@hotmail.com, b6l0g4@yahoo.com, estremel@hotmail.com, tmmzc85@yahoo.com, trevor.okrafka@gmail.com, djuett1@mymail.slcc.edu,rezaul.hayat@gmail.com, ragnar_noi@hotmail.com,plaincat@gmail.com, UABlade@siu.edu, lawrencetkc@hotmail.com, lawrencetkc1@gmail.com, alvintks@gmail.com, we1hong@hotmail.com, pissedpanda@gmail.com,allanliewck@yahoo.com, mtclipTweedleDum@gmail.com, cookiedough_dynamo@hotmail.com,bevandkev101@hotmail.co.uk, calluch@hotmail.com,tonmoy_alam19@hotmail.com,vinay_bgh@rediffmail.com,enyaht_sivad190@hotmail.com,traceyx35@hotmail.com, john_young33@yahoo.com, kahyoon@gmail.com, A_roc636@yahoo.com, elizabethabauer@gmail.com,mblake@mix.wvu.edu, hazon-midion@hotmail.com, youngkiwis@gmail.com,midknyghtdrym2001@yahoo.com,rayan_a_s@hotmail.com, amalone13@hotmail.co.uk, silver.amir@yahoo.com, tma122@hotmail.com, discoverystore@gmail.com, m_843589@hotmail.com,sunnyy2k1025@hotmail.com,landon_89@hotmail.com, chiefbradd@aol.com, johnthemobster@yahoo.com, tangiblewhisper@gmail.com,gz410@verizon.net, rrw2659@email.vccs.edu, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com, amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net, shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com, courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com, raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net, ginoboscariol@hotmail.com,pjcogar@yahoo.com, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, gz410@verizon.net, hulagirl0475@yahoo.com, parso105@chapman.edu, the69na@hotmail.com, mshams115@yahoo.com, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com,LauraARogers@aol.com, kielcravatta@yahoo.com, danny.solomon@gmail.com, gibb.ie.27@hotmail.com, sszero1988@aol.com, blfletch@utk.edu, weechicky@gmail.com, peterlim80@yahoo.com, seb.tombeur@telenet.be, candice@doveforlove.com, bward10@vt.edu, kimmen_13@hotmail.com, alikatt@dovesforlove.com, justine@dovesforlove.com, andres.bardon@gmail.com, britcollins7@yahoo.com, rms_seymour@hotmail.com, my_name_is_chris@hotmail.co.uk, chances_here@yahoo.co.uk, nemesisx2r@hotmail.com, ecstasio@ecstasio.com, pablocarbonell@hotmail.com, carol.mills@uky.edu, augchoi@hotmail.com, airslant@yahoo.com, facebook@dovesforlove.com,albertphilip@yahoo.com, dayday2@charter.net, andy.wynne@live.co.uk, jdmtalon@live.com, hazelalki3@aim.com, rapiduntouhables@gmail.com, siavach@gmail.com, vinay_bgh@rediffmail.com, w-cc@live.ca, Kindredsins@hotmail.com, A_roc636@yahoo.com, hazon-midion@hotmail.com,whuzupgirl23@hotmail.com, chris__keating@hotmail.com, inoca_14@yahoo.com, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com,courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com,Ombada@gmail.com,a.r.o2006@hotmail.com,aloyaal@hotmail.com,,j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com,raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,j.danson@sky.com, jennaneddie@gmail.com,roydebroy@yahoo.co.in, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, meiallen76@yahoo.com.au,wesprayconcreting@aapt.net.au, dpa36709@bigpond.net.au,pykeybaby@hotmail.com,darkshadow7827@aol.com, trubin54@yahoo.com,steverichards1@btinternet.com,lwnshed@aim.com, herry.limanto@imperial.ac.uk, mobbywars@gmail.com, bravesboston@netscape.net, landon_89@hotmail.com, tangiblewhisper@gmail.com, rrw2659@email.vccs.edu, amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,amirco2@hotmail.com, voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com, frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com, courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com, raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com, jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net, ginoboscariol@hotmail.com, pjcogar@yahoo.com, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, trywoody@hotmail.com, hulagirl0475@yahoo.com, jjojay@hotmail.co.uk,eli_cmk@hotmail.com, wnogay@sewickley.org, kdlowe@tstc.net, bruzer08@hotmail.com, scott.fields@gmail.com, glyphs@live.ca, ilhamsyah03@hotmail.com, rblessum@csu.fullerton.edu, ty_man10_15_10@hotmail.com, shay.graham@gmail.com, calluch@hotmail.com, united_clansmen@yahoo.ca, maxchicky2k03@sky.com, ryshtyanna@gmail.com, bruchart@gmail.com, drakus_burton@yahoo.ca, krystein@yahoo.com, miss_jordanna_lee@yahoo.com, miss_jordanna_lee@yahoo.ca, allisonmobwar@gmail.com, angelamobwar@gmail.com, ashmobwar@gmail.com, babemobwar@gmail.com, babsmobwar@gmail.com, bootymobwar@gmail.com, caponemobwar@gmail.com, candymobwar@gmail.com, chastitymobwar@gmail.com, danamobwar@gmail.com, mdtrout1983@aol.com, studio65graphics@hotmail.com, celvinsa@hotmail.co.uk, clarke187@gmail.com, darkzide79@hotmail.com, rlph_wiggins@yahoo.com, vey5001@psu.edu, dnathe4th@gmail.com, mblake@mix.wvu.edu, roger.lightbody@systoc.com, elementboarder319@yahoo.com, damatman@hotmail.com, benboccio@yahoo.com, korebuster@hotmail.com, fluffythepig69@hotmail.com, sarthebears@gmail.com, dickinsonja@hotmail.com, jferena@willschreiber.com, dvanvechten@gmail.com, tferena@willschreiber.com, wferena@willschreiber.com, mferena@willschreiber,com, rferena@willschreiber.com, eferena@willschreiber.com, deamonkateyez@gmail.com, lawrencetkc@hotmail.com, lawrencetkc1@gmail.com, pasiegosoriano@hotmail.com, alvintks@gmail.com, k.p.w74@hotmail.com, amalone13@hotmail.co.uk, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com, medy2kv@hotmail.com, s18bsa@hotmail.com, rblessum@csu.fullerton.edu, apmatte@cogeco.ca, co_1nk@hotmail.com, r.i.o@hotmail.com, freak1ofnature@yahoo.com, hillkids27@hotmail.com, sandyhill1@hotmail.com,ben_loves_jess@hotmail.com, jenta23@hotmail.com, ibmanic@hotmail.com, darwin_tayson@yahoo.com, darkvash_23@yahoo.com, darwin.tayson@yahoo.com, dv_ichigo.kurosaki@yahoo.com, jovanjox@yahoo.com, william.illingworth@yahoo.com,amir_ben_abou@yahoo.com,voodoo.woman@comcast.net,shareanoxley@yahoo.com,frutariano@hotmail.com, devojkt@hotmail.com,courtneamore@yahoo.com, pchak420@yahoo.com, j_a_west@hotmail.co.uk, caron_sinclair@hotmail.com,raveslave@hotmail.co.uk, alexdo128@gmail.com, alexdo128@hotmail.com, voldemort_316@hotmail.com,jenjenwalters@gmail.com, kittpry@yahoo.com, courtneamore@gmail.com, jonathangibbs@adelphia.net, matt.shipstone@blueyonder.co.uk, jenjenwalters@yahoo.com, roarkssister@gmail.com, gogowhippets@yahoo.com, zenchar87@gmail.com, shocker1345@adelphia.net,donnydonny66@hotmail.com,ginoboscariol@hotmail.com,pjcogar@yahoo.com, joecramp123@hotmail.co.uk, kirstypeacey19@hotmail.com, perlauritzen@hotmail.com, lau-kile@online.no, kcattine@hotmail.com, kcattine@yahoo.com, xtremeganesh@hotmail.com, neo_inside@yahoo.com, rajer_94@yahoo.com; amsouthworth@hotmail.com,btassignon@gmail.com,mrbags@hotmail.com,danny.solomon@gmail.com, iacovus79@yahoo.com, kullest_destiny@hotmail.com, ,Ombada@gmail.com,a.r.o2006@hotmail.com,aloyaal@hotmail.com,psyrus_10@hotmail.com, damian_amberg@yahoo.com, gen711@aol.com, sweetlemon888@hotmail.com,mike_gil@sympatico.ca, riomenajang@yahoo.com,j enmcco@sbcglobal.net, jmcco@ku.edu, cubster_05@msn.com, tombeechey@hotmail.com, whuzupgirl23@hotmail.com, geocricket@gmail.com, q.oneil@gmail.com, usmarine07727@yahoo.com, ZBTChip@aol.com, Friendlys00@Yahoo.com, mammacobb5@yahoo.com, lovinglife2326@hotmail.com, xron010110@yahoo.com, jamdiscodj@hotmail.com, old-skool@hotmail.co.uk, dgboudreau1@yahoo.ca, jeburton3978@aol.com, kristine_pamplin@hotmail.com,raiyan00@yahoo.com,roydebroy@yahoo.co.in, neilmcse@hotmail.com,camdrums@hotmail.com, b6l0g4@yahoo.com, estremel@hotmail.com, tmmzc85@yahoo.com, trevor.okrafka@gmail.com, djuett1@mymail.slcc.edu,rezaul.hayat@gmail.com, ragnar_noi@hotmail.com,plaincat@gmail.com, UABlade@siu.edu, lawrencetkc@hotmail.com, lawrencetkc1@gmail.com, alvintks@gmail.com, we1hong@hotmail.com, pissedpanda@gmail.com,allanliewck@yahoo.com, mtclipTweedleDum@gmail.com, cookiedough_dynamo@hotmail.com,bevandkev101@hotmail.co.uk, 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          #Kellman20 - Emma Gannon        
CliffCentral.com — We are not confused - Arye Kellman and Emma Gannon debunk the theory of the Millennial crisis.
          You got your Syfy in my science        
An Animal Planet documentary, which the station insists was intended to be taken as science fiction, has forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to publicly deny the existence of mermaids. If you need me, I'll be out back, drinking whiskey and taking aim at the television.
          No, Formula Doesn’t Need Warming!        
And 5 other baby formula myths—debunked By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds—if not thousands—of myths in their 19 seasons on the air. If they talked about infant feeding, I must have missed that episode. Yet baby feeding has many pervasive myths—especially about infant formula. Here are five of […]
          Stop Going Nuts over Nut Allergies        
Perhaps the justifiable concern over the salmonella contamination in commercial peanut butter makes this a good time to address the wholly unjustified hysteria over faux allergies to peanuts, especially in children.

As someone who grew up on peanut butter and continues to consume it regularly, I am happy to bring you Salon's thorough debunking of the "peanuts will kill your children!" fear campaign.

In 2005, a 15-year old Canadian teenager named Christina Desforges kissed her boyfriend and died. Her death, reported around the world, was initially blamed on peanuts. Desforges was allergic to peanuts and her boyfriend had eaten peanut-butter toast hours before their deadly smooch.

Sudden death due to an allergic reaction to food is known as anaphylaxis. When you eat peanuts (or some offending food), you break out in hives, your face swells and your larynx constricts until you can no longer breathe, all in a matter of minutes.

Shocking. Tragic. Scary.

Desforges' story is the kind that has moved anxious parents, politicians and school board members to join a crusade against peanuts. Several states have passed laws mandating public schools be "peanut-free zones," and parents now hover over food labels with Draconian vigilance, checking and double-checking them for signs of peanuts. Could that knife that just cut the birthday cake have been in the vicinity of peanut butter?

Peanut-allergy panic has spread across the nation. In a recent essay, Harvard physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis relates an incident in which a peanut was spotted on the floor of a school bus, "whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10 year olds who, unlike 2 year olds, could actually be told not to eat off the floor."


But on closer examination, food allergies are not the epidemic we've been led to believe. FAAN's advocacy may have helped to create rules and laws that are based less on sound science than on a significant misrepresentation of facts. Ironically, by accepting these facts, we may be increasing our risk of developing food allergies.


Facts ought to be stubborn. In the past, Munoz-Furlong has stated that one child dying from an allergic is too many. But Harvard doctor Christakis, again, puts things into perspective. "There are no doubt thousands of parents who rid their cupboards of peanut butter but not of guns," he writes, comparing the alleged 150 children and adults who died from peanut allergies to the 1,300 who die from gun accidents each year. He goes on to note that 2,000 kids drown each year. Indeed, the most common cause of death in kids is accidents. "More children assuredly die walking or being driven to school each year than die from nut allergies," Christakis writes.


And what about Christina Desforges, the young girl who received the kiss from the peanut-contaminated lips of her boyfriend? She suffered from asthma and died of a severe asthma attack, likely triggered by smoke. A coroner reported that on the night she collapsed she had smoked marijuana and spent hours at a party where people were smoking pot and tobacco.

Read the whole thing.
          RE: ‘Some Debt is essential’ by Greg Neiman, July 23, 2014        
You’ve got to hand it to Greg Neiman, who managed to argue (presumably) with a straight face that Alberta’s plunge back into debt was not only necessary, but also “essential.” His commentary of July 23, 2014 made some incredible leaps of economic and fiscal faith that require a thorough debunking.
          Sick of Fundamentalism        
A professor who was going to teach a course debunking the “sicence” of Creationism (aka Intelligent Design) has cancelled his plans. No doubt, his words (“fundies”) were poorly chosen. But how does the University President get away with such strong condemnation of this professor’s words, without any condemnation of the repeated insanity preached by Fundamentalists? […]
          Comment on “Seeds of Progress” – Debunking the Creative Gene Theory by “Reason-Revelation Balance” – Revival of the spirit of enquiry in Islam | So Sail Away        
[...] is sufficient in itself, the full effect may only come from following the series:  article1 -> article2 -> article3 -> this article. - – - – - – - – - – - – - [...]
          Faith and Science, Falsely So-Called        

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the earliest days of the GTY Blog. As we recently culled through the ministry archives in preparation for a new blog series on God’s work of creation—which coincides with the broadcast of The Battle for the Beginning sermon series on “Grace to You”—we believed this post deserved further consideration.]

The apostle Paul closed his first epistle to Timothy by urging the young pastor to guard the deposit of truth that had been entrusted to him, “avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). In the King James Version, the text famously speaks of “science falsely so called."

Over the course of human history, all kinds of speculative ideas have been falsely labeled “science” and mistakenly accepted as true and reliable knowledge by otherwise brilliant people. The now-discredited dogmas of older scientific theories are numerous—and in some cases laughable. They include alchemy (the medieval belief that other base metals could be transmuted into gold); phrenology (the Victorian belief that the shape of one’s skull reflects character traits and mental capacity); astrology (the pagan belief that human destiny is determined by the motions of celestial bodies); and abiogenesis (the long-standing belief that living organisms are spontaneously generated by decaying organic substances). All those false beliefs were deemed credible as “science” by the leading minds of their times.

Consider just one of those—abiogenesis. Popularly known as “spontaneous generation,” this idea has long been, and continues to be, one of the archetypal expressions of “science falsely so called.” It is also one of the most persistent of all demonstrably pseudoscientific fictions. The notion that aphids arise naturally from dew on plant leaves, mold is generated automatically by aging bread, and maggots are spontaneously begotten by rotting meat was more or less deemed self-evident by most of humanity’s brightest intellects from the time of Aristotle until 1861, when Louis Pasteur conclusively proved that non-living matter cannot spawn life on its own.

Take for example Alexander Ross, an early seventeenth-century Scottish writer and intellectual who harshly criticized Sir Thomas Browne for questioning the dogma of spontaneous generation. Under the heading “Mice and other vermin bred of putrefaction, even in mens bodies,” he wrote:

He doubts whether mice can be procreated of putrefaction. So he may doubt whether in cheese and timber worms are generated; Or if Betels and wasps in cowes dung; Or if butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers, shel-fish, snails, eeles, and such like, be procreated of putrefied matter, which is apt to receive the form of that creature to which it is by the formative power disposed. To question this, is to question Reason, Sense, and Experience: If he doubts of this, let him go to Egypt, and there he will finde the fields swarming with mice begot of the mud of [the Nile]. [1]Alexander Ross, Arcana Microcosmi, (London: Newcomb, 1652), Book 2, Chapter 10, 156.]

It is one of the great ironies of scientific history that the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published exactly two years before Pasteur’s famous experiments proved that life cannot arise spontaneously from non-living matter. The publication of Darwin’s book marked the apotheosis of evolutionary theory, and it was rooted in the basic presupposition that under the right circumstances, life can spring on its own from non-living matter. In other words, two years before abiogenesis was scientifically debunked, it was in effect canonized as the central dogma of modern secular belief about the origins of life. The discovery that fleas don’t magically form out of decomposing dander on the backs of dirty dogs did not dissuade most in the scientific world from embracing the theory that all life in the universe arose by itself out of nothing. The belief that life spontaneously came from non-life remains to this day the great unexplained (albeit easily disprovable) assumption underlying the dogma of evolution.

The irony of that is utterly lost on many in the scientific community today, where evolution has become an article of faith—unshakable faith, it turns out.

Evolutionists have conveniently “solved” the problem of abiogenesis by repeatedly moving their estimates of the earth’s age backward toward infinity. Given enough time, it seems, anything is possible. Trying desperately to keep the biblical concept of eternity at bay, evolutionists have thus devised an alternative kind of infinitude. Every time a challenge to current evolutionary theory arises, geologists and astronomers dutifully tack billions and billions of eons onto their theories about the earth’s age, adding however many ancient epochs are deemed necessary for some new impossibility to be explained.

In the introduction to my 2001 book, The Battle for the Beginning, I suggested naturalism had become the dominant religion of contemporary secular society. “Religion is exactly the right word to describe naturalism,” I wrote. “The entire philosophy is built on a faith-based premise. Its basic presupposition—a rejection of everything supernatural—requires a giant leap of faith. And nearly all its supporting theories must be taken by faith as well.” [2] John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning, (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001), 11.

Here, then, is a classic example of what I was talking about: the typical evolutionist’s starting point is this notion that life arose spontaneously from inanimate matter sometime in eternity past. That requires not merely the willful suspension of what we know for certain about the origins of life and the impossibility of abiogenesis—but also enough deliberate gullibility to believe that moving-target estimates of the earth’s antiquity can sufficiently answer all the problems and contradictions sheer naturalism poses.

Meanwhile, in the popular media, evolutionary doctrine and ever-expanding notions of prehistory are being promoted with all the pious zeal of the latest religious sect. Watch the Internet forums, programs on the Discovery Channel, interviews and articles published in the mass media, school textbooks, and books aimed at lay readers—and what you will usually see is raw assertions, demagoguery, intimidation, and ridicule (especially when the subjects of biblical theism and the Genesis account of creation are raised).

But question the dogma that all life evolved from a single spontaneously-generated cell, point out that the universe is full of evidence for intelligent design, or demand the kind of proof for evolutionary origins that would ordinarily pass scientific muster, and the ardent evolutionist will simply dismiss you as a heretic or a bigot of the worst stripe. What they are tacitly acknowledging is that as far as they are concerned, evolution is a doctrine that must be received with implicit faith, not something that can be scientifically demonstrated. After all, the claims of true science can always be investigated, observed, reproduced, tested, and proved in the laboratory. So to insist that evolution and so-called “deep time” doctrines must be accepted without question is really just a tacit admission that these are not scientific ideas at all.

Consider these quotations from typical evolutionist writers:

  • No biologist today would think of submitting a paper entitled “New evidence for evolution;” it simply has not been an issue for a century. [3] Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 2nd ed., (Boston: Sinauer Associates, 1986), 15.
  • It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory. . . . All present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts. [4] R. C. Lewontin, “Evolution/creation debate: A time for truth,” Bioscience (1981), 31:559.
  • Here is what separates real scientists from the pseudoscientists of the school of intelligent design. . . . One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity’s sake, let’s stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact. [5] Richard Dawkins, “The Illusion of Design,” Natural History (November 2005), 53.

But as those statements themselves show, evolution is a dogma, not a demonstrable “fact.” I stand by the position I took in The Battle for the Beginning: “Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. [It is] as much a religion as any theistic world-view.” [6] The Battle for the Beginning, 12.

I’ll go even further: science cannot speak with any authority about when the universe began, how it came into being, or how life originated on earth. Science by definition deals with what can be observed, tested, measured, and investigated by empirical means. Scientific data by definition are facts that can be demonstrated by controlled, repeatable experiments that always yield consistent results. The beginning of the universe by its very nature falls outside the realm of scientific investigation.

To state the case plainly: there is no scientific way to explain creation. No one but God actually observed creation. It did not happen by any uniform, predictable, observable, repeatable, fixed, or natural laws. It was not a natural event or a series of natural events. The initial creation of matter was an instantaneous, monumental, inexplicable miracle—the exact opposite of a “natural” phenomenon. And the formation of the universe was a brief series of supernatural events that simply cannot be studied or explained by science. There are no natural processes involved in creation; the act of creation cannot be repeated; it cannot be tested; and therefore naturalistic theories purporting to explain the origin and age of the universe are unverifiable.

In other words, creation is a theological issue, not a scientific one. Scripture is our only credible source of information about creation, because God Himself was the only eyewitness to the event. We can either believe what He says or reject it. But no Christian should ever imagine that what we believe about the origin of the universe is merely a secondary, nonessential, or incidental matter. It is, after all, the very starting point of God’s self-revelation.

In fact, in its profound brevity, Genesis 1:1 is a very simple, clear, and unequivocal account of how the universe, the earth, and everything on the earth came to be: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That is not an ambiguous statement.

Christians should not be intimidated by dogmatic naturalism. We do not need to invent a new interpretation of Genesis every time some geologist or astronomer declares that the universe must be older than he previously thought. Nor should we imagine that legitimate science poses any threat to the truth of Scripture. Above all, we must not seek ways to circumvent the clear meaning of God’s Word, compromise our trust in the Creator, or continually yield ground to every new theory of falsely-so-called science. That is precisely what Paul was warning Timothy about.

Sadly, it seems evolutionary thinking and qualms about the Genesis account of creation have reached epidemic levels among professing Christians in recent decades. Too many Christian leaders, evangelical schools, and Bible commentators have been willing to set aside the biblical account of a relatively young earth in order to accommodate the ever-changing estimates of naturalistic geologists and astronomers. They have thrown away sound hermeneutical principles—at least in the early chapters of Genesis—to accommodate the latest theories of evolution.

When I encounter people who think evolutionary doctrine trumps the biblical account of creation, I like to ask them where their belief in the Bible kicks in. Is it in chapter 3, where the fall of Adam and original sin are accounted for? In chapters 4-5, where early human history is chronicled? In chapters 6-8, with the record of the flood? In chapter 11, with the Tower of Babel? Because if you bring naturalism and its presuppositions to the early chapters of Genesis, it is just a short step to denying all the miracles of Scripture—including the resurrection of Christ. If we want to make science the test of biblical truth rather than vice versa, why would it not make just as much sense to question the biblical record of the resurrection as it does to reject the Genesis account? But “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).



          A New Approach to Helping Journalism Non-Profits at the IRS        

Today, the Digital Media Law Project has launched a new version of its resources for journalism organizations seeking a Section 501(c)(3) tax exemption for the IRS. As a project, we have been concerned with non-profit journalism from the beginning, providing informational resources for news ventures seeking to form as non-profits. Since the launch of our attorney referral service, the Online Media Legal Network, in late 2009, about a third of our clients have been non-profit journalism organizations; more have been individuals or for-profits interested in starting a non-profit news venture. We have worked with more than forty groups to find counsel to assist them in applying to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status.

But the path to tax-exempt status has not always run smooth. From 2010 to 2012, the IRS was reevaluating its standards for journalism organizations, causing these organizations to face long delays while struggling to stay afloat without an exemption in place. In fact, the now-infamous IRS "BOLO" lists flagged "newspaper entities" for special scrutiny [PDF] as of  February 2011. Several journalism applicants were questioned by the IRS about various aspects of their operation, without understanding why the IRS was interested in those issues -- and sometimes those questions seemed to verge into areas that should have been irrelevant under federal law. To help applicants satisfy IRS scrutiny, in April 2012 the DMLP released a detailed guide to the agency's decision-making process for granting tax exemptions to journalism non-profits.

In late 2012, it appeared that the logjam at the IRS was beginning to break, with a couple of high-profile applications accepted after delays of more than two years, and a steady stream of additional applications granted since then. And yet, the process remains complex, and there is substantial confusion about both how to obtain Section 501(c)(3) status and what that status allows you to do. For that reason, Eric Newton of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation reached out to the DMLP and offered Knight's support for the development of a video debunking some of the more common myths and misconceptions, which we're pleased to present here (thanks also to Dan Jones, Digital Media Producer for the Berkman Center, and Ogmog Creative):

It has also become clear to us that the journalism organizations which have the easiest time finding a lawyer to help with a Section 501(c)(3) application, and succeed most frequently at the IRS, are those that take the time to study the 501(c)(3) process and the agency's standards before they apply. For that reason, we have launched a new collection of resources to help news organizations prepare to face the IRS, including: a checklist to help journalists decide if Section 501(c)(3) status is right for them; an updated section of our Legal Guide on the Section 501(c)(3) application process; our detailed guide to IRS decision-making for journalism non-profits; and an archive of successful application materials from news organizations that have obtained their tax-exempt status.

None of these resources is intended to allow a journalism non-profit to go it alone; with all that has happened at the IRS, the agency process is too tangled for a news venture to expect success without professional assistance. These resources will help journalism ventures to better understand what the agency is looking for, so that they can adjust their operations properly and be prepared to work with an attorney. 

Non-profit journalism has the potential to address public information needs that are simply not profitable for a for-profit news organization to cover -- and there is no better time to launch resources intended to help bring information of public importance to light than the beginning of Sunshine Week. And at 1 p.m. Eastern on April 10, 2014, the DMLP will be holding a one-hour online session open to the public where you can ask questions about these resources and the application process; connection details will be posted on the DMLP homepage on April 10, so be sure to come back then.

The Digital Media Law Project is based at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The DMLP produces a wide range of legal resources for independent online journalism projects and media ventures, including its multistate Legal Guide and topic-specific resources developed to respond to breaking legal issues affecting online speech.

Subject Area: 


Peter Sloep says "No". I find his argument unconvincing. 

Sloep argues that third world higher education will shift from their own native universities to MOOC Learning Centers conveying contents from the West, shaped by corporate, rather than individual or public, interests.

There are two problems with his argument. 

First, there is no evidence provided that universities in developing countries are closing down - the key to Sloep's argument. Instead, many international students are supplementing their native educations with MOOCs, while many others are using them for continuing professional education - and some without access to existing agencies of higher education are using them to educate themselves. So the leading premise of Sloep's case seems false.

Second, Sloep ignores the corporate capture of conventional institutions of higher education. There is a huge literature on the topic Sheila Slaughter introduced a couple of decades ago under the rubric "Academic Capitalism". The idea that universities, even state operated universities, are run in the interests of their individual students, the public interest or the interests of the liberal state, has been entirely debunked with data across many countries. Slaughter and her co-workers have shown that on many dimensions of education, and across all classes of participants in universities, corporate interests now dominate and universities as organizations are mimicking corporate behaviors. The Idea that MOOCs represent a shift from the professional and scholar- run agencies to those of corporations serving their own narrow interests is as a result a non-starter.

Besides, new MOOC platforms such as MOOC.org provide all individuals and groups with the technical means to mount any courses they wish. Aggregation sites like open culture  are making MOOCs on all platforms readily accessible globally. No one platform - indeed, no one MOOC format - will dominate.

MOOCs as an institutional innovation are in the earliest stages of their development, and no one can predict how they will play out - there are simply too many causal forces at work. The democratising force of MOOCs is yet unknown. 

But one possibility is the exact reverse of what Sloep predicts - groups of scholars joining to provide a 'counter-education' to the one shaped in corporate interests - that is, an education shaped by communities of scholars and not by universities operating in the academic capitalist mode. The costs of entry will be low, and certifying agencies like ACE will lose all credibility if they discriminate against these MOOCs in favor of the corporate-dominated ones.
          Debunking the app’s demise: Data from 74 million smartphones tells the real story        

Toward the end of 2014, comScore announced that the average number of apps most American smartphone users download per month had reached “zero.” It was a “too good to be true” stat that sparked a slew of articles from the likes of Quartz, Business Insider, and Time. The citations continue today, with articles as recent […]

          Reactions to the Irish financial crisis        
Kevin O’Rourke sees it as almost a kind of bereavement: It is one thing to know that someone you love is terminally ill; their death still comes as a shock. I certainly don’t want to compare the arrival of the EU-IMF team in Dublin last week to a bereavement. But I was surprised at how […]
          The less-visible effects of workplace demographic changes        
Monty points out that we’ve passed a significant equilibrium point in employment statistics: Women are vital to the American workforce, and have been since at least the 1940’s, but this recession may have shifted the balance of economic power decisively to women. Men have been the traditional household “breadwinners”, with the wife’s income being seen […]
          Music Nights at Cafe Rozella        

The Music Nights at Cafe Rozella continue with some outstanding performers. Performances start at 7 p.m. on Fridays.

Alma Villegas brings her sultry voice to an exquisite and passionate selection of Latin favorites. Friday August 15th at 7 p.m.

From the bouncy feel of Perfidia to the passionate tango version of Besame Mucho and the salsa sound of Mi Tierra these selections have entertained and captured audiences internationally for decades.

Alma Villegas and her band have performed for five years at various venues including Dulces Latin Bistro, Serafina, Bouchée Café in Fremont, St. Clouds, Misto Café, Mamey’s Cuban Café, Madrid, The Tractor Tavern, El Sombrero, The Sitting Room, Julia’s, the Musicquarium at the Triple Door and Jazz Alley. And, of course, Alma is a regular at Cafe Rozella.
Children of the Revolution's Acoustic Trio Friday, August 22nd at 7 p.m.

"When you go to a Children of the Revolution show, you might as well leave your preconceptions about world music at the door" wrote Tina Potterf of the Seattle Times. Fans will usually say something like, "That was the best live show I've ever been to; I don't quite know how to describe it." From Bozeman Montana to the caves of Granada, Spain, from Istanbul to Taiwan, COTR make life-long fans wherever they go.

They can loosely be compared to such breakaway and high-energy world music artists such as Ozomatli, Gipsy Kings, Santana, Manu Chau and the Afro Celt Sound System, but all similarities stop there. Made up of virtuoso musicians, singers and dancers from around the world, COTR blend their Flamenco, Greek, and Rock roots creating, a lush and melodic sound driven by infectious Latin and Middle-Eastern grooves.

The group is fronted by lead singer Vassili, who grew up on the Greek Islands, and former metal head turned flamenco guitarist Eric Jaeger. Sharing the spotlight is Barcelona-born flamenco dancer Encarnación. Their electrifying and sexy concerts showcase outstanding musicianship and songwriting with world-class dance performances. Both world music aficionados and those new to the genre agree - COTR puts on one of the most unifying and entertaining shows in the world.

Guest artists both live and recorded have included legendary rock singer, Ann Wilson of
In less than two years, COTR went from playing small clubs to filling some of the Northwests most prestigious theaters such as Meany Hall, Benaroya Hall and the 3,000-seat Paramount Theater.

COTR is a consistent audience favorite of major festivals in the region such as Folklife, Vancouver Folk Festival, Bumbershoot and Montanas Sweetpea Festival, 3-6,000 people can be seen dancing and singing at these shows. Eleftheria (the Greek word for freedom) is their anthem that ends the show and ALWAYS gets the crowd jumping in unison!

COTR have the achievements, experience and systems in place to create a totally new movement in popular music. They have toured extensively through the Northwest and Canada and have been invited to perform at very special historical events such as; the first Western band invited to play for the Buddhas Birthday in Taiwan for over 30,000 people, the Government Leaders conference (organized by Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen) in Seattle at Experience Music Project, opening for former President Bill Clinton at his "We the People" speech in Seattle in 2006, and KROCKs 2005 Tsunami Relief benefit concert headlined by surviving members of Alice in Chains and Heart. COTRs concert DVD has aired on numerous PBS stations across the country and select tracks from their album, Liberation appear on Putumayo Records compilations.

After spending five months in Europe where they performed and studied with Flamenco masters in Spain, Rye singers in Morocco and Turkish musicians in Istanbul, COTR returned to record their latest CD, Life, Love and Guantanamo Bay. The album is an artistic breakthrough for Children of the Revolution and promises to bring them into the international spotlight.


Eduardo Mendonca’s exuberant energy always gets the house on its feet to his Brazilian beat!

Friday August 29th at 7 p.m.

A native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Eduardo traces his lineage to a royal African family bearing the hereditary title of Mama Beka (”prophet of the royal court”), as documented by the Instituto Geográfico e Histórico da Bahia. Eduardo Mendonça has lived for the past ten years in the Seattle area. He began performing in Seattle, and traveling throughout the United States and Canada with the Bakra Bata steel drum band. Now, he has his own group known as Show Brazil!, which has gained much recognition in the past ten years. Show Brazil! has played throughout Western Washington and Brazil at events and locations such as the Folklife Festival, Bumbershoot, Seattle Children's International Festival, BrasilFest, Redmond Arts in the Parks, Taste of Bellevue, Hispanic/Latin Month, Fiestas Patrias, Fall Fandango, Fat Tuesday, Sundiata Festival, World Rhythm Festival, Earth Day Festival, West Seattle Street Festival, Marymoor Heritage Festival, Brazilian Carnaval, Burien Strawberry Festival, Edmonds Festival, Mercado Modêlo (Brazil), Itaigara and Piedade Malls (Brazil), and the Catholic University of Salvador (Brazil).

Eduardo was also featured at Bumbershoot in Seattle, as guest artist of the internationally well-known performing group OLODUM, opening act for Olodum at the Brazilian Carnival in 2003 (Seattle, WA); the Brazilian Carnival in Vancouver- British Columbia - Canada; the Brazilian Carnival in Calgary - Alberta - Canada; the Brazilian Carnival in Seattle - WA - US; and at a Nike-sponsored show in Portland, Oregon. The performances listed above are just a part of Eduardo’s continued success as a performing artist. He also had the honor to play for Pope John Paul II’s welcome to Brazil, former South Africa President Nelson Mandela (Seattle,WA - USA - 1999), Brazilian President João Baptista Figueiredo (Brazil 1979), and was also featured in a Paul Simon documentary video in 1991.

- Eduardo is voting member of National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences - GRAMMY.

-Eduardo Mendonça is winner of “Outstanding Brazilian Male Singer based in the U.S.” for the Brazilian International Press Award 2007 (Florida)

- Winner of “Tribute for Excellence and Achievements in Advancement of Performing Arts and Education of the Brazilian Music in 2006” - Centro Cultural Hispano Americano and University of Washington;

- Eduardo is winner of Aspasia Phoutrides Pulakis Memorial Award 2005 for his significant contributions to the Brazilian Community and the community at-large of the Northwest
Charanga Danzón is a fluid ensemble of wonderful musicians, with a repertoire of Cuban music including traditional charanga, son/danzón, cha-cha-chá, classical, and jazz.
Friday, September 5th at 7 p.m.


REPTET brings their award-winning and energetic jazz to Rozella.

Friday September 12th at 7 p.m.

Reptet is a sextet consisting of six multi-instrumentalists all of whom are members of the internationally acclaimed Monktail Creative Music Concern based out of Seattle, WA. They have established themselves as a group of considerable excitement, flair and vision while simultaneously debunking preconceived notions of what a jazz group ought to be. Their music has been aired on radio stations across the United States and Europe, and their members have toured internationally. The arts organization Earshot Jazz has described them as, “A hot progressive combo of Seattle's best young players. Their music is intense, taut, and fresh.” With the release of their second full length CD Do This!, Reptet has established themselves as an irrepressible force in modern jazz.

Press Quotes
“This Seattle sextet does it all: it grooves, it rocks, it squawks - occasionally, it even talks. Mostly, it sounds like a New Orleans jazz band on crystal meth.” ~Alex Gelfand’s Critics pick for the best release of 2006, Jazziz Magazine~

“Trumpeter Samantha Boshnack's open voicings, jaunty tempos and buoyant timbral mixes for two winds and two brass have a friendly monster feel that conjures a bittersweet and elegiac mood of orchestral grandeur.” ~Downbeat~

“A juggernaut jazz band, arresting, compelling, and just plain cranked-up. Do This! is one of the most convincing albums of the last several years from Seattle jazz players.” ~Earshot Jazz~
          The Health Care Reform Act turmoil        

Opinions and concerns abound about this issue, sometimes to the point that the facts get obscured. Can I separate all the facts from the fiction? Nope, I can be duped and sucked in as easily as the next person. But I can tell you where to go to form your own opinions undiluted by anyone else with an agenda. Thomas from the Library of Congress is an excellent site for following legislation and the workings of Congress. As a matter of fact, Thomas has made it easy for people right now. You don't even have to search for the House's health care bill. They've put up a direct link on the very front of their website. From that link, you can then read a summary of the bill, see what Committees it's been referred to, see who is sponsoring it, and read the bill word for word yourself. Be warned, the bill's over 1,000 pages long and very dense to read! That doesn't mean I think it's not worth reading; I'm just saying don't expect to skim through it on your lunch hour unless you belong to Mensa. :)

You can also get some very useful links from Congressman Brad Ellsworth's "Online Office." He has the PDF of the full bill, just as Thomas does, but he additionally has links to the committee work being done on the bill.

And while we're talking Congressmen, if you want to share your opinion, do you know who to share yours with? Indiana's Senators are Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, while Evansville's Congressman is Brad Ellsworth.

Lastly, here's on other place I like to go when I'm inundated with opinions, http://factcheck.org/. They appear non-partisan to me. They've debunked pro and con statements surrounding the health care debate. And, their website/services don't exist solely for the health care debate (it just looks that way right now :). Take a look at their Archives or Ask Factcheck to see some of the other political issues they address.

          Will Smith’s Son Denies Split!        
Trey Smith, the son of Will Smith from a previous marriage took to his Twitter to debunk the InTouch Weekly article stating his parents are separating. Trey twitted this nugget; “Will and Jada getting...
          Debunking the Western Media’s Coverage of the War on Syria        

Debunking the Western Media’s Coverage of the War on Syria


By: Daniel Espinosa Winder
Date: 2016-10-16

The most prestigious newspaper in Peru is no more than another mouthpiece for power. But this shouldn´t surprise anyone familiar with mainstream media and its propagandistic role in our society.

Sadly, most people remain unaware of this reality and still approach this kind of media for understanding on the appalling problems of contemporary life. For them there are real news: you will find no such understanding in El Comercio.

We will consider the Syrian conflict because it’s an ongoing issue with massive coverage to analyze. The fact that mainstream media (MSM) in Peru, as elsewhere, import its articles from Big Media and their agencies around the world does not, of course, release them of the responsibility to verify everything they publish and therefore endorse.

Let´s imagine ourselves taking half an hour of our busy lives to seek information in MSM regarding Syria, in order to learn what’s been happening there for the last five years. What could be better than an article titled: “Seven questions to understand what is happening in Syria”? (elcomercio.pe, 09/24/16).

Read more »
          Debunking Ballistic Myths        
by Woodsbum I have run across this article MANY times, but it seems to be harder to find on Google for some reason. Due to this, I have decided to just copy it here primarily for my own uses. I really love this article….. http://www.africanxmag.com/debunking_ballastic_myths.htm ************************************************************************ Put a bunch of hunters together at a favourite […]
          Top Eight Reasons College Makes it Hard to Scrapbook        
First of all, I would just like to say, "Hey! What's up?" I'm Jill, I'm a freshman at Boston University, and yes, I scrapbook. Am I a good scrapbooker? No, probably not by most definitions. But I love doing it, I love recording memories of my friends and family and making them look gorgeous on the page. So, I'm going to try to upload pictures of my scrapbook as it comes along. I hope everyone enjoys it.

And now, here are my Top Eight Reasons College Makes it Hard to Scrapbook:
1. They expect you to work. A lot. You can no longer push your homework aside and say hey, I can talk my teacher into letting me out of this one, I just need to get this layout done before I go crazy. Your professors don't care how pressing the issue, your homework is supposed to be done.
2. You live with your friends now. Most people live in a dorm their freshman year and become close with their floormates. While this is great, having people over 24/7 does not make for good scrapbooking.
3. There are so many new activities to do. How do you make time for scrapbooking between all of the meetings and all of the homework?
4. There is no space for your scrapbook stuff. I have mine way up in the top of my closet where I can't reach it. Which means I have to risk my life scaling the closet walls every time I need to grab something.
5. College parties aren't much to scrapbook about. In high school you had school events, 80's day, Prom, Homecoming, etc. And there were embellishments for that. There are no embellishments for "My First Frat Party".
6. There's no space to spread out and work. My desk barely fits my computer, nevermind two 12x2 sheets.
7. Many college students are afraid of scrapbooking. They don't think it's cool. You have another thing coming you guys. Scrapbooking is awesome.
8. College students are poor. We live off of dollar food and our meal plans. And occasionally $20 that gets thrown our way when we go home for the weekend.

So this was supposed to be the top 10 reasons however, I started this post too late and I now have to head off to my lecture. I'll debunk these reasons (and help myself stop procrastinating my pages) later.

Hope everyone has a scraptastic day!
          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 86        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events

dawktawk.jpgBerkeley’s KPFA Abruptly Cancels Dawkins Event 

Last Wednesday, the Royal Society released the results of a poll that placed The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins atop a list of the most influential science books of all time, a list that includes in its top ten such foundational and revolutionary works as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

Imagine the surprise, then, when two days later Berkeley, California, radio station KPFA suddenly cancelled a speaking engagement with Dawkins scheduled for August 9. Intended as a fundraiser for the station, Dawkins was set to discuss his new book of essays, Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, for an audience of several hundred. What happened?

Well, according to a message to ticket holders, KPFA claims to have been unaware of Dawkins’s “views” and considered his comments on Islam to be “offensive” and “hurtful.” (Funny, the station had hosted Prof. Dawkins in 2015 and didn’t seem bothered at the time by his well known criticism of religion, including Islam, Christianity, ` and other faiths.

CFI provided its own public response, lamenting KPFA’s decision and the baseless justification proffered for it. “We understand the difference between a people and the beliefs they may hold,” said CFI’s president and CEO, Robyn Blumner. “All of us must be free to debate and criticize ideas and harmful ideas must be exposed. It is incredibly disappointing that KPFA does not understand this.”

But the clearest and most compelling response came from Prof. Dawkins himself, in an open letter to KPFA. He wrote of his long admiration for KPFA’s journalism, and his decades of support of their work. The cancellation of the August event was “a matter of personal sorrow” for him.

At the core of the conflict, Dawkins pointed out, was the lack of reason and critical thinking that went into the station’s decision to break its commitment. He wrote in his letter:

You conspicuously did not quote a source when accusing me of “abusive speech”. Why didn’t you check your facts – or at least have the common courtesy to alert me – before summarily cancelling my event? If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam.

I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc), and the opposition of Islamic “ scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths. I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.

I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?

Neil_deGrasse_Tyson_and_Richard_Dawkins_at_Howard_UniversitySince news of the cancellation broke, a number of leading figures in science and reason have made their voices heard in support of Dawkins. Jerry Coyne called the move “craven”; Steven Pinker told KPFA that “you have handed a precious gift to the political right”; Vilayanur S. Ramachandran called Dawkins “the most intellectually honest and courageous person I know”; and Daniel Dennett (in such a way that only he can successfully pull off) tweeted, “Shame on these Know-nothing Pathetic Fraidy-cat, um, folks!” You can read these responses in full at the Richard Dawkins Foundation website.

In a special message to CFI supporters, Board Chair Eddie Tabash said, “Richard is a kind man, even in the face of unfounded criticism. However, kindness cannot deter us from fighting as hard as we can against this severely troubling action by KPFA.”

Discussion of the controversy continues in the press, with coverage by The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and more, including KPFA radio itself, where CFI Communications Director Paul Fidalgo tries to explain the distinction between the vital criticism of bad ideas and the demonization of an entire people.


12052.jpgBertha Vazquez Publishes Schools’ Evolution Evaluation

It is 2017, and yet the teaching of evolution in public schools remains a flashpoint of controversy. The enduring resistance to evolution education is a primary reason for the existence of TIES, the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation that trains middle school science teachers to teach evolution.

Leading the work of TIES is Florida middle school science teacher Bertha Vazquez, and as part of her important work for the program, she has been evaluating state evolution education standards throughout the U.S. Her findings have just been published in a new paper for the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach. The results are fascinating and trending in a positive direction.

Bertha’s evaluation looks at school evolution standards using a ten-point scale based on five categories of questions, which determine each state’s grade. For example, New York and Florida are among the states that received an A grade for earning the maximum number of points for meeting certain benchmarks such as providing a clear definition of evolution, presenting several kinds of evidence for evolution, and so on. South Carolina and Tennessee, however, are two states that received F’s because their curricula don’t even mention or define evolution to middle schoolers, among other issues.

If the study had a “winner,” it would be New Hampshire. “New Hampshire should not be commended just for its middle school standards on evolution,” writes Bertha. “It starts incorporating evolution into the curriculum earlier than any other state.”

The full paper can be accessed here.


News from the CFI Community

DFCs0hiXsAEJmih.pngPoint of Inquiry...IN SPACE!!!

When will humans set foot on Mars? What are the prospects for NASA in the Trump era? And what exactly did Mike Pence touch that he clearly wasn’t supposed to? All these burning questions and more are answered in the latest episode of CFI’s long-running flagship podcast Point of Inquiry.

Host Paul Fidalgo is joined by Loren Grush, space reporter for The Verge, for a fun and enlightening conversation about the drama, politics, and technological challenges of space exploration. Grush brings both passionate enthusiasm and healthy skepticism to her coverage of space, providing sharp analysis of the private space industry, public attitudes toward space exploration, and the hostility that women in the space community continue to face.

And of course, we’ll find out if the vice president ruined something expensive.

There’s more space-talk in the next episode of Point of Inquiry coming later this week, when the subject turns to extraterrestrial life, so be sure to subscribe free on iTunes, Google Play, or through your podcast service of choice.


14523152_10154078848800698_2045554596559655301_n.jpgCountdown to CSICon 2017: New Videos with Paul Offit and Joe Nickell

For several weeks now, CFI’s video series Reasonable Talk has been bringing you some of the excellent presentations that made CSICon 2016 such a fantastic event. We have two more for you, hot off the servers, all in a blatant effort to inspire you to get registered for CSICon 2017 this October 26–29 in Las Vegas!

  • Paul Offit is a leading light in science and skepticism for his work as a life-saving virologist and as a bestselling critic of the anti-vaccine movement and other kinds of fake medicine. In his CSICon 2016 presentation, Offit takes a critical look at the medical profession itself, going back centuries to see how opioids have been used and misused by physicians and patients and showing how the over-prescription of painkillers has enabled today’s opioid crisis.
  • CFI’s own Joe Nickell is the world’s best known investigator of the paranormal, with decades of experience uncovering the truth about claims of ghost sightings, UFO encounters, psychic powers, and more. But what also sets Joe apart is his compassion and empathy for those who believe they have had these supernatural experiences and his steadfast devotion to the pursuit of the truth over merely proving someone wrong. In his presentation, Joe discusses the crucial distinction between “investigation” and “debunking.”

Plus: Susan Gerbic has a special interview with CSICon 2017 speaker and mentalist Mark Edward.

Now it’s your turn to investigate all the goings-on at the next big event, CSICon 2017. Incredible speakers and exciting entertainment await at Las Vegas’s Excalibur Hotel and Casino. But don’t take these claims at face value. Investigate them yourself and get registered now.


CFI Highlights on the Web

  • flatearth.pngCraig A. Foster, a professor of psychology at the U.S. Air Force Academy who has contributed to Skeptical Inquirer, writes an op-ed in The Denver Post welcoming the sudden attention given to Flat Earthers. Touting his membership with CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, he asserts that Flat-Earthers present a prime opportunity to discuss the importance of applying critical thinking to outlandish beliefs.
  • Marking the 70th anniversary of the Roswell UFO sightings, Kendrick Frazier, editor of Skeptical Inquirer, writes in a piece for the Albuquerque Journal about how the story has managed to endure all these decades, concluding, “Established facts of the Roswell incident will of course never catch up with the charming myth.”
  • For a short while in recent weeks, it seemed to many that the mystery of Amelia Earhart had been solved. But as Benjamin Radford points out in a special report, the claims were laughably easy to disprove and show us how the History Channel, which promoted the finding, went “spectacularly off the rails.”
  • For his latest Unco Junto “blog symposium,” Ben assembles Michael Hartwell, Ian Harris, and Celestia Ward (taking part in web-comic form) to weigh in on the topic of hypocrisy.
  • Recent skeptics’ conferences are reviewed for CSI, with Susan Gerbic at SkeptiCal 2017 and Russ Dobler at the ninth Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism.

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.

Upcoming CFI Events

July 26:

  • Paul HannCFI Michigan hosts a presentation on environmental health after the Flint water crisis by Paul Hann, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan.

July 29:

August 9:

August 10:

August 13:

August 19:

August 21:

August 23:

August 27:


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!

CFI Logo MarkFortnightly updates not enough? Of course they’re not.

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net. 


          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 85        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events

600_pulpit-freedom-sunday_1015.jpgHouse Committee Schemes to Let Churches Evade Electioneering Law 

When Donald Trump was courting the religious conservative vote during the 2016 presidential campaign, one of the prizes he offered them was the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, the provision of federal law that prevents churches and other tax-exempt organizations (such as this one) from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Though he vowed to “totally destroy” the amendment, so far he has only been able to soften it, and mostly symbolically, through an executive order signed in May.

The fact remains, however, that the Johnson Amendment is quite popular, with well over two-thirds of the public in support, including over half of white evangelicals, because they understand that churches don’t belong in the business of electioneering, nor do they want to see their houses of worship turning into political action committees. This is really a project of the extreme religious right, which would like to use churches as a means of bankrolling their favored candidates.

How then could Republicans help Trump make good on his promise to “destroy” the Amendment? On June 29, GOP members of the House Financial Services subcommittee inserted language into the 2018 appropriations bill saying that Congress would deny the IRS the necessary funds to investigate any potential violations of the Johnson Amendment…on the part of churches. Secular nonprofits aren’t mentioned. In fact, while the law change would apply to all houses of worship, the political intent was telegraphed by the failure to mention any places of worship other than churches.

1060x600-f3743dd76b24992e202b1e92fb1d0930.jpgThis sneaky attempt at a “backdoor” repeal of the Johnson Amendment through the congressional budget process did not go unnoticed. The Center for Inquiry joined a coalition of organizations from across the political and theological spectrum urging Congress to reject this attempt to defang the Johnson Amendment, sounding the alarm about what this House committee was up to, and CFI quickly got word to the press.

As a result, the Associated Press ran an excellent report on the scheme, which featured expert commentary from CFI Legal Director Nick Little, who made clear who this was intended to benefit. “All they care about is the Christian groups, and in particular, it will end up as the extreme religious right Christian groups,” said Nick. “If this goes through, this would add just another way in which unregulated dark money could be used.” Newsweek also featured Nick in its coverage of the story.

Unfortunately, the measure survived its subcommittee markup, and this Thursday it heads to the full House Appropriations Committee, so this fight is far from over.


joe vox copya.pngVideo: Joe Nickell Talks to Vox about Ghosts

Belief in ghosts, the disembodied spirits of those who have passed on, is seemingly intractable. Forty-five percent of Americans say they believe in ghosts, and speculation about the afterlife goes all the way back to the beginnings of human culture.

But if anyone can begin to move the needle toward reason, it just might be Joe Nickell.

Joe Nickell is of course senior research fellow for CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the world’s foremost evidence-based investigator of the paranormal. This week, he was the star of a video for Vox on what causes people to believe they’ve encountered a ghost and the reality-based explanations for these experiences.

“Not only have I never found a single case that I thought was proof of a ghost,” Joe tells Vox reporter Dean Peterson, “neither has science.”

But what sets Joe apart from many other “debunkers” of the paranormal is his compassion and empathy for those who think they have truly had these otherworldly experiences. Joe says they “all have to do with our hopes and our fears,” adding, “The ghost idea … is powerful, because who doesn’t have an instance in which he or she would say, I just wish I could have told my mother that one thing.”

Check out the video right here.


News from the CFI Community

fi naturalism cover copy.pngFree Inquiry and Daniel Dennett Present a “Symposium in Print” on Naturalism

Naturalism, simply put, holds that all things arise from natural causes and that the supernatural need never be invoked in the quest for knowledge or meaning. While to many in the freethought community this is a statement of the obvious, in the world of philosophy—particularly secular humanist philosophy—naturalism’s role is both consequential and complex. What better way to explore this important topic than in the pages of Free Inquiry magazine?

The latest issue of Free Inquiry features a “symposium in print” on naturalism’s centrality in secular humanism, led by the inimitable Daniel Dennett. The renowned philosopher discusses the intractability of supernaturalism in philosophical discourse, but notes that its impact is minimal owing to philosophy’s place as “the Las Vegas of inquiry,” because what happens in philosophy stays in philosophy.

This special symposium includes substantive and deeply researched essays from Australian philosopher Russell Blackford, Acadia University’s Stephen Maitzen, Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University, and a combined effort from Scott Aikin, Thomas Dabay, and Robert B. Talisse of Vanderbilt University.

The August/September 2017 issue also features opinion and commentary from Ex-Muslim activist Sarah Haider, psychologist and author Valerie Tarico, CFI President and CEO Robyn Blumner, and much more. You can subscribe to Free Inquiry in print or on the web at secularhumanism.org/fi.


Screen-Shot-2017-07-03-at-11.28.09-AM.pngCountdown to CSICon 2017: Lawrence Krauss and Ron Lindsay Justify Your Existence

As the skeptosphere gears up for CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas, CFI’s video series Reasonable Talk offers two brand new presentations from CSICon 2016. Together, these two talks answer fundamental questions for the skeptical movement: Where did we come from and what are we doing here?

  • Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss tackles the question of our origins: Not just of the skeptic community or even of humans as a whole but of the entire cosmos. In an engaging, funny, and enlightening talk, Krauss shows how today’s experiments in physics back up the theories of how everything came into being. Krauss, an honorary member of CFI’s board of directors, will return for CSICon 2017.
  • As to what it is we’re all doing here, we turn to CFI’s former president and CEO, Ronald Lindsay. In this important presentation, Ron takes a broad look at the aims of the skeptic movement and eloquently illustrates why this work is so vital. Skepticism, says Ron, serves as a crucial bridge of understanding between the scientific community and the general public, sifting the facts from the fantastical and encouraging critical thinking from everyone.

Of course, you’ll want to see all of this year’s talks in person! CSICon 2017, taking place October 26–29 in Las Vegas, will be the biggest skeptics’ event of the year, with an incredible lineup of speakers including the amazing James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Cara Santa Maria, Michael Mann, Richard Wiseman, Massimo Polidoro, Carrie Poppy, and once again serving as master of ceremonies, comic-musician George Hrab.

Held in the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, you’ll also get to experience a Tournament of Kings Joust Dinner, a magic show by Banachek, special lunch events with skeptic stars, a Halloween 70’s Disco Party (not a typo), a Sunday Papers session, and so much more. Get registered now.


CFI Highlights on the Web

  • handmaids_tale.jpgWith the release of Hulu’s television version of The Handmaid’s Tale, CFI Los Angeles’s Jim Underdown notes the similarities between the oppressive fictional state of Gilead and the real Church of Scientology, which, Jim notes, also happens to include the show’s star Elizabeth Moss among its members.
  • The Xbox Kinect is a piece of camera and sensor technology intended for enhanced kinds of video game playing, but did you know it could also help hunt for ghosts? Actually, it can’t, as Kenny Biddle explains at CSICOP.org.
  • TV psychic Tyler Henry appeared to make some pretty startling connections during a reading on his show, but Susan Gerbic lays out all the ways that this “grief vampire” could have made lucky guesses, gotten the information in advance, and been helped out a great deal by editing.
  • Joe Nickell looks back to a version of alternative medicine that vied for prominence in the nineteenth century, “Eclecticism” (which is a good marketing name).
  • CFI’s master librarian Tim Binga reveals a very cool addition to the library’s collection. Donated by Douglas Kinney, it’s a signed and framed photo of the amazing James Randi with the late Martin Gardner, “the father of modern skepticism.”

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.

Upcoming CFI Events

ssr2014-agroup-hands.jpgJuly 14–16:

July 16:

July 17:

  • CFI member Heather Davis discusses the costs and benefits of healthcare spending in the U.S. with CFI Austin.

July 26:

  • CFI Michigan hosts a presentation on environmental health after the Flint water crisis by Paul Hann, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan.

July 29:

August 9:

August 10:

IngersollAugust 13:

August 19:

August 21:

August 23:


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!

CFI Logo MarkFortnightly updates not enough? Of course they’re not.

       •  Follow CFI on Twitter.

       •  Like us on Facebook

       •  Encircle us on Google+

       •  Subscribe to us on YouTube.


Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net. 


          Note To Joe Stiglitz: Banks Originate, Not Intermediate, And That's Why Aggregate Demand Is Stuffed        
I like Joe Stiglitz, both professionally and personally. His Globalization and its Discontents was virtually the only work by a Nobel Laureate economist that I cited favourably in my Debunking Economics, because he had the courage to challenge the professional orthodoxy on the “Washington Consensus”. Far more than most in [...]
          Dee Wallace, 007, and the Most Interesting Man in the World: Next on TVC        
Actress, author, teacher and radio host Dee Wallace and actor and author Jonathan Goldsmith will join us this weekend on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing July 7-10 at the following times and venues:

Share-a-Vision Radio
San Francisco Bay Area
Friday 7/7
7pm ET, 4pm PT
10pm ET, 7pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at KSAV.org
Use the TuneIn app on your smartphone and type in KSAV
Hear us on the KSAV channel on CX Radio Brazil
Hear us on your cell phone or landline number by dialing 712-432-4235

Indiana Talks
Marion, IN
Saturday 7/8
8pm ET, 5pm PT
Sunday 7/9
10am ET, 7am PT
Click on the player at IndianaTalks.com
or use the TuneIn app on your smartphone and type in Indiana Talks

WON 920 The Apple
Brooklyn, NY
Saturday 7/8
10pm ET, 7pm PT
Streaming at www.920won.caster.fm

KSCO AM-1080 and FM-104.1
San Jose, Santa Cruz and Salinas, CA
KOMY AM-1340
La Selva Beach and Watsonville, CA
Sunday 7/9
9am ET, 6am PT
Also streaming at KSCO.com
or use the TuneIn app on your smartphone and type in KSCO

CROC Radio
Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
Sunday 7/9
1pm ET, 10am PT
Streaming at CROCRadio.com
or use the TuneIn app on your smartphone and type in CROC

KHMB AM-1710
KHMV-LP 100.9 FM

Half Moon Bay, CA
Sunday 7/9
9pm PT
Monday 7/10
Midnight ET
Click on the Listen Live button at KHMBRadio.com

San Francisco, CA
Monday 7/10
10pm ET, 7pm PT
with replays Tuesday thru Friday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT
Click on the Talk Slot button at RadioSlot.com

Ann Arbor, MI ~ Boston, MA ~ Chicago, IL ~ Melrose, FL ~ Los Angeles, CA
Various times throughout the week
on the Entertainment Channel on PWRNetwork.com
and the PWR channel on TuneIn

Known around the world as the mom on E.T., not to mention the legendary “scream queen” of such modern classic horror movies as The Howling, The Frighteners and Cujo, Dee Wallace is also an accomplished teacher, having earned her teaching credentials from The University of Kansas and taught in the public school system. She has also expanded her teaching platform, and the principles that she had found empowering for children, into daily sessions, her weekly radio show, Conscious Creation, and the stuffed bear Buppa LaPaloo, which also serves as an important teaching tool for children ages four to seven.

Dee Wallace currently stars in the popular Amazon Prime series Just Add Magic. She also has two movies coming out this year, Red Christmas and Charlie’s Gift—both of which challenged her as an actress, but in completely different ways. We’ll talk about this, and more, with Dee when she joins us in our second hour.

This week’s show will also include a conversation with actor Jonathan Goldsmith, the man known around the world as The Most Interesting Man in the World in a wildly popular series of commercials for Dos Equis beer that ran from 2007 to 2016. Though he patterned his delivery for The Most Interesting Man after his longtime friend Fernando Lamas, Jonathan brought more real world experience to the role than anyone could have imagined, from driving a garbage truck to make ends meet when he first came out to Hollywood, to saving a man from freezing to death in the High Sierras, to saving a woman from drowning, to debunking a mystic healer in the Philippines and defying the legendary curse of the ghost town of Bodie, California.

Jonathan shares these stories, plus many anecdotes from his fifty-year career in film and television, in his new book, Stay Interesting: I Don't Always Tell Stories About My Life, But Wh.... Jonathan Goldsmith will join us in our first hour.

Plus: Tony Figueroa and Donna Allen will pay tribute to the late Roger Moore as part of an expanded edition of This Week in TV History that will include highlights from Ed’s interview with Sir Roger in March 1994 in which the actor discussed his experience as a contract player at Warner Bros. and playing cousin Beau Maverick on Maverick. As Moore did not often speak publicly about his experience on Maverick, this is a rare interview indeed.  

TV CONFIDENTIAL: A radio talk show about television
Fri 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org and CX Radio Brazil
Sat 8pm ET, 5pm PT and Sun 6pm ET, 3pm PT on Indiana Talks (Marion, IN)
Sat 10pm ET, 7pm PT on WON 920 The Apple (Brooklyn, NY)
Sun 9am ET, 6am PT KSCO-AM 1080 (San Jose, Santa Cruz and Salinas, CA)
Sun 9am ET, 6am PT KOMY-AM 1340 (La Selva Beach and Watsonville, CA)
Sun 1pm ET, 10am PT CROC Radio (British Columbia, Canada)
Sun 9pm PT, Mon Mid ET on KHMB-AM and FM (Half Moon Bay, CA)
Mon 10pm ET, 7pm PT on The Radio Slot Network (San Francisco, CA)
Replays various times throughout the week on the Entertainment Channel at PWRNetwork
Tape us now, listen to us later, using DAR.fm/tvconfidential
Also available as a podcast via iTunes, FeedBurner, SoundCloud
and now on your mobile phone via Stitcher.com
Follow us online at www.tvconfidential.net
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If you listen to TV CONFIDENTIAL, and like what you’ve heard, please consider supporting our efforts by becoming a patron of our show through Patreon. It’s easy to do, it does not cost much, plus you can receive some cool rewards (such as coupons that will allow you to download up to six free programs every month from the TV CONFIDENTIAL Archives store). For more information, please visit www.Patreon.com/tvconfidential... and thanks!
          The Debunker: Are San Francisco's Cable Cars the Only Mobile National Monument?        

On August 28, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine, a Spanish admiral named Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land in Florida. His men founded a settlement there which is still called St. Augustine, making it the oldest European-founded city in the United States. This August, we've asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to cast his keen, cosmopolitan eye on American cities coast to coast, the better to debunk some misinformation about them that's as old as the hills, almost as old as St. Augustine itself.

The Debunker: Are San Francisco's Cable Cars the Only Mobile National Monument?

The Debunker

Years of Rice-a-Roni commercials might make you think you're an expert, but in fact out-of-towners get plenty wrong about transit in the city by the bay. BART, for example, is a regional train system that only has eight stops in San Francisco city limits; the lesser-known Muni Metro is the light rail that locals use to get around San Francisco (or "Frisco," as they like to call it). The Golden Gate Bridge isn't golden, it's painted a color called International Orange. (In fact, the name "Golden Gate" pre-dates the bridge and even the 1849 gold rush.) And the city's iconic heritage streetcars and cable cars are often confused, but are in fact are two completely distinct transit systems. The streetcars are electric trolleys that ride on rails, while the three cable car lines are pulled up the city's steeper hills by an underground cable that moves continuously.

San Francisco's manually operated cable car service is now the only one of its kind left in the world. The city's pride in its distinctive transit leads to the frequent claim, seen everywhere from The Atlantic to Snapple caps, that the cable cars are the only mobile national monument in the United States, or even the world. That was always wrong on one level, and is currently wrong on two.

The are 129 federally designated National Monuments in the United States, and the cable cars aren't one of them. They are, however, one of the official National Historic Landmarks, which is a longer list of 2,500 significant sites. But the cable cars aren't the only mobile objects on the list. Over one hundred National Historic Landmarks are ships, for example—most of which are no longer in service, but are mobile in that they sometimes travel from museum to museum. There's a Saturn V rocket in Alabama that's a National Historic Landmark. The Leap-the-Dips roller coaster in Altoona, Pennsylvania is a National Historic Landmark.

For the past three years, the San Francisco cable car hasn't even been able to say it's the only operating urban transit with landmark status. On September 30, 2014, the Interior Department named the St. Charles streetcar line of New Orleans, the nation's oldest operating line, to its official list as well. Sorry, San Francisco! (Or "San Fran," as locals like to call it.)

Quick Quiz:What singer debuted "The Trolley Song," one of her most famous numbers, in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

          Referendum: guida agli imbrogli che voterete        

Come annunciato nel mio precedente post, scrivo qualche riga di “debunking”, allegando qualche collegamento nel caso qualcuno voglia approfondire, in vista dell’impegno referendario.

referendum bugie

Partiamo da una guida riassuntiva ai referendum abrogativi.
Secondo me non è fatta molto bene, ma può essere utile per avere un vago barlume riguardo ciò che si va a votare, perché è comunque abbastanza imparziale.
Vediamo ora qualcosa sui vari referendum.

Acqua e servizi

Il punto 4 dell’art. 23 bis che viene cancellato con il sì dice che “le reti sono pubbliche”. Votando sì cancellate questo principio, che dunque non potrà essere reintrodotto.
Le privatizzazioni parziali verranno comunque reintrodotte perché derivano dall’art.101-106 del trattato di Lisbona etcetc.

Quindi Votando sì PRIVATIZZI.

Inoltre, cancelli tutti i paletti che introducono le norme vigenti.

Alcuni link:


Premesso che non state andando a votare “sul nucleare”…
Dopo la sentenza della Cassazione, infatti, è stato completamente stravolto il quesito originale.
Su cosa votate, adesso? Piacerebbe saperlo anche a me.
Anzi, no, lo so!

In pratica abrogate la possibilità che il Consiglio dei Ministri possa adottare la «Strategia energetica nazionale, che individua le priorità e le misure necessarie nella produzione di energia» attraverso «la diversificazione delle fonti energetiche e delle aree geografiche di approvvigionamento».

Quindi Votando sì abroghi la possibilità di avere una politica energetica nazionale.

Credendo di votare contro il nucleare, dunque, voti a favore dello status attuale (60+% di produzione di energia elettrica mediante gas, 20+% da petrolio, carbone, etc) e voti  anche contro le rinnovabili.
Ringraziano Eni, Sorgenia (quindi De Benedetti, Repubblica e tutti i soggetti che ti hanno raccontato le bugie/favolette) e amici che, grazie a questa modifica del quesito, hanno ricevuto un favore 10 volte più grande di quello rappresentato dal quesito originario.

Alcuni link:

Legittimo impedimento

Dopo la sentenza della Corte Costituzionale il 13 gennaio 2011, la legge originale è stata svuotata quasi completamente del contenuto originario.
Rispetto alla schifezza originale, i giudici (e non più gli imputati) possono infatti decidere se concedere o no il legittimo impedimento. Vengono anche fissati dei tempi massimi per i “continui rinvii” (6 mesi).
Un po’ la stessa cosa che accade se noi “comuni mortali” chiediamo il rinvio di un’udienza, perché abbiamo un impegno importante.


Il rinvio dell'udienza per "legittimo impedimento" non influisce sul corso della prescrizione del reato, che rimane sospeso per l'intera durata del rinvio. La prescrizione riprende il suo corso dal giorno in cui è cessata la causa della sospensione (art.1 comma 5).

Quindi Votando sì abroghi… Cosa?

Direi nulla.

Regalate comunque un po’ di soldi in rimborsi elettorali a Di Pietro, nel caso il referendum raggiunga il quorum. Di ‘sti tempi fanno sempre comodo.

Alcuni link:

  • Direi che basta la descrizione su wikipedia. Trovate tutto l’iter legislativo e i link di approfondimento, in cui potete verificare quanto ho scritto.
CONCLUSIONI referendum vado al mare

Perché mai avrebbero dovuto raccontarci tutte queste bugie su questioni così importanti per spingerci a votare?
Le motivazioni possono essere tante… A me ne viene in mente una, però: visto che per ogni firma raccolta, in caso di raggiungimento del quorum, i promotori dei referendum si intascano 0.52 € (pari alle vecchie 1000 Lire)…

Se è vero che solo per l’acqua hanno raccolto UN MILIONE DI FIRME (cosa di cui vanno peraltro molto orgogliosi), significa che si portano a casa 520.000€.

Mica male.

          Midday open thread: Dead Indian children returned to their homeland; broken US economy in one chart        

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Obama couldn't have done this crap: 


• Remains of three Arapaho children who died at assimilationist school returned to their homeland: Capt. Richard H. Pratt, the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, infamously said the solution for dealing with the Native population of America was to “Kill the Indian ... and save the man.” And he set out to do so by taking Indian children from their parents, from their tribes and indoctrinating them at Carlisle in Pennsylvania. Among those were the children taken along with Geronimo when the Apache leader surrendered his band of Chiricahuas for the last time in 1886. The school sought to take everything from them, their religions, their cultures, their mode of dress, even their names. All of them had their hair cut short. Over the years, children abducted and taken to the school to have the Indian in them killed included three Northern Arapahos: Little Chief, 14, who was renamed Dickens Nor; Horse, 11, renamed Horace Washington; and Little Plume, 9, renamed Hayes Vanderbilt. Within two years, they were all dead and buried in a small cemetery that eventually included nearly 200 Indian children who died there from 1879-1918. On Monday, with 15 relatives of the three as witnesses, the Army began excavating their graves preparatory to returning their remains to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming that the Northern Arapaho now share with another tribe, their traditional enemies, the Eastern Shoshoni. The Rosebud Sioux of South Dakota have requested the remains of their children grabbed by Carlisle be returned.

The photo on the left shows Chiricahua Apache children taken to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School when Geronimo surrendered his band in Arizona for the last time in 1886. The photo on the right are the same children four months later. The school did to their insides pretty much what it did to their outsides. Of the 112 Apache children sent to Carlisle, 27 died in the first three years. Of the 12,000 children of 140 tribes forced into the school, only 158 reportedly graduated. Carlisle was the model for 26 BIA (and later the Bureau of Indian Education) boarding schools in 15 states and hundreds of private religious ones.

• David Leonhardt on Our Broken Economy in One Chart:

Many Americans can’t remember anything other than an economy with skyrocketing inequality, in which living standards for most Americans are stagnating and the rich are pulling away. It feels inevitable.

But it’s not.

A well-known team of inequality researchers — Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman — has been getting some attention recently for a chart it produced. It shows the change in income between 1980 and 2014 for every point on the distribution, and it neatly summarizes the recent soaring of inequality.

You can see a larger version of this by clicking on the bulleted link above.



• July was the hottest on record for parts of Alaska and the Western United States:

The northernmost city in the United States just had its hottest July on record, as other spots in Alaska had their hottest month overall. Heat records also fell in a few western cities, as well as the fearsomely hot Death Valley, where July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

Those hotspots stood out in what was the 10th hottest July on record for the Lower 48 states, topping off the second hottest year-to-date for the country by a hair, according to data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three states are having their hottest year on record more than halfway through the year, while several more are running in second or third place.

• Google employee (now ex-), who wrote that women’s brains are inferior, removes PhD reference from his Linked-In site: Geez. Isn’t this just perfect? 

The Wired writer Nitasha Tiku confirmed with Harvard on Tuesday that Damore had not completed his Ph.D.

Damore's biology studies became a crux of a right-wing argument that he had credibility in claiming that biological differences between men and women explained a lack of gender diversity at Google. However, he cited shoddy data from Wikipedia and various journal articles to back up some of those claims, and Business Insider's Dana Varinsky was able to debunk many of them.

          Debunking Cloud IaaS Mobility Myths        
Many things in life appear great on the surface, but wisdom has taught us to never trust a book by its cover or believe in silver bullets. The latest story I frequently hear being pitched in IT circles is that of cloud IaaS Utopia. In this universe, workloads can simply move anywhere (between disparate providers and […]
          5 Ways Good Nutrition Can Help You Stay Strong        
5 Ways Good Nutrition Can Help You Stay Strong

Hebrew SeniorLife’s Harvard Medical School-affiliated Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) is celebrating 50 years of research focused on finding ways to optimize quality of life for all of us as we age. For half a century our researchers have explored age-related syndromes, debunking the myth that growing old has to mean growing frail.

Many of the physical characteristics that we associate with old age, such as stooped posture, unsteady gait or immobility, are influenced by the musculoskeletal structure. IFAR researchers have made many important discoveries that help us understand what causes the musculoskeletal structure to decay with age and finding ways to prevent or treat conditions such as osteoporosis that compromise good bone health.

Dietary approaches have emerged as an important strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and other forms of musculoskeletal weakness. IFAR’s research on nutrition includes the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, which is housed at IFAR and based on data culled from the landmark Framingham Heart Study. Research evidence indicates that diet at the level of vitamins, minerals, food groups, and dietary patterns play an important role in musculoskeletal health.

Thanks to IFAR research here are five steps you can take to bolster bone health:

1.     Eat more fish. If fish is not a regular part of your diet you may want to up your intake. The Framingham Osteoporosis Study has shown both men and women with fish intakes ≥3 servings (1 serving=2-3oz) per week gained hip bone mineral density (BMD) over four years compared to individuals with low to moderate weekly fish intakes who lost BMD.

2.     Include adequate protein in your diet. A study published this past June showed a protein-rich diet, which includes both animal and plant sources, preserves lean muscle mass and strength in the legs of older adults, which can help reduce the propensity for older adults to fall. The study included participants aged 29—89 and beneficial protein intake was 80 grams per day for men and 76 grams per day for women.

3.     Take vitamin D daily. IFAR researchers discovered that higher doses of vitamin D can lower the risk of falls and fractures in older adults, particularly frail seniors living in nursing homes. They found that nursing home residents who took 800 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily were 72 percent less likely to fall than those getting lower amounts or no vitamin D.

4.     Eat the right kind of dairy to keep hip bones strong. An IFAR study found that dairy intake — specifically milk and yogurt — was associated with higher BMD in the hip, but not the spine. Cream, on the other hand, may be associated with lower BMD overall. This means ice cream may be good for the soul, but is not a substitute for more beneficial dairy products when it comes to maintaining good bone health.

5.     Drink wine in moderation. Findings from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study identified red wine as particularly beneficial for bone health in women. Moderate ingestion of alcohol (one drink per day) may offer maximum protection; however, intakes beyond this level show negative effects on the skeleton. The above observations emerging from studies of alcohol containing beverages suggest that specific components found in these beverages in addition to the alcohol may also have effects on skeletal health.

In addition, IFAR nutrition studies on vitamins B, C, D, E and K, fatty acids, carotenoids, magnesium and potassium have made valuable contributions to the scientific literature and contribute towards the nutrition policy debates on optimal dietary recommendations for healthy aging in older Americans.

As research advances, it becomes clear that understanding the role of nutrition in musculoskeletal health is a complicated proposition. There is no silver bullet, and an individual’s genetic makeup and lifestyle influence the benefit of any given nutritional intake. As the goal of personalized medicine becomes more of a reality, findings from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study suggest the possibility that nutrition will also become personalized depending on an individual’s genetic makeup.

Stay tuned!

          You have a bandwidth problem        
An analyst from a crime lab testifies that a defendant, who is charged with DUI, has a blood alcohol concentration of .120.  Despite the legal requirements that the state must prove the test is trustworthy, most jurors have made a blink judgement the that test is correct.  As is often the case, the appearance of science is a powerful tool of persuasion.  This is true  even when the opinion is based upon junk science.
Here, despite the claims of the analyst and unbeknownst to the jury, the test result was done using unreliable equipment relying on defective software.  Your challenge: undo the jury's initial judgments, demonstrate the analyst is too biased and lacking the qualifications to understand the severity of the equipment's defects, and show the result can't be trusted.  This is no small task.
This task will take time.  It requires a thorough understanding of the many underlying scientific disciplines involved.  Adequately educating the jury will require information from several different sources.  Each piece of evidence will present a different evidentiary challenge.  In short, beyond the inherent difficulties of such cases, you also have a bandwidth problem.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time.  DUI trials have time and evidentiary limitations.  There are not intended to be semester long science classes.  There are practical realities inhibiting you from properly educating a jury with the knowledge they need to debunk these unsound claims.  If left unaddressed, a court may not even recognize this bandwidth dilemma.
Consider the problem in the following terms.  A presentation that does not reach the audience persuades no one.  If Netflix creates next years best new drama, but there is not enough bandwidth to stream it, then what was the point of creating it.  No one pays a subscription fee to see a "buffering" message.  Quality is meaningless without bandwidth.
Being right is does not convince a jury without an adequate opportunity to present it to a jury.   In these cases, you don't have a right or wrong problem - you have a bandwidth problem.  Accordingly, neglecting the bandwidth argument can be fatal.  If you don't sufficiently address this issue, then no one may hear how right you are.

          McDonalds testing new Chicken McNugget, with 32 ingredients presumably including chicken        

McDonalds is testing a "cleaner-label" version of its legendary Chicken McNugget, reports Peter Frost, with an eye to replacing the current model nationwide in time for the Summer Games.

If you're eating in Portland, Oregon, you may already have eaten the upgraded McNugget, which has 32 ingredients and a "simpler recipe," according to the restaurant chain. It declined to provide the full list while it's in beta, but one presumes it includes chicken.

The cleaner-label McNuggets come as McDonald's combats the perception that its food is overly processed and laden with preservatives. Other restaurants and packaged-food companies also are rushing to respond to changing consumer tastes. Last year, McDonald's unveiled ads on TV and in stores that played up the fact that its Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwiches are made with freshly cracked eggs. It also ran a marketing campaign in late 2014 called “Our food. Your questions,” in which it enlisted former “MythBusters” co-host Grant Imahara to debunk myths surrounding McDonald's food.

I suspect the reason McDonalds is testing a new Chicken McNugget is simply that they made the current ones in 1983 and have finally run out.

          Amica Insurance tackles 4 lightning myths        

With the summer upon us, thunderstorms become a more frequent occurrence. That’s why Amica Insurance is helping to debunk five lightning myths to promote safety.

(PRWeb June 21, 2016)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/06/prweb13502243.htm

          Shocking rhetoric from John Townsend and AAA        

This week’s Washington City Paper cover story quoted AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend calling Greater Greater Washington editor David Alpert “retarded” and a “ninny,” and comparing Greater Greater Washington to the Ku Klux Klan.

Many other reporters, people on Twitter, and residents generally have clearly stated in response what should of course go without saying, that such personal attacks are beyond the pale.

Some may get the sense that there is personal animosity between Townsend and the team here at Greater Greater Washington. At least on our end, nothing could be further from the truth. We simply disagree with many of his policy positions and his incendiary rhetoric.

Spirited argument is important in public policy, but it should not cross into insults. When it does, that has a chilling effect on open discourse. Fostering an inclusive conversation about the shape of our region is the purpose of this site, but discourse must be civil to be truly open. That’s why our comment policy here on Greater Greater Washington prohibits invective like this. In our articles, we try hard to avoid crossing this line, and are disappointed when we or others do, intentionally or inadvertently.

The “war on cars” frame unnecessarily pits drivers against cyclists and pedestrians instead of working together for positive solutions. The City Paper article, by Aaron Wiener, does a good job of debunking that, and is worth reading for much more than the insults it quotes.

When pressed, Townsend told Wiener he wants to back away from the “war on cars.”

“I regret the rhetoric sometimes,” he says. “Because I think that when you use that type of language, it shuts down communication with people who disagree.”

We hope Townsend, his colleagues, and their superiors also regret the things he said about David and Greater Greater Washington. We look forward to the day when AAA ceases using antagonistic language and begins working toward safety, mobility, and harmony among all road users.

In the meantime, residents do have a choice when purchasing towing, insurance, and travel discounts. Better World Club is one company that offers many of the same benefits as AAA, but without the disdain.

Comment on this article

          Debunking the EPA’s fake accounts of the Gold King mine disaster        
The EPA inspector general's report is full of lies and misrepresentations, says Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Rob Gordon. The whitewashed report claims that the dam failure came after EPA contractors “inadvertently … initiated an internal erosion failure.” But Gordon notes the IG report omits the critical fact that the EPA crew reburied the natural plug; ignores the EPA's wrongful assumption that the floor of the mine was 6 feet lower tghan the ground outside when in fact the adit's entire purpose was to drain the mine; and that the EPA failed to follow its own instructions that did not include excavating the blockage.
          My Journey to Conservatism        
The Aristotelian-Ptolemaic model of the universe ended up being wrong:

Galileo helped correct as did others.

Newton wasn't wrong, but his concepts didn't include Relativity nor Quantum Mechanics nor  Quantum field theory.

Jeffersonian Deism's clockwork universe with a Supreme Architect was the most reasonable one at the time, but in light of current observations such a stance can no longer be reasonably supported.

Questioning dominant paradigms is actually quite a useful activity. And questioning and sometimes lampooning sacred cows. It's essential.

Enlightenment Values are worth preserving. America is the best example of a country which exemplifies Enlightenment values.

Values not given by any god. But rather given by 13.8+ billion years of evolution by natural selection, and by our history & choices.

The religious right denies the facts of evolution, while living lives which are often in fact 'most true' to it.

The dogmatic de facto religious left claims to believe in evolution, while often living lives which are essentially traitorous to evolution.

"...Although the initial development of moral foundations theory focused on cultural differences, subsequent work with the theory has largely focused on political ideology. Various scholars have offered moral foundations theory as an explanation of differences among political progressives (liberals in the American sense), conservatives, and libertarians, and have suggested that it can explain variation in opinion on politically charged issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In particular, Haidt and fellow researchers have argued that progressives stress only two of the moral foundations (Care and Fairness) in their reasoning, and libertarians stress only two (Liberty and Fairness), while conservatives stress all six more equally."
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_foundations_theory

Religion is a natural phenomenon, a fact which cuts several ways. Yes it's another reason for the mystical claims to be debunked. But it also means that fully natural evolved human moral codes of conduct are often couched within religious contexts.

Dennett on religion being natural:

...a fact also mostly fully lost on all dogmatic leftist atheists who still have a chip on their should regarding being lied to in their former conservative religions.

Being wrong can be a virtue, if we're willing to change our minds upon new evidence.

Was born an atheist.

At age 5 learned there was a sky god. Seemed strange to me, but ok.

At age 9 learned I was a sexual animal. Whodathunkit.

At age 11 learned that the sky god was more than a bit upset at my being a sexual animal. The natural man, and 11 year old kid coming of age, is an enemy to god after all, right?

Between the ages of 19 and 21 I spent 2 years making maps on 3x5 cards, taking pictures of sunsets, and avoiding a proper admission that I was a normal sexual animal.

While at BYU at the age of 23 I started questioning the shaming the sky god likes to do regarding being a normal sexual animal.

While at Weber State I learned about physics and evolution. What I learned filled a hole left by my increasing rejection of the mysticism learned in my youth.

At age 26 I fully rejected the mysticism, and I resigned from the religion of my youth (Mormonism).

Between the ages of 13 and 23 I was a socially (religiously) conservative Democrat, because my father was a somewhat rare Democrat within a sea of Republicans within his religion.

At 26 I became more socially liberal, an ultra-liberal essentially. Drafted an exit journal.

In response to leaving an ultra-conservative religion, I switched to being an ultra-leftist socially.

Participated in a few nudist events, until I realized they were hypocritical.

Fully bought into Bruce Bagemihl's theory that because there's gay animals therefore gayness must be valued as a primary trail which is being selected for - which I now realize is completely & utterly wrong. Homosexuality is an outlier effect of the way sex gets set up in humans & in all animals which exhibit the treat. A side effect which is not being selected for. What's selected for is reproduction & survival, period. The machinery of biological evolution produces outliers. Doesn't meant the outliers have inherent value. Also doesn't mean they should be thrown off buildings, except for outright pedophiles and psychopaths.

Was a fat bastard living in my parent's basement. Developed cataracts. Had cataract surgery. No more thick glasses. Lost 110 pounds. Lived in Portland, Oregon for a year and a half. While in Portland visited a swingers event once. Didn't witness anything explicit & didn't participate. But I saw basically how they operate. And my assessment was that the way they organized themselves was strange & basically abusive.

After leaving Portland I married a socially conservative atheist from rural China with zero connection to the Book of Mormon, Bible, or Quran.

Took in via videos & lectures much of the work of the following people:

Christopher Hitchens
Richard Dawskins
Daniel Dennett
Steven Pinker
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Events like 9/11 happened. The Denmark Mohamed cartoons & the stupid & crazy responses. Theo Van Gogh being killed after he released a film about how women in Islam are abused. The Charlie Hebdo massacre. The Garland, Texas Draw Mohamed contest which two Islamic people tried to shoot up.

I examined the response of the left, of the Democrat part of my father, of all the stations & people who liked & listened to & would have listened to. As an ex-Mormon, I examined who exactly supported drawing Mohamed. Who supports ex-Muslims? Who supports Muslims leaving Islam? It's not he left. It's not the Democrats. So, I realized I was wrong, about politics.

My socially conservative atheist wife helped me question the socially leftist paradigm I had bought into as an ex-Mormon with a chip on his shoulder about the lies of Mormonism. Daniel Dennett's talks about religion being a natural phenomenon helped also. Plus I had years of experience of engaging in first hand observational de facto studies of what the left has to offer socially. The nhilism of narcissism of gay culture. What being 'childfree' really means: slow motion suicide. That the left is in denial regarding the roots of homosexuality. And when I told an atheist group in Salt Lake that I liked Duck Dynasty, they booted me in a worse way than I ever experienced when leaving Mormonism. A very religious way of booting.

The children of breeders will inherit the Earth. The 'childfree' will not, and neither will the non-breeding gays.

In the past I used to hate Ayn Rand. Now I'm willing to check out some of her ideas, because mostly *only* libertarians support drawing Mohamed nowadays, and a very few lonely leftists who're mostly in denial regarding how the left has left them behind.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, really was a eugenicist. And Christopher Hitchens has rightly pointed out that the unborn do have some rights. The left is wrong about these points also.

While a member of another leftist atheist group, Salt Lake Valley Atheists (now defunct), I observed how they kicked out of their midst a pro-life atheist woman. That experiencing was eye opening for me. Prior to that I thought that atheism equaled skepticism & reason. Now I realize it doesn't, not automatically. Leftist atheism is just another f-ing religion, a cult.

So I'm in recovery from leftistism, politically & socially.

The conservatism I embrace is not that of Glenn Beck, nor of establishment Republicans. I reject religios conservatism which seeks to shame people for masturbation & oral sex & an appreciation of art which falls into the nude and erotic spheres. There is no god who gets upset when gay people meet up. But, from an evolutionary perspective, they'd probably be happier if they lived straight lives.

Heresy, heresy, heresy, for your average leftist atheist who is just so upset with the conservative religions of their youths & etc.

Not throwing out the baby of good evolved highly valuable human values with the bath water of mysticism is a very hard task. Most just assume that 'without god everything is permitted.' But it's not. Not because there's no god, but because we're highly complex evolved moral animals. Evolved moral codes act as counter weights to also evolved proclivities which can lead to destructive dead ends.

Current people on my appreciation list:

Trump - what swayed me to his side after some initial skepticism:
(Milo Y talking with Rubin)

Christopher Hitchens - provided initial key skepticism regarding the Clintons, and regarding some leftist doctrinal tenants. No one left to Lie To, book info.

Daniel Dennett - a much better philosopher than Sam Harris (Harris is I realize now, a myopic hack)

Steven Pinker - debunked the 'blank slate' concepts of social constructivists. Related videos, longer part 1, part 2. And a Ted talk.

Bosch Fawstin - an ex-Muslim who won the Draw Mohamed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. Talk to Children of Jewish Holocaust Survival. Cartoon contest talk.

Mark Steyn - skepticism regarding the 'hockey stick' concept regarding climate change. Very honest regarding the facts & impacts of Islam.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - an ex-Muslim truth teller. Colleague of Theo Van Gogh who got killed as noted above. She needs round the clock security, and in America only a conservative think tank would help pay for that security. Leftists consider her to be racist & bigoted - so this is a key reason also why I'm no longer a leftist.

All Enlightenment thinkers, and the Enlightenment-based founders of America.

Roger Stone - a long time truth teller who I've newly found

Dinesh D'Souza - a debate partner with Hitchens. Hitchens told the truth about the Clintons, and Dinesh has a great movie about the issue now. Dinesh may be wrong about whether a god exists, but he's right about the impacts of leftist atheism (very negative nhilistic impacts).

Rush - a valuable truth teller who for too long I discounted & hated. He was right all along. I was wrong for many years.

Sean Hannity - a guy with 20 years of real work experience who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be a regular working Joe. Truth teller.

Milo Yiannopoulos - a brash conservative gay Brit who helped me see the high utilitarian value to a Trump presidency.

Doug Mainwaring - a guy who came to his sanity and returned to be with & support his straight family, AKA his family. My uncle wasn't so lucky, and was a victim of the ultra-right and the ultra-left.


Related posts:

Lies present in conservative religion force children into the abusive arms of the denialist myopic left.

Where does social conservatism come from? From human nature.

Humans are not Bonobos - Response to Darrel Ray and his brand of so-called Secular Sexuality - Commentary about abusive leftist confusion regarding human nature, and the evolutionary roots and benefits of some degree of sexual shame.

Lives and families are destroyed by Tranny and Gay acceptance and promotion - LGBT abusive outliers are not equal

Homosexuality occurs in nature? So what. Can I be a "black atheist" too?

On American exceptionalism: the left's hatred of America

Thank God for the Crusades - speaking as an atheist

And the worst of these is Islam: Foolish bleeding hearts helped birth Islamic State

Naked women protesting: The EXACT response needed, to Islam in general, Islamic State, and censors of Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Comments in response to the general Mormon stance on marriage

Latest thoughts on the pressing issues of the day

Leftist religion loves Islam and hates the West and the fruits of the Enlightenment

The Atheist Movement needs move laxative - Making room for social & political conservatives!

John Harvey Kellogg: what a fucker. Masturbation prevention is evil.

response to Rory Patrick's 100 day masturbation abstinence - the pain and sorrow of having genitals

Balkan Erotic Epic - part of the set of short films in Destricted - commentary & review

Liberal anger at being human - Criticisms of California Senate Bill SB 967

whitewashing history -- sex obsessed ancestors -- nudist hypocrisy

Are Mormonism & Catholicism homosexual & pedophile generators?

Questions for Mormon Missionaries - God, Sex, and honesty | 16 questions for Mormon Missionaries

Repackaged bullshit: Porn The New Tobacco | Jack Fischer | TEDxBinghamtonUniversity

The best part of social conservatism advocates for family & life & children & what leftists derisively call 'breeding.'

Breeders will inherit the Earth. Problems with "recovery" from religion

Really the children of breeders will inherit the Earth.

The worst part of religious-based 'conservatism' comes from religions which use fear & shame to teach children & adults to hate the evolved sexual systems in their bodies. But this 'conservatism' doesn't conserve anything. It just tends to churn out destructive ultra-right and ultra-left abusive extremists. The ultra-right religionists who stay in their religions & who continue teaching their children to hate their bodies & the fact that we're sexual animals. And the children who reflexively rebel, turning into non-reproductive outliers & 'childfree' wastrels.

Liberals have a strange alliance with ultra-right religious 'conservatives.' Leftists hate human nature just as much as the ultra-right religionists seems to. The combined human-nature-hating team consists of: Islam people, some Mormons, some Catholics, and leftists who a.) love Islam, and b.) hate the fact that human males are evolved to enjoy good looking women - and who hate 1.2 billion years of evolutionary sexual history just as much as the ultra-right religionists do. Leftists also hate the fact that humans are sexually dimorphic, and they actively ignore that we're not 'blank slates,' as Steven Pinker has commented on.

I'm for good women and men who put family & children first.

I'm proudly voting for Trump. He's my kind of Republican. Not a highly shaming human-nature-hating right-wing religionist, nor a human-nature-hating leftist.

Conserving through truth telling. Conserving through advocacy for family. Conversing through de facto advocacy that the Western Enlightenment continue - which also means conserving and protecting America & traditional American values.

Perhaps where I'm at is a socially moderate / conservative / pragmatic libertarian. But I strongly maintain that pot does rot your brain. And I don't dogmatically follow all libertarian principles. Libertarianism can be a de facto religion too, and I don't wish to join any religions.

I probably aspire to the conservatism Jonathan Haidt mentions, with more equal alliance to Care, Fairness, Liberty, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity. The Sanctity of life, not the Sanctity of sacred cows. Loyalty to the Enlightenment and Enlightenment principles. The Authority of the Rule of Law. Care, but not through the Dole because the Dole helps no one mostly. Fairness, but not 'social justice.' Fairness through a fairness of opportunity - but not opportunity at the cost of group rights hierarchies nor identity politics.
          Was Nagasaki Payback for Expelling Freemasons?        
The "Fat Man" bomb from Bock's Car detonated directly over Urakami Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the entire Orient. This was all that was left. 

On this day in 1945, Nagasaki, home to 50,000 Christians, was bombed. 
Of Nagasaki's 250,000 residents, 73,844 were killed, 74,909 injured, and more than 120,000 suffered radiation effects.
We shouldn't overlook that Nagasaki expelled the Freemasons in 1926. 
By the 1930s Japan banned them entirely. Did this add "payback" to the Nagasaki bomb?

Atomic Bomb Secrets by David Dionisi reviewed by James Perloff

by James Perloff
(abridged by henrymakow.com)

The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 was completely unnecessary; Japan had, in fact, already offered to surrender on virtually the same terms the U.S. approved at war's end.

truman-freemasonic-garb (1).jpg
Why did Truman's controllers order Japan's nuclear bombing? As I have grown increasingly aware of the ruthless Talmudic psychopathology of the Powers that Be, I cynically confided to friends, "I think they enjoyed it." But after discovering David Dionisi's Atomic Bomb Secrets, we can be much more specific. This well-written, 217-page gem, documented with 496 end-notes, blows the lid off the sordid episode.

After Christianity first reached Japan in the 16th century, it faced growing pains, including times of severe persecution, but gradually became established, centered in Nagasaki, which became nicknamed the "Japanese Vatican." In 1945, some 50,000 Nagasaki residents were Christians.

After the Enola Gay dropped the "Little Boy" bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, the plane named Bock's Car (also written bockscar) carried the "Fat Man" bomb to Nagasaki on August 9. Most of the 12-man crew believed their objective was Kokura, and a secondary target was only to be selected if weather interfered. Dionisi does much to debunk the "poor visibility" claim long used to justify the plane's rerouting to Nagasaki.

The "Fat Man" bomb from Bock's Car detonated directly over Urakami Cathedral, left, the largest cathedral in the entire Orient. At Nagasaki (250,000 residents), 73,844 were killed, 74,909 injured, and more than 120,000 suffered radiation effects.

Truman and other U.S. officials later claimed there was a military target: the Mitsubishi shipyard. But Bock's Car flew three miles past the shipyard before dropping its payload. The cathedral was obliterated; the shipyard left virtually unscathed. Its famous hammerhead crane, built in 1909, still stands today.

We shouldn't overlook that Nagasaki expelled the Freemasons in 1926; by the 1930s Japan banned them entirely. Did this add "payback" to the Nagasaki bomb?

Dionisi insightfully notes: when Satanists conduct a human sacrifice, they believe they draw power from the victim's death. At Nagasaki, over 70,000 lives, many of them Christians, were incinerated on a satanic altar.

(The Nagasaki bombing's ritualism cogently reminds us that events like 9/11 are not necessarily purely geopolitical false flags, but often have spiritual dimensions as well. Is Nagasaki perhaps a clue as to why geo-engineered disasters keep striking America's Bible Belt, but not the "Establishment" Northeast? Dionisi has written a book on 9/11, The Occult Religion of the 9/11 Attackers, which I haven't read but have ordered.)

dionisi-book (1).jpg
When people contemplate Japan's nuclear bombing, most think: "Hiroshima." Dionisi considers this a psychological ploy by the PTB (whom he calls "the Brotherhood of Death"). The first bombing would stand out in the public's mind, while the principal target (Christian Nagasaki) would get largely overlooked.

In another macabre deception, a Catholic priest and Protestant minister were persuaded to bless Bock's Car before it departed on its mission. Later, both men greatly regretted it.


A ground-breaking detail I learned from Dionisi is the A-bomb's role in Korea's division into North and South. I've discussed the artificial justification for this division elsewhere, but Dionisi elaborates that Japanese scientists were developing their own atomic bomb. After initial research in Japan, the project was transferred to the Konan region of northern Korea (then a Japanese protectorate). This area was selected for multiple reasons: availability of uranium, the power the Chosin dams could generate, and (perhaps most importantly) keeping away from American bombers.

Giving the Soviet Union postwar control of North Korea (allegedly its reward for a mere five-days' participation in the Pacific War) now makes far more sense. Not only was the cabal handing Stalin the plans and materials for the atomic bomb (as documented in 1952 by Lend Lease expediter George Racey Jordan in his book From Major Jordan's Diaries), they were giving him Japan's installations for making one.

Another compelling fact I learned from Dionisi: the horrifically bloody battle of Okinawa (over 150,000 casualties) was completely unnecessary to win the war; it was fought to convince Americans that A-bombs were needed. Dionisi's book is packed with other information I'd never heard before about, e.g., Stalin, and Freemasonry. 

From his book you'll learn why Pyongyang became capital of communist North Korea, and why spying allegations were levelled against Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (the Manhattan Project's scientific leader.) Oppenheimer and others, quoting Dionisi: "were misled to believe that the atomic bombs would be detonated over military targets, thereby limiting civilian casualties. . . . Speaking to President Truman after Nagasaki had been destroyed, Oppenheimer told him, 'Mr. President, I feel I have blood on my hands.' The Brotherhood of Death hated Oppenheimer for later opposing the hydrogen bomb and destroyed his career by arranging for him to be accused of spying for the Soviet Union."

You'll also learn about the American POWs who died at Nagasaki. And be sure to read his end-notes. Unlike most end-notes, which are dull recitations of publisher names and dates, Dionisi's are loaded with collateral information; they constitute a "book within a book."

Atomic Bomb Secrets rates a spot on any truth-seeker's bookshelf. Thank you, David J. Dionisi.
Originally posted Sept 12, 2016

          Smolensk Crash Was a Coup d'Etat        
(left, Polish PM Donald Tusk and Putin at the crash site, April 10, 2010.
Tusk evidently wants a fist bump. Putin's expression says it all) 

A Polish reader describes the venomous political atmosphere in Poland that preceded the mysterious crash of President Lech Kaczynski's plane killing all 96 people on board. The post mortem years were no less lethal.

Like  Poland, all Western nations are under assault from within by a traitorous globalist Masonic elite. But few nations are putting up as valiant a fight for its national survival as Poland. Unlike the US, where the facts of 9-11 lie buried, more information is surfacing about 10-4-10. Just as jet fuel does not melt steel structures, passengers are not all killed and dismembered when a plane crashes at 100 meters. 

Latest! Tusk faces investigation.

by Patriotic Pole 

 "Poland has been dismantled; now people will start disappearing."

Those words were spoken by Janusz Kurtyka, just a few days before the crash of the plane with the most important people of Poland on board. 

He was a very important man, historian, great patriot, righteous and loving his country, its history and the truth. He was the second president of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). Kurtyka was on the Tupolev Tu-154 flight of the 36th Special Aviation Regiment carrying the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński with most important people in the government, which crashed near Smolensk-North airport near Katyn, Russia, on April 10, 2010, killing all aboard.

Days before his death, Janusz Kurtyka called for "the results of the Russian investigation into Katyn massacre to be declassified and for the Russian archives to be opened". The post which was left open by his death was considered particularly problematic due to the difficulty there would be in replacing him.

In videos with him, when he talks about Poland and various, difficult issues, one can see sadness in his eyes, great sadness, maybe worry as well. 

The crash of the Tupolev was the most shameful, the most horrific and the most neglected by media, politicians of Polish opposition and the world in general, accident in the history of plane crashes. It was well prepared, it was well announced between the lines in advance, by old band of the Communist opposition and traitors in Poland. After it happened, it was shamefully mocked and ridiculed by perpetrators and their followers. And it still is, unfortunately. 

The future President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, said in one of his interviews broadcast on Polish radio before the crash happened: "You know, the presidential elections will come or the President ( Lech Kaczynski) will be flying somewhere and everything will change..."

The political opposition of Lech Kaczynski, with its leader Donald Tusk, did not hesitate to express vicious hatred and plans to liquidate Kaczynski many times in interviews or other forms of public speeches. 

"Let's kill the pack!" These words were shouted by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Radosław Sikorski in 2007, when Donald Tusk was the PM. He shouted those words to the members of the political backing of the legally-operating cabinet of Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS). 

(Donald Tusk, now President of the EU Council) 

Three years later, the Prime Minister Donald Tusk, when addressing  the legal opposition in parliament said: "You will die like dinosaurs."

During a short presidential campaign, which took place following the death of the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński, Janusz Palikot said that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, (The present head of PIS) should be killed on the hunt and gutted.


The evidence of assassination of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his government is overwhelming and one has to be truly blind to still deny it.

Why the murderers are still walking free is beyond understanding. The crash was well planned, it was a trap. Three of them survived, they were shot on the spot, immediately after the crash, there is a proof of it, a video with shots being heard, and no intelligent person can say it's fake, the sinister powers in this video can be felt even just by watching it; there are Polish and Russian voices heard, speaking evil. Immediately after the crash, three people were announced to have survived on Polish TV; that information was changed quickly into - all are dead. 

Most of those who died were inconvenient people, Polish patriots, Christians, those who tried to repair Poland after it had been damaged by former communist agents, traitors, servants of Brussels, Merkel or Putin, corrupted politicians with hearts made of stone, with no feelings and no love for the homeland or other people, no respect for former generations, for heroes who died for the freedom of their country during wars and various foreign invasions. 

Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity Trade and former president of Poland has proved to be an agent cooperating with Communists (special security forces.)  Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister who during the darkest hours of Polish history was smiling and hugging Putin, when visiting Smolensk after the crash, now is the President of the European Council. 

Those who did not want to obey EU and other foreign forces, who were rebellious to Illuminati, Putin, Rothschild, Soros and who knows what other sinister powers that are ruling  this world, were destined to die.

This documentary  shows how associates of the now dead president, those of his people who were there, waiting for the plane to arrive, were treated by the Russians and by those who were well prepared to take all the posts in the government vacated by the victims. 

Subsequent Polish investigations revealed that two explosions on board brought down the plane. The above documentary propagates the Russian disinformation that no explosive residue was found and that the Polish black box confirmed the finding of pilot error. 


The new president, Bronislaw Komorowski, (left of Kaczynski) could not wait to announce to the shocked nation that he was just the one to replace Lech Kaczynski. It was so quick, they did not even have any confirmation of the death of the President. Nobody had seen the body yet but Komorowski was ready to be the new President of Poland. All was very well organized. 

Politicians in Poland were sent a message on their mobiles, saying,"the crash was caused by pilots." Nobody really knew yet, what had really happened but the pilots were to be blamed. 

Yes, like J. Kurtyka said, people in Poland started vanishing; the plane crash was just the beginning. Shortly after the crash, journalists, who had seen too much vanished, or died sudden deaths, many professionals, very knowledgeable people who were trying to resolve the riddle of the crash, who were too curious, they were liquidated by so called serial suicide murderer or sudden car crash. Seventeen very important people died during the reign of President Komorowski and Prime Minister, Donald Tusk. 

This is a list of the 96 most important people in Poland who died in the crash, including many military personnel and dingnitaries of catholic church.

One of them was a very well respected, brave and noble General Sławomir Petelicki, founder and former head of the "Grom" unit. He was found dead on 16 June 2012. On numerous occasions he openly criticized the findings of the State Commission on Aircraft Accidents Investigation and the fact that the Polish government was dilatory in establishing the causes of the Smolensk crash. 

After the crash, General Sławomir Petelicki stated to the press that politicians from the governing party (Civic Platform) received a text message with instructions on what to say: "The crash was caused by the pilots, who went down below 100 meters. It remains to be determined who made them do it." 

According to Petelicki, the author of the text message was one of three: Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister Tomasz Arabski or the government spokesperson, Paweł Graś. 

Petelicki had a lot of information about these people, he often pointed out who should be dismissed from a certain position, and who should be appointed instead to make the Poland-NATO relations tighter. He died from shooting wounds. 

Here is the list of people who were murdered during next years after the crash. 

The families of the victims were humiliated, treated with disrespect, mocked, lied to. The investigation was led by the Russians, the enemy of NATO. While Poland is the NATO member, its enemy was leading the investigation. There were NATO generals on the plane, people who were holding the highest secrets of NATO. General Petelicki was furious about this; he wanted Donald Tusk to be prosecuted, so they had to get rid of him.

Can anybody imagine a similar drama with American president and his government, or the British one? That would be impossible and even if that happened, the investigation would be of top quality and surely not led by the Russians. But of course the Polish president and his government does not have the same value. Maybe, it is worth reminding that even if the presence of most important people of the world, presidents, prime ministers of many countries at the funeral was announced in advance, they never arrived. Most of them found a good excuse not to come.  

This horrific story goes on. The present government with the majority of PIS members is still trying to expose all the lies, but there are so many of them, it may take many years still before anybody is held responsible for that massacre. Nobody really knows if it is ever going to happen. But the executioners will not escape, there is the Highest Judge before whom they will have to stand at the end of their lives and there will be no escape. The blood of the victims is calling for justice. 

"It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
    In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
    and their doom rushes upon them." 

 Deuteronomy 32; 35

Also by Polish Patriot- Poland in Crisis- Nationalists Battle Globalist Traitors
Smolensk Crash Lie Exposed- Interview with Crash Widow
Smolensk Crash News Digest
Video for Polish speakers

First Comment by B:

The gentleman, whose article you decided to post today is either a poor misguided gudgeon (at the very least) or an outright disinfo agent. Please let your readers know, that his hogwash is by no means the view most prevalent among the Polish people regarding the Smolensk crash, to the contrary - this gibberish of an opinion is only held by the so called 'Smolensk sect', i.e. PiS (Kaczynskis' party)-voters, their hardcore constituency - extreme Russophobes and (unwitting?) Zionists (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diZu489GXdY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyjf8jHtMuk ).

As prof. Mike Jones recently noted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvkqYjQhqFQ , the extreme, skillfully induced Russophobia of the vast swathes of the Polish political elites (certainly the PiS crowd) as well as the public in general, is merely a tool of American imperialism in their proxy wars against Russia. Usually in such instances, intelligent people ask the question: who had the motive? And the answer invariably is - Is fecit cui prodest.

Putin/Russia had virtually no interest in having Kaczynski and his staffers killed (BTW the 96 figure, contrary to what you might deduce from the gentleman's text, also involved many ordinary Poles, mere family members of the officers murdered in Katyn, as they were going to Katyn to commemorate the massacre's anniversary). Let alone there is no credible evidence it actually was NOT a catastrophe and that third parties were involved, despite what the Russophobic maniac, Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz might have told the public. The 'experts' he hired for his 'independent' investigations turned out to have had virtually no reliable credentials to perform the task thoroughly, they were not qualified for the job.

For the record: I have never been a sympathizer of the Civic Platform (pol: Platforma Obywatelska, or PO, the former Prime Minister Donald Tusk's party), years ago, before I got interested in politics, I even applauded PiS for their (only ostensible, calculated) moral conservatism and religiousness. The point is they are yet another ZOG. The wife of the current president Andrzej Duda is a Jewess (as was the case with the previous president, Bronislaw Komorowski and his wife, a child of communist Jews involved in the secret police, UB, responsible for post-war mass murders of the Polish patriotic partisans - and with the former Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who is married to the notorious The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum) , Agata Kornhauser, a daughter of https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Kornhauser who e.g. promulgated the virulent anti-Polish lies about the 1946 Kielce pogrom, long debunked as a psy-op of the (largely Jewish) secret service. Late president Kaczynski was an ardent zionist and Isreal-firster, as you can see in the video linked above. Back in 2001, while the Minister of Justice, on 'orders' from then chief rabbi of Poland's Jewish diaspora, (US-imported) Michael Schudrich, he withheld the exhumation works at the site of the 1941 Jedwabne massacre, which virtually buried the chance of ever getting any real truth about the event and facilitated the Holocaust Industry's (ADL etc.) extortion racket against the Polish nation. https://web.archive.org/web/20130405105625/http://naszawitryna.pl/

The intricacies of Poland's domestic politics might seem overly complicated to your average reader, but the bottom line is - the views presented by your recent contributor are marginal and obscure, not held by intelligent Poles, versed in world geopolitics, aware of the NWO and its JQ and so forth - only shared by the PiS's hardcore electorate, i.e. extreme Russophobes - American imperialists' (neocons') useful idiots. 

Please post this as a comment, lest your audience have a grossly distorted view of the Smolensk crash.

          Debunking the "Terrible Teen" Myth: I Love Teenagers        

If every parent of cherubic toddlers had a nickel for every time some well-meaning person chuckled and said, "Just wait until they're teenagers!," those parents would still be annoyed, but they'd also be filthy rich. For whatever reason, there is nothing more-seasoned parents love to do to new(ish) parents than warn them that someday, their beautiful babies will be teens -- and the implication is that this is a fate worse than death.

Our culture perpetuates this, both explicitly and tacitly. Children are adorable! But teenagers are difficult. "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems!" And of course there's the oft-repeated moan, "I am not looking forward to the teen years."

I'm just going to say it -- right here, right now, in front of God and everyone -- I love teenagers. Teenagers are fantastic and fascinating. My whole life, I've been the person who loves babies; I still love babies, and I will still swoop right down on you and commence with the babytalk and steal your infant from your arms because I need a cuddle, but I have come to adore the creature that is the modern teenager now that I have two of them. Don't believe the hype that teenagers are terrible and parenting teens is so much harder than younger kids. Teenagers are not terrible and every phase of parenting has its challenges. But if you're tired of tongue-clucking admonitions about the horror that supposedly lies ahead, sit down with me for a minute.

Teenagers sleep. And then they sleep some more. My daughter never went to bed without first screaming for at least twenty minutes for the first two years of her life. My son had colic for his first four months and screamed pretty much non-stop. Babies are cute and all, but they're not a recipe for a good night's sleep. And both of my children spent their first decade of life springing out of bed at o'dark thirty and coming to stand over me and demand ridiculous things (like that I get up immediately and feed them). Teens, on the other hand, love to sleep. They may agitate to stay up a little later at night, sure, but once they're down, they're out. I can't yet lay claim to a perfect night's sleep every single night, but I can tell you that the last time I awoke to "Mom! Mom! Mom! MOOOOOOOOM!!!!" was a long time ago.

Teenagers can cook for themselves. Oh, sure, this doesn't mean the whine of, "I'm huuuungry, what's for dinner?" doesn't still happen -- it does! -- but a hungry teenager can actually forage, and a motivated one can learn how to cook and then actually do it. We went so far as to assign dinner nights when the kids would cook for the whole family -- something that used to be an expected part of life back in the "olden days" but has somehow gotten away from a lot of us. It's nice for us grown-ups to have a break from meal prep, and it's great practice and a dose of autonomy/service for them.

When teenagers help, it's actually helpful. Remember back when you were advised to let your kids help whenever they wanted to, because "soon enough they won't want to" and this was about forming good habits? I sure do. I also remember going back over the half-dusted room, rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher so that they'd get clean, and waiting until the kids were in bed to scrub the bathroom that had been proudly coated in Windex and left to harden. Sometimes little kids can accomplish household tasks, but more often, they're practicing and their "help" makes twice as much work for the adults. Now, I'll freely admit that teenagers may grumble a bit when you request their assistance, but more likely than not, once they do what you've asked, it's done. Not only that, but if you play your cards right, they often take care of stuff without you even asking.

Teens are funny
Credit: symic.

Teenagers are hilarious, both intentionally and not. Remember that phase when every other sentence out of your kid's mouth was "Knock knock!"? And then the jokes didn't even make any sense, because the punchline was always "Poop!" or some other "forbidden" thing? Yeah, you don't have to deal with that with teens. Their jokes make sense, and their developing understanding of the world makes for excellent jokes and humor in places you'd never expect it. (Don't believe me? The next time your teen quips, "That's what she said!" furrow your brow and say, "I don't get it. Can you explain to me why that's funny?" The ensuing blushing and shuffling of feet will be even funnier than the initial joke.) Most teenagers I know are just plain entertaining.

Teenagers have big emotions and big compassion. The number one complaint I hear about teens is that they bring excessive drama to everything. This is a fair observation -- hormones and increasingly complex peer and school circumstances do tend to make emotions run high. This can be wearing on those of us with older, cooler heads. But the gem in the midst of the ZOMG ALL THE FEELS emotion-storm is that they're only this way because they truly care about all sorts of things, in a way that society has yet to beat out of them. It may sometimes seem like they only care about themselves, but that's probably not the case. Ever seen a teen run with a cause that mattered to him? Ever seen a teen display startling empathy for a friend in crisis? It happens. It's pretty incredible to observe.

Little kids love you just because. Teenagers love you a whole new way. I'm not going to lie; it's true that teens are more likely to hurl the dreaded, "I hate you!" as a dagger, in the heat of the moment. But they don't really hate you (not for long, anyway), and as they grow and evolve, so does your relationship with them. For the first time, maybe, they start glimpsing their parents as people. The first time you see your teen truly appreciate you is fantastic. And it never gets old, seeing them just a little surprised to realize that you're kind of okay to hang around with, and stuff.

Teenagers are in the process of becoming, and you get to bear witness. There's a reason that we find watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly captivating. It's biology, sure, but it's also just a little bit magic. You never really know what happens in that cocoon, not really. With teenagers, the cocoon is the skull, and the processes in their brains aren't quite as linear, but nevertheless, I'll take watching a teen find her footing over a baby's first wobbly steps any day of the week. Babies work to grasp objects, to move, to understand object permanence, to form words. Teenagers work to understand their place in the world, who they really are, and what matters to them most. If you get caught up in the Sturm und Drang of rules and curfews and limit-testing you might forget that all of that is merely the window-dressing to the transformation of a dependent child into an independent adult. Don't let the annoyances convince you that they're the process; they're not. Yes, set the limits, hold firm to reasonable boundaries, and don't stop the hard work of parenting... but don't forget to watch them fly. Because they do.

Let's stop talking about teenagers like they're flesh-eating zombies. I adore teens! Who's with me?


BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir Kamin believes that parenting teens is the toughest job she's ever loved. She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.

          Accounting Myth Busters        
Accounting instructor debunks common misconceptions of accounting professionals.
          Misconceptions about Islam        
Misconception #1: Muslims worship a different God

First of all, there is only One God who created the Universe and all of mankind. Throughout history, people have created false gods in their minds and come up with false ideas about Almighty God, but regardless of this there is still only One True God - and He alone is worthy of worship. Unfortunately, some non-Muslims have come to incorrectly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians. This might be due to the fact that Muslims sometimes refer to God as "Allah", but also because over the centuries there have been many lies and distortions spread by the enemies of Islam. In actuality, Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus --- the same God as Christians and Jews. The word "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God and it is the same word that Arabic speaking Christians and Jews use to refer to God. If you pick up an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible, you will see the word "Allah" where "God" is used in English. For more information on the word "Allah", please read: Who is Allah? But even though Muslims, Jews and Christians believe in the same God, their concepts about Him differ quite a bit. For example, Muslims reject the idea of the Trinity or that God has become "incarnate" in the world. Also, the teachings of Islam do not rely on or appeal to "mystery" or "paradox" --- they are straightforward and clear. Islam teaches that God is Merciful, Loving and Compassionate and that He has no need to become man (nor do humans need for Him to). One of the unique aspects of Islam is that it teaches that man can have a personal and fulfilling relationship with Almighty God without compromising the transcendence of God. In Islam there is no ambiguity in Divinity --- God is God and man is man. Muslims believe that God is the "Most Merciful", and that he deals directly with human-beings without the need of any intermediary. Actually, the phrase "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful" is one of the most repeated verses in the Holy Qur'an. Additionally, the pure and straightforward teachings of Islam demand that Almighty God be approached directly and without intermediaries. This is because Muslims believe that God is completely in control of everything and that He can bestow His Grace and Mercy on His creatures as He pleases - no Atonement, Incarnation or blood sacrifice is necessary. In summary, Islam calls people to submit to the One True God and to worship Him alone.

Misconception #2: Muslims worship Muhammad

According to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad was the last Messenger of God. He, like all of God's prophets and messengers - such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus -- was only a human being. Christians came to the mistaken assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad by formulating an incorrect analogy - they worship Jesus so they assumed Muslims worship Muhammad. This is one of the reasons that they called Muslims by the incorrect name "Mohammedans" for so many years! Muhammad, like Jesus, never claimed divine status. He called people to worship only Almighty God, and he continually emphasized his humanity so that people would not fall into the same errors as Christians did in regards to Jesus. In order to prevent his deification, the Prophet Muhammad always said to refer to him as "the Messenger of God and His slave". Muhammad was chosen to be God's final messenger --- to communicate the message not only in words but to be a living example of the message. Muslims love and respect him because he was of the highest moral character and he brought the Truth from God - which is the Pure Monotheism of Islam. Even when Islam was in its very early stages, God revealed that Muhammad "was sent as a mercy to all of mankind" - thus informing us that the message of Islam would become very widespread. Muslims strive to follow the great example of Muhammad, peace be upon him, but they do not worship him in any way. Additionally, Islam teaches Muslims to respect all of God's prophets and messengers - but respecting and loving them does not mean worshipping them. All true Muslims realize that all worship and prayer must be directed to Almighty God alone. Suffice it to say that worshipping Muhammad --- or anyone else --- along with Almighty God is considered to be the worst sin in Islam. Even if a person claims to be Muslim, but they worship and pray to other than Almighty God, this cancels and nullifies their Islam. The Declaration of Faith of Islam makes it clear that Muslims are taught only to worship God. This declaration is as follows: "There is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, and Muhammad is the Messenger and Servant of God".

Misconception #3: Islam is a religion only for Arabs

The fastest way to prove that this is completely false is to state the fact that only about 15% to 20% of the Muslims in the world are Arabs. There are more Indian Muslims than Arab Muslims, and more Indonesian Muslims than Indian Muslims! Believing that Islam is only a religion for Arabs is a myth that was spread by the enemies of Islam early in its history. This mistaken assumption is possibly based on the fact that most of the first generation of Muslims were Arabs, the Qur'an is in Arabic and the Prophet Muhammad was an Arab. However, both the teachings of Islam and the history of its spread show that the early Muslims made every effort to spread their message of Truth to all nations, races and peoples. Furthermore, it should be clarified that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs. An Arab can be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist - or of any other religion or ideology. Also, many countries that some people consider to be "Arab" are not "Arab" at all -- such as Turkey and Iran (Persia). The people who live in these countries speak languages other than Arabic as their native tongues and are of a different ethnic heritage than the Arabs. It is important to realize that from the very beginning of the mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his followers came from a wide spectrum of individuals -- there was Bilal, the African slave; Suhaib, the Byzantine Roman; Ibn Salam, the Jewish Rabbi; and Salman, the Persian. Since religious truth is eternal and unchanging, and mankind is one universal brotherhood, Islam teaches that Almighty God's revelations to mankind have always been consistent, clear and universal. The Truth of Islam is meant for all people regardless of race, nationality or linguistic background. Taking a look at the Muslim World, from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Malaysia to Afghanistan is enough to prove that Islam is a Universal message for all of mankind --- not to mention the fact that significant numbers of Europeans and Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are coming into Islam.

Misconception #4: Islam degrades women

Even though many aspects of Islam are misunderstood by non-Muslims, the ignorance, misinformation and incorrect assumptions that are made in regards to Islam's treatment of women are probably the most severe. Numerous verses of the Qur'an make it clear that men and women are equal in the site of God. According to the teachings of Islam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the site of God is their level of God-consciousness. Due to this, many people are surprised to find out that Islamic Law guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago that women in the Europe and America only obtained recently. For example, Islam clearly teaches that a woman is a full-person under the law, and is the spiritual equal of a male. Also, according to Islamic Law, women have the right to own property, operate a business and receive equal pay for equal work. Women are allowed total control of their wealth, they cannot be married against their will and they are allowed to keep their own name when married. Additionally, they have the right to inherit property and to have their marriage dissolved in the case of neglect or mistreatment. Also, Islam does not consider woman an "evil temptress", and thus does not blame woman for the "original sin". Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship that men participate in. Actually, the rights that Islam gave to women over 1400 years ago were almost unheard of in the West until the 1900s. Less than fifty years ago in England and America, a woman could not buy a house or car without the co-signature of her father or husband! Additionally, Islam gives great respect to women and their role in society --- it gives them the right to own property, marry who they want and many other rights. Also, it should be mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad's mission stopped many of the horrible practices in regards to women that were present in the society of his time. For example, the Qur'an put an end to the pagan Arab practice of killing their baby daughters when they were born. Additionally, Islam put restrictions on the unrestricted polygamy of the Arabs of the time, and put many laws in place to protect the well-being of women. Today, most of the so-called reforms in the status of women came about after the West abandoned religion for secularism. Even those in the West who claim to follow the so-called "Judeo-Christian tradition" really follow the values of Western liberalism --- but just to a lesser degree than their more liberal countrymen. For more on this subject, please read: Women in Islam versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition --- The Myth and The Reality. If women in the Muslim World today don't have their rights, it is not because Islam did not give them to them. The problem is that in many places alien traditions have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or the impact of Colonialization.

Misconception #5: Muhammad wrote the Qur'an

In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to not that no other religious scripture claims to the direct word of Almighty in toto as clear and as often as the Holy Qur'an. As the Qur'an clearly says: "if had been written by man, you would have found many discrepancies therein". At the time the Qur'an was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Qur'an was unique and that it was distinctly different from the language normally used by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The Arabs of that time, by the way, were known for their beautiful poetry and Muhammad was known to be an illiterate man! The Qur'an clearly says that Muhammad was unable to read and write, so if this wasn't true, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and rejected him. However, there are no reports of this. Certainly there were people who rejected Muhammad's message, just like other prophets were rejected, but none for this reason. On the contrary, Muhammad, peace be upon him, had thousands of loyal followers and the results of their efforts spread Islam from Spain to China in just over a century! It is also interesting to note that even though the Qur'an is not poetry, the Arabs more or less gave up writing poetry after it was revealed. It could be said that the Qur'an is the piece of Arabic literature par excellence - and Muhammad's contemporaries realized that they couldn't out do it. Additionally, it is easy to prove that Muhammad did not possess a great deal of the knowledge which is expounded in the Qur'an: such as knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomenon. The Qur'an says in several places that Muhammad and his people did not know these things - so, again, if this wasn't true, certainly his contemporaries would have rejected his claims. Suffice it to say that not only is the Qur'an the most memorized and well preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in eloquence, spiritual impact, clarity of message and the purity of its truth.

Misconception #6: Islam was spread by the sword

Many non-Muslims, when they think about Islam, picture religious fanatics on camels with a sword in one hand and a Qur'an in the other. This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades, is totally baseless. First of all, the Holy Qur'an clearly says "Let there be no compulsion in religion". In addition to this, Islam teaches that a person's faith must be pure and sincere, so it is certainly not something that can be forced on someone. In debunking the myth that Islam was "spread by the sword", the (non-Muslim) historian De Lacy O' Leary wrote: "History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever accepted." (Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8.). It should also be known that Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up to when they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan all have Christian and/or Jewish populations. If Islam taught that all people are supposed to be killed or forced to become Muslims, how did all of these non-Muslims survive for so long in the middle of the Islamic Empire? Additionally, if one considers the small number of Muslims who initially spread Islam from Spain and Morocco in the West to India and China in the East, one would realize that they were far too few to force people to be members of a religion against their will. Additionally, the great empire and civilization established by the Muslims had great staying power -- its citizens were proud to be part of it. The spread of Islam stands in contrast to the actions of the followers of Christianity, who since the time of the Emperor Constantine have made liberal use of the sword - often basing their conduct on Biblical verses. This was especially true of the colonization of South America and Africa, where native peoples were systematically wiped-out or forced to convert. It is also interesting to note that when the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic Empire, instead of destroying the religion, they adopted it. This is a unique occurrence in history - the conquerors adopting the religion of the conquered! Since they were the victors, they certainly could not have been forced to become Muslims! Ask any of the over one billion Muslims alive in the world today whether they were forced! The largest Muslim country in the world today is Indonesia --- and there were never any battles fought there! So where was the sword? How could someone be forced to adhere to a spiritually rewarding and demanding religion like Islam?

Misconception #7: Muslims hate Jesus

Many non-Muslims are surprised to find out that according to Muslim belief, Jesus, the son of Mary, is one of the greatest messengers of God. Muslims are taught to love Jesus, and a person cannot be a Muslim without believing in the virgin birth and miracles of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. Muslims believe these things about Jesus not because of the Bible or any other religion, but simply because the Holy Qur'an says these things about him. However, Muslims always emphasize that the miracles of Jesus, and all other prophets, were by "God's permission". This having been said, many Christians feel to not believe that Jesus is the "Son of God", "God Incarnate" or the "Second Person" of the Trinity. This is because the Qur'an clearly says that Almighty God does not have a "Son" --- neither allegorically, physically, metaphorically or metaphysically. The Pure Monotheism of Islam rejects the notion of "defining" God (which is basically what the "Doctrine of the Trinity" does), saying that someone is "like" God or equal to him, or praying to someone else besides God. Also, Islam teaches that titles such as "Lord" and "Savior" are due to God alone. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it should be clarified that when Muslims criticize the Bible or the teachings of Christianity, they are not attacking "God's Word" or Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. From the Muslim point of view, they are defending Jesus and God's Word --- which they have in the form of the Qur'an. Muslim criticism is targeted at writings that some people claim are God's word, but Muslim's simply don't accept their claim that they are really God's word in toto. Additionally, Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the Atonement are criticized by Muslims precisely because they did not originate from Jesus, peace be upon him. In this way, Muslims are the true followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, because they defend him from the exaggerations of the Christians and teach the Pure Monotheism that Jesus himself followed.

Misconception #8: Islam is fatalistic

Most Muslims find it rather odd that their religion, which strikes a beautiful balance between faith and action, could be accused of being "fatalistic". Perhaps this misconception came about because Muslims are taught to say "Praise be to God!" whenever anything good or bad happens. This is because Muslims know that everything comes from Almighty God, who is the All-Knowing Sustainer of the Universe, and that since a Muslim should rely completely on God, whatever happened must have been for the better. However, this does not mean that Muslims are not taught to take action in life --- just the opposite is true. Islam requires not only faith, but action --- such as regular prayer, fasting and charity. To be more precise, in Islam actions are part of one's faith. Islam total rejects the extreme beliefs of some religions that teach that you shouldn't go to a doctor when sick, but only pray for God to heal you. Islam's outlook is very positive, since it teaches that human beings can take positive action in this life. This was certainly what was taught by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to his followers --- since they obviously took the action of spreading Islam from Spain to Morocco in a very short period of time. Even though Islam teaches that God knows what human beings will do before they do it, human beings still have free will. Certainly God, who is All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows what is going to happen to everyone before it happens -- to deny this would be a denial of God Himself. However, if human-beings did not have free will, it would be ridiculous and un-just for God to demand that they do certain things and believe certain things. Far from being "fatalistic", Islam teaches that a human-being's main purpose in life is to be God-conscious. Due to this, Muslims worry less about material matters and view their earthly life in a proper perspective. This is due to the fact that Islam clearly teaches that if people worship and depend on Almighty God alone, then they have nothing to worry about - since God wants what is best for them. True freedom, from the Islamic perspective, does not mean aimlessly following all of your human desires for food, drink, wealth and sex. On the contrary, freedom means being able to control one's base desires and fulfilling them in a proper and legal way. This brings one's desires in tune with what God wants for us --- only then is a person truly free!

Misconception #9: The Islamic Threat

In recent years, a great deal of attention in the media have been given to the threat of "Islamic Fundamentalism". Unfortunately, due to a twisted mixture of biased reporting in the Western media and the actions of some ignorant Muslims, the word "Islam" has become almost synonymous with "terrorism". However, when one analyzes the situation, the question that should come to mind is: Do the teachings of Islam encourage terrorism? The answer: Certainly not! Islam totally forbids the terrorist acts that are carried out by some misguided people. It should be remembered that all religions have cults and misguided followers, so it is their teachings that should be looked at, not the actions of a few individuals. Unfortunately, in the media, whenever a Muslim commits a heinous act, he is labeled a "Muslim terrorist". However, when Serbs murder and rape innocent women in Bosnia, they are not called "Christian terrorists", nor are the activities in Northern Ireland labeled "Christian terrorism". Also, when right-wing Christians in the U. S. bomb abortion clinics, they are not called "Christian terrorists". Reflecting on these facts, one could certainly conclude that there is a double-standard in the media! Although religious feelings play a significant role in the previously mentioned "Christian" conflicts, the media does not apply religious labels because they assume that such barbarous acts have nothing to do with the teachings of Christianity. However, when something happens involving a Muslim, they often try to put the blame on Islam itself -- and not the misguided individual. Certainly, Islamic Law allows war --- any religion or civilization that did not would never survive --- but it certainly does not condone attacks against innocent people, women or children. The Arabic word "jihad", which is often translated as "Holy War", simply means "to struggle". The word for "war" in Arabic is "harb", not "jihad". "Struggling", i.e. "making jihad", to defend Islam, Muslims or to liberate a land where Muslims are oppressed is certainly allowed (and even encouraged) in Islam. However, any such activities must be done according to the teachings of Islam. Islam also clearly forbids "taking the law into your own hands", which means that individual Muslims cannot go around deciding who they want to kill, punish or torture. Trial and punishment must be carried out by a lawful authority and a knowledgeable judge. Also, when looking at events in the Muslim World, it should be kept in mind that a long period of colonialism ended fairly recently in most Muslim countries. During this time, the peoples in this countries were culturally, materially and religiously exploited - mostly by the so-called "Christian" nations of the West. This painful period has not really come to an end in many Muslim countries, where people are still under the control of foreign powers or puppet regimes supported by foreign powers. Also, through the media, people in the West are made to believe that tyrants like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moamar Qaddafi in Libya are "Islamic" leaders -- when just the opposite is true. Neither of these rulers even profess Islam as an ideology, but only use Islamic slogans to manipulate their powerless populations. They have about as much to do with Islam as Hitler had to do with Christianity! In reality, many Middle Eastern regimes which people think of as being "Islamic" oppress the practice of Islam in their countries. So suffice it to say that "terrorism" and killing innocent people directly contradicts the teachings of Islam.
          Exposed: "FrackNation" Deploys Tobacco Playbook in Response to "Gasland 2"        

Big Oil has deployed the “Tobacco Playbook” once again, this time in response to the release of “Gasland 2.”

It comes in the form of a documentary film titled, “FrackNation,” whose co-directors' funding in the past came from Donors Capital and Donors Trust, referred to by Mothers Jones' Andy Kroll as “the dark-money ATM of the right” and a major source of funding for climate change denial. 

Both “Gasland 2” and “FrackNation” cover hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional oil and gas is obtained from shale rock basins around the country and world. Co-produced and co-directed by Irish couple Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, “FrackNation” purports to be “funded by the 99 percent to combat the misrepresentations by the 1 percent of urban elites who want to tell rural Americans how to work and live.”

McAleer and McElhinney also say they are independent journalists working independently of corporate funding. McAleer was referred to by the San Francisco Chronicle as “climate denial's Michael Moore” and both McAleer and McElhinney are listed as “experts” by the climate change-denying Heartland Institute.

“FrackNation is an independent film and we want to remain independent of the Gas industry and be funded by ordinary people,” it says on its KickStarter page that it used to raise $212,265 from 3,305 backers of the film between February-April 2012.

This isn't the first dip in the “doubt is our product” pond for McAleer and McElhinney. In the past, they co-directed and co-produced a pro-mining documentary titled “Mine Your Own Business” and a climate change denial documentary titled, “Not Evil, Just Wrong.”

Both McAleer and McElhinney have made a living in recent years deploying the “Tobacco Playbook,” mutating settled scientific debates on energy and climate catastrophe into false two-sided affairs, which corporate-funded news media take and run with as “he-said, she-said” stories. 

Filmmaker's History of Tobacco Playbook Deployment

“FrackNation” made its public debut in Jan. 2013, coinciding with the release of “Promised Land,” a Hollywood drama starring Matt Damon. 

“It's time Hollywood celebrities and environmentalists were asked some difficult questions about their anti-fracking activities and ideologies. And that's what FrackNation does,” McAleer said in a press release announcing the world premiere. 

McAleer and McElhinney are now singing a similar tune about “Gasland 2,” as it approaches its July 8 HBO release date. 

“Mine Your Own Business”

Countering popular environmental struggles and luminaries is the modus operandi for McAleer and McElhinney, with a track record of doing so dating back to the mid-2000's. Their first public foray into the world of “marketing doubt” came with the release of their “Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism.”  

Released in 2006, the film was produced in response to the anti-mining protests that popped up against Gabriel Resources proposed open-pit gold mines in Romania, slated to be the largest in Europe. McAleer said it was “the world's first anti-environmentalist documentary.” 

One key funder: Gabriel Resources. This moved local Romanian citizen Eugen David to write that the film was pure propaganda. 

“Because the gold lies squarely under and around the village of Rosia Montana, Gabriel needs to move out the local population – roughly 2000 people all in all. But it's not only the people that will need to go,” David wrote in Jan. 2007. “Gone also would be our mountains, pastures, rivers and our churches, cemeteries and school – our community with its social fabric and traditions.”

The purpose of the film was obvious: complicate the narrative on the proposed mine through ad hominem attacks on environmentalists, rather than addressing environmental issues associated with the mine itself. David and fellow citizens living in the proposed mining area didn't buy the bluff. 

“After a first unannounced test screening in Bucharest, Gabriel Resources had to stop the film after 15 minutes because people were so revolted by what they saw,” he further explained. 

“Mine Your Own Business,” however, did have a loyal fan base: the right-wing echo chamber. 

Steve Milloy, a tobacco industry front man-turned-fossil fuel industry front man, wrote two favorable reviews for Fox News. The Salt Institute and Atlas Society (named after Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged”) echoed Milloy's efforts.  

“Not Evil, Just Wrong”

In response to the proposed 2009 federal climate legislation and in the run-up to the 2009 Copenhagen United Nations international climate summit, McAleer and McElhinney released the film, “Not Evil, Just Wrong.” Akin to “FrackNation” with “Gasland 2” director Josh Fox, the film spends much time attacking former Vice President Al Gore in ad hominem fashion, with the film serving as a response Gore's “An Inconvenient Truth.”  

“It has no commercial distributor, but instead debuted on an October 18 webcast heavily promoted by social conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, as well as local Tea Party groups,” a Mother Jones article explained.

Paralleling “Mine Your Own Business,” the film was met with great fanfare within the right-wing echo chamber despite lack of commercial distribution. 

“They’ve held pre-screenings for bloggers and brought the film to every major conservative conference of 2009, including the Values Voter Summit and Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit,” one news media report explained. “At the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], McAleer and McElhinney spoke right before Rush Limbaugh.”

Other Big Tobacco apologists-turned-Big Oil apologists also helped promote the film: Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation, the Cornwall Alliance, The Washington Examiner, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), the Fraser Institute, Breitbart.com, and Right Online.      

McAler and McElhinney have brought the Tobacco Playbook to the big screen. The question remains: who's funding them?

Donors Trust, Donors Capital Funding McAleer, McElhinney

“Mine Your Own Business”

“Mine Your Own Business” was funded by Gabriel Resources, but Gabriel wasn't the only fundee. The other patron: Donors Trust/Donors Capital.

In the past, McElhinney and McAleer were formerly Fellows at the Moving Picture Institute (MPI), founded by Thor Halvorssen. MPI, in turn, produced “Mine Your Own Business” and is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a right-wing echo chamber network for state policy that publishes PR “studies” to promote the corporate agenda.

Halvorssen also runs the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which has taken $764,950 from Donors Trust and Donors Capital since 2005, according to a recent investigative story by Max Blumenthal. Blumenthal also explains MPI took more than $300,000 from Donors between 2005 and 2011. 

“Not Evil, Just Wrong”

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” also received funding from Donors. DeSmogBlog contributor and Guardian (UK) climate changer writer Graham Readfearn explained in a Feb. 2012 article that Donors funnelled $24,753 toward the film. 

This lends an explanation as to why “Not Evil, Just Wrong” was promoted by well-heeled climate change deniers in the mid-2010 Balanced Education for Everyone (BEE) campaign, calling for a “balanced” scientific teaching of the climate change “controversy.” The BEE campaign parallels ones pushed for via an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill, by the Discovery Institute, and by the Heartland Institute. 

“Global warming alarmists want Americans to believe that humans are killing the planet,” BEE's former website explained in promoting the film. “But Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, proves that the real threats to America (and the rest of the world) are the flawed science and sky-is-falling rhetoric of Al Gore and his allies in environmental extremism.”

BEE's campaign was run by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), which in Oct. 2003 signed a partnership with Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an astroturf front group founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, key funders of the climate change denial machine. The two entitites at the time announced they would share leadership, senior staff and office space, a formal relationship they say ended in 2005. 

IWF - before it disbanded - was formerly headed by current AFP Board Member Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer from 2000-2005, who also sat on IWF's Board of Directors from 2005-2007. From 1998-2000, Pfotenhauer served as a lobbyist for Koch Industries, also serving as Senior Policy Advisor and spokesperson for the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. 

Pfotenhauer was also the former Executive Vice President of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), established by Charles Koch and affiliate Richard Fink and propelled by $13 million in grants from Koch Family Foundations. After CSE split into FreedomWorks and AFP, she served as AFP's President and CEO. She now sits on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University and on the Board of Directors of the CATO Institute, two other key entitites that make up the Koch echo chamber.  

“Not Evil, Just Wrong” shared the same PR firm with BEE, Go Ahead PR, a sure sign that the film's release and the campaign were part of a well-coordinated campaign. 

And though McAleer and McElhinney say “FrackNation” was bankrolled via a grassroots KickStarter fundraising drive, a deeper dig into its books - as will be seen in part two of this investigation - calls that all into question. 

Image Credit: ShutterStock | grynold

          Manhattan Institute Op-ed Exemplifies Why NY Times Should Require Disclosure of Financial Conflicts        

The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues. Robert Bryce goes to great lengths to portray solar and wind power as land-hogging energy choices. He suggests that fracked shale gas and nuclear are somehow more environmentally preferable energy options.

This is a common argument from Bryce, who had a similar pro-fracking op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, and who has emerged as one of the loudest of a growing cadre of critics of clean energy. Most of these critics are, not surprisingly, affiliated with “institutes” (i.e., front groups) that get money from the dirty energy industries that solar and wind are starting to disrupt.

Bryce’s argument was quickly debunked by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which points out a number of factual errors and omissions in the Manhattan Institute representative's piece.  AWEA was correct to take on Bryce's misinformation and set the record straight. Climate Progress also picked apart Bryce's claims in detail.

But one important question remains - why does The New York Times print such misleading opinion pieces without revealing the clear conflict of interest that a Koch/Exxon-funded front group representative has on such matters? Did the Times’ even ask, and does it do so as a matter of standard practice? {C}
If not, the Times could quickly and easily implement and enforce a policy compelling such op-ed contributors to publicly state their financial conflicts of interest. After all, freelance contributors to the news side of the paper are held to such a standard. What's with the free pass that Bryce got?

The Times is well-regarded as one of the last bastions of journalistic integrity, which is why it’s so troubling to see the paper fail to enforce a reasonable standard of ethical disclosure on Bryce's prominent op-ed. The Times ought to provide readers with basic information about the conflicts of interest that a contributor might have.

This is about basic ethics, and doesn't even reach the level of asking the Times to actually verify facts in op-eds – a step that would inform readers about the blatant misrepresentations and distortions of fact made in propaganda pieces like Bryce's.

It's not difficult to see that his arguments that wind and solar renewable energy projects take up more land than fossil fuel and nuclear operations are preposterous.  Does anyone really believe Bryce's claim that wind turbines (which each have a very small physical footprint) are more land-intensive than, say, blowing the tops of hundreds of Appalachian mountains to extract coal, or the vast amounts of land swallowed by oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines, oil rigs, pump stations, and the roads built specifically to move all that drilling equipment around?

If The New York Times had a policy requiring op-ed contributors to answer basic questions about their funding sources and conflicts of interest, perhaps readers wouldn't be misled by such pieces.

In this case, had the Times’ opinion page staff asked Bryce where his group the Manhattan Institute gets its funding, readers would learn that the groups gets a significant amount of money from dirty energy interests including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

How hard is that, really?

Dirty energy interests know they can game the papers, and that's why front groups like Bryce's Manhattan Institute and dozens of similar industry PR firms bother to masquerade as think tanks. It's a decades-old practice stretching all the way back to the call in the 1971 Powell Manifesto to start launching such groups.

By requiring op-ed contributors to disclose financial conflicts, direct or indirect, on the subject of their pieces, the Times would begin to unmask this cottage industry.

In order to set such a policy, the Times would need to look no further than the very standard it applies to its own news staff through its code of ethics:

“Masquerading. Times reporters do not actively misrepresent their identity to get a story. We may sometimes remain silent on our identity and allow assumptions to be made ­ to observe an institution's dealings with the public, for example, or the behavior of people at a rally or police officers in a bar near the station house. But a sustained, systematic deception, even a passive one … may be employed only after consultation between a department head and masthead editors.” [emphasis added]

The Times’ opinion page editors should apply the spirit of that standard on masquerading by asking a few direct questions of op-ed contributors like Bryce about their funding.

By failing to implement this simple standard, the Times enables the printing of industry propaganda on its influential opinion pages.

*Phone and email messages sent by DeSmogBlog to New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane inquiring about this policy discrepancy have not been answered, but we will update this post when we hear from him.

          A Step in the Right Direction on Menstrual Stigma in Nepal        

In July, 18-year-old Tulasi Shahi died after a snake bit her while she slept in a shed where she had been banished – because she was menstruating. The shed, unlike her home, was open to snakes and other animals.

A chaupadi hut, in a family's yard, where female members of the family are obliged to sleep during their menstrual periods. Kailali district, western Nepal.

© Heather Barr/Human Rights Watch

Her death was yet another from chaupadi, a Nepali practice banishing menstruating women and girls from their homes, stigmatizing and isolating them, pushing them out of education, and sometimes costing their lives.

On August 9, Nepal lawmakers made it a crime to force a woman or girl out of the house during menstruation. Those convicted could face three months imprisonment plus a fine.

Chaupadi is practiced by up to 95 percent of families in some parts of western and mid-western Nepal, fuelled by the mistaken belief that menstruating women and girls are “unclean.” They are forbidden from touching or mingling with other people, and have to stay outside the family home, usually in a hut or shed of the type in which Tulasi was bitten. 

Deaths from chaupadi occur from fire and smoke inhalation, as women struggle to stay warm in the huts during Nepal’s harsh winters, and from animal attacks. But other destructive consequences of chaupadi are far more widespread. The stigma discourages girls from attending school during menstruation. Many schools also lack proper toilets to allow them to manage hygiene. 

When Human Rights Watch researched child marriage in Nepal, we heard from girls who missed school during menstruation. Girls fell behind, sometimes leaving school as a result. In Nepal, where 37 percent of girls marry before age 18, leaving school often leads to marriage.

The new law is a positive sign. But in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled the practice was illegal, and yet it continues.

For real change, the government should educate communities, debunk myths about menstruating women, and help develop social norms that stigmatize continued practice of chaupadi. The government’s network of village-based health volunteers is an excellent resource for this task.

The government should also do more to ensure that people have access to water and toilets. Thirty-eight percent of Nepalis are without a toilet, and 15 percent are without a water supply. This week’s new law is a start, but the Nepal government should do much more.

          Japan bans Gardasil – debunking myths about the HPV vaccine        

The Skeptical Raptor, stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle.

One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccination movement is that Japan bans Gardasil – oh noes! Of course, like a lot of the junk information passed along by the anti-vaccine crowd, it’s completely false, unless you’re willing to take anything they say on faith. There are a couple of consistent trends in …

Skeptical Raptor

          Paul Offit MD – debunking the anti-vaccine tropes and myths        

The Skeptical Raptor, stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle.

I have long considered Paul Offit MD as one of heroes and leaders of the public discussion of how vaccines save lives, and how they have made the lives of the world’s children healthier and better. Dr. Offit, together with Edward Jenner (the father of immunology), Jonas Salk (discoverer of the polio vaccine), and Maurice Hillman (inventor of the …

Skeptical Raptor

          Gardasil safety and efficacy – debunking the HPV vaccine myths        

The Skeptical Raptor, stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle.

There was an article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself. …

Skeptical Raptor

          'Learn from Orang Asli, not just help them'         
Vinodh Pillai     Published     Updated
Changing our educational system to recognise the Orang Asli and to desist from treating them as if they are subordinates is the first step to co-existing with the indigenous community.

Doing so is also an important precedent, as we have much to learn from them, and not the other way around.

This was one of the points raised during discussions at a talk on the commendable morals of the Orang Asli communities.

The talk, "Materially Poor, Morally Rich: The Orang Asli, Malaysia's First Peoples", was delivered by professor Alberto Gomez, a seasoned anthropologist, to a crowd of more than 50 people at Sunway University on Friday.

Gomez has been studying the Semang and Semai people, two ethnic aboriginal groups in Malaysia, since the 1970s.

Having stayed with these communities in the past, he reflected: "Instead of teaching indigenous people like the Orang Asli, we must make them our teachers.

"There is much we can learn from ways they relate to their fellow humans and the natural environment."

This includes solving global problems such as climate change, racism and even violent conflicts.

Five fishes, sense of reciprocation

Gomez recalled how he had once observed Orang Asli villagers giving fish to one another.

"One family collected five fishes and gave four other families one fish each. This went on until the five families (who were doing the same thing) had collected five fishes each.

"I asked the first family, "Why not just keep the fishes for yourself, since you got five fishes in the end anyway?"

This question was simply disregarded by the villagers, Gomez said.

It was this spirit of generosity and reciprocity that formed the cement of these relationships, which other community members could learn from as well.

Gomez also said the Orang Asli would first seek blessings from the deity of the land before plowing or building works were done, as a respect for Nature.

"The people can take up the practices and beliefs of the Orang Asli, and adopt them into their own lives."

He also painted a slightly different story of what the Orang Asli go through when their forests are cleared.

"(Imagine) your social identity being so intimately connected to the land, that if you were to change it (by clearing the forest), you would be (removing) visible, concrete connections that you have in history.

"A walk into the forest is a journey into their past."

Gomez further claimed that clearing the forest was tantamount to wiping out a museum, or going to the British archives and destroying them.

Respect and understanding

Missionary workers who visit Orang Asli villagers should not be saying they were there to help them.

"(They) should be going to learn from them, not wanting to help them. The exchange must be made through mutual respect," Gomez said, and he went on to debunk an often used saying coined by Charles Darwin.
"The concept of 'survival of the fittest' is (wrong) as later editions of his (Darwin's) work claimed that the fittest species are the ones who cooperate, and are more likely to survive."
Asked how he would strategise on this, Gomez remarked, "That's why I'm standing here."

He likened having dialogues and conversations like this to a small hammer chiseling away on a massive wall that had been up for years, an analogy similar to breaking ice blocks to start conversations.

"I remain quite hopeful and optimistic, as there have been many positive changes taking place in the past (in this regard)," he said.

Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/388699#ixzz4n40BqQVO

          Permanent Top Post--Scroll Down for Newer Posts        
(Note: The date on this post is intentional; it keeps this post pinned to the top. Thanks for asking!).

11/11/07 Update: Loose Change Final Cut has just been released and so we have not prepared a full debunking. Both James and I have many comments about the movie below and I started a thread over at JREF with some examples of mistakes in the film. Much of the rest of the information in this particular post concerns the earlier versions of Loose Change.

Because this blog is getting so much traffic from Google searches and referrals from various forums and Wikipedia, we decided to put one post up top to link to information our newest visitors are apparently looking for.

First, if you have not seen the film and want to watch it, be sure to watch the annotated version, which was named after this blog, Screw Loose Change. The creator did a terrific job on this, and we strongly recommend watching this version rather than Dylan Avery's cut.

James has put together a list of major lies in Loose Change. Here's Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

I compiled three very easily refuted lies in the movie. I also showed three tricks and distortions that are used throughout the film.

A friend of the blog named Mark Roberts (aka Gravy at the JREF forums) compiled this amazing Viewer's Guide to Loose Change, (now HTML) which includes a complete transcript of the movie, pictures and links that refute many of the claims, and which highlights the changes between Version 1 and Version 2.

The hot new film in 9-11 Denial is called 9-11 Mysteries. One of our JREF buddies, The Doc, has put together a rebuttal video called (you guessed it!) Screw 9-11 Mysteries, and assembled a viewers' guide to 9-11 Mysteries.

Many 9-11 Deniers focus on the collapse of World Trade Center 7, which fell at 5:20 PM on September 11, almost seven hours after the North Tower. If you want a really detailed analysis of WTC 7, I recommend Mark Robert's WTC 7 and the Lies of the 9/11 Truth Movement. I also recommend the BBC's terrific video on The Third Tower.

If you'd like to discuss the ideas about 9-11 you've encountered here or elsewhere, another friend of the blog started a Screw Loose Change Forum. It's a very lively place with lots of opinion back and forth between both sides. There's also a Screw Loose Change MySpace page, with some animated commentary. Of course, we also welcome comments on our posts.

If you're looking for detailed rebuttals of other aspects of 9-11 Denial, I heartily recommend 9-11 Myths, Debunking 9-11 and Internet Detectives.

Markyx has also put together a video (note: graphic images and strong language) called 9-11 Deniers Speak. If you think Dylan Avery and Jim Fetzer have any respect for the victims of 9-11, just watch this film. There are five parts. Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
There's also a Google Video which is all in one part.

This should be enough to get you started debunking Loose Change to your friends. We have a lot more content below this post.

Notes on unusual terms/abbreviations: Looser (not a misspelling of Loser)=Believer in Loose Change. CT=Conspiracy Theory, Conspiracy Theorist. Truther=9-11 Conspiracy Theorist (all Loosers are Truthers, not all Truthers are Loosers). OS=Official Story. CD= Controlled Demoliton. LIHOP: Let It Happen On Purpose; theory that the government knew the 9-11 attacks were coming but allowed them to happen to further other goals of theirs. MIHOP: Made It Happen On Purpose; theory that the government planned and orchestrated the attacks. Most Truthers are MIHOP.

Update: Comments closed on this post, which is intended solely as a pointer. Because Haloscan will not let us close comments on a particular post, be forewarned: Don't leave a comment in this post or it will be deleted.

Update II: Note on comments: Because some of our commenters have chosen to act like children, we are no longer allowing comments.
          Has It Only Been Ten Years?        
 A little more than a decade ago, I was looking for reviews of the then-current movie by Paul Greenglass, United 93.  As it happened a few writers for the Huffington Post had been invited to the Tribeca premiere and they wrote glowing reviews of the film.  But in the comments section I found numerous references to the internet sensation, Loose Change, which, I was assured would change my life forever.

It was late on a Friday afternoon, and so I watched Loose Change and sure enough it changed my life forever.  I wrote a post about it on my main blog, Brainster's:

Let me put this as bluntly as possible. If you believe the vast conspiracy theory of Loose Change, you are a nut. Ignoring for the moment the debunking provided by Popular Mechanics, consider that you would have to believe in a conspiracy involving hundreds of people concerning the biggest news event of this century so far, and that none of these people have come forward.
 As it happened, James B, a blogger whom I had cooperated with on a couple posts debunking the NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, sent me an email after my post, suggesting that we collaborate on a blog that he had already started, called Loose Change, Loose Screw.  As the marketing genius that I am, I came up with a better title, Screw Loose Change, although I admit, that most people seemed to miss the "Screw Loose" part, and seemed to think that the blog title was only a middle finger to Dylan and the boys.

What came next I certainly never predicted. We ended up with 10,000 hits in our first 24 hours.  It turned out that there was a huge public (and media) demand for a site that debunked the ridiculous claims of Loose Change.  Within the first few months, either James or I was interviewed on at least a dozen radio programs, including the BBC's World News Today.  We were cited in the 9-11 Fifth Anniversary issues of Time and US News and World Report.

In February of 2007, I collaborated with Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times to break the story that a Chandler, Arizona, conference of the 9-11 kooks was being hosted by a holocaust denier named Eric D. Williams.  Stephen was kind enough to six months later get me featured on the front cover of the Phoenix New Times, and no, I still haven't lost the beer belly, damnit!

Reflections, ten years later?  For starters, timing is everything.  Debunking the 9-11 conspiracy theories (and blogging) was hot in 2006, and James and I hopped on top of a wave.  We weren't the first (McKinney Sucks), and we weren't the best (Mark (Gravy) Roberts), but we showed up and got lucky.

Nowadays the conspiracy theories about 9-11 have been relegated to the lunatic fringe.  I'd like to take credit (along with James B, Gravy and others), but realistically they could never survive any kind of hard scrutiny, and they were doomed with Obama's election in 2008.

Thanks to James B, and thanks to the many other debunkers who have done the hard work. For the most part, I admit I have been Nelson Muntz.
          The Teeth Beneath Your Feet: Oddities in Urban Archaeology        

Where can you find a teacup, the molar of a goat, and an arrowhead all in one place? At an urban archaeology site, that’s where. This episode of Distillations goes underground, and reveals the fascinating worlds beneath our city shoes.

First, we visit an artifact processing lab where volunteers are dusting off thousands of objects from a historic street in Philadelphia. Then we stop in on an excavation site alongside Interstate 95.

Then, we'll talk to Doug Mooney, a senior archaeologist at URS corporation and the president of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, and Deirdre Kelleher, an archaeologist finishing her doctorate at Temple University. They describe their experiences with public archaeology, debunk a few of the field’s myths (no dinosaurs here, folks) and describe the unique process of digging in cities.


00:03 Introduction

01:05 After the dig: Artifact processing at Temple University

05:40 During the dig: Uncovering history along I-95

09:41 Interview with Deirdre Kelleher and Doug Mooney


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy

Guests: Deirdre Kelleher and Doug Mooney

Reporter, Producer & Editor: Mariel Carr


 “Quirky Sleuth” Philip Guyler, Audio Network

“Actual Reality” Lucky Dragons  

“Nature Kid” Podington Bear 

“Hallon” Christian Bjoerklund 

“What Is Its Vessel?” Dave Merson Hess 

“Fisherman” Dave Merson Hess 

“I Like Dogs” Dave Merson Hess 

“Dream” (instrumental) Chan Wai Fat 

“The Bear’s Just for Show” Krackatoa

“Healing Sleep” Infinite Third 

“Orange Juice” Podington Bear 

“Starling” Podington Bear 

 All songs courtesy of the Free Music Archive, freemusicarchive.org


Check out Distillations magazine at distillations.org, where you'll find articles, videos, and our podcast.




          Digging Up the Bodies: Debunking CSI and Other Forensics Myths        

Thanks to modern technology most crimes these days can be neatly solved in under an hour. At least that's what fictional TV shows like CSI seem to suggest. 

We wanted to address the so-called "CSI Effect," caused by the simplification of forensic science in popular culture. CSI and  likeminded TV shows–with their heroic investigators solving crimes in mere minutes–mislead viewers and affect real court cases. The reality of investigation is much slower and more complex, but no less fascinating.

Hosts Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy speak with experts Anna Dhody, a physical and forensic anthropologist, and Lisa Rosner, a historian. They discuss the early days of solving crime and the on-going chemistry of the human body throughout life and death.


00:03 Introduction

02:03 Past and present: the "CSI Effect"  

05:00 Forensic science: its beginnings

06:40 Burke and Hare: the not-quite body snatchers

09:34 Digging up the bodies: mass murder in Peru

11:11 The chemistry of bodies

12:44 Skulls, phrenology, and race


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy

Guests: Anna Dhody and Lisa Rosner

Producer & Editor: Mariel Carr

"Stabbings" by Moby, courtesy of Mobygratis.com


check out Distillations magazine at distillations.org, where you'll find articles, videos, and our podcast.


          Interview With a Survivor        
Our Italian debunking buddies interview a man who was visiting the 64th floor of the South Tower when the first plane hit, and in the stairwell when the second plane hit his building.  Some interesting details about the security situation:
When you go through the lobby you had to get your picture taken and they were giving you a card with your picture and the date and what floors you were supposed to be on, with that card you could go to the elevators and go to whatever floor you were designated to. They really had good security at the World Trade Center. I went up to the 64th floor of the South Tower, I talked to the receptionist and she brought me to the conference room where my meeting was meant to begin at 8 o'clock, I think we started a little bit late like 8:05.
Unlikely to convince the Troofers that security was too tight for their fanciful thermite emplacement, but then again nothing is going to sway them.

          The Hidden World of Hibernation        
Does midwinter make you want to eat all the food in your fridge, curl up in a duvet and sleep until spring? You're not alone, many plants and animals feel the same way, but you might not be so keen when we tell you just what it would do to your body! Snuggle down as we explore the world of hibernation and how it might be used to help humans. Plus, in the news: detoxing debunked and the miracle of the microbiome.
          Mario Creator Shigeru Miyamoto Debunks Mario Myths [Video]        
Is Mario dying on the front cover of the original game? Does Mario break bricks with his head or his fist? Do Bob-ombs become Boos after they explode? These are the hard hitting questions that fans have wanted to know for years, and now Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has the answers. Continue reading…
          Re:Politics - USA        
jreilly89 wrote: I would argue that in this case not supporting Trumpo is the better move, as he is a very close embodiment of Hitler.

He's not a close embodiment of Hitler. He's not even really that conservative if you look at his well-documented history - he's functionally a moderate who is playing to the base in an extremely exaggerated, "no one's going to call me on my gak" manner. And why not? It's totally working, it's worked the whole campaign, because he's expertly played a media which cares about drama more than honesty.

But at the end of the day he's just clownish dude who says ridiculous gak which I don't think anyone thinks he really believes, which incidentally revealed an ugly side of the American voting public in 2016, and I think he'd probably not be a great president, but calling him Hitler is more than a little ridiculous, I'm sorry.

skyth wrote:I just had a thought. What are upsides/downsides of Hillary just boycotting any debates with Trump?

None. She should absolutely debate him. She's terrible campaigner, but she generally doesn't cause self-inflicted wounds the way that Trump does - some of his biggest controversies have been totally unforced errors. He'll be a little more polished now but the chances of him saying something that hurt his own electability remain very high, in my opinion. And also...

skyth wrote:I was just thinking...Debating him gives a false sense of legitimacy to him and his ideas.

His ideas are legitimate, though. He is his parties nominee. I think he's sort of a ridiculous choice, but they were all sort of terrible choices and this is who the people wanted. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hillary Clinton has an obligation to debate him, but our process works best when the people are well informed, and the people are best informed by knowing more about the candidate's ideas and temperaments via a debate, ideally more than one debate.

Anyway, the other side of the coin is the perception that Trump is a dangerous outsider representing the people that the establishment is afraid of. Hillary Clinton is an establishment candidate. Why feed into that mystique? It empowers him, it's what his base loves about him. It would be a huge mistake. Better to simply reveal him for what he is, an easily angered blowhard who says stupid things he doesn't really believe, who constantly issues easily debunked lies, often doesn't know what he is talking about, and who doesn't really have the background, temperament or gravitas to be POTUS.

          Reply #5440        
Thanks for this info zzplay. I requested the actual book number, so I'll share it when I get it to confirm it as soon as I get it.

If the prize claimed was on the 95k, then I would also assume that the first jackpot would be on the earlier ticket range. Wouldn't it be quite the plot twist if the second jackpot were on book 105k or 110k to totally debunk our theory about first print/second print/grouping? Certainly, there's plenty of rolls in the 60k and under range out there on the $10 H... [ More ]
          Re:Politics - USA        
Seaward wrote:
Trump's an idiot and a buffoon. I'd love to not have to vote for him this cycle, but that would require the Democrats to a) guarantee not to throw up anti-2nd Amendment/anti-capitalist/anti-individual liberty justice nominations, and b) guarantee not to continue doing their best to reduce defense readiness and capability. Neither of those things will happen.

But at least I'm perfectly willing to admit the massive flaws in the Republicans' nominee this year.
You actually think Trump wouldn't just decide to nominate whomever he wants to the Supreme Court? You're a fool if you think otherwise.

I go with Politico on this one:

Politico wrote:And Sanders has long been unabashed about his socialist beliefs. “Nobody should earn more than $1 million,” he told the Burlington Free Press in 1974.

“I believe that, in the long run, major industries in this state and nation should be publicly owned and controlled by the workers themselves,” he wrote in 1976.

I suppose we then have to quibble about what he meant by 'major' industries.
Okay, so you found something he said forty years ago and you think that he hasn't changed his mind since then. That's obviously a problem to you, but you'll be willing vote for the guy that supported Obama's call for stricter gun control after Newtown four years ago because you think he won't try to feth with our gun rights?

I mean...let's be real, dude. He flew down as a guest of Ortega specifically to attend anti-American rallies, and reportedly joined in on the ""Yankees must die" chant.

As far as the Socialist Workers Party platform...sure, I suppose it's possible he didn't actually believe in their platform. I'd personally probably not throw my lot in with a fringe third party spouting anti-American rhetoric during a national crisis if I didn't believe said anti-American rhetoric, but hell, Bernie's belief that he can win the nomination shows us his mental calculus isn't exactly the average person's.
You're right, he did fly to Nicaragua and if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, I would expect him to have his feet held to fire over it. In the same breath, the United States still actively supported the Contras despite the fact that it was illegal to do so. I actually think he's a reasonably smart guy but I wouldn't vote for him. The primary system is gakky, but he isn't losing because it's rigged against him, he's losing because he's not a good candidate.

I'd be careful throwing around "derposphere," by the way; you're backing a candidate who thinks cervical cancer is caused by sexual repression and that children should be encouraged to touch each other's genitals. And that's before we even get into his weird rape fantasy essays.
Backing which candidate? Sanders? Please show me where I have ever stated support for Sanders. You have the same problem as Whembly, where you think that when someone disagrees with you or debunks your bs, that means they like the opposite of what you like. Here's some shocking news for you, I voted for Marco Rubio in Virginia's primary. I don't support Sanders or Clinton or Trump, I just have a low tolerance for sweeping, baseless generalizations.

Cool. If you were talking about the "people's revolution" as a youth and still making the occasional slip and mentioning the "people's revolution" on the campaign trail in your '80s, I'm a lot more skeptical that your beliefs have changed.
Sure, you're entitled to believe whatever you want, just admit that you're doing it solely because your biased against left wing politicians. Trump changes what he believes on a fething daily basis so there is no way to know what he actually thinks. That's a pretty serious issue for a major party candidate.
          A Remediation's Remediation?        
Jan Baetens

In Remediation: Understanding New Media (Bolter and Grusin 1999) proposed a theory on media evolution that attempted to break with the myth of the newness of new media and the linear supersession of older media by newer ones (their main target, although this is not the explicit program of the book, is definitely Marshall McLuhan, whose teleological Understanding New Media is clearly meant to be remediated by a more nuanced and more powerful theory). Coining the notion of Remediation, they argued that each new media refashioned at least one older medium. This process of refashioning, however, does not obey a single strategy: if the basic aim of each Remediation seems to be the increase of realism, this call for immediate transparency does not suffice to explain the whole picture. For Bolter and Grusin, a second strategy has to be taken into account, namely the need to foreground the new medium itself, which gives its user a more vivid experience than the older one. Media history and intermedia relationships are therefore the result of these two interacting strategies and forces, which should never be separated if the Remediation’s goal is to be successful, i.e. to become the new (although always provisory) standard in the field.

Remediation is without any doubt a seductive book, and it has seduced many readers, although not everybody felt happy with the all-encompassing and rather decontextualized sesam-like theory of transparency/hypermediacy (see Kirshenbaum’s 1999 review of Remediation and the accompanying Riposte by Baetens).

I apologize for this long introduction to a review of Bolter’s new book (written in collaboration with Diane Gromala, chair of the SIGGRAPH 2000 Art Committee and curator of the art gallery of this “fair”), but such an introduction is exactly what the authors claim not to provide. There is of course an introduction, and even a whole set of them (as if the absence was contagious!), but these pages are in a sense “self-destructive.” They explain that the book has in view a very particular readership (it aims toward the community of graphic designers, not that of other readers, those for instance interested in media theory), adding that there will be thus no comments on the theoretical background of this mostly hands-on project:

Finally, we acknowledge the work of the following critics and theorists. Readers (and especially reviewers of our book) all have their favorites and are likely to complain that we are ignorant of this or that key idea. We are no doubt ignorant of many important ideas, but we are acquainted with the contributions of the theorists and theories listed below. We choose not to discuss them, because this is a book about the craft of and the material engagement with digital art and design, and we believe that the theoretical literature often strays too far from practice to be useful for our purposes:

Richard Dawkins and memes
Deleuze and Guattari and rhizomes
Donna Haraway and cyborgs
Heidegger and enframing
The Frankfurt School and the culture industry
Lacan and the mirror stage
Baudrillard and simulacra


(The reader will notice that there is no final point at the end of this enumeration).

This double exclusion (of a certain type of reader on the one hand and of a certain type of discourse on the other) is the more strange since Windows and Mirrors is deeply rooted in the theoretical stances of two authors whose name and work is lacking in the list above (and even in the bibliography and the index!): Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, whose Remediation is clearly “applied” in this book by Bolter and Gromala. The double metaphor of “window” and “mirror” and its double definition as “looking through (the medium) and “looking at (the medium”) are manifest transcodings of the concepts of “transparency” (realism) and “hypermediacy” (experience). First, an application of Remediation is made to a very specific field, that of graphic design (although some odd things happen here: in fact, the book is on digital art, but this field is considered the quintessence of what graphic design should be and signify today, a wonderful theoretical coup d’état that is nowhere fully motivated). Second, an application is made to the book, i.e. Windows and Mirrors, itself. Remediation was certainly an attractively printed and cleverly illustrated book, and it surely made some attempts to take the digital revolution into account, for instance by inventing a kind of hypertextual variant of the traditional footnote, but these attempts remained rather elementary: readers of SMLXL (Koolhaas 1995) must have found Remediation very old-fashioned).

[ See also Anne Burdick’s review of Bolter’s Writing Space for further discussion of designwriting, eds. ]

A reader with bad faith could say that Windows and Mirrors is nothing more than a quickly made spin-off of Remediation, well served by the wonderful merchandising machine that is MIT. A pretty spin-off and a good-looking one, but nevertheless also a disappointing one. Indeed, despite its fascinating examples, its clear and well-written historical and theoretical enframings, many things go wrong in this book.

One may regret for instance that the global theory of Remediation is not even presented: it is taken for granted that this theory exists, that everybody knows and accept it, and that is does not need any further analysis (in short: as if it had become perfect common knowledge or, to stay in the Barthesian terminology of Bolter and Gromala, a myth; if one were a follower of Charles Sander Peirce, one might say the Remediation theory functions as an unquestioned and unchallengeable “final interpretant,” beyond any doubt, and even beyond the very consciousness). This is of course very dangerous, since it brings the authors to adopt a pretty doxological tone. Every ten pages (say, at the end of each chapter) we are reminded of the Universal Truth of graphic design, with all the DOs and DON’Ts that this position entails. One example among many others:

Good design does not mold users according to its recipe; instead, it allows users to see themselves (and the process and contexts of design) in the interface. An effective interface functions as a mirror as well as a window. (74)

The rephrasing of Remediation, as all readers of this book will observe immediately is utterly transparent. Yet the veracity of all these truths is relative: it depends on many factors, whose role is not always fully incorporated in the book. If the thesis “an effective interface functions as a mirror as well as a window” is true (and why not?), it is not because the authors have been giving arguments for this claim, but because they manage to demonstrate the falseness of what they consider the opposite claim, namely the idea that good graphic design is transparent design (Bolter and Grusin seem to have a particular dislike of Nielsen [2000] and Norman [1998]). But the fact that a theory “X” proves to be wrong does not imply at all that the opposite theory is rightjo (though this is exactly the stance that Bolter and Gromala are taking throughout the whole book).

Moreover, the opposition of transparency/hypermediacy (in the metaphoric terminology of Bolter and Gromala this becomes: mirror/window) remains unclear. It is not clear whether the mirror-like stance of “reflectivity” (in Windows and Mirrors there is no room any longer for the concept of “hypermediacy”) and experience represent something good in itself or not. In other words: do Bolter and Gromala make a plea for the triad mirror/reflectivity/experience as such or do they defend a kind of middle-of-the-road combination of transparency on the one hand and reflectivity on the other? In the beginning of Windows and Mirrors, one has the strong impression that Bolter and Gromala defend strongly the side of the “mirror” as a necessary antithesis to the unsuccessful transparency thesis. Yet the more one advances in the book, the more one notices that the important thing for Bolter and Gromala is not the antithetical relationship of windows and mirrors; instead what counts is their peaceful and ecumenical synthesis. From a theoretical point of view, of course, this makes a world of difference. Indeed, if the aim of the book is to remediate graphic design by proposing, thanks to the examples given by contemporary digital art, a blending of transparency and reflectivity, this has a crucial consequence for the position of the reflectivity pole, which then ceases to be the “good guy” in the eternal battle between right and wrong (I’m sorry for this language, partly inspired by Bolter’s and Gromala’s love of parables). If what matters is the good balance between both sides, then one might argue that the problem of graphic design is as much that of the “mirror” than it is of the “window.” In other words: if it is true that we need more reflectivity in order to compensate for the errors of transparency, it is no less true that we also need more transparency to counterbalance the imperfections of reflectivity. Unfortunately, this is not the logical stance taken by Bolter and Gromala, who are obnubilated by their will to debunk the position of people like Nielsen and Norman (and, more curiously, Tschichold, the ultimate modern representative of the despised transparency myth).

This major theoretical flaw of Windows and Mirrors does not of course prevent the reader from discovering many interesting presentations and analyses of digital art. Even the fact that the works presented do not cover the whole field (readers looking for a good general introduction will be better off with Lunenfeld [2000]), but rather more resemble extracts of the SIGGRAPH 2000 catalogue, is not annoying. The works themselves are generally fascinating. The readings proposed by the authors and their theoretical and historical framing are without exception illuminating. And the systematic “lesson” Bolter and Gromala draw from their interpretations (“there’s nothing like a good mix of transparency and reflectivity, and it works!, as we saw it, not on television but at SIGGRAPH 2000”) has many convincing aspects. What is actually lacking, however, is what is announced in the very blurb of the book: the application of digital art to graphic design. It does not suffice to postulate that digital art shows what graphic design is or should be today, one should also be able to produce actual examples of digital graphic design. In this respect, Windows and Mirrors is doubly disappointing.

It is disappointing, first, because the examples given are not analyzed but simply enumerated. After eight chapters giving a detailed analysis of eight works of the SIGGRAPH fair (including the display of the works in the art gallery itself), Windows and Mirrors dedicates one short chapter to examples of digital graphic design, but it does nothing more than list names and titles, without any further analysis.

Second, the authors claim their book to be an ars poetica, i.e. a performance in practice of what it proposes in theory: “…we have tried to produce this book according to the principle that we have been preaching: to make it an experience that is both transparent and reflective” (164). The reader of Windows and Mirrors will not be convinced by this final revelation, since the overall lay-out of the book is very academic and even dull (one can only regret Marshall McLuhan’s and Quentin Fiore’s mind-broadening psychedelic experiments of the 60s, not to speak of the more recent explorations of some printed no-man’s-land by Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas). In this respect the final halleluhia surrounding the digitally remediated typeface “Excretia” makes things only worse. Excretia is a “morphing” typeface that changes following the writer’s bodily states:

The writer is hooked up to a biofeedback device, which measures her heart rate, respiration, and galvanic skin response. As she writes, these continuous streams of data affect the visual character of the typeface. The words “throb” as her hearts beats; they grow tendrils and spikes if she becomes “excitable.” As the writer works, the text she has already written may continue to change, or she may choose to freeze it to reflect her state at the very instant of the writing - in effect, to create a biological-typographical record. The same word may have a very different feel, texture, and therefore meaning at different times… With Excretia, a word processor is no longer simply a productivity tool but a reflective experience in itself. (166)

What is needed here is a strong skeptical response. Not only does the reader not necessarily care for these effects (one should never forget what good old Flaubert said: “Art has nothing to do with the artist” - but everything to do with the work and its impact on the audience). But what Bolter and Gromala are doing in their book has nothing to do with their claims on remediated typography. Actually, their new typeface Excretia does not play any serious part in the design of Windows and Mirrors. The fact that it is incorporated in the typographical form of the title of the chapter does not mean anything for the global design of the book (it is the usual error of typeface designers who make a confusion between typeface and design, between the part and the whole). In order to prove successful, the new typeface should have been used throughout the whole work (and not only as a kind of decorative element at the mere level of the title, where one often finds typographical “figures of speech”) and it should have been incorporated at the level of the page lay-out (and it is impossible to discover any influence or Remediation whatsoever at this page level, contrary to other recent books by MIT such as Hayles (2002) [see Baetens 2003]). All this is definitely not the case, and for very good reasons. A more systematic use of Excretia would have increased dramatically the book’s reflectivity, which is clearly not what the authors want to accomplish: what they have in mind is the transparent communication of a simple message; what they want to give is a “window” on the “mirror,” not the opposite, and not even a blending of both.


Jan BAETENS (2000). “A Critique of Cyberhybrid-hype,” in Jan Baetens and José Lambert (eds), The Future of Cultural Studies. Leuven: Leuven UP, 153-171.

Jan BAETENS (2003). “The Book as Technotext: Katherine Hayles’s Digital Materialism,” in Image and Narrative , 7. n.p.

Jay David BOLTER and Richard GRUSIN (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

Katherine HAYLES (2002). Writing Machines. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

Matt KIRSCHENBAUM (1999), Media, Genealogy, History, in ebr.

Rem KOOLHAAS (1995) S.M.L.XL: O.M.A. Rotterdam: 010.

Peter LUNENFELD (2000). Snap to Grid. A User’s Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

Jakob NIELSEN (2000). Designing Web Usability. Indianapolis: New Riders.

Donald NORMAN (1998). The Invisible computer. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.

          Stein Derangement Syndrome        

There are 41 names included in the document requests sent to Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, and Paul Manafort’s lawyer, Reginald Brown, by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The requests include communications involving many individuals known to be ensnared in the Russia investigation, from President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But while this roster of characters would have made for a fine John Le Carré novel, one name included therein immediately attracted online speculation: that of former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

This is the article that sealed it for me.  I'll never be a Democratic party member ever again, and I'll find myself hard-pressed to vote for Democrats (even temperate judicial candidates who wave the pom poms and cheer on their teammates) in the future.  But because the only other alternative is more messed up than this, there will be an enormous number of undervotes on my ballot in elections to come.  That's sure going to suck, isn't it?  When you stop 'voting to block', so to speak, you're not left with many people to vote for.

There's been a long piece outlining the dysfunction of the Green Party in draft status for almost a month, but David Collins did a better job, and Gadfly had his take, not all of which I agree with -- he doesn't care for Stein and David Cobb too much, and I do, for openers -- but it's good enough to fill in some of the blanks from an outsider perspective (Collins is the insider, I am the former insider).  The topic of intra-Green squabbling is, however, clearly not of interest to most people; I had difficulty making the effort to put thoughts on the screen, and not because I didn't have any.  And not because they weren't strong thoughts, either.

It's worth repeating my premise that Texas has the worst Republicans in the country because it also has the lamest, weakest, worst Democrats.  (Greg Abbott campaigns against Nancy Pelosi and California because of this.)  By extension, Texas Democrats have their own little dog to kick, and it's Texas Greens.  This analogy extends, generally, to the nation at large.  When Democrats are feeling particularly bad about themselves, or need to feel better by being petty, mean, and vindictive toward others ... the Greens, from Ralph Nader to Jill Stein, are always there for them.

What, exactly, Stein has to do with Trump Jr.’s meeting last summer with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya is unclear, as the Senate Judiciary Committee provided no context for its demands, which are to be honored by August 2. A request for an explanation to Stein’s former campaign manager remains unanswered at this time. And though she is active on Twitter, Stein has made no acknowledgement on that social media network of her name’s appearance in the Trump Jr. inquest.

None of this, of course, prevented some on Twitter from rejoicing at the prospect, however unfounded, that Stein was herself the subject of investigation. The glee is premature but understandable. (sic) Stein’s self-righteousness (sic) exasperated many supporters of Hillary Clinton, as did her portrayal of Clinton as effectively no better a choice for true liberals than Donald Trump. Some have blamed Stein for “spoiling” the election (sic), doing for Clinton what her fellow progressive Ralph Nader had done 17 years before for Al Gore. Her demand for a recount—a demand for which she reaped $7 million in donations—struck some as a pointless publicity ploy.

Author's insertions of 'I know better than this' should suffice for those who've read this blog in the past, and maybe later I'll go dig out the links to myself that re-explain it to those that need it.  Let's take the 'pointless political ploy' part and debunk that.  I can assure you that the vast majority of the money Stein raised for the recount -- over $2 million in 24 hours, almost $7 million in a week -- came from the very same Clinton-voting Democrats who hold her in such aggressive contempt (and did so before, for that matter).  I read their posts declaring they donated on various social media fora, and I looked at the financial reports.  News coverage at the time was demonstrative of the fact that the effort was no "ploy".  As a contributor at Bradblog, I saw and read the daily posts there as the recount effort was hindered, blocked, and finally halted ... by mostly Democratic election officials and judges in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

These are also the same people who have smeared her with the false accusation about winking, nodding, playing footsie with, or otherwise giving tacit support to the anti-vax community.  Because that's what a person with a Harvard magna cum laude medical degree -- and 25 years of practicing and teaching medicine -- does, after all.

That’s all to say that, as the curiosity about her involvement with the Russia investigation plainly demonstrates, there remains remarkable ill will toward Stein and her role in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The questions about Stein’s ties to Russia are not new. They stem from a single photograph of Stein’s trip to Moscow in 2015. The image shows her dining at a table with Putin and Michael Flynn, the disgraced Trump adviser at the heart of the Russia probe.

Stein had never made any attempts to hide her trip to Russia or its purported intentions. “After this meeting I am more sure than ever that the ideas I'm bringing into the presidential race will allow the US and Russia to work together to address problems that would otherwise be intractable,” Stein said of the meeting on her campaign website.

More recently, she has defended herself against accusations that she was somehow involved in a joint effort with the Trump campaign and its Russian comrades to smear Clinton. When, last month, CNN’s Michael Smerconish asked Stein why she’d attended the dinner with Putin, she responded by deflecting blame. (sic)

“That picture didn’t start to circulate until long after the election,” Stein said, adding a little later: “It’s funny, Michael, you have to ask why is that picture kicking up a storm right now? I think it’s very related to the fact that the Democrats are looking for someone to blame.”

It is laugh-out-loud hilarious for a Democrat to accuse someone else (anybody else in the whole wide world) of 'deflecting blame'.

The political cartoonists get it, have always gotten it.

It’s unclear if members of the Senate Judiciary Committee know something of a previously undisclosed Stein "backchannel" to the Trump campaign or are simply reaching out to anyone who had contact with Russian officials during the presidential race. Whatever the case, her surprising cameo in the Trump Jr. letter gave some on Twitter occasion to rejoice.

And we'll stop there with that.  When Caitlyn Johnstone -- an Australian, so she can be excused, I suppose -- suggests "the left" should perform some outreach to the right, it's clear to me that she does not get that the left needs to perform some outreach to itself.

The fact is that Democrats hate the left more than they hate the right.

Their hatred is most evident when people who are truly on the left dare to make the case for political change. When Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost presidential races in the Electoral College, Democratic Party scorn was directed solely at the Green Party and their voters. In both elections there were far more instances of registered Democrats voting for George W. Bush and Donald Trump respectively. One would think that they would be marked for condemnation.

Instead the Democrats show their true colors, excusing and placating the turncoats in order to make the case for “lesser evil” neo-liberalism and imperialism.

The Russiagate phenomenon makes Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein an even bigger target. Stein visited Russia in 2015 and attended the RT network’s anniversary dinner. She was seated at the same table with Vladimir Putin, although the two never spoke. This simple act is now being included among the flimsy so-called evidence that the Russian government interfered in the election. The war party is an important part of the duopoly and leading Democrats are reveling in their opportunity to make political hay.

With all of the other excuses they could use for losing an election they should have won handily, blaming Jill Stein is, frankly, unhinged.  The self-examination and remediation needs to come from within Team Jackass, and by all appearances they haven't learned a goddamned fucking thing from 2016.  I'll put on my "sexist AND racist" flak jacket now, for when I eventually have to start criticizing the next Chosen One, Kamala Harris, who is following in Hillary Clinton's footsteps all the way to the Hamptons for fundraisers.  Already.

The Democrats are a lost cause; hopelessly lost, without a clue as to how clueless their latest rebranding is.  And this shit isn't funny.  It's the reason we have Justice Neil Gorsuch instead of Justice Merrick Garland, for one small thing.  Imagine being so weak that Mitch McConnell can kick your ass every single day, even as a dying John McCain kicks his.

They could, of course, seize the initiative and run on single-payer, but even those hideous California Democrats Greg Abbott complains about can't get on board with that, and when a Republican senator proposed it as an amendment to the repeal of Obamacare last night, Bernie Sanders convinced Schumer and company that the move was a trap.

(T)he amendment was meant to expose ideological differences among the Democratic party and its supporters — and distract from efforts to stop the repeal of Obamacare.


Fifty-seven Senators voted against the amendment, while 43 voted simply “present.” Four Democrats voted against the amendment: Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana.  

That's four-for-four on senators up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won in 2016.  If I weren't so nauseated thinking about shitty Blue Dogs, I'd Google up some polling about the popularity of Obamacare and single-payer in their states.  Instead I'll just send up the chant for their campaigns: "We're not stupid! We're not stupid!"

No.  Just no.  Not today, not next year, not in 2020.

          Conor Friedersdorf & Conn Carroll        
Serious 2012 contenders vs. the infotainment candidates ... Is Mitch Daniels being unfairly attacked from the right? ... Conn: Republicans look serious about entitlement reform ... Glenn Beck's website (partially?) debunks NPR sting video ... Is WikiLeaker Bradley Manning being treated inhumanely? ... Conor hopes for a civil libertarian GOP presidential candidate ...
          Headworn Microphone Mythbusting: March 2017 Subscriber Question of the Month        

This month, we debunk the myth that the sound quality of wireless headworn microphones is inferior to wired handheld microphones.

The post Headworn Microphone Mythbusting: March 2017 Subscriber Question of the Month appeared first on Shure Blog.

          Post #2: Please make it stop...        

I'd like to ask you all to do something. Something to help us win this election. Yeah, US.

The next time you pick up a newspaper and read a column by some liberal contributor trying to offer some advice to the Kerry campaign...

...or the next time you get online and read a blog post that second-guesses the decisions made by Kerry's campaign managers...

...please write to the author, via e-mail, snail mail, text messaging, whatever medium is available to you...

...and tell them to PUT A SOCK IN IT.

This is not 2000. If John Kerry falls short in November, don't blame his campaign. Don't blame the media. Blame the left. Blame yourself.

Those all important swing voters? Here's what they're hearing from the Bush camp:

"Our man is the only one who can protect us from the evildoers."

And here's what they're hearing from (broadly speaking) "us":

Why isn't Kerry ahead? Why isn't he hitting back harder? He should be talking about Iraq! He needs to address outsourcing! He needs to have Edwards play a more prominent role. He needs to stop being so long-winded. He needs to...

I don't know how else to put this. STOP THINKING ABOUT THE ELECTION LIKE A HORSERACE. I know, I know: I've not only pointed you to electoral-vote.com; I've expended quite a bit of energy breaking down the likely Electoral College outcomes. But I did it because so many people I knew were suddenly looking at polls -- after months of Kerry being ahead! -- and declaring defeat.

Please start looking at this election as an OPPORTUNITY. As a chance to have a voice again, to feel like your government is accountable to you. You think that the Democrats really aren't all that different than the Republicans when they're in power? Well then, trust me, the best thing you could possibly do is put the Democrats back in the majority. Because if there's one thing that Republicans do really well...no, it's not balancing the budget, or dealing with dictators, or making America safer. It's holding Democrats accountable. Republicans make awesome watchdogs when they're in the minority.

But I digress. There are only five weeks left before the election. The Kerry campaign is locked into a strategy now -- as is Bush's. So if this election matters to you, if you want to be sure that Bush is voted out of office, then it's time to start talking up John Kerry, John Edwards, and their thoughtful, detailed platform. I don't know what it is that you might not like about these two candidates -- personally, I think they're individually very strong, and make an absolutely incredible team -- but it's time to wake up to the realities: this is 2004, this election boils down to 4 more years of Bush-Cheney...OR the real possibilities offered by having Democrats control the White House again. Whatever your pet cause might be, ask yourself which scenario offers you more opportunities. More freedom.

Weak-kneed Democrats are doing far more damage to the Kerry campaign than the campaign could possibly do to itself. Stop wishing Kerry would do this, that, and the other. Stop taking advatange of every pro-Bush poll to wail publicly.

I'll end on this: every liberal I know has complained that the Kerry campaign failed to address the Swift Boat Liars' accusations quickly enough. Well, the true facts were out there from Day One: the blogosphere (and other non-mainstream outlets) debunked the SBL's claims within days, sometimes even hours. The information was readily available. So how many of you wrote to a media outlet to chastize them for giving the Swift Boat Liars the time of day?

Yeah, didn't think so.

Well, look at the right-wing blogosphere's response to the memos regarding Bush's guard duty. They were demanding Dan Rather's head an hour after the story aired. No one has debunked the facts laid out in the piece -- they've only sowed some doubts about a few documents that lent just one more layer of credence to the charges.

It's not that Kerry failed to respond to the Swift Bost Liars' charges; it's that WE did. We failed to express our outrage loudly enough, and demand that the media take a good hard look at the folks impugning Kerry's record. We wondered why people were taking such tripe at face value, rather than holding accountable the folks who gave airtime to that bunch of bottom feeders.

In short: we keep asking ourselves why, when the nation and the world is so obviously messed up, isn't our guy ahead?!?!

Look in the mirror.

You may be bright. But you don't know better than the Kerry campaign. And whoever you think would have made a better candidate: trust me, he'd have his or her own flaws.

The real problem for our side is that Democrats love to point out what's wrong with their own candidates. They love to telegraph their independence by showing the ways, and on how many issues, they differ from their candidate.

Now ain't the time. We have a great candidate, who's perfectly positioned to take Bush head-on regarding matters of war, terrorism, and security. As for the economy and health care...well, that's a given. So just think about where we COULD BE under a Kerry administration. I don't care if it's your utopia; is it better than what we've got right now? Of course it is.

Sleep tight,
          Politics - USA        
 Kilkrazy wrote:
If you google this story the first 15 links are all right-wing blog-style pieces generated in the past couple of days, probably referencing each other.

The only substantiated fact is the court records I linked above. These show that basic elements of the story are false.

I think we can put this one down as another lot of Republican poo-slinging, just a bit more sophisticated then ripping a pic of some woman with facial injuries and claiming she was beaten up by Bernie Sanders's supporters.

Does Bloomberg qulify as right wing? Michael Bloomberg was a Republican for a few years but I've never seen him referred to as right wing.

Laureate, which runs for-profit colleges, hired Clinton just as the Obama administration began drafting tougher regulations for federal financial aid that goes to students who attend for-profit colleges. Around the same time, the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions launched an investigation into the industry. In his book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, Schweizer writes that after Bill Clinton accepted the position at Laureate in 2010 in exchange for unspecified payment, his wife “made Laureate part of her State Department Global Partnership.” The State Department subsequently provided tens of millions of dollars to a nonprofit chaired by Becker, the International Youth Foundation.

Citing the foundation’s tax filings, Schweizer writes that while IYF had received government grants (mainly from the U.S. Agency for International Development) as far back as 2001, they “exploded since Bill became chancellor of Laureate,” accounting for the vast majority of the nonprofit’s revenue. In 2010, “government grants accounted for $23 million of its revenue, compared to $5.4 million from other sources. It received $21 million in 2011 and $23 million in 2012.” The link between International Youth Foundation and Laureate has not been previously reported, he said.

The Clinton campaign disputed Schweizer’s characterization. "This is yet another false allegation in a book that is fast being debunked," said Brian Fallon, a campaign spokesman. "The International Youth Foundation was funded by the Bush administration, well before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In fact, the group's USAID funding actually went down in the year that she arrived at the State Department, not up."

A Bloomberg examination of IYF’s public filings show that in 2009, the year before Bill Clinton joined Laureate, the nonprofit received 11 grants worth $9 million from the State Department or the affiliated USAID. In 2010, the group received 14 grants worth $15.1 million. In 2011, 13 grants added up to $14.6 million. The following year, those numbers jumped: IYF received 21 grants worth $25.5 million, including a direct grant from the State Department.

Laureate has declined to say how much it has paid the former president. Hillary Clinton’s financial disclosure forms in 2012 revealed only that her husband received nonemployee compensation of more than $1,000 from the company that year. The Clinton Foundation’s donor disclosures showed that Laureate cumulatively gave between $1 million and $5 million through 2014. In his book, Schweizer noted that Bill Clinton, during the period when his wife was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, spoke at Laureate campuses in Honduras, Mexico City, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia, Brazil, Peru, and the United States. Schweizer wrote that “based on his typical fee scale,” the half dozen speaking events Clinton has done annually for Laureate “means perhaps $1 million per year.” He dubbed this blend of government service and private remuneration the “Clinton blur.”

Since 2010, Bill Clinton brought in just short of $16.5 million for his role as honorary chancellor of Laureate Education, a for-profit college company. He left the position earlier this year weeks after his wife launched her campaign.

In 2014, Bill Clinton made $9 million off of paid speeches and $6.4 million in consulting fees. Of that, $4.3 million came from Laureate and another $2.1 million from GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company that runs preschool and K-12 programs. He made less from those two gigs in previous years – $5.6 million in 2013 and $4.7 million in 2012. In 2011, the former president was paid $2.5 million by Laureate, $500,000 by GEMS and $100,000 by Teneo Holdings, a firm co-founded by former Clinton aide Doug Band.

I don't think this is the type of scandal that will move the needle in any meaningful way. I does add further support/evidence to the politics as usual pay to play characterization of the Clintons and politics in general that can get a lot of people upset but that's nothing new.

          Awesome Nutrition Blog – Raw Foods SOS        
Raw Foods SOS is an awesome nutrition blog by Denise Menger, a nutrition fanatic, freelance writer and raw foods evangelist with an obvious lot of knowledge and food smarts. Not only does she take great effort debunking studies and mainstream nutritional thinking, she does so with a incredibly appealing writing style. Her article titled “The […]
          Anti-Hunting Groups Ask People to Lie to Congress        
There has been a deluge of misinformation about HR 4089, the most significant pro-hunting legislation of the last 15 years.  This past Friday the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance provided a complete legal analysis that debunks the propaganda of the animal rights and environmental lobby piece by piece. In one of the latest fundraising pleas from the […]
          ‘Fire University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan’ put to petition        
Teresa Sullivan, the president of the University of Virginia — the campus at the heart of the Rolling Stone magazine debacle over its since-debunked rape claim piece — has become the target of a Change.org petition that calls for her immediate firing. The petition has only gathered a few signatures so far, but its text is blunt. It reads: "University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan vandalized our legal system by immediately assuming the guilt of innocent men after an anonymous accuser without evidence cried, 'Rape!' Sullivan suspended activities of all fraternities (not just the one fraternity the accuser mentions), and...
          THE ONLY SKILL YOU'LL ALWAYS NEED: A Definitive Guide to Lateral Thinking        

 Most of the skills you learn will be obsolete in less than a decade. The last hundred years saw technological and social advancements progressing at a dizzying pace. 10 years ago, there were no social networks. 20 years ago there were no cell phones. 50 years ago, there were no personal computers and 75 years ago there was no TV. All these things generate hundreds of billions of dollars today and provide millions of jobs, yet if we think about it, all of these developments could have taken place in one single lifetime. Technological developments will only take place more rapidly and have even more profound effects on the way our world works and, more importantly, on the way one must perform to achieve brilliance. Each new skill you learn, has a utilitarian shelf life of about 18 months, you could keep retraining yourself to keep up with the trends or you can master the only skill you’ll always need and lead the trends.

“All profit making is taking something from where it is abundant to where it is scarce."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

A little Context: The Knowledge Economy
Knowledge acts very much like an economy. And since the greatest expense for most companies is human resources, it’s probably one of the biggest economies we have. When you go to school and study, you are being given skills to make you valuable in the knowledge economy. Typically, one would extract this value later on in a job (consulting or otherwise). This means the further you study, the rarer your knowledge is and the more valuable you are in the knowledge economy,right? Not entirely. The internet has had a huge impact on the way knowledge is divided and shared. Because most knowledge has moved from scarcity (thousands of dollars had to be paid to a college) to abundant (free search engines, professional blogs and Wikipedia pages) the basis of value in the knowledge economy is not where it used to be and will continue to shift as the world goes on. The skills taught to you in the traditional, soon to be obsolete, knowledge economy such as hoarding information and leveraging scarcity are becoming increasingly obsolete in a world of abundance where free products and generous sharing are becoming increasingly relevant and valuable.

These days, you can go to Google Docs to get legal contracts of all kinds, you don’t need to consult a lawyer. You can go toSymptoms.com or WebMD and cross-reference your mild symptoms to find out what illness you have and how to treat it, you don’t need a doctor. You can put all your incomes and expenses into (accounting program) and get all your books professionally sorted in any format for free, you don’t need an accountant. Because the knowledge offered by these professional groups has become more accessible, hoarding it and attempting to trade it for compensation isn’t going to work anymore. So developing related skills shouldn’t be your focus. Developing other skills, the skills that matter and that you can use your whole life through, should.
The Definitive Guide to Lateral Thinking: A Guest Post
They are few people I have personally met with skills worth blogging about. Thabo Ngcobo happens to be one of them.Having a conversation with him, it doesn’t take long to realise that his business models and product ideas are years ahead of his time. I always assumed that this was just a natural talent, but it turns out that there is a scientific method he has used to hone his mind into a million-dollar idea crunching machine. When he got wind of my recent blog articles he offered to write a blog post about the only skill you'll ever need to make money. I just had one small request: that he make it the definitive post on lateral thinking. So here is everything you need to know about the only skill you’ll ever need: Lateral Thinking.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand”
– Albert Einstein

Thinking about Thought: What is lateral thinking?
By Thabo Ngcobo
The term ‘lateral thinking’ as a creative problem solving technique was coined by author and physician Edward de Bono. Logical thinking attempts to carry ideas forward, whereas lateral thinking is the process of ‘thinking sideways’, this process results in the creation of new ideas. De Bono is therefore the leading authority in the field of lateral thinking and has lectured at Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge Universities.
In his book, â€˜How to Have Creative Ideas’, De Bono debunks the popular myth regarding the perception of creativity as a talent, "Creativity is a skill, it can be learned and applied". Creativity has been taken over by the arts to a large extent; this is not the creativity I’m talking about. De Bono also coined the term 'idea creativity'; this refers to the process of creating and adding value as opposed to artistic creativity, this isn't the type of creativity I'm talking about' in reference to Artistic creativity.
Chinas Fatal Flaw: Why do you need to be creative?
As I've said, creativity can be applied to create value, value can then be leveraged as intellectual property. By value, I mean new ideas or simply better ways to execute existing ideas. You can then turn these into patents which you can license to companies.

2000 years ago, China was ahead of the western world technologically, the east was eons ahead of the west. So what happened? The Chinese scholars forgot one important thing as they accumulated information and moved from ‘fact to fact’. They neglected possibility, they neglected hypothesis, and they forgot to ask ‘what if?’. Interestingly enough, this is also happening today, ever since computers took over, we’ve started to believe all we need to do is collect data and analyze it; big mistake. We have unfortunately gravitated towards facts and certainty.
Understanding creativity: The science behind lateral thinking
Creativity is not enigmatic, there’s logic to creativity; a science to it, like everything else. Let me break it down for you:
The human brain is an information system that always seeks to organize. This means that your mind forms habits, patterns; these are good and bad. They are bad because it means that if you are given a problem, you will use the same mental habits and patterns to solve the problem, this means that you will always take the same route home. On the other hand you need them, De Bono gives the following example, you wake up on a Monday morning, and there are a 11 pieces of clothing to choose from, without these self-organizing patterns, you would be confronted with 39 916 800 ways to get dressed every day, if you tried one way every minute you would spend 76 years choosing an outfit.
De Bono continues to define creativity as the inversion of this process. In other words; running the self-organizing system backwards. This works because the self-organizing system is asymmetrical, meaning the logical route from A to B is not the same as the route from B to A (this is also how humour works, by the way).
 How to develop your lateral thinking
Now, how do we develop this skill? How do we break free of mental habits and tap into our creative genius?  Modern day ‘creative’ theorists say you should ‘brainstorm’ and utilize other similar processes to ‘uninhibit’ your mind. De Bono criticizes this, as "this process in fact doesn’t develop the skill at all. Imagine a man tied up in front of a grand piano. Now,what they are saying is that if he could just cut the ropes, he could compose a musical masterpiece, this cannot hold true,as being uninhibited does not mean he has the skill to play the piano.’
De Bono has created a world renowned system for developing your lateral thinking, based on activities/games. These games are based on the idea of using random words to arrive at creative solutions for your chosen task or problem.
De Bono has created many variations of this game; however they all follow the same rules.
Rule Number 1; don’t ever substitute the word for an easier one. The links will often be forced and uncomfortable, this is how you know you are doing it right.
Rule Number 2: Don’t censor yourself; Initially, 85% of the ideas will be poor and the remaining 5% will be average. This will improve dramatically as you continue to practice lateral thinking and solve more problems. Write down as many ideas as possible, chances are your billion dollar idea will be in that top 10%.
Here’s how the game works:
1. Define your problem
(e.g you need to come up with ideas to advertise a new cutting edge newspaper)

2. Choose a random word
(use the random word generator for this, in this case, it brought up the word 'Giant')

3. Link, associate and extract values from the random word to come up with ideas. Here’s an example: 'Giant' obviously suggests huge, so you could come up with an idea for the company to place poster-sized newspaper articles which can replace poster and banner ads, advertising the content, not the brand. These could be placed on Coffee shop tables, bus stops, enlarged and superimposed on bus windows etc…

Why does this work?
De Bono gives the following example: Say you always take the same route home from school and then one day you are dropped off at an unknown location you’ve never been to before. You manage to find your way home from this location and discover a new route you never knew existed, this is the point of the random word. The random word is the edge of town. Now find your way home…

          Lousy Legacy: Boehner Leaves D.C. Stuck With Voucher Program         
Simon Brown
The D.C. “scholarship” fund is primarily a taxpayer bailout for struggling religious schools. The Washington Post found in 2012 that more than half of 1,584 students who received vouchers at that time used them to attend Catholic institutions. The newspaper also found that in some cases, more than 90 percent of a school’s students paid with federal vouchers.

With U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) announcement that he will be retiring from Congress this month, various media outlets are in the process of examining his legacy. While Boehner had an impact on many aspects of U.S. policy, in at least one area he leaves behind a legacy of failure: his private school voucher program in the District of Columbia.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program – known as the D.C. voucher – has been around since 2004. Boehner wasn’t speaker then, but he did play a key role in its creation. Thanks to machinations by Boehner and his allies, the plan was rammed through the House of Representatives during a late-night session when many members were away from the chamber. It couldn't get through the Senate as a stand-alone bill, so it was added to the conference report of an omnibus appropriations measure. It was later signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The original legislation funded the program until 2009, but bad bills are often hard to kill and the scheme was reauthorized in 2011 as part of a deal to prevent a government shutdown.

In a recent report on vouchers in D.C., The Washington Post noted that Boehner attended Catholic school while growing up in Ohio. He was one of 12 children in a family described as “working class,” and Boehner’s parents “scrounged to come up with Catholic school tuition,” the newspaper said.

As a result of that experience, Boehner became a champion for funding Catholic schools with public money. He knew he couldn’t get a nationwide voucher scheme through Congress (to date, all such attempts have failed), but he was able to use Congress’s power of oversight on Washington, D.C., to force a “school choice” program on its residents.  

A former Boehner staffer told The Post that the outgoing speaker is proud of what he did.

“It’s unquestionably a defining characteristic of the Boehner speakership,” said David Schnittger. “This is a topic very close to his heart.”

But what, exactly, hath Boehner wrought?

In its current form, the D.C. “school choice” scheme gives qualifying students between $8,000 and $12,000 in taxpayer dollars annually to attend a private or charter school. So far, 6,252 students have made use of the program since its inception, The Post said. The program originally had a $12 million yearly budget, but by 2012-2013, it had grown to $20 million.

The problems with Boehner’s handiwork are many - including a lack of academic improvement by voucher students.

First, Boehner seemingly had no regard for whether or not D.C. even wanted vouchers. In November 2002, an opinion poll found that 75 percent of D.C. residents did not want them, plus Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) opposed vouchers in 2004 and remains in opposition.

“I’m opposed to what amounts to a pet project that was imposed on the District without any consultation,” Norton told The Post. “I can understand his devotion to Catholic schools, but the point here ought to be what is in the best interest of the District’s children.”  

Second, the D.C. voucher program is also rife with abuse. A 2012 report on the program by The Post revealed that some of the schools accepting voucher students include a K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted house, and a school built on the teachings of an obscure Bulgarian psychotherapist.

The Nation of Islam school was particularly troubling. The Post said at the time of the survey, the Muhamad University of Islam was located on the second floor of a converted house. Its 55 students were crammed into “classrooms” that were likely bedrooms at one time, and the only bathroom “had a floor blackened with dirt and a sink coated in grime. The bathtub was filled with paint cans and cleaning supplies concealed by a curtain.”  

Third, the “scholarship” fund is primarily a taxpayer bailout for struggling religious schools. The Post found in 2012 that more than half of 1,584 students who received vouchers at that time used them to attend Catholic institutions. The newspaper also found that in some cases, more than 90 percent of a school’s students paid with federal vouchers.

As scary as the realities of vouchers are in D.C., something concrete can be done to put an end to this sordid scheme. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is once again up for reauthorization. Boehner will surely use his remaining days in Congress to fight for his pet project, which may haunt D.C. long after Boehner has accepted a private-sector consulting position that pays him handsomely.

The first markup on a bill that would reauthorize D.C. vouchers is scheduled for Friday. As a result, Americans United is working hard to stop Congress from continuing to force bad policy on D.C. residents. (Click here to learn what you can do).

It’s fine for Boehner to promote Catholic education on his own time, but he has no right to force taxpayers to pay for his sectarian agenda. If D.C. residents (or anyone else) want their students to attend a religious school, they need to do so without government assistance.  


          FDR1852 Free Market Myths Debunked        
Four of the most common myths about the free market debunked. (audio to a video)

          "...we're correcting you. XOXO Science."        
Dr. Jen Gunter is an MD who is a board-certified OB/GYN and also an active blogger. She recently took on Gwenyth Paltrow's Goop empire in a blog post where she examined a number of its fraudulent medical claims, citing concern for how, when taken seriously, these claims can negatively affect her patients. In a follow-up post, Gunter has called their response to her science-based criticism "a mansplaining, misogynistic hit job." From Gunter's response to GOOP's criticism: The editors at GOOP find me "strangely confident" in my "assertion that putting a crystal in your vagina for pelvic-floor strengthening exercises would put you in danger of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome—even though there is no study/case/report which links the two." I am not strangely confident about vaginal health, I am appropriately confident because I am the expert. I did 4 years of medical school, a 5 year OB/GYN residency, a 1 year fellowship in infectious diseases, I am board certified in OB/GYN in 2 countries, I am board certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine and the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Pain Medicine and I am appropriately styled Dr. Jen Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM, ABPM (pain). A woman with no medical training who tells women to walk around with a jade egg in their vaginas all day, a jade egg that they can recharge with the energy of the moon no less, is the strangely confident one. "This stuff matters. We need less goopy nonsense and more fearless, blunt and science-informed debunkers such as Dr. Gunter." Dr. Jen Gunter, previously.
“stiamo cercando di ABBATTERNE uno”

“Non vi dimenate VERMI VISCIDI, qua verrete sempre e comunque SCHIACCIATI”

“... ai disinformatori, spezzategli le gambe..”

“ma non si riescono ad abbattere?”

“Io ho un modo per fermali, ma non è democratico”

“Stavamo pensando di comprare un lanciarazzi”


“voglio un nome, poi al resto (telefono, indirizzo, punto di soccorso più vicino....) ci penso io”

“Abbattiamo un aereo che lascia le scie chimiche!!!”

“Non vorrei offendere nessuno, ma a cazzotti piglierei qualcuno”

Queste e molte altre frasi (ho una corposa raccolta) sono il risultato del sentimento d'odio da parte di chi crede alle scie chimiche, ed è convinto che il governo, i piloti, le compagnie ed altri attori, ci stiano avvelenando mentre i disinformatori cerchino di occultare il tutto.
Non importa che Massimo Santacroce nel suo blog sciemilano.blogspot.com fosse un attivista che combatteva le scie chimiche, e mettendosi a cercare delle prove per un anno intero, abbia infine concluso che si tratti di una bufala.
Non importa che Rev. Stone, uno degli amministratori del forum sciechimiche.org, attualmente ancora combattente contro i poteri forti e contro la “matrice” abbia affermato che dopo anni di studi e osservazione, può affermare che le “scie chimiche” intese come complotto d'irrorazione clandestina, non esistano.
Non importa che l'utente MarcoVì, ex attivista, dopo aver studiato le ricerche di Appleman e aver studiato i radiosondaggi, abbia scoperto che le scie chimiche sono una bufala.
Non importa che a tutt'oggi, alcuni storici attivisti (ancora attivisti) affermino che il discorso della bassa quota degli aerei che rilasciano le scie sia una bufala colossale, che flightradar24 non sia falsificato, e quant'alto, pur continuando a sostenere l'esistenza delle scie chimiche.
Non importa che Leonard Zorbe, attivista ed impegnato ricercatore contro le scie chimiche, tutt'ora alla ricerca della verità, abbia dimostrato che la faccenda della quota degli aerei sia fasulla.
Non importa che le prove che quel che vediamo sia condensa, siano state fornite ( http://lospiegone.blogspot.it/2014/06/le-prove-delle-scie-di-condensa.html )
Non importa che le istituzioni abbiano in realtà dato risposta alle interrogazioni parlamentari ( http://lospiegone.blogspot.it/2014/08/il-silenzio-delle-istituzioni.html )
Non importa che il documento Owning the Weather in 2025 (http://lospiegone.blogspot.it/2014/06/weather-as-force-multiplier-owning.html ) se letto con attenzione, confermi che non sia possibile creare uragani, modificare tempeste e quant'altro.
Non importa che nell'accordo climatico Italia Usa (i cui studi sono già terminati), l'unico esperimento di “manipolazione” ovvero il workpackage 10, si effettui in un piccolo campo con dei TUBI PIANTATI nel terreno, senza nessun aereo ( http://lospiegone.blogspot.it/2014/06/cooperazione-italia-usa-su-scienza-e.html )
Non importa che un sacco di piloti, anche privati, si siano offerti di prestare il loro aereo per andare a fare prelievi in quota, ma nessuno abbia mai accettato.
Non importa che Rosalind Peterson, una delle più attive ricercatrici contro la geoingegneria clandestina, affermi comunque di non avere prove che le scie che vediamo siano qualcosa di diverso dalla condensa. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOXt0BTOTN0 )
Se lo dice il sig. Marcianò, dev'essere vero. Fa lo stesso se non sia mai riuscito a portare una sola prova concreta della bassa quota degli aerei, esclusa la truffa del telemetro, smascherata dai suoi stessi seguaci (http://sciechimichenote.blogspot.it/2009/01/la-prova-del-telemetro.html )
Se lo dice il Prof. Corrado Penna dev'essere vero. Fa lo stesso se nei suoi articoli sbaglia a fare i conti con la pressione atmosferica dimenticando di mettere i valori per i 10000 metri e falsando i risultati (http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://scienzamarcia.blogspot.it/2011/11/perche-le-scie-di-condensa-non-posso.html ) oppure calcola quanta acqua viene prodotta dai motori di un aereo ( http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://scienzamarcia.blogspot.com/2011/01/e-quanto-inquinano-gli-aerei-e-quanto.html ) contraddicendo platealmente quanto asserito, ad esempio, da Marcianò
Se lo dice il sig. Massimo Mazzucco, dev'essere vero. Fa lo stesso se mentre da una parte usa l'argomento scie chimiche nelle sue conferenze ed afferma che “GLI AMICI DEL CICAP NON RIESCONO A SMONTARE LE 10 PROVE DELL'ESISTENZA DELLE SCIE CHIMICHE”, dall'altra non trova il tempo di rispondere a chi prova a smentire le sue 10 prove (che sono 8, di cui l'ultima è già stata smontata, la 4 sospesa, la 5 smontata da un utente del sito, e la 7ima smontata in un altro topic dello stesso sito) e non produce un documentario sul tema perché “l'argomento lo sminchia”.
Se lo dice il prof. Pattera, dev'essere vero. Fa lo stesso se gli è già stato fatto notare che ha sbagliato l'unità di misura delle sue analisi chimiche, leggendo milligrammi invece di microgrammi, e spacciando una quantità di bario pari al 2% del limite, come una pari a 20 volte il limite, e di conseguenza le sue analisi non provavano nulla.
Se lo dice l'Ex Maresciallo (in congedo) Azzone, dev'essere vero, Fa lo stesso se lui considera le scie chimiche quelle coi penduli, dicendo che non possono ascriversi a normale condensa, ignorando che i suddetti penduli sono documentati da decenni nei manuali di meteorologia (http://lospiegone.blogspot.it/2014/06/penduli-ed-instabilita-di-crow.html )
Se lo dicono tutti i filmati su youtube, dev'essere vero, poco importa se hanno analizzato fango e polvere, spacciandoli per aria ed acqua, e se non hanno mai effettuato una ed una sola misurazione seria della quota “tanto si vede ad occhio”.
Mazzucco nel suo sito dice che “ Il debunker invece rifiuta aprioristicamente la tesi (anche se non lo dice apertamente, questo è ovvio), cerca di “smontare” con puntiglio tutto quello che può, ma si dimentica regolarmente di prendere in considerazione eventuali elementi validi al suo interno.”
A me sembra però, anche che il sostenitore delle scie chimiche, continui ad accusare di genocidio milioni di persone, senza però curarsi minimamente di prendere in considerazione elementi che smentiscono interamente la loro tesi, anche se vengono dagli stessi attivisti, oltre che da quelli che chiamano “disinformatori”.
Chi diffonde questa bufala, è colpevole di generare Odio, e dell'Odio che genera ne é responsabile. Quando un giorno, troppo tardi, qualche imbecille abbatterà un aereo “presunto chimico” e scoprirà di aver fatto fuori della gente innocente, cosa farà... darà la colpa ad internet che lo ha male informato?

          Un po’ di Storia        
Un altro spiegone non prettamente scientifico e molto personale ma comunque molto attinente. Mentre preparavo lo spiegone relativo ad alcuni modelli matematici, che da tempo veninvano incriminati di essere uno dei moventi delle scie chimiche (vedrete il prossimo spiegone su RFMP e VTRPE), dato che la questione è abbastanza vecchiotta (il video in cui il sedicente ricercatore indipendente Marcianò esponeva la cosa, è del 13 maggio 2008, ma si riferisce a ricerche in realtà di Carnicom del 5 giugno 2001) mi è ricapitato di leggere nuovamente, moltissimi blog e forum relativi alla questione scie chimiche.
Nel rituffarmi nella storia della questione scie chimiche, sono stato colpito da sensazioni diverse, mescolate ma ben definite, che volevo esporre con voi.
Ma prima, appunto un pochino di storia.
In Italia, in internet, la massiccia divulgazione del fenomeno scie chimiche, ha avuto inizio attorno al 2005, con la formazione del sito www (punto) sciechimiche (punto) org, sito che ha cercato di essere un punto di raccolta di informazioni per credenti, e che forniva anche spunti.
Di lì a poco è partito il loro forum (anche se tutti i contenuti prima del 2008 non sono più reperibili senza username e password, mi sa), e sono stati seguiti a breve termine anche da Luogocomune, che nel settembre 2005 posta il primo messaggio sul proprio forum relativo alle scie, e nel marzo 2006 il primo articolo nella Homepage.
Tra sciechimiche.org e Luogocomune, nascono i primi rappresentanti di spicco della teoria scie chimiche, che al momento si basa soprattutto su foto e video personali, e prende molto dal lavoro di Carnicom (uno dei principali siti americani che si occupa della faccenda, ma già dal 2001). Due di questi personaggi che provengono da sciechimiche.org, sono veramente MOLTO noti, e si tratta di Zret e Straker, conosciuti oggi come i fratelli Antonio e Rosario Marcianò, che dopo aver aperto entrambi, il proprio blog personale (sempre più o meno nel 2006), il 27 settembre 2007, annunciano (mediante un post di Straker sul forum) l’intenzione di smettere di collaborare con il sito e di mettersi in proprio. Dal 2007 al 2008, fino al 2011 creeranno la loro numerosa serie di blog, nota come gruppo dei blog tanker enemy. Nel 2007 si accoda alla questione Tom Bosco, sul forum Nexus.
Non posso fare a meno di segnalare Giulietto Chiesa, sempre attorno al 2006, ma dato che a tutt'oggi non trovo gran materiale sul suo lavoro, non voglio dare notizie sbagliate.
Nel tardo 2006, la questione si affronta su Focus, e anche se già presente prima, comincia a venire fuori a gran voce, la parte detrattrice della faccenda. Cominciano ad esserci le prime voci discordanti, e quando qualcuno pone dei dubbi, viene in fretta categorizzato come “non risvegliato” prima, e pagato poi, per finire tutti nella voce debunkers, utilizzata in modo dispregiativo.
Dal febbraio 2007 comincia ad occuparsene Attivissimo, noto cacciatore di bufale, ed il 30/10/2008 apre anche il blog specifico sul debunking delle scie chimiche.
Assieme a Paolo Attivissimo, tutta una serie di blog si fanno strada, gestiti da persone che ne hanno piene le scatole di sentire cose inesatte (quando non falsificazioni belle e buone) senza avere la possibilità di ribattere. E qui vengono fuori personaggi come La Tigre della Malora, Axlman, eSSSe, Nico Murdok, ma anche noti studiosi come Cuorenero, Simone Angioni e Gianni Comoretto, per finire con chi invece è semplicemente diventato vittima di persecuzione (e penso a ad esempio al sig. Angelo Nigrelli, allora conosciuto come Wasp, ma non solo). Ne ho nominati sempre e solo una microscopica parte, di ogni categoria, solo per dare il senso generale.
A queste voci si aggiungono anche quelle di chi ha affrontato la questione scie chimiche, credendoci, ma con approccio scientifico, e ha scoperto che quello in cui credeva era una bufala, tra cui Massimo Santacroce, Marcovi, ed anche uno degli amministratori del forum sciechimiche,org Rev.Stone. Spesso è risultato che chi ci credeva, ma ha cercato una spiegazione scientifica, ha poi fornito alcuni tra gli strumenti e risultati più interessanti in assoluto, per mostrare e comprendere il fenomeno.
La faccenda, sta lentamente ma inesorabilmente traslando dai blog a facebook (e lo sappiamo perché siamo qua a leggere), molti dei blog degli scettici sono ormai fermi, così come molti forum, tranne qualche sporadico ritorno di fiamma tipo Luogocomune.
Il problema inoltre, è stato che la questione in sé ha perso un po’ la spinta iniziale, anche perché le vicende spesso assurdamente ridicole che hanno visto protagonisti i fratelli Marcianò, hanno ben poco a vedere con le scie chimiche, ormai solo una scusa di fondo e non certo motivo di studio, ed hanno interessato invece le vicende personali e giudiziare di loro in primis, e di molti di quelli che sono stati loro malgrado coinvolti. E questo, per assurdo ha fatto molto male all’argomento.
1 – Dalla Storia si dovrebbe imparare
La prima sensazione, è che leggendo i primissimi post, le reciproche posizioni (a parte qualche defezione dal lato sciachimista), non si sono spostate di un millimetro. Loro sono ancora a dire “guardate il cielo, vogliono sterminarci tutti”. Ma di avvelenamento non è morto nessuno. Noi siamo ancora qui a dire (ormai stanchi) “le proveeeeeeee......” e non le abbiamo ancora ricevute.
Più di una discussione, se letta con attenzione, finisce col tipico scambio “Quindi, per questo questo e questo motivo, le scie chimiche sono una bufala”.. “Tu dici... ma io ti dico, che SENTO che sono vere, le vedo coi miei occhi”
Per cui, a ben vedere, tutto quello che serve è noto fin da subito, fino dai primi battiti, ma loro non hanno imparato proprio nulla. Mi chiedo quanti sciachimisti si siano letti tutti i blog sulla questione...
2 – Se fosse una bufala, perché tanto accanimento?
Beh... a giudicare dal fatto che moltissimi blog sono ormai fermi, e che molti forum si sono ridotti un sacco, prima che facebook desse nuova linfa alla questione, molti debunkers si erano già stancati. Quindi in realtà è successo quello che i complottisti dicono sempre. Quello che c’è da dire è già stato detto. E dato che è una bufala, molti hanno lasciato perdere.
3 – Chi ride, siamo noi.
Anche se gli elementi caldi esistono da entrambe le parti, c’è da SEMPRE, fin dai primi vagiti della questione, un punto che non è provante, ma che è un FORTISSIMO indizio per capire dove sta la verità.
Gli sciachimisti sono anni (quasi 10, in Italia ormai) che scrivono “maledetti”, “disinformatori”, “assassini” e “la pagherete”. Sono anni che chiudono i loro blog a pochi ristretti. Sono anni che offendono in maniera violenta, chi non la pensa come loro ed espone dubbi.
Gli scettici, sono anni che inizialmente spiegano con calma, argomentano ma poi o abbandonano, o passano alla perculata. Nessun rancore, nessun odio, solo divertimento.
Questo la dice lunga.
4 – Profonda gratitudine.
Leggendo e rileggendo i completi e puntuali interventi, di chi si è fatto il mazzo anni fa, nel tentativo disperato di aprire gli occhi a chi non vuol vedere, di dir le cose al sordo che non vuol sentire, provo un senso enorme di profonda gratitudine.
Per quella settimana in cui anche io ho creduto alle scie chimiche, mentre da un lato non potevo porre dubbi, dall’altro gente come Nico Murdok, eSSSe, axlman, il peyote, TdM, Santacroce e tutti gli altri, mi hanno ascoltato, dato risposte, accolto. A loro va il mio primo grazie.
Agli altri, magari non sentiti direttamente, magari non incontrati, e che magari avevano già terminato di occuparsene quando ho cominciato io, dai quali ho letteralmente attinto come se fosse acqua pura, dai loro blog, dai loro testi e dalle loro spiegazioni, va il mio secondo, enorme grazie. E nel tentativo vano di ringraziarli tutti, ma proprio tutti, tento di lasciare qua un elenco di come ho fatto a capire che le scie chimiche fossero una cavolata, prima ancora di capire cosa fossero.
(C’è gente che non ho menzionato, perché ho la memoria corta, chiedo scusa, ma anche a loro va la mia gratitudine)
P.s.: *** Ovviamente, se qualcuno ha aneddoti, correzioni, aggiunte, sono molto più che ben accetti ***

          FDR2092 In the Long Run, We Are All Dead! Keynesianism Debunked        
Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, discusses the endless failures of state stimulus spending and Keynesianism with Redmond Weissenburger, President of Mises Canada

          An Honest Liar        
Robert Horton and Steve Scher pull a rabbit out of their hat while discussing “An Honest Liar,” a documentary about the magician debunker James Randi. Randi engaged in a bit of deception himself from time to time.  The movie also covers Randi’s decision to come out at age 81. “An Honest Liar” is showing at Northwest … Continue reading An Honest Liar
          You’ll thank me later        

I am following the lead of Migrations blog and pasting the Atheist Blogroll.

Number 21 of 50 Signs you’re a blogaholic reminds me that, for a true blogaholic:

# You care more about what Technorati says about your authority than what your children do.

Given that Technorati treats the Atheist Blogroll as having no effect on ranking anymore – possibly because it usually appears in a sidebar or it uses a script or both – I decided to give everyone on Mojoey’s Atheist Blogroll a link (as Migrations did) and up everyone’s authority a tad:

(You don’t want atheists lto seem less authoratitive than theists, do you?)

2 Intellectual Atheists
A Daily Dose of Doubt
A Human Mind
A Load of Bright
A Night on the Tiles

A Veritable Plethora
A Whore in the Temple of Reason
About: Agnosticism / Atheism
Abstract Nonsense
Aces Full of Links

Action Skeptics
After Faith
Agnostic Atheism
aidan maconachy blog
Ain’t Christian
Al-Kafir Akbar!

Alien Atheist
Am I mad, or is the world?
Amused Muse
An Enlightened Observer
Angels Depart
Angry Astronomer
Arcis Logos
Atheism is the Rational Response

Atheism Online
atheism | simra.net
Atheism: Proving The Negative
Atheist Blogs Aggregated
Atheist Ethicist
Atheist Ethics
Atheist Father
Atheist Girl
Atheist Housewife

Atheist Hussy
Atheist Movies
Atheist Revolution
Atheist Says What
Atheist Self
Austin Atheist Anonymous

Author of Confusion
Axis of Jared
Ayrshire Blog
Babble, bullshit, blasphemy and being.
Bay of Fundie
Beaman’s World
Beep! Beep! It’s Me.

Ben’s Place
Bert’s Blog
Bible Study for Atheists
Bill’s View
bits of starstuff

Bjorn & Jeannette’s Blog
Black Sun Journal
Blogue de Mathieu Demers
Bob Kowalski
Born Again Atheist

Buridan’s Ass
By The Book Comics
Can’t make a difference
Christian Follies

Church of Integrity
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
Circular Reasoning
Cogita Tute – Think For Yourself
Coming Out Godless
Complete Materialist
Confessions of an Anonymous Coward
Cosmic Variance

Crazy Christian Chain Emails
Culture for all
Daily Atheist
Dark Christianity
Dark Side of Mars
Darwin’s Dagger
Daylight Atheism

Debunking Christianity
Deep Thoughts
Deeply Blasphemous
Desperately Seeking Ethics and Reason
Deus ex Absurdum
DEVOUT Atheist Godless Grief
Die Eigenheit
Dime a dozen

discernible chaos
Disgusted Beyond Belief
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
do not read this blog
Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge
Drunken Tune
Dubito Ergo Sum
Duplicitous Primates

Dwindling In Unbelief
Edifying Spectacle
Edward T. Babinski
Elaine Vigneault
Everyday Atheism
Everyday Humanist
Everything Is Pointless

Expired Convictions
Explicit Atheist
Feersum Endjinn
Fish Wars on Cars
Five Public Opinions
Flex Your Head

Free Mind Joe
FreeThought by a FreeThinker
Freethought vs. Friel-Thought
Freethought Weekly
Friendly Atheist
Geoff Arnold

Gimme Back My God!
God is for Suckers!
God is Pretend
Godless Kiwi
Godless on the Wasatch Front
Goosing the Antithesis

Gospel of Reason
Gratuitous Common Sense
Greg Hartnett
Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes
Hayleys Paranormal Blog
Hellbound Alleee
hell’s handmaiden
High Maintenance Hags

Honjii’s Harangues
Human Psyche of J.D. Crow
Ice Station Tango
In Defence Of Reason
Incessant Expressions
Inkblot Icon

Irked off
Jewish Atheist
Judith’s thought-provoking hard-hitting journal
K H A L A S !
Kill The Afterlife
King Aardvark
Lary Crews

Le Contestataire
le tiers monde
leaping rabbit/lapin sauteur
Leicester Secularist
Let There Be Light
Letters from a broad
Life & Otherwise
Life is an adventure

Life Without Faith
Life, the Universe and Everything
Living with Missy and other thoughts
LOL god
Look at the Bright’s Side
Lord J-Bar For Democracy, Not Theocracy
louis’ blog

Love the Nimbu
Lubab No More
lynn’s daughter, thinking
Masala Skeptic
Matt’s Notepad
Mechanical Crowds
Meet An Atheist

Memoirs of a (G)a(y)theist
Memoirs of an ex-Christian
Midwest Atheist
Mike’s Weekly Skeptic Rant
Misc. Musing

mister jebs blog
Modern Agnostic
Modern Atheist
My Case Against God
My Elemental Muse
My Life Thinly Disguised as Groove
Naturalistic Atheism
Neural Gourmet

New Humanist Blog
Nicest Girl and Destroyer of Planets
No Double Standards
No More Hornets
No more Mr. Nice Guy!
Non Credo Deus

North Alabama Rant
Nothing Is Sacred
One Fewer God
Onion Breath
Onwards and Forwards
Open Parachute

Oz Atheis’s Weblog
parenthetical remarks
Philosophers’ Playground
Pink Prozac

Pinoy Atheist
Planet Atheism
Pooflingers Anonymous
Primordial Blog
Principles of Parsimony
Prose Justice
Psychodiva’s Mutterings

Quintessential Rambling
Ramblings of an Atheist Undergrad
Random Intelligence
Rank Atheism
Re-imagine Ritual
Reeding and Writing
Religion is Bullshit !

Rev. BigDumbChimp
Richard Carrier Blogs
Rideo ergo sum
Robert’s Thought’s
Ron’s Rants
Rupture the Rapture
Russell’s Teapot

Saint Gasoline
Sans God
Scientia Natura
Sean the Blogonaut
Secular Humanism with a human face
See For Yourself

Shared Difference
Silly Humans
Skeptic Rant
Skeptical Personal Development
So long, and thanks for all the guilt!
Son Shines Zee 365
Southern Atheist

Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker
Staring At Empty Pages
Steven Carr’s Blog
Strange Land
Summer Squirrel
Talk Reason

Talking to Theists
Tangled Up In Blue Guy
Tarpan’s Blog
Televangelists with Toupees
Terahertz – From Physics to Life
Thank God I’m An Atheist
The Affable Atheist
The Allen Zone

The Angry Atheist
The Anonymous Atheist
The Apostate
The Ateist Endeavor
the atheist chronicles
The Atheist Effect
The Atheist Experience
The Atheist Jew
The Atheist Mama

The Atheist Resistance
The Atheocracy
The Atheologist
The Bach
The Blasphemous
The Blog of M’Gath
The Cat Ranch
The Chronicles of Gorthos

The Conscious Earth
The Daily Cat Chase
The Eternal Gaijin
The Flying Bagpiper
The Flying Trilobite
The Fundy Post
The Gay Black Jew
The Godless Grief
The Good Atheist

The Great Realization
The Greenbelt
The Happy, Religion Free Family
The Homeless Atheist
The Honest Doubter
The Humanist Observer
The Incomer
The Jesus Myth
The Jewish Atheist

The Labour Humanist
The Libertarian Defender
The Lippard Blog
the LITTLE things
The Mary Blog
The Nate and Di Show
The Natural Skeptic
The New Atheist
The New Horizon

The O Project
The One With Aldacron
The Pagan Prattle Online
The Panda’s Thumb
The People’s Republic Of Newport
the post-bicameral mind
The Questionable Authority
The Rad Guy Blog

The Raving Atheist
the right of reason
the Science Ethicist
The Science Pundit
The Second Mouses Guide to Life
The Second Oldest Question
The Secular Outpost
The Secular-Man Blog (An Oasis of Clear Thinking)
The Serenity of Reason

The shadows of an open mind
The Skeptic Review
the skeptical alchemist
The Strong Atheist
The Thermal Vent
The Uncredible Hallq
The Underground Unbeliever
The Uninformed Suburban Housewife
The Uninspired Manifesto

The Zen Of G
These Twisted Times
They Promised Us Jetpacks and We Got Blogs
Thought Theater
Toxic thought waste site
Ungodly Cynic

Unscrewing The Inscrutable
Uri Kalish – Urikalization
Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy
Vetenskap & F�rnuft
View From Earth
Villa Nandes
Wanderin’ Weeta

Way of the Mind
Why Dont You Blog?
Wild-Eyed Atheist Boy
Without Gods
Writer Philosopher Culture Warrior
Yet Another Blog
You Made Me Say It
Young Earth Creationists Anonymous

Zeemy’s Paradigm
Zen Curmudgeon
“Atheism Sucks” sucks

          Above Nogalito        
Glad to be able to do this. It is not easy, slippery and one can sweat plenty! But it has cooled down and the days have been very pleasant.

I can't capture what it's really like. It's different from canyon lands. What is here though is an anomaly at 18 sec. Very easy to watch more than once. This thing wiggles.

I think it is a rod although Wiki debunks such things.  

          My solidarity with Bro. George Galloway, by Bro. Conrad Black        

The Guardian Thursday 26 March 2009

Letter: My solidarity with George Galloway Conrad Black

George Galloway attacks the Canadian minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, for not allowing him into Canada and says his exclusion by such a “last-ditch dead-ender of Bushism” is “like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre dame or lectured on due diligence by Conrad Black” (Comment, 21 March).

Given Mr Galloway’s well-known and often well-founded scepticism about official American sanctimony, I am disappointed he thinks the relentless persecution I have endured in that country in the last six years, 90% of which has already been debunked by its stacked court system, implies any likelihood of unethical behaviour by me. He should also be aware that inadequate due diligence was one of the few false allegations that did not figure among the many charges unsuccessfully made against me in the reckless and at times unlawful actions of the Chicago prosecutors. Despite this donkey kick, and his misrepresentation of the Iraq and Afghan wars, I do agree that Mr Galloway should be admitted to Canada whenever he wishes to come. I have written a column to that effect in the [...]

"I go through life as a transient on his way to eternity, made in the image of God but with that image debased, needing to be taught how to meditate, to worship, to think." -Donald Coggan.

I arrive in this week with a great centre of heaviness and levity...thus leading to me a place of contemplation. Faith often arrives to me in moments of surprise. I realize that I am truly a vagrant along this ragged journey of faith. Poor and wretched but with a great sense of God's panaroma of mercy around me. That along this road, I can sense the doting father with His stirring for me to come home. I realize most of the accomplishments, accolades and measures of spiritual success are pale disguise for my heart. The words of Paul Tokunaga remained with me from the Eastern Chinese Bible Conference, "I am not fine." Not fine in my heart. Not fine in my walk. Not fine with the level of love for those who are around. I am just not "fine." And as I finished writing that, I sense this freedom in knowing that I will never be fine but I will always be loved. That is the promise. That is the echo of hope that centuries of pilgrims, saints and martyrs have resonated with. So I arrive this week with that echo that comes from the grind of daily life. Each step comes with it the weight of the day...but also the wonderful horizon of the arms of my savior...bidding me to come home.

Back to the Future...Ministry at Chinese Christian Herald Crusades
After prayer and meditation, I have decided to come back to Chinese Christian Herald Crusades on a part-time basis! I will be serving with Ellen Hwang and her staff at the Herald Youth Center, consulting and training their ministry partners and also develop a ministry strategy for them. I will be at the New York City Chinatown Headquarters for one week out of the month and off-site for a bit. I am excited that I will have an opportunity to serve again at the ministry that started my whole journey of as a servant. I will also work on their team on developing an English website. Please pray that I will have a heart of service to the team and that I will continue my passion for the Chinatown community and that God will be honored in my time there.

Asian American Laity Project (Kleros)
I am planning on following with several individuals who are interested in serving with me on a forming committee and also another group of individuals who are interested in possibly working together to assist in fund devlelopment. I am excited as the momentum for the project is building from the PaLM and IVCF luncheon with Paul Tokunaga. I will be also sending Summer Updates this week! I has been a fruitful summer and I want to proclaim God's goodness in His direction for the project. Pray for provision and for a strong team to come alongside me. I am not good at asking for help and to have people come forward and say "hey, I wanna be part of this Peter Ong..." are like music to my ear.

3rd Asian American Emergent Skypecast
The 3rd Asian American Emergents skypecast will be online Sunday, September 24th, and you’re invited to skype in! The conversation begins at 9:00pm Eastern / 8:00pm Central / 6:00pm Pacific. (Skype DJ Chuang if you run into tech issues.)

This 1-hour monthly skypecast is a safe place to dialogue about topics related to Asian Americans and the emerging/emergent church. The consensus I’m hearing is to focus on one question rather than on three, during the skypecast. So, we’ll aim for that. Right now the only topic at play was suggested by Ben: “Social Justice and the Asian Church — why are Asians so adverse to reaching out to the poor and marginalized?”

I am looking forward to being part of this great conversation again!

Exit Wounds Article
I just finished a story for an online Asian American website and it was a lot harder for me to write since it was for a mainstream secular audience...It is about the flight of the second and third generation Asian Americans from the Asian ethnic church and their entrance into mainstream or multi-ethnic churches. I was having such a difficulty with re-entering that writing world and stumbled through it. I pray that the editors will extend grace to me and that when it is posted that God will use it to bring insight for people. Special thanks to those who contributed...Karen, Kara and John Kim, Ben Kong, Vicky and my idol, Joseph Tsang for their contributions.

Speaking Engagements
Now the summer is officially over, I am on the road again preaching! I am preparing my talk for my monthly preaching at the Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church. I will be preaching on my favorite parable...yes...the proverbial Prodigal Son...it is titled..."Mercy's Call on Distorted Love."I recently received "Communicating for a Change" by Andy Stanley and enjoying his insight on preaching narratives...I am going to use some of the principles for my speaking engagement and see how it goes.

OCTOBER 21, 2006... Unity finds its purpose...I have this unguarded anticipation that God will do a mighty work in the hearts of those who come...my talk will be an exhortation towards mercy and practical grace...as well as debunking of the most absurd assumptions about poverty. Check out the OneHouse website for more details. Pray for me and the team as we are preparing. Funding is coming along! HALLELUJAHOOO! Also, I will get to work with Neah Lee who I admire and adore.

Being apart...Pray for my time in the city for one week will not hinder our marriage...in the midst of all of this, pray that we mutually support each other in where God has called us in this season.

Harvey's wedding
Pray for my brother in Christ, Harvey's wedding. I am excited to be in the wedding party and hoping to connect with him as I am in the city for some time of prayer and preparation for the big day.

Car (putt putt putting along). Repairs cost more than $1,200 for the car...but it is working well and pray that this little expenditure is not a commonplace or we gonna have to be creative in my transportation...

Me and my big mouth...I am going to the dentist for the next several months because of my diagnosis of periodontal disease...they will have to do some deep cleaning, scaling and pull out stuff....arrrgh...pray for my fear and costs!!! Insurance doesn't really cover this! Yikes...but my wifey has been so supportive!

Love you guys! thanks for reading...talk to you soon.

To Financially Support the ministry please send checks (make payable to PaLM) to:
48-19 196th Street
Fresh Meadows, New York
please mark memo: Asian American Laity Ministries or Peter Ong
All donations are tax-deductible

          Cloudy Witnesses        
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to another edition and prayer update. This has been a vibrant week of incredible moments of clarity and affirmation the work that God is doing in the Asian American church. I was especially encouraged for the direction of the ministry and nourishment for myself personally this past week.

As I was driving to NYC on Thursday night from Grace Christian Fellowship (see below for more on that) at Cornell, I was praying for the upcoming days for Labor Day weekend at Eastern Chinese Bible Conference (ECBC). I knew that there was a decisive moment to see a hint of what I wanted to do with the Asian American Laity Project. I had planned these programs with the expectation of raising the support for the project.

I the agenda was the Friday joint Intervarsity and Pastoral and Laity Ministries luncheon with Paul Tokunaga with pastors and laity. Then there was Asian American Laity Roundtable on the first day at ECBC. And as I drove, I was stirred by a holy imagination for an Asian American church marching towards victory...and this week...was just that...there was light in the darkness; hidden wounds were pierced by authenticity, tears, brokenness, honesty, and visions of hope. These cloudy witnesses were beginning to speak and create vocabulary for the state of the Asian American church and there was healing.

Fund Development
This week was a promising sign as support came in steadily. I was really encouraged by the support cards and the notes that people have written to me. I am so thankful for the prayer of these supporters and I am pressing forth. Someone approached me and asked me how is my funding coming along and I had a very poor and unthankful response...Jamie reminded me that my heart was not in the right place. God is providing. He is working and most importantly, His timing is perfect. I trust in Him and I trust His people. I am learning to love this process because in it, I am forced to wait and I am being still...so that His name will be proclaimed in all the nations. I will be meeting with some pastors this coming weekend to discuss the project and to get their feedback and their response for an invitation for partnership.

One of the best aspect of this waiting has been a time for me to cultivate the vision of this Pastoral and Laity Ministries Asian American Laity Project. Through this time, I have had the opportunity to listen to the hearts of other leaders and servants who are serving with such devotion. I am growing in affection for the church and yearning for the fullness of the impact of what God wants to do through this.

Eastern Chinese Bible Conference (ECBC)
In 1998, I attended ECBC and it changed my life with messages by Bruce Fong that called us to a commitment to Christ. At that ECBC I met a sister Alice who brought me to a Redeemer Church smallgroup, where I was challenged in fellowship and supported me as I took the first tentative steps as called me into full-time professional ministry at Chinese Christian Herald Crusades. It was an instrumental conference and after two years of not attending, it was great to be back and to see how the conference had grown. To my joy, the youth I worked with years ago at Teen Eastern Chinese Bible Conference are now adults! I was challenged by Paul Tokunaga's messages and was nurtured by the community of others who have suffered and love the Asian American church. Here was some highlights:

* Asian American Leadership Roundtable
I facilitated a roundtable with DJ Chuang (L2 Foundation), Greg Jao (IVCF), Anna Lee (IVCF), Glennis Lo (EPIC), David Park (Asian American Blogger extraordinaire), Paul Tokunaga, and Lisa Yu (IVCF). About 35 people took time out of their freetime to "eavesdrop" on our conversation dealing with the Asian American church and the challenges of first and second generations ministries. I was amazed by the scope of the discussion and some of the hopes for the future and some exciting things that a new generation of believers are undertaking. I really enjoyed meeting David Park and DJ Chuang for the first time and we had an impromptu podcast/roundtable with Jamie, Anna Lee and Intervarsity volunteer Ho-Tay Ma, but unfortunately, our beloved Dave Park accidentally erased it...and lost all the glorious moments of our conversation (especially part when "someone" flushed the toilet in the middle of our convo).

* Workshop
I did a workshop entitled "Because the Bible Says So" and other ways of alienating seekers. It was a great time of serving and teaching some ways of ministry that challenges the status quo of evangelism and debunking some of the tools we use. Great responses from the participants and I learned and was blessed by their sharing.

There were many moments I was able to counsel and hear the broken hearts of God's people. There was weeping...there was curiosity of how to live out this ragged faith...and I had improvised workshops on dating, marriage and of course ministry and the state of the Asian American church. Overall, it was an amazing time of serving this conference that has poured so much into my life. Pray for the future of the conference and that God will raise up need leaders for it to thrive and flourish for His name.

Pastoral and Laity Ministries/Intervarsity Christian Fellowship luncheon with Paul Tokunaga
Over 60 Pastors and leaders of the Tri-state area came together to hear Paul Tokunaga share about Level 5 Leadership for the church. It was a great partnered event and as a continuation, it was a talk that served the lay leaders a great deal and it gave me a picture of what the network/fellowship for Asian American Laity Project can look like. There were ministry representatives from IVCF, Campus Crusades, and Chinese Christian Herald Crusades. Jane Hyun, the author of "Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling" made an appearance. Overall it was a great opportunity to meet over food and exchange our hearts for the Asian American church.

Partnership with ISAAC
As part of the Laity Project, I am exploring some possibilities of partnership with the Institute of Asian American Christianity. They are developing a similar vision for the Laity and ministry that is committed to a "...Christ-centered faith and calling must be integrated with Asian American cultures and identities. This is a crucial element in the life-long journey of following Jesus towards Christian maturity and wholeness. It is an important way to embody God’s fullness in the world." Pray for wisdom and guidance as we seek a partnership together.

Grace Christian Fellowship (Asian American Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at Cornell)
Jamie and I had our first meeting at the Grace Christian Fellowship at Cornell. I will be serving as a volunteer staff with Intervarsity focusing on the Executive Team (see pictured). Please pray for unity and vision for the team and my role to serve them. They are a great group of young people and infused with holy passion.

Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church
I will be preaching at MHCCC at the end of the month and also having a meeting with their leadership to discuss ways they are forming their English ministries. I am excited to be part of this and wanting to serve them on this very wonderful journey of a growing generation of a church.

OneHouse 2006
I am being challenged as I prepare my talk on October 21 Asian American unity worship night of One House. As I prepare and develop a vision for our call for social justice. I am excited to work with musician Neah Lee and also with sponsors Bread and Water and World Vision. My talk will focus on the book of Isaiah and Jesus's ministry on earth. The talk will be focus on the inclusiveness of the gospel to reach the outsiders so that it points to an exclusive God. Please pray for the team as we are under a great spiritual weight and doubt for finances for this event. But we ploughing forth to honor God's vision for unity and justice. I am really excited for what God will do through the worship, through Neah and talk.

Article for Asian Avenue website
I am writing a feature article for Asian Avenue website called Exit Wounds: The Disconnected Asian American Faith" about the malaise of young professional Asian American who have left church and discovering a new pursuit of meaning in a post-college era. I wanted to write about conversations regarding faith and why this group of Asian American young men and women don't find church a place of community and discovery towards a discourse on broader issues of life. Interviews with church leaders, congregations, post-moderns, college campus ministries and clergy will offer some insight on the spiritual landscapes of this population. I will also like to profile some churches on both coasts to discuss what are some churches doing to effectively reverse this trend of flight from the Asian American ethnic church. I will profile New York City churches and West Coast churches as well. This will offer a compelling and intimate look at the state of this generation's pilgrimage towards faith. Keep an eye out for it.

Jamie and I just completed Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at Syracuse Alliance Church that helped us to think through our financial planning. We are so blessed by this course and would recommend that anyone who is still struggling with finances, debt and anxiousness regarding finances this is a great course for you to take. We feel that it was God's grace that directed us to learn this very early in our marriage. Pray for us in this period of time to focus our role as stewards of what God has given us.

Pray for our church community as we are seeking a home for us to serve and to find authentic community where we are challenged and lifted.

Thanks for reading...I know it was long but I hope it was worth it.

          Pro-Trump media and Russian bots push self-debunking story attacking Obama attorney general for using an email alias        

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Fringe media figures and outlets that support President Donald Trump are trying to scandalize former Attorney General Loretta Lynch's use of an alias in her government emails, even though government officials have used the practice before, Lynch’s use of the alias had been disclosed last year, and the emails are still subject to records requests.

Kim Dotcom, a dubious figure known for spreading conspiracy theories, claimed on August 4 that Lynch may have used the alias Elizabeth Carlisle “to communicate with DOJ officials.” Dotcom based his claim on emails given to the conservative group American Center for Law And Justice (ACLJ) -- where Trump attorney Jay Sekulow is the chief counsel -- as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In his tweet, he added, “Dear Internet, investigate!” The next day, a user on the pro-Trump Reddit forum “r/The_Donald,” a forum known in the past to spread conspiracy theories, claimed that a death certificate showed that Lynch “used her grandmother's maiden name as alias.”

The implication of wrongdoing by Lynch then reached Jim Hoft of the pro-Trump website The Gateway Pundit, who wrote that “internet sleuth” Dotcom “dropped a bomb on Twitter,” and pointed to the “r/The_Donald” user who “discovered that Loretta Lynch used her grandmother’s maiden name ‘Lizzie Carlisle’ as her alias.” He added that Lynch “told Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) under oath that she only uses official email in November 2016 — after these above emails were sent,” concluding, “Lynch committed perjury.” The allegation also reached far-right conspiracy theory outlet Zero Hedge, which claimed that Lynch “has been busted”; far-right trolls Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec; and discredited birther Jerome Corsi of the conspiracy theory website Infowars. A few also alleged that Lynch had committed perjury. Another forum known for pushing conspiracy theories, 4chan’s “/pol/,” also hyped the alias and perjury allegation.

According to the think tank Alliance for Securing Democracy, which has a tool to track Russian-affiliated bots on Twitter, the stories targeting Lynch have been popular among those bots, which pushed both of The Gateway Pundit’s articles and Zero Hedge’s post.

Despite the nefarious implications, it was already public knowledge that Lynch used an alias with her government email. Additionally, the practice was routine for previous government employees. In February 2016, a Justice Department spokesperson said that Lynch “uses a government email account but also ‘does not use her given name in the handle of her email address,’” according to The Hill. In 2015, the Justice Department revealed that then-Attorney General Eric Holder used multiple email aliases in his government emails, and noted that because it was still a government email, “it is still preserved for recordkeeping.” (Indeed, this Lynch alias allegation came about specifically because ACLJ received the emails in a FOIA request.) Aides in President George W. Bush’s administration also used “secret alternate” addresses for emails, some of which were nongovernmental, according to Mother Jones.

Multiple fake news purveyors also hyped allegations of wrongdoing, with Mad World News calling it a “smoking gun” against Lynch, TruthFeed writing that Lynch “lied under oath” in “a clear case of perjury, completely intentional,” America’s Freedom Fighters claiming Lynch is “heading to prison,” and Liberty Writers urging readers to “share this everywhere to help bring Loretta Lynch down.” Other previous purveyors of fake news hyping the allegation included RedStateWatcher, Freedom Daily, USA Politics Today, World Politicus, Patriots On The Right, and GOP The Daily Dose.

All of these articles drew attention on Facebook: The two Gateway Pundit articles had at least 15,900 and 9,100 engagements, respectively; the Zero Hedge article, 3,300; Mad World News, 1,000; TruthFeed, 4,100; America’s Freedom Fighters, 1,300; Liberty Writers, 12,800; RedStateWatcher, 809; Freedom Daily, 11,000; World Politicus, 1,100; and GOP The Daily Dose, 93, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo.

The far-right trolls, fringe outlets, and fake news purveyors teaming up to spread this allegation (aided by bots) provide yet another example of how fringe sources work together to spread dubious claims, conspiracy theories, and lies while attacking perceived enemies.

          Administration officials proved their loyalty by pushing lies and propaganda about voting        

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Officials in President Donald Trump’s administration and those who worked for his presidential campaign took to broadcast and cable news over the past year to spread lies and propaganda about voting, often defending Trump’s debunked claims about massive noncitizen voting and widespread voter fraud.

Before and after the election, Trump repeatedly hyped debunked theories that widespread voter fraud and massive noncitizen voting “rigged” the election against him and cost him the popular vote. Given the president’s affection for his staunchest cable news defenders, his “TV addiction,” and his desire for loyalty, it makes sense that those seeking to curry favor with Trump took to TV to hype lies about voting. According to a Media Matters analysis of broadcast morning and nightly news as well as prime-time cable news, at least 11 different Trump loyalists made television appearances, often on Fox News, in which they misinformed viewers about voter fraud nearly 120 times:

  • Ben Carson, who now serves as Trump’s secretary for housing and urban development, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Carson made two statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely alleging that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

  • Boris Epshteyn, who previously served as one of Trump’s press officers, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news three times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those three appearances, Epshteyn made four statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made two statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting. Additionally, Epshteyn made two statements falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud and one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

  • Corey Lewandowski, who previously served as Trump’s campaign manager, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Lewandowski made 10 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made four statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • J. Christian Adams, who now serves on Trump’s election integrity commission, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Adams made six statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting. He also made two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • Jason Miller, who previously served as a senior communications adviser on Trump’s campaign, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news three times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those three appearances, Miller made seven statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • Jeff Sessions, who now serves as Trump’s attorney general, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news twice from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those two appearances, Sessions made three statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made two statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud.

  • Kellyanne Conway, who now serves as Trump’s senior counselor, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news 11 times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those 11 appearances, Conway made 13 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. She also made four statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • Kris Kobach, who now serves as vice chair of Trump’s election integrity commission, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Kobach made 12 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made seven statements falsely alleging that there is massive noncitizen voting and one statement baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud. Additionally, Kobach made one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud and four statements falsely claiming that voter ID laws do not suppress minority turnout in elections.

  • Michael Cohen, who served as a surrogate during the presidential campaign, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news once from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. During his appearance, Cohen made six statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made three statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • Mike Pence, who now serves as Trump’s vice president, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news four times from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. Over those four appearances, Pence made 12 statements falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud (but also one statement correctly stating that widespread voter fraud does not exist). He also made two statements baselessly conflating voter registration inaccuracies with voter fraud.

  • Mike Pompeo, who now serves as Trump’s CIA director, appeared on prime-time cable news and broadcast news once from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, to discuss voting. During his appearance, Pompeo made one statement falsely claiming that there is widespread voter fraud. He also made one statement falsely claiming that voter ID laws prevent voter fraud.


Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts for evening cable news programs and broadcast morning news and evening newscasts from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. We included the following programs in the data: ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, CBS’ CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News, NBC’s Today and NBC Nightly News, CNN’s The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360, and CNN Tonight, Fox News’ The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren*, On the Record with Brit Hume*, Tucker Carlson Tonight*, First 100 Days*, The Story*, The O’Reilly Factor*, The Kelly File*, and Hannity, and MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily, For the Record with Greta*, Hardball with Chris Matthews, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. Due to the substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk. During the study period, Greta Van Susteren moved to MSNBC and began hosting a program there; unlike with the network’s previous 6 p.m. programming, the transcripts for this program were included in the Nexis database, and thus were included.

For this study, Media Matters included only those segments where the stated topic of conversation was voting rights or issues related to voting, or where “substantial discussion” of these topics occurred. We defined “substantial discussion” as that where two or more speakers had at least one direct exchange on the topic. Host monologues were also included only when the speaker made two independent mentions of voting or voting rights within the same segment. We did not include statements made in news or video clips in edited news packages except those made by a network correspondent. If news packages aired more than once, Media Matters coded only the first unique appearance. Similarly, if a live event -- such as a town hall or public forum -- was held during regularly scheduled programming, these segments were also excluded because the participants were not network or media guests.

The resulting 561 segments were then coded for the mention of one or more of four general topics of conversation: logistical barriers to voting on the state level, the election, legal issues, and gerrymandering. Segments were also coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements each speaker made about six topics: widespread voter fraud, massive noncitizen voting, voter ID laws, voter registration inaccuracies, early voting, and gerrymandering. The statements coded for were:

  • There is widespread voter fraud (inaccurate).

  • Widespread voter fraud does not exist (accurate).

  • There is massive noncitizen voting (inaccurate).

  • Massive noncitizen voting does not exist (accurate).

  • Voter ID laws are useful to fight voter fraud (inaccurate).

  • Voter ID laws would do little combat voter fraud (accurate).

  • Voter ID laws do not affect voter turnout (inaccurate).

  • Voter ID laws disenfranchise voters, especially minority voters (accurate).

  • Voter registration inaccuracies lead to voter fraud (inaccurate).

  • Voter registration inaccuracies are different from voter fraud (accurate).

  • Early voting leaves elections more susceptible to voter fraud (inaccurate).

  • Early voting does not leave elections more susceptible to voter fraud (accurate).

  • Gerrymandering has not contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (inaccurate).

  • Gerrymandering has contributed to an outsized Republican majority on a federal and state level (accurate).

          For years, we've been told fat clogs our arteries. Now, scientists say that's all wrong.         

Dietary advice is as prone to fads as fashion trends and what is seen as rock solid truth in one decade is debunked as patently false the next. That gives us a lesson for markets where the perception of surety is integral to the persistence of a bull market only to eventually be displaced when the biggest bull becomes the epicentre of risk.

It has always seemed disingenuous to say that fats are bad when French, German, Italian and Japanese diets are loaded with fats and yet their populations do not experience even close to the same levels of obesity as the USA and also have higher life expectancies. If fats, either “good” or “bad”, are not the problem then perhaps it is reasonable to look for culprits in inactivity and sugar consumption.

Stress and the psychological dietary compensations we indulge in to deal with it are an additional consideration. I wonder how long it will take for mental health to become the next dietary fad.

          NASA Debunks Perseid Meteor Shower Rumor        
There is a striking misconception going around that this year's Perseid meteor shower will be the "brightest shower in recorded human history" and even visible during the day.
          FactCheck.org’s Mobile Site Debunks Politician’s False Claims        
FactCheck.org's mobile site does a great job debunking of politician's falsehoods but you will need a pretty good browser to view it. Continue reading
          States With Magazine Capacity Limits        

Some states restrict magazine capacity, so it is important to know what the limits are and which states restrict them. Ignorance is never a valid defense. It is always a good idea to check if you are unsure. Some cities can have different laws than the state has. What do you do if you are in violation of magazine capacity? It is up to you. You can send them to a friend outside of the region of limitation. For example, if you lived in NY State, you can no longer possess magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. So, you can send them to a friend in another state. Another option would be to permanently modify them so they can only hold 10 rounds. You could also change calibers. A traditional AR-15 30 rd magazine can only hold 10 rounds of .50 Beowulf. The upside is that you do not have to do anything with your AR magazines, but now you have to chamber your AR in an expensive cartridge. There are compromises. But, those are not the only options. You need to know the laws that affect you, and then you can find out what to do about large-capacity magazines.

Why do we have magazine capacity restrictions? There are many reasons. The most common is the belief that restricting magazine capacity will save lives, because a mass shooter will have to reload more frequently thereby allowing time for someone to take out the shooter. This is discussed in an article by Alex Yablon of The Trace. You can read his article here. The concept of "reloading saves lives" has been debunked by a sheriff. He also pokes holes in the "if it takes more than ten bullets you should not have a gun" myth.

Magazine capacity limits work both ways. The fiction that a mass shooter will have less bullets to commit murder applies to a law abiding citizen and his or her ability to defend themselves. With fewer bullets they have a lower chance of protecting themselves. However, logic does not trump state laws, so it is important to know where magazine capacities are restricted and see if it affects you.


Gun Magazine Capacity Restrictions By State

Here is a list of states with magazine restrictions:


Magazines over 10 rounds. California still allows rebuild kits for grandfathered magazines over 10 rounds. However, Los Angeles has issued a city wide ban on them just last year.


No mags over 15 rounds (Long guns & Pistols)


No mags over 10 rounds (Long guns & Pistols)


No mags over 10 rounds (Handguns only)


Aurora – No mags over 15 rounds (Long guns only)


Chicago – No mags over 12 rounds (Long guns only)


Franklin Park – No mags over 16 rounds (Long guns only)


Oak Park – No mags over 10 rounds (Long guns only)


Riverdale – No mags over 35 rounds (Long guns only)


No mags over 10 rounds (Long guns & Pistols). However, high capacity is grandfathered.


No mags over 10 rounds (Pistols & Rifles) – Exception only if customer provides Class A or B permit (Long guns) or Class A permit (Pistols), Dealer’s license for shipment

New Jersey

No mags over 15 rounds (Long guns & Pistols) – LEO and/or Military Exemption

New York State

No mags over 10 rounds (Long guns & Pistols) – LEO is exempt


No mags over 30 rounds (Long guns & Pistols) This was recently removed last year.

Washington D.C.

No mags over 10 rounds

For a more detailed look by each state, go to Smartgunlaws.com.

Carefully Read Gun Laws and Know Your Limitations

If you read the laws carefully there are some exclusions and contradictions – such as Colorado and some other states, where a tubular magazine that is contained in a lever-action firearm is not considered a "large-capacity magazine". In most cases these people are thinking of older style firearms like the Winchester or Henry lever action guns. What they do not realize is that there is a shotgun made in Turkey by a company called Adler.

Adler lever action shotgun

This modern sporting style shotgun is lever action. If you look, that shotgun has a magazine tube extension which Colorado deemed illegal.

A fixed, tubular shotgun magazine that holds more than 28 inches of shotgun shells, including any extension device that is attached to the magazine and holds additional shotgun shells.

One could argue that the gun is lever action and therefore not under the Large-Capacity Magazine restrictions. If that is the case, you could then attach any extension on the end of the shotgun like the Xrail which would give the shotgun a 24 shell capacity.

If you read the limitations on shotguns further, the Kel-Tec Shotgun and the UTAS UTS-15 could be exempt from these restrictions. The KSG and UTS-15 have two tubular magazines that hold 7 rounds of 2 3/4" 12 gauge shotgun shells. By the definition of the law, the length is satisfied. In other states, the fact that the shooter has to manually switch over to the other tube satisifies that they are not high capacity magazines. Another work around, mentioned in Yablon's article above, is using smaller ammunition to increase capacity. Aguilla makes 1" 12 gauge shotgun shells, and you can fit 11 of them in just one of the Kel-Tec Shotgun tubes.

Some states, like Colorado, have "grandfathering". If you owned a large capacity magazine prior to July 1, 2013 then you can keep it. How do you prove this? You do not have to.

Exceptions – A person may possess a large-capacity magazine if they owned the large-capacity magazine on or prior to July 1, 2013, and maintain continuous possession of the magazine.  When a person charged with illegal possession of a large-capacity magazine claims to fall under this exception, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove otherwise.

Carefully read and study the laws. Know your limitations. What you read here may be out of date so do not rely solely on the information you find here. Laws may have changed. They might have been relaxed or they might have become more restrictive. It is your repsonsibility, as a firearm owner, to know and understand the laws that affect you.

          Debunking Myths About Generational Use of Social Media and Health Care        

Presented at APhA Federal Pharmacy Forum in Washington, DC in March 2010. http://bit.ly/4DQRGb
          The big three-oh        
Every year I get myself the same thing for my birthday--I take the time to write a blog post recapping my last year. Whereas almost all of my blog posts end up not getting finished for one reason or another, I always at least post once a year on my birthday.

I suppose this birthday should be even more special. I'm 30 this year. Blah, blah, blah. . . new decade. . . end of my 20's. . . time to reflect. . . whatever. I'm one year older than I was last year and a day older than I was yesterday. Maybe I'll feel sentimental about it later, but for now the line seems pretty arbitrary.

I'm rather surprised to say that this last year hasn't seemed as busy as it's probably been. I finally put the finishing touches on my master's degree (Neurobiology and Physiology from Northwestern) and graduated from that program, I kept up in my classes at med school, and I worked for the Princeton Review teaching undergrads how to prepare for MCAT biology. Even with all of that, the highlights of this year for me have been social activities, rather than work or educational ones. Even with work and school going on I managed to have a game night almost every week in the last year; some of my best friends in Chicago moved up to my neighborhood so it's been pretty easy to convince them to stop by for an impromptu dinner party or a few board games. Amanda and I bought an Xbox 360 last summer and played through some pretty great games (Portal 2, Fallout 3, Lego Harry Potter, among others). I cooked a dozen different flavors of gelato and have been thoroughly pleased with the results (although I still haven't put on any weight, despite years of hearing that my metabolism would slow down after I got married, after I hit 25, or when I started eating gelato every day).

Perhaps the single most important thing I've done differently as I've gotten older is grow less patient with stupidity. Although I still engaged in a handful of spirited debates in the past 12 months, It's been becoming increasingly clear to me that most people, even many people I love dearly, simply don't want to understand the world better. Rather than get stressed out when people claim, for example, that the morning after pill is equivalent to an abortion (it actually delays ovulation, preventing fertilization but allowing implantation if fertilization has already taken place), I try and assess whether they want to understand the issue (some do) and, if not, simply dust off my feet on them and move on. I'll sometimes post their idiocy on my facebook wall for my like-minded friends to mock, but for the most part I'm no longer bothered by even the most brazen of self-imposed ignorance. People who think that the jury is still out about whether climate change is real, whether vaccines cause autism, or whether the Earth is more than 6000 years old are worthy of mockery, but not worth getting angry about. I find I'm much, much happier laughing at fools than worrying that their foolishness will destroy the world (or that it's somehow my job to correct them).

This is not to say that I think scientific illiteracy is harmless. The world of factual-relativism that conservatives in particular are building for themselves will inevitably have real-world consequences should these lunatics gain power. I am enheartened, however, with the fact that the Democratic Party has not yet engaged in the same anti-science drivel, alternate-reality, and systematic historical-revisionism that has made up the Republican primaries. Sure, many left-wingers don't vaccinate their children, engage in historical revisionism, and accept laughable theories like the 9/11 "truther" movement, but the malignancy has not spread into official Democratic platforms (as it has in recent years with the Republicans); perhaps there's still hope that moderate Republicans will kick the young-earth-creationists out of the party and become a pragmatic, technocratic party in the future? I"m keeping my fingers crossed.

I've probably already gone too far and offended some of you. I had no intention of turning my birthday post into a partisan snipe, I just needed to explain why I have so belligerent and curt with some of you (mostly with your facebook friends, actually) this year (my friends Andy and John both pointed it out and asked me why this was the case). The short answer is that it's a litmus test for deciding when a discussion is worth my time. If someone doesn't believe that Australia exists, for example, why should I believe that that person has anything worthwhile to tell me about tax policy? Surely these are different topics, and I may be missing out on a valuable viewpoint by using a litmus test, but I've found through trial and error that someone who stridently claims falsehoods in one area is intellectually lazy in many other areas as well. I simply have no interest in debunking endless lists of googleable facts (or "facts" that aren't intended as factual statements). The reason I'm as aggressive as I am about evolution is that I actually understand it and can relatively quickly spot someone who is making up their facts on the fly. It isn't that someone has to know about evolution before I'll listen to them, but when they assert a flagrant lie about evolution I can pick it out and know that they're willing to lie in order to win a debate (whereas in other areas I might not spot the lie as easily). Put better: http://www.skepticblog.org/2012/02/07/russells-hedgehog/

I'm realizing that I'm already bored of recapping my year's events. Since I've been better this year about using facebook, writing and responding to e-mails, and even calling to catch up with some of you, I think I can probably skip the thorough explanation of everything that's gone on. Although it's been far too long since I've talked with some of you, I don't think that any major changes have happened in my life since I've called or written, so I hereby put the burden back on you to call me if you've had a dozen children since we last spoke or if you've been elected to Congress without telling me.

Thanks in advance for the b-day wishes. I'll post again in a year, perhaps sooner.
          Obama's Spine        
The overriding narrative that the Bush administration gave us was that the world changed on 9/11. Sure. The events of 9/11 were undeniably the most horrific thing that has happened to American civilians on our own soil that we didn’t inflict on ourselves (i.e.-the civil war). Many conservative pundits, as well as my conservative friends, however, are quite overselling the change that took place on 9/11, trying to unfairly re-write pre-9/11 history to make Obama look bad and Bush look good (an ambitious project, I will admit).

This post will attempt to address Ann Coulter's post from May 5, and the subsequent discussion I had with my friend Garth about it on Facebook.

Here, in simplified form, is the syllogism that some conservatives make about Obama’s softness on terror:

1) Before 9/11, nobody could have known that America was at risk to terrorist attacks.
2) After 9/11, Bush got tough on terror (the Patriot act, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.), which has kept us safe ever since.
3) Obama “has no spine” and is weak on terror.
4) Any terrorist attacks on America are derivative of Obama’s weakness and vindication of Bush’s tactics.

I have a few arguments to point out to debunk this annoying set of arguments:

The distinction between pre- and post-9/11 America is a logical fallacy of the first degree. An attack on NYC was neither unprecedented nor unpredictable; 9/11 wasn’t even the first time that the World Trade Center had been targeted.

This said, conservatives are right to argue that Bush was not personally culpable of any gross negligence or conspiracy as regards 9/11. While I do not think very highly of Bush’s skills or even his work ethic, I have seen the evidence presented by both sides that 9/11 was actually preventable, and I think that the problems were systemic, not individual, unfortunate, but not negligent.

The subtle and underhanded logical slip comes when conservatives want to look closely at the run-up to 9/11 in order to forgive Bush, but then do not afford that same diligence to the Christmas day attempt or the Times Square attempt. Bush can’t be held responsible for allowing 9/11 because he could not have done anything personally to prevent it. Obama, however, is damned for anything that happens between 2009 and 2012, regardless of what he could or could not have done about it. If Coulter and Hannity can repeat it into the void enough times without anybody challenging it, however, people will inevitably accept it, even though it’s dishonest and misleading.

The efficacy of Bush’s anti-terrorist policies is still a matter of debate. Although compelling arguments exist on both sides of the discussion (on the one hand that an aggressive approach dissuades potential terrorists from violence or on the other that injustices perpetrated in the War on Terror radicalizes moderates and affected family members to take up terrorism), the logical flaw in this argument is that we can conclude that Bush’s policies are the reason for our span of relative peace, or that any terrorist events must be the result of our deviations from them. This is the same weak-headed logic which causes people to think that antibiotics cure viral infections, homeopathy does anything, or vaccines cause autism. This is, perhaps, why so many people who believe these logical fallacies are also so willing to accept their political equivalents. Ad hoc ergo proper hoc is not sound logic. Furthermore, the likes of Giuliani have to ignore the Richard Reid attempt or the attack foiled in Britain to even make this argument; I can’t decide whether he’s overtly dishonest or just stupid.

This argument is annoying not only because the facts actually refute it completely, but because it would be a fallacious argument even if the facts didn’t contradict it.
Obama has greatly increased the use of drones against suspected terrorists in Pakistan, he’s upped the ante on the war in Afghanistan, and he’s had numerous successes in taking out ranking members of terrorist groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Anyone who wants to call Obama weak on terror must ultimately ignore the actual things he’s done and instead focus on his rhetoric or his, GASP!, bowing to world leaders.

Rather than contradict the so-called indictments against Obama that he’s rhetorically weak on terror or too conciliatory with our enemies or rivals, I’ll instead make the more important argument which often gets overlooked in this discussion: the rhetoric of the American president is not an important factor in recruiting terrorist attacks against America or American interests. Anyone who argues otherwise is selecting their cases in a dishonest and selective way (for example, was the bombing in Beirut the result of Reagan’s pussyfooting around with terrorists?), or doing so without any evidence at all, relying on the partisan I’ll-accept-anything-that-Hannity-tells-me-ness of their listeners.

If anybody would like to try and make the argument that trying KSM in NYC is somehow going to anger terrorists, I’d love to see your internal logic. Keep in mind, however, that in order for the trial to be the cause of the attacks, you’d have to argue that these terrorists would not have wanted to bomb NYC before the trial, but would make the attempt if the trial took place. I’ll wait.

This is an ad hoc ergo propter hoc argument waiting to happen. For those of you who weren’t paying attention, the Bush administration made no such claims until they were out of office. When their tenure was over, however, Cheney immediately began claiming that it was his and Bush’s policies which had prevented another attack. They had found the magical incantations necessary to keep us safe, and anything that went wrong from January 2009 until the end of time was no longer Bush’s fault. Rather than refute this unsound argument, I’d like to just pose a few questions for you to consider: what specifically did the Bush administration do to tighten up the no-fly lists (which may have prevented the underwear bomber from attempting his attack, and would have also stifled Faisel Shahzad’s near escape)? Did the Bush administration do anything to increase security in NYC that would, for example, have prevented an inept Pakistani-American from leaving a car bomb in Times Square? Do Bush or Cheney deserve credit or blame for Richard Reid’s failed attacks?

Even Ann Coulter is too smart to rely on such inane argumentation. I conclude that she manages to sell such garbage to her followers (full disclosure, I actually like Ann Coulter and think that she’s both a good writer and an insightful commentator on certain, albeit limited, issues) because it’s what they already want to hear. If she were to honestly call out Bush for his ineptness or forgive Obama for things that aren’t really his fault, we’d have a much better dialogue about terrorism in this country. Unfortunately for Ann Coulter, however, she might not get the attention or book deals that make her so much money if she were to do what’s best for America. Pundits make their money by selling irresponsible half-truths. In a reasonable and rational discussion of the issues, Ms. Coulter would probably not have a place at the table.
          Great God Debates: Part I        
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m sick of debating politics. Although I’ve been trying to quell the false notion that Americans are somehow universally opposed to the health care bill that passed, that we’re living in a socialist police state, or that the second coming is only hours away, Nate Silver has pretty much already said everything I’ve been wanting to say better than I can.

Instead, I want to discuss some of the arguments I’ve been thinking about since listening to around a dozen hours of debates between D’Souza and various atheists. I’ve waited about a week since I listened to the debates before writing any of my thoughts down. Rather than be bogged down in the procedural minutia of the debates or even my impressions of who won, I wanted to focus my responses to the broad focus of the questions being discussed and those arguments that have stuck with me.

The adversarial system of debate has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, these debates avoided what I call the Colmes problem; both sides were represented by equally intelligent, prepared, and devoted debaters. Additionally, both sides also avoided the easy-out option of agreeing to disagree or finding an ecumenical peace. While such an agreement may be the ultimate goal of watching such a debate, I believe that moderatism should be borne of a fair consideration of good arguments from both sides, not the contention-is-of-the-devil-so-we-shouldn’t-talk-about-controversial-things intellectual laziness that I’ve seen so much.

The major drawback of the debate model is that both sides have incentive to make arguments they don’t necessarily believe are true, simply because they are effective. In debate, making arguments which are untrue, but which take a long time to debunk, is called “spreading.” I saw far too much of this coming from both the Atheists and D’Souza. What’s worse, however, there were debates where some of these arguments went unaddressed, meaning that an argument that the debater knew was untrue (as shown by the fact that in other debates he acknowledged that it was misleading) stood out in the audience’s mind as being accurate.

In the interest of keeping close to my 500-word goal for each post, I will not address my most serious concerns with the debates now; those merit their own posts. There are a few quick judgements worth noting, however:

Hitler may have been a closet atheist, but the outward religious message he used to sell his philosophy deserves at least part of the credit for the Third Reich, Mr. D’Souza.

The USSR, on the other hand, was actively antithetical to religion, even though it tolerated it. Atheists: do not try and dispute that Stalin is yours. It only makes you less credible when you correctly disown Hitler.

Faith, as it is defined by D’Souza, is actually a useful category. He is right that science is based upon it, and he lays a fine theoretical foundation for the value of faith in a god. I disagree with his specific application of his faith into Pascal's wager, but I think he gets the first half of his argument exactly right.

          Gone Mobile 20: Mobile Web Performance with Tammy Everts        

Performance matters, especially when it comes to mobile development. Join us as we talk to Tammy Everts about the ins and outs of mobile web performance!

Hosts: Greg Shackles, Jon Dick

Guests: Tammy Everts


Thanks to our Sponsors!


Raygun.io - Exceptional Error Tracking Raygun.io is the fastest and easiest way to track your application’s errors and get the level of detail you need to fix crashes quickly. Notifications are delivered right to your inbox and presented on a beautiful dashboard.

           Debunking the Megalodon Myth (featuring Sam Kean)         

          17 'facts' about space and Earth that you thought were true — but have been debunked by science        

black hole stars galaxies warped space nasa

Whenever someone asks me about outer space, I get animated.

No surprise there. I've made a living speaking to experts and writing about it for more than a decade, and I've read obsessively on the topic for much longer than that.

I've heard a lot of peculiar "facts" over the years — and even believed and shared a few myself — that I eventually learned were false.

Here are some of the most common myths, misconceptions, and inaccuracies I've encountered that should be thrown into a black hole.

SEE ALSO: 25 amazing images that prove you're a stowaway on a tiny, fragile spaceship

DON'T MISS: Here's how much money it actually costs to launch stuff into space

MYTH: The sun is yellow.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the afternoon sun looks yellow — but the light it gives off is technically white.

The Earth's atmosphere makes the star appear yellow. The gases bend the light in an effect called Rayleigh scattering, which is what also makes the sky appear blue and causes sunsets to blaze into brilliant oranges and reds.

It also doesn't help that astronomers classify the sun as a yellow main-sequence G-type star, or "yellow dwarf" — which has nothing to do with color.

Sources: NASA, NOAA, Washington University, University College London

MYTH: The asteroid belt is dangerous.

Movie scenes of spaceships flying through a dense field of tumbling, colliding rocks are not realistic.

The asteroid belt — a zone 200 million to 300 million miles from the sun — is an incredibly lonely and desolate void.

In fact, if you pulled all the asteroids in that belt together, they'd be only about 4% of the mass of Earth's moon.

That's why NASA gets excited when it catches even one asteroid colliding with another.

Sources: NASA, Today I Found Out

MYTH: Going into space makes you weightless.

Most scientists agree that space begins 62 miles up, where the Earth's atmosphere is more or less a vacuum.

Yet going past this point does not magically make you weightless. If you were in an accelerating rocket, you would feel many times Earth's gravity. It's only when you start falling that you'd feel weightless.

To orbit something is to fall forever around that object. The moon around the Earth, the Earth around the sun, the solar system around the Milky Way — they're all falling toward one another in a crazy cosmic dance.

If you were 250 miles above the Earth, you'd have to travel 17,500 mph around the planet to experience continuous free-fall — the same speed as the International Space Station and its inhabitants.

Sources: FAI, NASA

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
          Buzz off with having a personal trainer “debunk” nutrition myths buzzfeed        
What the hell, buzzfeed??? Why would you choose a personal trainer to debunk “diet and nutrition myths”? Sure, not everything he said was inaccurate but his training does not lend itself to providing evidence-informed nutrition information. As a celebrity trainer, it’s his … Continue reading
          The dirty mobile telecommuters        
Telecommuting can be great. It can also be loaded with many lies, one of which I’m going to partially debunk here: environmental benefits. Here’s typical imagery of a telecommuter, the kind that can be found from a plethora of presentations … Continue reading
          Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver        

Here’s a new book debunking the existence of Moses and the Exodus:

Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver (Amazon)

Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver (SHP)

Moses, the Promised Land and Easter

Blog: Egyptologists: The Exodus never happened

Forum: Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver

          Lewisham vs Boris (and poor journalism)        


After complaining to the managing director's office at the Evening Standard, and threatening to issue a PCC complaint, the Standard has amended the article.

The previous article read:

"One protester, who introduced himself only as “a local GP” shouted “coward” at Mr Johnson".

The article now reads:

"One protester, who introduced himself as a local GP, told Mr Johnson he was a "coward".

A very small change but a significant one as the article no longer makes the campaigner in question sound like an unruly yob who yelled out from the crowd. It would be nice if the article had explained WHY Dr Fisher called Boris a coward but I suppose it is the Evening Standard.

The email below is what I received in response to my complaint:

Dear Ms Hawthorne

Thank you for your emails. I’m sorry for the slight delay in responding to you.

I take on board what you say about the ‘coward’ comment coming as part of a longer remark, although I must say that I do not think it is misleading to have focussed on that word alone. Nonetheless, I have arranged for the web version of our article to be slightly amended so that there is no possibility of readers thinking that the term was shouted out as a single exclamation.

As to the doctor identifying himself as a local GP, I note that the recording of the event shows he also gave his name. I will arrange a further change to deal with that point in due course. I won’t include his name unless he contacts us himself to request that we do.

Thank you for raising this matter with us directly. Of course, if you have further queries please let me know.

Thanks for all who tweeted about this! A small victory but a victory nonetheless



QUICK ASIDE: As it's likely to be people interested in the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign reading this, just want to take a quick opportunity to flag up that the next big campaign event - Born in Lewisham - is taking place on Saturday 16 March at 2pm - more info here: http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/current-actions/born-in-lewisham/

Right, on to Boris!

As most people will be aware, Boris was in Lewisham (specifically, Catford) on Thursday 7 March for the People's Question Time event, a bi-annual event which "gives Londoners the chance to question the Mayor and London Assembly about their plans, priorities and policies for London". It's worth pointing out that Boris is obliged to attend these events - he does not do so by choice.

I won't try and summarise the event as I won't do any better than East London Lines fantastic article: http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2013/03/the-people-ask-boris-have-you-ever-seen-a-business-close-its-most-successful-outlet-that-is-whats-happening-to-lewisham-ae/

Needless to say, the people of Lewisham did the borough proud. Yes, there was boo-ing and heckling as Boris tried to avoid answering certain questions, and, in the case of Lewisham Hospital, continued to quote claims that have been widely debunked - the main one being that the proposed downgrades will save 100 lives a year.

But the majority of the meeting was filled with valid, intelligent, well-researched questions from Lewisham residents keen to remind Boris that his duty as Mayor is to represent London - and that, in terms of Lewisham, he is failing miserably.

A selection of the headlines following the event paint a picture of the audience as a baying mob, who sat and did nothing but heckle Boris Johnson for two hours. For example,

London mayor heckled by Lewisham hospital campaigners

New Statesman: 
Boris Johnson heckled for almost two hours in Lewisham

The news report I have taken most issue with, though, is that of the Evening Standard. Their article focuses on the moment that Dr Brian Fisher, a local GP, described Boris as a "coward".

What Dr Fisher said, in full, is this: 

"Good evening, I’m Brian Fisher, I’m a local GP. The population of Lewisham will be rising and the housing stock will not be taking that into account [the question was asked in the section of the meeting focused on Housing]. The inequalities of health that have been released because of the rent changes and the benefit changes that other people have spoken about are going to be astonishing. I can see it everyday in surgery. And the Equalities Assessment that was done as part of the ridiculous consultation on the closure of Lewisham Hospital showed complicitly that health inequalities are going to increase. You do have a direct responsibility for health inequalities. You are ignoring that responsibility. You are a coward in that relation."

What the Evening Standard article reported, was this:

"One protester, who introduced himself only as “a local GP” shouted “coward” at Mr Johnson".

Putting aside the fact that Dr Fisher did, quite clearly, introduce himself at the beginning of his statement, the description of him shouting the word "coward" at Boris Johnson - while it may fit in with the media depiction of the event of a meeting filled with heckles, jeers and hurled insults - simply isn't true

I called the Evening Standard news desk yesterday (Friday 8 March) to ask them to correct this (at the time, I didn't have the full quote but knew that Dr Fisher had made a full intelligent statement and not simply shouted "coward"). 

I was told that the article was fine as it was, and any debate over him shouting the word "coward" was just a matter of opinion about volume. I tried to explain that it wasn't about volume but taking a word out of context, and painting a false picture of events, and was promptly hung up on.

It's worth pointing out here that Dr Fisher didn't so much as raise his voice as can be clearly heard in a recording of the evening made by Clare Griffiths (@clogsilk): http://www.swift-internet.com/files/pqtcatford.mp3). Dr Fisher's statement is at the 1hr 8min 50 secs mark.
To many, this may be a small point not worth fussing over. The media is, of course, well known for taking things out of context etc - it's just a fact of life. 

I agree. But I don't think for one second we should stand for it. 

The PCC code states on the topic of accuracy:

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

We have to hold newspapers and other media outlets to these standards. Back in November, when the Standard mis-reported that the first Lewisham Hospital had a low-turnout due to rain (actual turnout: 10,000-15,000), they were pulled up on this and forced to re-write the story.

I have written a letter of complaint to the editor Sarah Sands at editor@standard.co.uk, and ask as many people as possible to do the same - it may not make a difference in this occasion, but will make the Standard think twice before printing inaccurate information about the Lewisham Hospital campaign again in the future.


Interestingly, none of the media outlets (as far as I'm aware) reported on what followed Dr Fisher's 'coward' comment - the moment where Boris's 'lovable buffoon' mask momentarily slipped.

Twitter user @darryl1974 posted a clip of the wonderful moment online here: http://audioboo.fm/boos/1253662-boris-johnson-loses-his-rag-with-a-man-who-called-him-a-coward-pqt - the audience's reaction is true Lewisham.


Worth flagging up ITV's news report on the protest, which is one of the most balanced I've seen from national media (though I've been told that the BBC radio coverage has been good): http://www.itv.com/news/london/story/2013-03-08/mayor-roasted-over-health-reforms/. This report actually shows some of the questions that were asked (not just the boo-ing etc) and also gave a campaigner (Jos) the opportunity to refute the ridiculous 100 lives claim.

The fight for Lewisham Hospital continues and People's Question Time shows that the campaign has no intention of backing off. The campaign has been a positive one from the beginning and any attempts by the press to paint it as negative and aggressive must be challenged.


In response to an FoI request I filed, the Department of Health said this about the 100 lives claim: 

"The figure on reduced mortality used in the TSA’s report was derived from work undertaken by London Health Programmes, considering the difference in mortality rates for patients admitted as an emergency on a weekday and those admitted at the weekend. This work demonstrated that patients admitted to hospital as an emergency at the weekend in London had a significantly increased risk of dying compared to those admitted on a weekday. This is also seen nationally. Independently verified analysis showed that a minimum of 500 lives in London could be saved every year if the mortality rate for patients admitted at the weekend was the same as for those admitted on a weekday. For southeast London, this equates to around 100 lives."

I cannot understand what weekend/weekday mortality rates has to do with the Lewisham downgrade so if anyone can explain this to me, I'd be ever so grateful! My email is shannonmiahawthorne@googlemail.com.

Keep fighting! :-)

Shannon x

          "criminal gene" report short on facts        
The season finale of CSI:Miami on Monday night made reference to the presence of an extra Y chromosome in a suspect's DNA. Very little background information was provided about the double Y chromosome aberration, other than that it was stated that there was "no scientific evidence" that the presence of the extra Y chromosome made one more likely to demonstrate criminal behavior than the normal XY male.

The LA-based web site called cbs2, presumably an arm of the giant media conglomerate, corroborated this declaration with a column expressing very much the same opinion - that there was no evidence linking the double Y chromosome with a propensity for aggression or criminal behavior, and provided no more in the way of statistical or scientific data on individuals who possessed the extra Y chromosome than did the TV show.

However, I am certain that people want more than just a blanket declaration with no scientific evidence to back it up. Having read numerous volumes about the biology and physiology of the brain and having come across some interesting data during those readings and since, as our empirical knowledge grows ever greater on that subject I feel compelled to throw in my two cents with supporting links where I can, because, as it turns out, that blanket statement is not entirely correct, all factors considered.

The Y chromosome contains in the neighborhood of about 78 genes, or 86 genes, depending on the source of information. I have read that the Y chromosome contains about 150 genes, so it appears that the jury is out on the exact number but the differences may be accounted for by individual variations depending on the subject, although that is theoretical on my part. I have no other explanation for the discrepancies. In any case, these genes encode for about 23 proteins.

The X chromosome is considerably larger than the Y, but is considered to be gene- poor in scope because the largest segments of the DNA are thought to be non-coding portions. Depending on the source of information, the X chromosome contains anywhere from 900 to 2,000 or more genes. Therefore, anywhere from about four to ten percent of the genes in human DNA are found on the X chromosome. This great variance tells us that the state of the art in this type of genetic research is still somewhat primitive. On the other hand, it may also very well be that a significant degree of variation actually exists among different individuals.

In my article on this blog titled The ENCODE project: beyond the genome project it is revealed that large portions of what were once considered "junk DNA" are actually integral for the creation of the RNA templates which code for proteins. In fact, during transcription, many portions of different genes and non-genetic material distributed throughout the chromosome are combined to create the template. The functionality of the X chromosome is considerably greater than for the Y, which is essentially a sex-determinant gene and nothing more. There is recent evidence to support the idea that the X chromosome has more important reasons for being than merely for sex determination. It is known that the presence of an extra Y chromosome in about one in one thousand males "displaces" the X chromosome, rendering it ineffective.

Efforts to debunk a genetic link to aggression and violence abound. This makes sense from the legal point of view. Entering a "genetic predisposition to crime" defense should never be allowed because it throws the door open to the possibility of a genetic defense for any arbitrary situation. However, even the most scholarly articles have trouble convincing the reader that there is no basis for assuming that just because a male has an extra Y chromosome that he is at increased risk for running afoul of the law. The fact remains that it appears from a statistical standpoint that this is actually the case. Whereas the normal distribution of XYY males in the general population is about one in a thousand, a 1965 study of 196 dangerous criminals confined to a maximum security institution found eight XYY males. An unrelated Japanese study also found a disproportionate distribution of XYY males among its prison populations.

MRI studies of various aneuploidies of the sex chromosomes - XXX, XXY, XYY etc. - revealed reduced brain volume in all but the XYY karyotype. However, recent PET and MRI studies of XYY males showed negligible pre-frontal cortical activity. The study did not set out to study the XYY male, but rather to study brain activity under various conditions and stimuli. It was discovered that the entire brain is temporarily active when stimulated, just prior to concentrating the neural processing in dedicated areas like the occipital lobe or Wernicke's and Broca's regions, for example. When some subjects showed no neural activity in the pre-frontal cortex a DNA smear revealed the presence of the extra Y chromosome. Further studies of XYY males confirmed the absence of any significant neural processing in this region of the brain.

The pre-frontal cortex is the center of emotion and empathic reasoning, and, from Wikipedia: "This brain region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, and moderating correct social behavior." It is evident from the displacement of the X chromosome in XYY males, therefore, that much of the genetic content of the X chromosome is geared toward those attributes and functions. Also, since this is a rather large representative portion of the whole brain, it is little wonder then that the XYY male commonly develops learning disabilities as a child compared to the normal population. That alone would provide the impetus for possible anti-social behavior in the child's future if accommodations are not made in his upbringing.

Most XYY males lead normal lives, unaware that they possess an extra Y chromosome. It is therefore unwise to establish a genetic link to the predictability of a person's future behavior patterns. It is a fact that the greatest single influence determining whether a child becomes a criminal is still rooted in their upbringing and environment. Nevertheless, the claim that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that an extra Y chromosome places the individual at higher risk for offending is obviously politically motivated. It is irresponsible, because it tends to mislead the student.

          Teen STD Epidemic - Annual PAP Smear and GARDASIL® Vaccine Provide Strong Defense vs. Cervical Cancer: Dr. Tom Lyons Debunks Myths of Cervical Cancer Prevention and Risks        

With one quarter of the population of teenage girls testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases (or more than 3 million teens), gynecologic surgery pioneer Dr. Tom Lyons strongly advocates the GARDASIL vaccine for girls at their first gynecologic exam--BEFORE they become sexually active.

(PRWeb March 19, 2008)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/03/prweb780824.htm

          The President's Burden        


When I consider that all world leaders in their different eras get handed complex problems not of their own creation - Lincoln and the scourge of black slavery, say, or Churchill with the outbreak of the Second World War - I’m tempted to shrug and just conclude that it comes with the job. But then I remember that these great leaders of the past never had to confront a foe where a nuclear attack on themselves or a close ally may be the result of their actions.
President Trump has on his shoulders some immensely vexing burdens: the evil shenanigans of the Kim Dynasty in North Korea, the aggressive expansion of China into the South China Sea and their stubborn complacency over reining in North Korea, the aggressive expansion of Russia into the sovereign state of Ukraine and their support of Assad in Syria - three of these regimes possess nuclear weapons. There is also, of course, the ongoing catastrophe of Syria and its dastardly Iranian and Russian backed dictator, Assad.

​Throw into the mix of these weighty matters the other black foe of Islamic barbarity, ISIS (and the many hundreds of militias who fight for a similar cause including the Taliban in Afghanistan), and one starts to get a dark overview of only some of the problems that the president has to wake up to every morning - and these are just his foreign policy concerns.

As I write this, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi has arrived in Mosul and prepares to announce a victory over ISIS in this last stronghold of the terrorist army in Iraq. There is no longer an Islamic State of Iraq & Syria in terms of territory, it has been obliterated thanks to an aggressive offensive fought by a coalition of Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias and American air power and special forces. But many ISIS fighters shed their uniforms only to melt back into the civilian population; they were not all killed unfortunately, but many thousands were.

Back in May, United States Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, said after being empowered by President Trump to annihilate ISIS:

“Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot… Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We're not going to allow them to do so. We're going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

The fact that the feckless President Obama did not cut this beast’s head clean off when it first dramatically emerged in a country where American troops had just spent ten years fighting a savage insurgency, goes to clearly show that an American president’s actions or inactions can indeed be a force for evil or a force for good. ISIS is just Al Qaeda rebranded and reinvigorated, until now. As of this year they are thoroughly demoralised - their caliphate was meant to be the fulfilment of a dearly held prophecy. They will meet the same fate in Raqqa, Syria, before too long. They will also send as many of their fighters as they can into Western nations to wreak terror on modern cities - and that will be the fault of Western leaders and Western citizens who have taken an inflexibly soft-headed stance on the “refugee crisis” by demanding that they all be let in under the unquestioned sentiment of compassion.

All I can say on this score is President Trump made it clear from the outset that he wanted to severely limit immigrants - and refugees - from coming into the United States if they were coming from the unstable parts of the Islamic world, and he was courageously and morally correct to take that stand considering whose interests he was voted in to represent. As it happens he is also trying to protect the whole world from an adversary as wicked as ISIS, if Secretary Mattis’ words above are anything to go by.

Syria is going to be more tricky, with no simple solutions in sight.

Syria, unlike Iraq, comes with the hated Baathist dictator still in residence - and propped up by Iran and Russia. Syria, under Assad, has lost over a quarter of its population in six years. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed and around 5 - 6 million are displaced - 2 million reside in refugee camps in Turkey, between 1 - 2 million made their way to Europe (the official number is unknown - a major cause of concern for the West) and another 2.5 million have allegedly been absorbed into the Gulf States, Lebanon and Kuwait. For those who always like to say, as far too many people did after Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were deposed, that it’s ”better to leave the dictator/strongman in power no matter how brutal he is because he is the one who keeps the country stable”… how does that worn-out, cheap little bromide work for you now when you consider Assad’s Syria?

Just before the war started, In 2011 at the time of the so-called Arab Spring (or Islamist Winter) when Syrian students and citizens came out to protest against Assad’s dictatorial regime, never let it be forgotten that Assad had in his slaughterhouse of a prison at Sednaya many high ranking, ferocious Al Qaeda operatives whom he let out when he feared that the United States might also be of a mind to depose him as they had done with Hussein and Gaddafi. Better to risk violence from terrorists and look like the man standing between them and peace than look like the bastard standing between dictatorship and democracy. Since then he has allegedly used chemical weapons (sarin, mustard, chlorine) and lied about it around 50 times - so it was with great relish that I watched President Trump order the 59 cruise missile attacks on the Shayrat airbase, which decimated 25 percent of Assad’s airforce. Good job President Trump!

President Trump is now seeking to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria with President Putin, who insists on abetting this piece of filth, Assad, but whether or not the ceasefire will hold is anyone’s guess. Trump has made it clear to Assad, Putin and the whole world that if Assad uses chemical weapons again the United States will unleash hell on them every time. Trump doesn’t call this a “redline” but that’s exactly what it is and he has already enforced it - and all civilised countries of the United Nations should give him their support since it is an important part of the Geneva Protocol.

The most imminent foreign policy threat on President Trump's plate continues to be North Korea as they are a rogue nation which has nuclear weapons. No person of sense anymore doubts that they will use them, whether provoked or not. Their leader, Kim Jong-un, makes constant threats to hit the American homeland with nuclear warheads, which can no more be ignored than the similar threats made by the Iranian regime to hit Israel and America, but they aren't a nuclear power - yet - and hopefully never will be (Israel would certainly strike their nuclear facilities preemptively before allowing that to happen).

The Kim Dynasty for the last 70 years has absolutely no regard for its own people, it is well known that North Korean citizens live in a state of abject fear and slavery, as is a common story for citizens living inside an ultra communist nation. Hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens: men, women, children and babies, subsist in concentration camps which have been modelled on the gulags of Stalin. The crimes for which a citizen can be sent to one of these ominous slave-pens range from being an official who has fallen out of favour with the regime, to being a third generation relative of someone who has fallen out of favour with the regime, or for not keeping the compulsory household portrait of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, clean enough - in other words, you can be sent to a death camp for no reason at all. Some of these hell-holes have 50,000 prisoners who are subject to beatings, torture, medical experiments, rape, barbaric executions, starvation and being worked to death. We know these facts because of the testimonies of people who have defected, like Lim Hye-jin, who was a prison guard lucky enough to defect to South Korea.

Every American president since Bush Senior has kicked the can of dealing with North Korea down the road, but now that it is clear the regime possesses nuclear weapons technology, the dead end of that road has loomed large. After the horrific incident of American student, Otto Warmbier, being arrested in North Korea on a spontaneous tour to the rogue nation and then obviously tortured into a coma, only to die in America after Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, instructed by President Trump, negotiated his release, the President is motivated to deal with North Korea once and for all. No one is quite sure what that is going to look like; China is committed to enabling North Korea’s dependency on them and fears the humanitarian crisis which would pour over their border if there were a war - or a liberation. Frankly China deserves it since its economic enabling of the North Korean regime has augmented in the first half of 2017, not diminished, as President Trump hoped it would.

This is a huge diplomatic struggle for President Trump who has a range of options on the table: strikes on North Korea’s nuclear facilities and its leader, or fresh economic sanctions and a trade off for something North Korea may want from America (like a reduction in troops on the South Korean border). Another option may be to nuclear arm Japan. South Korea is understandably nervous - a war with its northern rogue neighbour could mean millions of deaths. However, the time for successful sanctions and negotiations was before they acquired nuclear weapons. For an overview of the military options on the table go here.

President Xi of China enables the Kim regime as President Putin of Russia enables Assad's. Is it any wonder that in his first year of the presidency Trump has been striving to cultivate decent diplomatic relations with both these men? If he didn’t, the world (let alone the main stream media) would crucify him for not taking a diplomatic approach. He must try that option before becoming heavy handed with either of these super powers.

When President Trump says, as he does from time to time, “I inherited a mess,” upon winning the presidency, he is by no means engaging in exaggeration.

          Debunking Common Wisdom Teeth Myths        

Thousands of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed every year. This removal is often necessary due to the pain or discomfort they cause. However, many people attempt to live with the pain due to false facts they’ve heard! Consider the following four myths about wisdom teeth.

The post Debunking Common Wisdom Teeth Myths appeared first on Athens Oral Surgery Center.

          Anesthesia: Debunking Common Misconceptions & Fears        

There are many misconceptions floating around the Internet about anesthesia and what happens when you are “asleep.” However, these misconceptions are often just that – completely false!

The post Anesthesia: Debunking Common Misconceptions & Fears appeared first on Athens Oral Surgery Center.

          Debunking Common TMJ Myths        

You have a hidden joint known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) located in front of your ear which allows you to open your jaw. However, millions of Americans each year suffer from TMJ disorder causing pain.

The post Debunking Common TMJ Myths appeared first on Athens Oral Surgery Center.

          Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends        
Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends
author: David Wilton
name: Jennifer
average rating: 3.39
book published: 2004
rating: 0
read at:
date added: 2012/09/14
shelves: to-read, word-nerd

          Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver        

Here’s a new book debunking the existence of Moses and the Exodus:

Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver (Amazon)

Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver (SHP)

Moses, the Promised Land and Easter

Blog: Egyptologists: The Exodus never happened

Forum: Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver

          Comment on Podcast Episode 152: Modern Flat Earth Thought, Part 3 (Young-Earth Creationists Debunking Flat Earth) by Daniel Anthony Gautreau        
From Facebook: The Earth must be round. It it were flat then by now the cats would have knocked everything off the edge.
          Busting Skateboarding Myths!        

If you are skateboarder, you know there are lots of myths about skateboarding. Non-skateboarders have their misconceptions about the sport, but there are misconceptions floating around in the community, too.

In today’s blog, we are going to debunk a few of the most common myths within the skateboarding community!

MYTH: You can ollie higher with lighter boards.

  • This seems to make sense - the lighter the object, the easier it lifts, and the higher it goes - right? Yes. However, an ollie is not about lifting a board. It’s a complex combination of opposing forces.
  • The weight of your board makes almost no physical difference - the difference lies in your head. When you know your setup is a little lighter, your head does the rest - an effect called the placebo effect. In conclusion, you don’t need to worry about weight - it doesn’t affect your ollies enough.

MYTH: If you freeze your skateboard wheels, they will last longer.

  • When you freeze certain metals at extremely cold levels (-320 degrees), their molecular structures align and tighten. This rule does not apply to urethane, the material used in all skateboard wheels.
  • Even if you could freeze urethane to the point where its molecules realign, your freezer is never going to reach those temperatures. You will just make your wheels cold. This can create another placebo effect - knowing your wheels are cold will create a different mental experience for you, when in fact, nothing has changed.

At the end of the day, skateboarding is about having fun. Shop with Get Boards today!

          A Different Kind of Book Deal        
by Holly West

My husband recently signed a contract to write a book about debunking false conspiracy theories, specifically, techniques for helping people who believe in them to stop believing. I debated whether to share the news here since it's not crime/mystery and it's only indirectly related to me, but I think publishing stories in general are interesting so I'm here to tell you about it.

First, some background. My husband runs a couple of web forums dedicated to debunking and has been involved in the skeptic community several years. On occasion, his coverage of conspiracy theories and related subjects intersects with media coverage on the same topics, and journalists often find his websites while researching their own stories. This has led to many media appearances and interviews, which, over time, has given him a fairly large platform as a debunker.

A few months ago, an independent publisher in New York approached him, asking if he'd ever considered writing a book. Of course he had. He'd already come up with a broad outline for one, so now,  he wrote up a formal proposal. The publisher loved it and sent him a contract.

You might be thinking, oh, if only it were so easy to get a fiction deal. In my husband's case, he's written thousands upon thousands of words, conducts endless research, and works tirelessly to keep current on the subjects he reports on. Though it feels like the deal came out of the blue, it truly didn't. There's quite a lot of time, energy, and expertise behind it.

From the outset, I told him he should consider finding an agent to help him negotiate the deal. I, too, got my first book deal without an agent, but used it as leverage to get one. More than that, I needed someone with experience to look the contract over and negotiate better terms where possible. At first, he resisted, but when he had the contract in hand there were some aspects of it he wasn't comfortable with. He decided he wanted to work with an agent.

As it happened, I'd gone to a writing conference the weekend before the publisher sent him the contract and met an agent I thought might be a good fit. She'd negotiated deals with the publisher before and represented several nonfiction titles. I sent her an email telling her he had a deal in hand and asked if she was interested in representing the book. She responded within an hour. A day or so later, my husband had an agent.

It's too early to tell whether signing with an agent is a good financial move. She negotiated better terms in some key areas, so obviously, that's a big win. But ultimately, sales will determine whether it will be worth the price of commission.

Of course, contract negotiation isn't the only reason to have an agent. The agent he signed with is interested in his area of expertise and excited about working with him on future projects. I can say from my own experience that having a professional in your corner feels a lot better than going it alone.

So that's it, the story of my husband's book deal. I'm super proud of him and can't wait to see the finished book.
          How Evil Corporations Created The Myth That Tryptophan In Turkey Makes You Sleepy on Thanksgiving        
May the effects of trytophan spare you from having to hear conversations about the effects of tryptophan
Thanksgiving is this week, and in the time-honored tradition of lazy journalists everywhere, you are sure to see scads of articles decrying the myth that tryptophan in turkey causes post-Thanksgiving drowsiness. Just see today's Huffington Post, among many others. (If you need a good, science-based debunking of the myth, see Dr. Aaron Carroll's short video from this week. Play it for your disbelieving relatives tomorrow as well.)

The Annual Tradition: Google trends data for "tryptophan" 2005-2013:
journalists giddibly writing about tryptophan, i can't wait for the 2013 data to include this article.

But where did this myth come from? It hasn't existed forever, to be sure. If Marty McFly cracked a tryptophan joke when he traveled back to 1955, you can be sure that no one would have gotten the joke -- the myth didn't exist yet. In fact, coming from 1985, its questionable whether Marty himself would have made the joke. By 1995 he certainly could have.

Thanks to mattress manufacturers and a Japanese chemical company.

The Origin of the Turkey Tryptophan Myth

Prior to the mid-1970s, the amino acid known as "tryptophan" was rarely mentioned in the press, and never in connection with sleep. For example, a 1952 report suggested that low tryptophan levels might help prevent paralysis from polio. (Yes, this was back when awful common diseases like polio were still around and scared everyone witless.) And in the late 1960s, some folks said they wanted to genetically increase the supply of the chemical in corn to up its protein content. Yum? Also, by the early 1970s, the Japanese were gung ho about using tryptophan-rich plankton for food. Double Yum! Interestingly, whether tryptophan was even in turkey seemed to be in question -- one doctor in 1968 reported that a turkey diet might be a cure for psoriasis because tryptophan "is found in all meats except turkey". Needless to say, no one was making "tryptophan-haze" jokes as an excuse to not help clean up the Thanksgiving table in 1968.

In 1975, however, a Tufts University study found that tryptophan, at least given in tablet form, appeared to make study participants fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. This was cited at the time as evidence supporting the old claim that drinking a glass of warm milk before bed might have some truth to it. And in 1977, an Associated Press article reported that not only milk, but other high protein foods with tryptophan could also induce sleep. The Miami News version of that article was amusingly titled "New cure for insomnia - hamburgers". photo hamburgers_zpsbaa4b872.png

But people didn't start joking that their Big Macs were lulling them to sleep. Into this nascent area of sleep research stepped our good friends, big corporations. At the same time this early research about tryptophan and sleeping was coming to light, the American mattress industry formed a group known as the "Better Sleep Council". Though this ostensible non-profit group claimed to only want to aid humans in their pursuit of sleep, and thus have more satisfying lives, its real purpose was to, of course, SELL MORE MATTRESSES. Getting people to think more about how they sleep, and how to sleep well, is one of the goals of the group, because this might GET YOU TO BUY MORE MATTRESSES. Of course, the "Better Sleep Council" couldn't just demand we "buy mattresses" and nothing else. They had to come up with "studies" and "reports" that looked scientific, and address other things that maybe could effect sleep (INCLUDING NEW MATTRESSES).


So, for Thanksgiving 1978, the Council released a report to entice holiday-related coverage from lazy journalists. "The traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a sumptuous gathering for fine food and family communion, can also be the answer to an insomniac's prayer, according to the Better Sleep Counsel." Oh yes. "Turkey contains a high concentration of tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep." Now, of course, there had been no studies of whether turkey itself induced sleep; the Council was just highlighting turkey since it was Thanksgiving. And while the Council did note that other foods are also "good sources" of tryptophan, it left the impression that turkey was better.
not their real logo, which shows someone stretching after a good night's sleep on a NEW MATTRESSThe Council also recited a number of other things that might possibly help one sleep, before concluding that a "good bed with a firm mattress" might be the real solution. (YOU DON'T SAY!) And benignly enough, the Better Sleep Council would continue to include turkey and tryptophan among its list of potential cures for insomnia through the 1980s.

But mattress manufacturers are not the only party to blame here.

Health Food Stores: How Many Thing Do They Sell That Can Kill You?

Tryptophan also began to be sold in tablet form in health food stores by the early 1980s as an insomnia cure. And since turkey was one of the foods frequently mentioned as containing tryptophan, and since people do get sleepy after gorging themselves on Thanksgiving, this became "evidence". Though there were some naysayers. For Turkey Day 1986, for example, the "National Turkey Board" (GOAL: EAT MORE TURKEY!) assured Americans that its the big meal, not the tryptophan, causing sleepiness.

As the claim that tryptophan tablets could cure insomnia continued to spread, the Japanese chemical company Showa Denko greatly stepped up its production of tryptophan in the late 1980s. In fact, the majority of tryptophan tablets sold in the United States all originated from the company, and to keep up with demand, the company made many changes in its manufacturing process to boost production. Like removing the step of removing impurities. Oops. What's the worst that could happen, right?

Well, you could kill people. Which is what happened. Over 25 deaths and many cases of serious illness from Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS) resulted from taking the drug. At the time, the fact that the production was probably contaminated was not known, and calls to ban the drug permanently as the cause of the disease outbreak were sounding by Thanksgiving 1989. A ban was put in place. Showa Denko ended up paying $2 billion to settle lawsuits arising out of its conduct.

All this news coverage of tryptophan and its claimed effects actually served to spread the theory that eating turkey on Thanksgiving would make you drowsy. By 1992, newspapers could run an article with a headline like this:
A turkey dinner can lull you to sleep; its tryptophan that goes to your head

This November 26, 1992 piece in the Lakeland Ledger is a high-water mark example of the tryptophan-turkey-sleep connection. It claimed that the tryptophan in turkey will make you sleepy, and also that all those carbs you eat will "accelerate" the process! Even though a Butterball Turkey spokesperson told the reporter than you'd have to eat 21 ounces of turkey (7 servings) to get sleepy, readers were told that adding those carbs make will "it happen faster." Wow! Its science!!

By the mid-1990s, direct refutations of the turkey-tryptophan myth began to appear in the press, but it was already too late. Of course, there would be no need to refute the myth, if the news media hadn't already help create it. But for every article saying "don't blame the turkey", there would be other articles lazily restating the basic story as a probable truth. And casual references to turkey-tryptophan-induced sleepiness became common, without reference to whether or not it was true; it was now accepted. As snopes.com notes, a November 1997 episode of Seinfeld was able to casually mention the tryptophan claim over a turkey dinner. Everyone knew it.

Since at least 2004 (and some earlier examples), every serious article to look at the subject is adamant to debunk the myth. But the myth is now so firmly ensconced in our culture that its now an annual ritual of Thanksgiving to write articles debunking the myth. Just as it will be a ritual for your Uncle Walter to declare that the tryptophan's effects are settling in on everyone. Articles promoting the link still pop up from time to time. It's all in how the article is slanted. A November 2006 report on CNN claimed "there may be more at work than just tryptophan" although "Experts say it has a calming effect that can make you sleepy." These sorts of stories perpetuate the myth.

What will we have to tweet about tomorrow otherwise?

          Ferdinand Bardamu on the foolishness of anti-Semitism and anti-anti-Semitism        
Here is some more from Ferdinand Bardamu . Over at In Mala Fide he wrote last year both about the moronic nature of anti-Semitism as well as the intolerant, inquisition-like nature of anti-anti-Semitism. I find Bardamu's remarks of interest since he's clearly on the outside of both these camps. The words and opinions are his -- I think he takes some of his generalizations too far -- but I'm providing them here to give us all perspective. Because he writes well, does not shy away from saying what many will hate him for saying, and since he's made several pertinent observations regarding this whole soap opera (pertinent = observations I have also made myself).

Regarding anti-Semitism Bardamu starts with saying:
Alone among prejudices, anti-Semitism makes total and complete morons out of its adherents. With the notable exceptions of Hunter Wallace and the crew at Occidental Dissent, just about every anti-Semite I’ve read on the Internet is two whips short of a BDSM kit. I think the hysterical, fact-free nature of anti-Semitism is part of the problem. People who hate or distrust blacks/NAMs at least have the facts on their side – Jew-haters have to make stuff up about conspiracies to take control of the world and deracinate white people in order to justify their paranoia. When someone comes along to debunk their idiocy with cold, hard facts, they attack them in the most insane ways possible. This is why I don’t bother arguing about the Jews with anti-Semites – it’s as productive as arguing with Truthers about 9/11.

He then continues to go on at length about Richard Hoste. And there is indeed plenty to be said about the spectacular stupidity of this man. I have probably never encountered anyone as unbelievably moronic as Richard Hoste. There's enough material for a whole seminar about him.

Bardamu continues:

- - - - - - - - -
This allows me to segue into another thing that blasts anti-Semites’ credibility into pieces – their inability to be intellectually consistent when it comes to the Jews. Let’s take the question of Israel as an example. Just about every paleocon Jew-baiter loves to kvetch about how those evil Israelis are war criminals and how they’re violating the human rights of the Palestinians. It’s quite amusing to see the likes of Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, who couldn’t give a shit about the human rights of any other group of darkies on the earth, turn into weepy, bleeding heart liberals when it comes to the Palestinians. I could understand it if the Palestinians were of European extraction, but so far as I can tell, they basically look like garden variety Arabs. From the perspective of a racist, the Palestinians are just another group of sand-niggers, so why do they get so much love from the Jew-haters? Answer: these sand-niggers are a stick with which the anti-Semites can beat the Jews. The Undiscovered Jew brought this issue up at Half Sigma’s recently.

Here is an example he provides of the kind of moronic conspiracy theories that could come out of the Jew obsessed mind:
I don’t want to beat up on [Occidental Dissent] too much, because the bloggers there are smart, rational people (save for that insufferable mangina Matt Parrott/Wikitopian), but their commentariat is batshit insane. Those idiots think that Roissy Chateau is a Jew, Mystery is a Jew, and game is a Jewish strategy to destroy the white race, among other things.

He concludes by saying:
I could go on and on, but you get the point. I find it increasingly difficult to take anti-Semites seriously. While I acknowledge that some Jews have had a deleterious influence on Western culture and society (most notably when it comes to feminism), the idea that the whole of Judaism is united to get whitey is just fucking ludicrous. If the race realists, white nationalists, and other related groups want to gain any political traction, they need to read the crazier Jew-haters out of their ranks. Affiliate yourself with dummies and people will think you’re one too.

Well of course, to Bardamu feminism is what is considered the problem of the highest concern :-)

After this lambasting of anti-Semtism some people expected Bardamu to join the anti-anti-Semitism camp. But nope, not Ferdinand Bardamu. Instead he wrote an article lambasting anti-anti-Semitism:
... I think anti-anti-Semitic hysteria is a growing melanoma on the American body politic. While I’m not fond of the conspiracy-mongering on the anti-Semitic right, I’m not stupid – a group of basement-dwelling losers having a circle jerk on a blog aren’t a threat to anyone but themselves. Jim Giles will not be spearheading the rise of the Fourth Reich from his trailer out in the ass-end of Mississippi. Those lunatics are marginalized and have no influence beyond their social circles, which are only populated with people as crazy as they are. The biggest problem with anti-Semitism of that variety right now is that it threatens to clip the wings of the alternative right.

Anti-anti-Semites on both the left and right, on the other hand, are very powerful and very committed to shouting and shutting down anyone who has a less-than-hagiographic view of the Jews. Anti-anti-Semitism is bolstered beyond the usual minority-loving anti-racist whinging by the semi-unique instance of the Holocaust. Liberals and neocons have spent the past sixty plus years constantly picking at that Holocaust wound in one of the biggest and most ignored examples of scar worship in Western society. The Holocaust cult is so powerful that an entire European nation is forced to self-flagellate constantly for a crime that the majority of its inhabitants had no role in. And anyone who questions the influence Jews have on modern society gets a roundhouse kick in the face from the Foxman-Schlussel-Victimologist crowd: “OMIGOD YOU FILTHY NEO-NAZI SCUM YOU WANT TO STUFF JEWS IN OVENS YOU AWFUL PERSON YOU!”


... so long as the Jews remain visible minorities in gentile societies, anti-Semitism will persist. It will fluctuate in intensity, but it will never go away. If the anti-anti-Semites really wanted to accomplish their goal, they’d launch a campaign to get every Jew outside of the Holy Land to make aliyah, combined with a political push to get the U.S. government out of Israeli affairs.

The biggest sin of the anti-anti-Semitic crusaders is their insistence on painting all gentiles with the same broad brush. Their worldview is as Manichean as it gets, and doesn’t account for the differing treatments of Jews in various countries and regions of the world. On one end of the spectrum you have Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. [...] On the extreme other end is the U.S., the most philo-Semitic nation that doesn’t have a Star of David in its flag. [...] The anti-anti-Semites don’t care about any of this historical nuance, though – to them, Americans, like all other goyim, are two steps away from arbeit macht frei.

This intolerant, inquisition-like treatment of anyone who criticizes the Jews is problematic because it turns ordinary people into frothing-at-the-mouth Jew-haters over time.

At this point Bardamu mentions the example of Kevin MacDonald, and how Robert Lindsay wrote:
"My theory is that the increasingly vicious and malign Jewish attacks on MacDonald (almost completely specious on intellectual grounds) gradually drove him to anti-Semitism. This is how it works so many times. People start criticizing the Jews. The Jews will brook no criticism not of their own, and since the Holocaust, anyone who says boo about them obviously wants to kill em all, right?"

Bardamu concludes by saying:
As of right now, the anti-anti-Semites are in the seat of power. The marriage of left-wing multiculturalism and Holocaust worship ensure that anyone with an opinion of the Jews that isn’t Abe Foxman-approved will spend the rest of their lives in the shadows. [...] If Kristallnacht comes to America, the Jewish elite will have only themselves to blame for behaving like inquisitors burning heretics at the stake. As I have said before, I write this not to threaten but to warn. (And I bet that despite writing all that, I’ll get some assclown accusing me of being a Nazi within the first hundred comments on this post. Bring on the hate, bitches. I’m ready.)

In a final note he says that he will review Kevin MacDonald's The Culture of Critique. But I have never seen him do that. Was this potato too hot even for Ferdinand Bardamu to deal with?

          Americans waste hundreds of millions annually by tossing ‘expired’ drugs        
Americans each year needlessly toss hundreds of millions of dollars in costly, valuable, and still potent drugs, a wasteful practice driven by a “myth,” the mistaken belief in and scrupulous adherence to already debunked product expiration dates. Drug discards, including of medications that may be in short supply nationwide, occur all along the distribution chain, […]
          Social Worlds of the Information Society: Lessons from the Calumet Region        
John Monberg

Rhetoric heralding the information society promises a shiny new world. This rhetoric draws on cultural values powerful in America: technology as a means to social progress, an emphasis on individualism, and a belief in the dynamism of free markets. This rhetoric is powerful because the information society is both new and abstract. But what kind of social world and workplace are information technologies likely to actually create when they are shaped by unfettered corporate imperatives? Similar social promises were made at the beginning of the twentieth century when U.S. Steel planned the creation of Gary, Indiana, in the heart of the Calumet Region, on the shore of Lake Michigan, southeast of Chicago: advanced technologies would transform a frontier into a global village, create a wealthy workforce, a clean environment, and exciting social spaces.

What social worlds emerged from U.S. Steel’s plans over the course of the twentieth century? Richard Dorson, a leading oral historian, conducted an exhaustive analysis of the Calumet Region. He summarized his findings in describing the self-produced myth of the Calumet Region as “a cultural desert peopled by blue-collar workers living in the midst of polluted skies, garbage dumps and violent ghettos.” (Dorson 235) This self-produced myth is perhaps the most succinctly stated vision of the most dystopian kind of social world one could imagine. It is also, at the same time, profoundly true and profoundly false. Cultural desert, blue-collar workers, polluted skies: each of the claims is supported and denied by massive physical, social, and environmental evidence of monumental scale. The Calumet Region offers scenes of a uniquely beautiful duneland environment and desolated urban waste sites, one of the most economically productive facilities in the world and bitter impoverishment. Why did the Calumet Region evolve the way it did over the course of the twentieth century? Early decisions diminished a distinctive ecology, permanently scarred the urban form of the area, and resulted in racial divisions that continue to cause great suffering even today. All of these consequences of power are manifestly visible in the Calumet Region, even as they remain invisible in many analyses of the information age. Corporate imperatives drove the brutal simplification of a complex ecological system and prevented the social solidarities that could challenge corporate power through unionization and community action.

The logics driving the America Online-Time Warner merger are eerily similar to the forces shaping the Calumet Region’s history. Again, a technologically advanced, capital-intensive corporation with a dominant position in its industry restructures sets of social relations through a calculating rationality. America Online-Time Warner is producing audiences instead of steel, measuring and grading the demographic, psychological, and web-browsing activities of individuals as raw materials in the production process, but the logic it employs is the same logic that U.S. Steel employed one hundred years ago. The lessons of the Calumet Region experience debunk many of the myths surrounding the information age.

Changes in media technology change patterns of social interaction, and changing patterns of social interaction have political consequences. Given the rapid advancement of communication technology and the wide range of novel uses to which this technology has been put, calls to assess the democratic potential of new communication technologies have become increasingly common. The Calumet Region offers lessons from one hundred years of social planning and experimentation that can be used to critique today’s promise of a more democratic information society. Why choose the Calumet Region as an object of comparison? It is the geographic location where the largest industrial concentration in the United States confronted both a natural environment with more species per acre than any area in the United States, and a social environment with unprecedented racial and ethnic diversity.

Like computer-communication technologies of the present era, steel was a technology that had pervasive consequences for the America of its time. Steel changed the way people lived, worked, traveled, and fought wars (Misa, A Nation of Steel, passim). Cheap steel gave rise to railroads, skyscrapers, automobiles, battleships, armored tanks and most of the other items, technologies, and institutions we associate with modern, industrialized societies. The Calumet Region was at the heart of the transformation of American society, and was itself a product of it. The Calumet Region was home to the largest concentration of industrial production in the United States, and perhaps the world. Writers sponsored by the Works Projects Administration provided an overview of the Region in 1939:

Today, with a population of 260,000, the Calumet has become, in only three decades, one of the greatest industrial centers of the world. Nowhere else in America is there such a concentration of diversified industrial operations. Dominated by the heavy industries - the manufacture of steel, railroad equipment, and chemicals, and the refining of oil - the region possesses 221 various companies which manufacture 1,217 different products. Represented in this group are several plants - a steel works, a rail mill, a cement plant, and a generating unit - which top the list of their category as the world’s largest. One of the five large oil refineries is the largest departmentalized refinery in the world (Calumet Region 3).

The region underwent its most significant expansion when United States Steel calculated that it would be the optimal location for its largest steel making facilities. United States Steel was a more significant economic and political force for its time than any corporation today, including Microsoft, IBM, or Oracle.

Even discounting the hyperbole inherent in the writing style of the time, Herbert Casson’s dramatization painted a striking image of the unique power of United States Steel:

The biggest business fact in the world is the United States Steel Corporation. It has more stockholders than the population of Nevada; more employees than there are voters in Maine; more profits, in a good year than the revenue of the city of New York. Above all ordinary corporations it towers like the Great Pyramid of Cheops above the sand mounds of the desert (Casson 1).

Like today’s information technologies, steel was the most advanced expression of science and technology in its era. U.S. Steel’s Gary facility was the first example of the deliberate application of the principles of scientific location for industry. There were no retraced steps, extra movements, or reheatings of intermediate products. The plant was designed for efficient flow of materials, was the first designed so as to take advantage of the benefits of electrification (Greer 60), and became a model for the most advanced production facilities of Germany and the Soviet Union.

The glossiest promises of information society futurists like Bill Gates and Nicholas Negroponte merely echo the words of Will Moore, a U.S. Steel booster:

Every advance known to science and industry will have its mark on these steel mills, destined to be soon the most extensive in the world in the manufacture of steel and the making of everything in which steel is the prime factor. I hereby submit a statement of facts that will surprise you. It is about the wonderful-amazing conditions, present and prospective, at Gary, Ind. - a business enterprise unequaled in combined size, speed and permanency in the world’s history (Moore 7).

Many analysts argue that the interconnections of the information age will transform the world into a global village. Unlike the screen-deep interconnections of Webcams and Web pages today, the large number of immigrants who came to the Calumet Region in search of employment created a global village of physically close neighborhoods. They came primarily from eastern and southern Europe - Poles, Czechs, Russians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Croatians, Serbians, Slovaks, Turks, Greeks, and Italians. Immigrants from fifty-two separate nationalities made their home in Gary by 1920, and the proportion of foreign stock (foreign-born, or native with at least one immigrant parent) reached 60.5 percent of the city’s entire population (Mohl and Betten 5).

The business pages were, at millennium’s end, abuzz with stories of millionaires made rich by Internet initial public offerings. Similarly, in the turn of the century steel industry, “Every young officer who served under General Carnegie was either a millionaire or a physical wreck in a few years. No system has ever made so many men so wealthy in so short a time” (Casson 24). The social, political, and economic dominance of the Calumet Region in general and Gary in particular were expressed by Hammond, Indiana mayor Tom Knotts in 1910, who called Gary the “prophet”of the national and even global future (Lane 34). Contemporaries dubbed Gary the “Magic City.” Corporate planners for U.S. Steel shaped the urban form of Gary, Indiana according to the dictates of short-term profit as they implemented a strictly functional form of rationality. Because the social system was shaped to meet the requirements of the corporation, public participation in planning was almost nonexistent and the social spaces that would have allowed for deliberation and collective action were purposefully eliminated from the urban form. Gary’s largely immigrant population was already splintered along the lines of ethnicity, race, and class. U.S. Steel’s urban planning efforts exacerbated these divisions and lead directly to the social and environmental problems that continue to plague the Region today. A divided population, without access to direct or mediated communication, was unable to effectively resist US Steel’s imperatives.

America Online, Time Warner, and the Information Society

The AOL-Time Warner merger resulted in a $147 billion media conglomerate controlling the pipelines and information flows that connect most of the homes of the information society. If U.S. Steel’s efforts to maximize corporate profits shaped the Calumet Region during the twentieth century, AOL-Time Warner’s efforts to gain an advantage from advanced interactive communication technologies will likely shape the social structure of the information age during the twenty-first century. What will be the process by which publics are constituted through the efforts of Time Warner? The largest and most technologically advanced of these efforts were the Full Service Network, an interactive cable television system, and Pathfinder, Time Warner’s umbrella site on the World Wide Web.

Such interactive efforts are worthy of attention. The world’s leading media and entertainment company, Time Warner has interests in cable television, movies, recorded music, book publishing, magazines, and theme parks. The company has revenues of more than $20 billion a year, including $4 billion of international revenue. Time Warner is also viewed within the media industry as a technological pioneer. It created the first national cable channel, Home Box Office, only made possible by an innovative use of satellite distribution facilities. Financial clout, breadth of content, and technical initiative are hallmarks of the company, allowing it to form a template of media products and services that have been widely adopted by the rest of the industry. Time Warner has aggressively deployed the most sophisticated technology in the area of interactive media. Its interactive initiatives include the Full Service Network, an advanced cable television network in Orlando, Florida and Pathfinder, one of the most extensive and prominent sites on the World Wide Web. These initiatives constitute an ongoing experimental effort to determine whether or not interactive media will be commercially viable on a large scale.

Time Warner’s interactive efforts can be understood as a technical capability. The Full Service Network was the world’s first digital, interactive television network, and provided customers in Orlando, Florida on-demand access to a variety of entertainment and informational services. It was also, at the time, the most technically sophisticated commercial information service ever delivered to the consumer, self-described as the “Cadillac” of interactive-television tests. From the time of the system’s inception in 1992, over $700 million dollars were required in order to make it operational on December 14, 1994.

The Full Service Network required advances in each of many sophisticated technical components as well as their coordination into a functioning system. Each technical component is produced by a different company or companies, develops at a different rate, and is subject to different regulatory barriers and business opportunities. Time Warner’s efforts are frequently symbolized in terms of heralding in a utopian future. The theme of “digital convergence” among software, hardware, communication, and entertainment industries is a staple of the business press and technological futurists. The perception created is that this field is a high risk/high reward activity. The promise of technology in shaping a new future is often framed in religious terms, as when the Full Service Network was described in Time magazine, “This is the holy grail of interactive television: true video on demand” (Elmer-Dewitt 125).

In these narratives, the future is not a static vision on the horizon; it is hurtling toward us at an ever-increasing rate. Gerald Levin described the relationship between technological momentum and corporate initiatives vividly:

Sooner or later, every significant player in the information and entertainment industry is going to have to understand the implications of broadband digital interactivity. Except as every competitor in the cable industry already knows, sooner isn’t only better, it’s often everything. The FSN will drive home this lesson with unforgiving velocity. The introduction of the FSN is an irreversible step across the threshold of change (Elmer-Dewitt 126).

The Full Service Network was really an attempt to fulfill the promise that technological advances hold out. Even if the purpose of the Full Service Network is vague, the reasoning seems to be that technological change is so fast and so powerful that inevitably some way will be found to make use of emerging new technologies. Anything more than a cursory perusal of Gerald Levin’s speeches and position statements makes clear that he views technological advance, in and of itself, as a world-historical force. For example, in a shrilly argued piece, he stresses the watershed nature of interactive technology, “The same kind of minds that denounced Galileo as a heretic, ridiculed Edison’s notion of an electric-powered light and dismissed the Wright brothers’ ideas as a crackpot scheme have turned their sights on the new medium of interactivity” (Shapiro, B1). The idiom of today’s business journal is the language of early twentieth century industrial boosterism.

The stridency of Levin’s language is as much a gauge of his beliefs as it is a gauge of the skepticism he must work to overcome. His statements reiterate the theme of technology in the service of corporate destiny. And in settling the frontier of the future, Levin frequently calls on metaphors with quasi-religious overtones. Connie Bruck observed that “Levin has long maintained that he has been compelled by something far less mundane, almost mystical: a sense of obligation to divine and bring to fruition the `manifest destiny’ of Time Inc. And now Time Warner” (Bruck 55). In such rhetorical strategies, the future is at once a time, a place, a corporate prize, and an inevitable outcome of technological development. There is no place in this rhetoric for arguments about technological choice. There is no room for public debate in narratives of linear technical progress. Access to communication channels, and the uses to which these technologies are put, are taken out of history, struggle, and politics. Ironically, these most advanced, most widespread channels of interactive capability may allow little space for a truly public social dialogue.

Like the Calumet Region, information technology-based publics all lay at a key juncture, an identifiable point at which economic, cultural, and social forces intertwine. These technologies blur fixed distinctions between originator/message/audience and product/advertisement/community as complex chains created for a given purpose by one set of groups are adopted and modified over time by other groups. Planned urban streets no longer separate social classes; here relevant social categories may be as explicit as the data fields coded into marketing databases or as implicit as the global audience for a popular World Wide Web site. This analysis is sympathetic to and complements media studies efforts that trace the multiple, ongoing ways that the cultural technologies of media situate audiences.

The forms of life congruent with the adoption of the printing press, highways, and similar technological orders were unforeseen and certainly not chosen by any of the actors involved in some sort of rational decision-making process. As James C. Carey’s analysis has demonstrated, with the adoption of the telegraph formerly bounded communities became much more strongly affected by distant economic, political, and cultural centers. These connections dramatically revised existing notions of journalistic style, conceptions of objectivity, common sense, and perceptions of time and space. The economic model of rational actors pursuing their individual ends through an efficient market is a poor model for the intelligent social shaping of advanced media technologies. The most profound and consequential impacts are often felt diffusely and only over the long term; they are not easily be measured in economic terms, and they may be outside the control of any particular actor.

Or so shows the experience of the Calumet Region. The promise of steel was also held at one time to promise the creation of the kind of social worlds we most would want to inhabit. Capturing this trace of an alternative future has been the aim of photojournalist Jose Camilo Vergara. He spent several decades in Detroit, the Bronx, Chicago, and Gary, coming to understand the places left behind when the economic and industrial forces that promise so much move on. Vergara rejects the demands that these places are worthless and should be bulldozed, pleading that

There is something inspiring about ruins. As witnesses of the urban condition, they urge us to ask: Is there no choice but to stand by and watch the destruction of our cities? Stripped down to their essences, leftover buildings and discarded spaces form cityscapes of great power. While they last, we have our ruins and the immense longings they instill in us. Even at risk of bodily harm, we need to hear the elemental chant that comes from our skeletal neighborhoods. The `City of the Broad Shoulders,’ and `Steel City,’ sing about the shortness of life, the awesome beauty of our creations, and our abject failure to create a just society. With their chant they beckon us to come home and perhaps try again (Vergara 197).

My purpose has been to make metaphoric use of the ruins. They yet have work to do. If we listen to their chant we may build an information society that does not simply repeat the failures of the steel society. What framework is most useful for identifying the critical new aspects of these electronic social spaces? How does power function, as social differences are inscribed into systems, mobilized, and fed back into the circuits used to shape the social worlds of those who are enmeshed within such systems? At the moment, this problem area remains underdeveloped. If we are going to live in an “information society,” broad and deep perspectives ought to be brought to bear on specific projects, in order to illuminate and reimagine policy alternatives, and the implications these policies have for just what kind of society the “information society” might be.

Works Cited

Bruck, Connie. “Jerry’s Deal,” The New Yorker, February 19, 1996: 55-69.

The Calumet Region Historical Guide. Compiled by the workers of the Writer’s Program of the Works Projects Administration, Indianapolis: Garman Printing CC, 1939.

Carey, James W. Communication as Culture. London: Routledge, 1989.

Casson, Herbert N. The Romance of Steel, The Story of a Thousand Millionaires. New York: A. S. Barnes and Company, 1907.

Dorson, Richard M. Land of the Millrats. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Elmer-Dewitt, Phillip. “Ready for Primetime?” Time, December 26, Volume 144, No. 26, 1994: 125-126.

Greer, Edward. Big Steel: Black Politics and Corporate Power in Gary, Indiana. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979.

Lane, James B. “City of the Century”: A History of Gary, Indiana. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.

Misa, Thomas J. A Nation of Steel: The Making of Modern America, 1865-1925. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Mohl, Raymond A. and Neil Betten. Steel City Urban and Ethnic Patterns in Gary, Indiana, 1906-1950. New York: Holnes and Meier.

Moore, Powell A. The Calumet Region: Indiana’s Last Frontier. Reprinted with an afterword by Lance Trusty 1977. Indiana Historical Bureau, 1991.

Moore, Will H. `If I Had Known’ about Gary in 1909. Chicago: Barnard & Miller Print, 1911.

Shapiro, Eben. “Time Warner’s Orlando Test to Start - Finally,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 1994, B1.

Vergara, Camilo Jose. The New American Ghetto. Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1995.

          Credit Score Myths Debunked        
          Can you drink too much water?        
Something that I’ve been hearing a fair amount recently is that you can drink too much water. Ever since the eight cups of water rule-of-thumb was debunked a few years ago it seems that popular opinion is swinging the other … Continue reading
          ANCHOR BABIES AWAY!        
For the past two days, the top news story was Trump using the term "anchor babies" and refusing to walk it back. I've never heard this term. Apparently, it refers to a baby whose mom enters the country and in order to give birth so that her child can have a better life than the one they'd have if they remained in the country of origin. And one newscast described it as a pregnant woman waiting until she's just about to give birth, crossing the border and giving birth in the US. This gives the kid automatic citizenship, free education and health care, and all the rights of an American citizen. Even though the mom may be deported.

Let's be real--when Trump and co are discussing anchor babies, they're referring to hispanics coming from the southern border. I don't think Canadian immigrants bother them as much. So I called a friend from Texas and asked if "anchor babies" were actually a problem. Were there hundreds or thousands of women engaging in this activity? She laughed and said "I've never heard of such stupidity." I may look pregnant, but I'm actually not. So I was trying to imagine how difficult it would be to go into labor, sprint across the border and continue running with a newborn dangling from my umbilical cord. If this is actually happening en masse, I'd love to see video footage of it.

Kudos to our news for bringing us every latest update on a term that a lunatic has used to describe a possibly non-existent problem. But that lunatic knows how to stay in the press by making outrageous claims, whether it's calling immigrants rapists and murderers or continuing to use slurs like anchor babies. Why has no one in the news been debunking Trump's claim that anchor babies are an epidemic which must be stop? There is little analysis of his actual claim, only whether or not the term is offensive. And how Jeb Bush used it in an attempt to keep up with frontrunner Trump. At one point, some news anchor suggested that 7% of births are from undocumented moms. Now if you're a conservative and wanted to debate the billions that this 7% of kids born to undocumented moms costs, go ahead. Whether I agree with you or not, it's a valid concern if you want smaller government spending less. (Many of the American people have forgotten that anyone white in this country descended from immigrants.) Instead, we are debating how Jeb Bush is now now using the slur anchor babies even though he once chaired the Hispanic Leadership Network which sent out a 2013 memo asking candidates not to use this loaded description. Trump claims that a hypocritical Bush signed it, yet there were no actual signatures on the memo.

Can we dispense with the loaded terms and cut through to what is really happening? Many Republicans hate latinos, regardless of what terms they're using. They're often racist bigots who also hate blacks, gays and women's right to choose and receive equal pay--but let's stick with latinos right now. In the last presidential election, the GOP lost badly. In their soul-searching afterwards, they determined that they would have to court latinos if they are to remain a viable party. Latinos are one of the fastest-growing voting blocks and few support Republicans. The GOP also determined that they lost badly in 2012 with women, after many candidates made outrageous claims about legitimate rape and forcing rape victims to give birth to the kids of their attackers--even if they were related! Though Mitt lost to Obama, the GOP did win a majority in Congress. They had campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Yet when they got in, they focused on introducing dozens of anti-abortion bills. So even when the GOP realizes that they have an issue with attracting voters like latinos or women, their policies never change to reflect their low popularity among problem sectors of voters. Because their old, racist white base will flock to the candidate who is using the most racist buzz words. Creating "epidemics" like anchor babies to stir up working class white people who can't understand why their jobs are gone. So in their ignorance, they blame people with jobs who come from a different country. Regardless of the fact that whites wouldn't take many of these jobs if offered to them.

And no one in the news media wants to examine the reason many good-paying jobs which whites and everyone else used to accept are disappearing--often because of trade deals like NAFTA, which Bill Clinton passed and which killed 1 million manufacturing jobs, and the TPP, the secret trade deal affecting 40% of the world's economy with which Obama is trying to outsource many more US jobs. These deals are put forth by Democratic presidents and backed by Republican in Congress.

Ed Shultz was recently fired from MSNBC for slamming Obama and the TPP, because the establishment must silence any criticism of the president which cares more about corporate profits than good-paying jobs. But rather than pinpoint why we're losing jobs and stopping Obama from losing us many more, MSNBC is fired the only anchor routinely bringing the disastrous secret TPP to light. However, they adore giving hourly updates to how offensive the term anchor babies is and who used it when and whether or not who is prepared to walk it back or whether or not someone who is now saying it once signed a memo to the suggesting the term not be used. Good work, news media! You have become a tabloid junkfest regurgitating and analyzing slurs from idiots rather than analyzing how the current administration is screwing us. We can't rely on news like that to keep us informed on vital issues which should inform our voting. And I think everyone who agrees that this country is a mess and would like to exit that mess would prefer actual news over dissections of inflammatory words.

          The Hole Truth: 3 of Golf’s Greatest Myths Debunked        
When a game has been around as long as golf has, there’s bound to be a bit of storytelling in
          Founded On Faith?        

By Simon Brown

It was June 28, 1787, and the delegates of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had reached an impasse. At a critical moment in which it seemed the convention was nearing dissolution, 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin made an impassioned plea for all present to join together in prayer as a means of easing the mounting tension.

“[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth – that God governs in the Affairs of Men,” Franklin said. “I also believe [that] without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”     

Thanks to Franklin the delegates prayed, which helped them work through their differences and eventually create the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a heartwarming story to many Americans. But it’s just that – a story. Or, more accurately, it’s a fairy tale. In truth, Franklin did make the appeal, but his motion failed and there were no official prayers during the convention. The delegates managed to write the Constitution without assistance from a higher power.

Myths such as this one persist, courtesy of the likes of pseudo-historian David Barton and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, because the Religious Right cannot accept that the Founding Fathers were not predominantly fundamentalist Christians who intended America to be an officially “Christian nation.” So in the total absence of supporting evidence for their claims, revisionists like Barton invented “Christian nation” stories to fuel their assertion that the modern United States has strayed from its founding principles and all of the nation’s ills could be cured if Americans simply returned to the ideals espoused by the founders – including a reliance on fundamentalist Christianity.

What exactly does the Religious Right mean when it says America was founded as an officially “Christian nation”? To one of the chief peddlers of this myth, the Texas-based Barton, who is not a historian and whose only degree is in Christian education, it means the Founding Fathers constructed a government and society that was “shaped and molded” by Christian principles.

“[The Founders] did want a state religion,” Barton opined during a 2011 interview with Glenn Beck. “That’s why nine out of the 13 colonies had state religions….[And] for 350 years America was described as a Christian nation, and there was a definition that went with it. We have neglected that definition, particularly in the last 15 years; we’ve allowed the left to redefine it to something it never was. But if you say we’re not a Christian nation, you have to throw out 300 court cases that say we are. You have to throw out several hundred laws that say we’re a Christian nation.”

Although Barton failed to cite any specific laws or court cases as evidence for his claims, he very likely had the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1892 Holy Trinity Church v. United States decision in mind. In that case, the high court unanimously said a New York City church should not have been fined $1,000 for violating an immigration law when it hired a new rector from Britain.

The court’s reasoning was that Congress only intended for the law to apply to manual laborers, not professional jobs like clergy. So what does this have to do with “Christian nation” mythology? As then-Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green explained in a 1989 article for Church & State, one Supreme Court justice added a second rationale for the Holy Trinity verdict. Justice David Brewer pontificated that Congress would never seek to punish a church because the United States is a Christian nation, founded by true believers who created laws that both honor and protect Christianity.

Green said these comments by Brewer are often misunderstood.

“Brewer’s declaration of America’s Christian nationhood is an example of ‘dictum,’” Green wrote. “In legal terms, dictum means that portion of a court’s opinion that has no bearing on the decision. It simply represents a judge’s personal feelings on a particular matter….”

Green added that Brewer’s claim is inconsistent with later Supreme Court rulings and was rarely cited favorably in future cases. “Consequently, Holy Trinity is an anomaly; it stands alone in the constitutional landscape,” Green said.    

The idea that America is a “Christian nation” did not, however, originate with Brewer. In Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding, which is due out this month, Green, now a law professor at Willamette College School of Law in Salem, Oregon, argued that the “Christian nation” myth springs from the 1820s – a time of growing religious piety when a generation that followed the Founding Fathers began to search for a foundational myth that would link the fledgling nation with God in a meaningful way. (For more on Green’s book, see “The Invention of a ‘Christian America,” page 9.)

This activity culminated during the U.S. Civil War when a group known as the National Reform Association tried unsuccessfully to alter the pre­amble of the Constitution to include several references to Christianity and Jesus Christ. One post-war iteration of the proposed language stated: “We, the people of the United States recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior and Lord of all, in order to form a more perfect union….”

Other historians have focused on the more recent escalation of the “Christian nation” tall tale. Princeton University history professor Kevin M. Kruse wrote in his new book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, that the modern iteration of the “Christian nation” idea took off in the early 1930s when a band of business leaders endorsed the concept as a way of fighting back against President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

“Capitalism and Christianity had been mixed by Americans before the New Deal, to be sure,” Kruse said in a recent interview with Salon. “These previous fusions of faith and free enterprise had always stressed their common social characteristics, but starting in the 1930s Christianity and capitalism were fused in a more political context.”

Initially, Kruse argued, business leaders who opposed the New Deal were in a bind. They wanted to stave off government attempts at economic regulation, but they had almost no credibility in the eyes of the public because average Americans blamed them for causing the Great Depression. So they needed outsiders who could repair their image, and the solution to their predicament turned out to be clergy. The legacy of this alliance between business and religion can be seen today, Kruse said, in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores.

“In 2014, the Supreme Court issued its controversial Hobby Lob­by decision, ruling that a corporation could be exempt from the contraception mandates of the Affordable Care Act,” Kruse told Salon. “So we’re currently witnessing a resurgence of that ideology in American law with the idea that corporations not only are capable of having religious beliefs, but that such beliefs make these businesses exempt from the laws of the regulatory state.” (See a review of Kruse’s book on page 20.) 

While the exact origin of the “Chris­tian nation” story may be up for debate, one thing remains clear: The Religious Right’s claims about the Founding Fathers are blatantly false. On at least one occasion, the U.S. government made it clear that it has no official tie to religion. The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which was signed by President John Adams – who also signed the Declaration of Independence – states bluntly, “As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….”

The writings of many of the founders also support the idea expressed in the Treaty of Tripoli. Perhaps the most significant Founding Father, at least in terms of the Constitution, was James Madison – and he made it clear where he stood on church-state separation.

Madison, widely considered the father of the First Amendment, in an 1819 letter reflected on the development of church-state separation in Virginia, writing, “The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State.”

Over the years, even members of the clergy have debunked the Religious Right’s “Christian nation” arguments. One of them, Gregory A. Boyd, senior pastor at the evangelical Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., wrote a book in 2006 titled The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. In it, Boyd rejects “Christian nation” mythology on a theological basis.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” Boyd told The New York Times in 2006. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.”

Added Boyd, “I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

 But don’t tell any of that to Barton, who has some pretty odd “evidence” to back up his notions about early America, including a bizarre theory that America’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion somehow proves it is a Christian country. 

“And the belief was, hey, you come to a Christian nation, we’re going to tell you what our belief is and you get to make your choice, but we’ll not force you into any belief…,” Barton said during the interview with Beck. “That’s what the courts pointed to as one of the chief characteristics that we were, indeed, a Christian nation because other types of nations do not give you that choice….”

In other instances, Barton plays fast and loose with facts. In a now discredited book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, Barton claimed that Jefferson was a devout, orthodox Christian. Scholars strongly disagree with this claim, and even Barton was unable to account for Jefferson’s extensive writings in which he expressed his disbelief in core Christian doctrines like the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity and the resurrection. Barton’s explanation? Late in life, Jefferson fell under the sway of preachers in central Virginia who held unorthodox views.

The problem with Barton’s myth­ology is it emboldens fundamentalists who wish to force their dogma on others. A recent example concerns Pastor Randy Pfaff of Cowboy Church at the Crossroads in Colorado, who has been accused preaching to students at Florence High School.

Among the accusations in a lawsuit: Pfaff hosts Christian prayer at the school in a room explicitly allocated to him, and the prayer sessions occur during lunch periods, a custom students nicknamed “Jesus Pizza” due to the program’s sectarian nature and the fact that Pfaff serves pizzas to students. In response to the allegations  Pfaff was dismissive, citing bogus history as justification for his actions.

“I don’t believe the Constitution was meant to keep God out of the schools,” Pfaff told the Denver Post. “That’s absolutely absurd. This nation was founded on Christianity.”

It is likely that Religious Right myths about the founding of America will persist for quite some time, at least partly in response to mounting evidence that the United States is becoming less Christian. As reported in May, the Pew Research Center’s latest Religious Landscape Study found that roughly 56 million Americans now identify as agnostic, atheist or “nothing in particular.” That’s more than 22 percent of the population, and represents a jump of almost 7 percent from Pew’s last survey.

And while the “nones” recently gained in number, Christianity has mostly seen a decline in the United States over the same period. The faith still comprises 70 percent of the population, but mainline traditions – including the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – are down sharply. According to Pew, these churches lost anywhere from 3 million to 7.3 million members from 2007-2014.

Thus the “Christian nation” myth­ology lives on, even among some who seek the highest elected office in the United States. In a 2014 column for The Washington Times, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a rising Religious Right star who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, told his own, mostly inaccurate, version of Frank­lin’s supposed saving of the Constitutional Convention through prayer.

“At [Franklin’s] suggestion, they knelt and prayed, and then went on to put together a 16-page document known as the Constitution of United States, which is one of the most admired documents in history,” Carson wrote. “From that point forward, congressional sessions were started with prayer.”

The philosopher George Santayana famously observed in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Barton, Carson and their Religious Right allies have put their own spin on this: Those who do not like the past are encouraged to rewrite it.      

As Denominational Ties In The United States Fray, The Religious Right Clings To The Idea That The United States Is An Officially ‘Christian Nation’

Magazine Issue: 

The July/August 2015 issue of Church & State

Browse previous issues »

           Sexuality & Aging: Debunking the Myths         
(2016) Sexuality & Aging: Debunking the Myths. Aging, Department of (Elder Affairs, Department of)
          Is Rex Tillerson—Friend of Putin, Uninformed on the Issues—the Best We’ve Got?        

Rex Tillerson, the nominee for secretary of state, gave an uneven performance at his nine-hour confirmation hearing on Wednesday. He came off as more sensible than several candidates that Donald Trump had considered for the job, and he openly disagreed with some of Trump’s more-noxious notions. But he seemed poorly briefed on several key foreign policy issues and surprisingly shallow in his view of power. And he failed to allay several senators’ doubts that, after 45 years at Exxon Mobil Corp., including 10 as its chairman and CEO, he’ll be able to separate the nation’s interests from those of the world’s largest, most aggressive oil company, which has ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

In the exchanges that might raise Trump’s eyebrows, Tillerson said that he would come to the aid of any NATO member nation under attack, regardless of how much the nation had been spending on defense (Trump has said he might not commit U.S. troops if the nation hadn’t spent as much as it should have); that he wouldn’t pull out of the Paris talks on climate change or tear up the Iran nuclear deal; that Muslims should not be kept out of the United States because of their religion; that, in fact, moderate Muslims are among “our greatest allies” in the war on terror; that Mexico is “a long-standing neighbor and friend of this country;” that, contrary to Trump’s statement in a New York Times interview, it would be bad for U.S. security if Japan, South Korea, or Saudi Arabia built nuclear weapons; and that, contrary to what Trump has said many times, he is opposed to the use of torture.

However, the senators could not pin down Tillerson on the issue of sanctions, especially those imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea, invasion of eastern Ukraine, and cyber attacks on the recent U.S. election. He said, as he has in the past, that sanctions, by nature, “harm American business,” so they have to be designed carefully. When Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, noted that Tillerson had been opposed to all sanctions while at ExxonMobil, and that he had frequently lobbied against U.S. sanctions policy, Tillerson insisted that neither he nor the company had ever engaged in such lobbying.

After the lunch break, Menendez returned to the session with ExxonMobil’s own lobbying forms indicating it had lobbied against 10 bills to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and other countries. Tillerson didn’t back down, asking whether the documents showed the company lobbying for or against the sanctions. Menendez smiled and said, “I know you weren’t lobbying for sanctions.” Tillerson said the company might have been simply seeking information about the bills. Menendez said, “You don’t need a lobbying form to seek clarification and information on a bill. So there was lobbying here.” Tillerson repeated that he didn’t remember the specific incidents and suggested that Menendez contact ExxonMobil, from which he resigned when he was nominated.

When Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the recent election, asked about ExxonMobil’s funding of studies to debunk scientific evidence on climate change, Tillerson refused to discuss the matter, replying, “You’ll have to ask Exxon.” Kaine followed up: “Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or are you refusing to answer my question?” Tillerson replied, to stunned laughter in the chamber, “A little of both.” The former CEO then said he would have to look into his confidentiality contract with the company.

His entire position on climate change was problematic, to say the least. At another point in the hearing, Tillerson acknowledged that “the risks of climate change do exist” and that “greenhouse-gas concentrations are having an effect,” but he added, “Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.”

He said that the United States should not leave the Paris talks on climate change, but he also rejected the view that the U.S. should lead those talks, saying only that it’s “important that we stay at the table to express our view.” He also said he would conduct “a fulsome review of our policies around engaging on climate issues,” looking specifically at whether “elements of those accords … put America at a disadvantage” in its businesses.

His views on Russia were more measured than some expected given his business ties with Russian oil companies and warm relations with Vladimir Putin, who awarded him the Order of Friendship Medal. He said that Russia was an “adversary” with which America had some common interests and some unalterable differences, adding, “The important conversation that we have to have with them” is whether Russia wants, “now and forever, to be an adversary … or does Russia desire a different relationship … that can bring down the temperature around the conflicts we have today.”

He also said he would recommend keeping President Obama’s sanctions against Russia in place until Moscow and Washington define their relationship more clearly. He acknowledged that Putin’s annexation of Crimea was “illegal” and said he would have responded by sending “defensive lethal weapons” to the Ukrainian military—an action that Obama rejected on the grounds that it would only prompt Russia to escalate the conflict beyond a level that U.S. interests would justify matching. However, Tillerson also stopped short of calling for new sanctions on Russia, and he refused to characterize Russia’s bombing of civilians in Syria as war crimes.

Some of Tillerson’s views about American foreign policy reflected a shallow view of today’s international politics. He blamed the chaos in much of the world on the Obama administration’s failure to assert American leadership. At one point in the hearing, he said, “America still holds all the aces—we just need to draw them out of that deck.” At another point, he said the first step in solving the crisis in the Middle East “is to re-engage with our traditional allies and friends, to confirm that we are back—and back with a plan to affect where events in Syria go from here.”

In fact, though, America doesn’t “hold all the aces.” The problem is that, since the end of the Cold War, the game has changed: Power blocs have collapsed, artificial borders have crumbled, the influence of any single nation (or group of nations) has declined. America has failed to shape the course of events in Syria not because Obama has withdrawn—in fact, he has stepped up efforts diplomatically and militarily—but because many of our allies, who all fear and loathe ISIS, fear and loathe one another even more. As a result, American engagement and American plans have only limited traction.

Tillerson has seems to have been misinformed on some key national security issues. He agreed with one senator’s claim that Obama’s policy is simply to contain ISIS, not destroy it. In fact, Obama’s policy is explicitly to destroy ISIS. Tillerson called for a full review of the Iran nuclear deal, claiming that it does not prohibit Iran from buying a nuclear weapon. In fact, it does bar Iran from acquiring as well as developing nukes. He said, “We haven’t enforced sanctions against North Korea.” In fact, we have enforced all the sanctions in place. A big problem is that China has refused to approve even stiffer sanctions, because it doesn’t want to see Kim Jong-un’s regime collapse. In criticizing Obama’s abstention on the recent U.N. Security Council resolution about Israeli settlements, Tillerson said he would “recommit” to Israel’s security—ignoring Obama’s recent unprecedented commitment of $38 billion in security assistance to Israel over the next 10 years.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held the hearing and will vote on the nomination, is almost evenly divided: 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats. In the past few weeks, there has been wide speculation that Tillerson’s bid for office might be rejected. Not only are many of its Democrats leery of his background as an oil executive, but many from both parties are very suspicious of his ties to Russia.

However, the vibe in the chamber augured his approval, though perhaps by a tight margin. Trump has told Senate Republicans that he won’t tolerate any rejection of his Cabinet picks. Eminences who are highly respected on both sides of the aisle—including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and retired Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn—have lobbied on Tillerson’s behalf. Meanwhile, the nominee himself stayed alert and fairly clear for the all-day hearing without the aid of notes or nearby advisers. And then there’s the question of alternatives: If Tillerson is tossed aside, who gets thrown back in—Rudy Giuliani? Mitt Romney? Some seemed to be conceding (or embracing) the view that it might be better to take the multinational oil man who seems sane and reasonable, for all his wavering concepts of the national interest, than the jokers who might emerge from the next shuffle.

          Reply #364        
Well, I get the impression that you're frustrated. So far, there are many members who have received my method. Fortunately, you're the only one who has been turned down.

You've insulted me by stating that I've been getting undeserved attention. Fyi, I still believe in my method and the potential it has shown. But, you've made it clear that you don't believe in it. Furthermore, I'll leave it up to those members to either prove or debunk it.

Btw, I don't think you're supposed to be postin... [ More ]
          No, it's not just Chicago        
Homicide is up at a record setting two-year pace. But you wouldn't know it from yet another press release by the Brennan Center. I think they time these to provide a "crime is not a problem" narrative to journalists, quite a few of whom are about to write year-end stories with the headline: "Oh shit, homicide is way up!" While I can't really question the motives of crime increase deniers, I can debunk the worst of their claims:

False claim #1) "Nationally," says the Brennan Center, "The murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016 — with half of additional murders attributable to Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston."

This is so not true, I don't know where to start.

It's the "half" part I'm talking about. (In a previous post I mentioned that 31.5 percent should be 23.2 percent.)

Collectively, Baltimore, Chicago and Houston will see about 540 more murders in 2016 than in 2014 (my numbers are 1,406 vs. 866). Meanwhile, nationally, there will be roughly 3,600 more murders (17,768 vs. 14,164). Ergo, QED, and I told you so: Baltimore, Chicago and Houston account for 8 percent of all murders and fifteen percent of the additional murders in the US from 2014 to 2016.

8% = 1,406/17,768
15% = (1,406-866)/(17,768-14,164)

A few days ago, they doubled down, "The 2016 murder rate is projected to be 14 percent higher than last year in the 30 largest cities. Chicago is projected to account for 43.7 percent of the total increase in murders." I guess this depends on what "total" means. Because Chicago will be 14 percent of the "total" national increase.

14% = 300 / (17,778 - 15,696)

Now I think Chicago might be 43.7 percent of the increase in the top 30 cities. But that is some meaningless made-up playoff stat. I mean, if you look at the top three cities, it turns out Chicago makes up 102(?) percent of the "total increase." When your formulas can get you absurd results, it means you're doing it wrong!

Are they lying or just in error? Are they making honest mistakes or intentionally misleading? I don't know. But these "fact" are up there, cited by many, corrected by none.

False claim #2) It's all Chicago's fault

Stop blaming Chicago just because it's leading the pack.

Imagine I said, "the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s were really good!" And you replied, "No, not really, because Michael Jordan was playing for them."

Or if I said, "the Alps are a really tall mountain range!" And you replied, "Well, they wouldn't be so tall without Mt. Blanc."

It's difficult to respond to the reply because though substantively irrelevant, it is technically and semantically correct. (Is there some rhetorical term for this kind of distraction argument? Something in Ancient Greek for "hey look, a squirrel!") Indeed, Michael Jordan led the Bulls and the Alps would not be as tall without its tallest mountain. But so f*cking what? The rest of the Bulls were good basketball players. And the Alps would still be tall without its tallest mountain!

The national increase in homicide is a problem with or without Chicago. As I've written before, you can remove Chicago and other cities (not that you should) and the increase in homicide is still very large (albeit, yeah, smaller). There will be about 17,800 murders in 2016. About 4 percent of these [800 / 17,800] happen in Chicago. The two-year increase in Chicago homicide is about 10 percent of the national total  [(777-407) / (17,800-14,164)]. Conversely, 90 percent of the national increase in homicide is not in Chicago.

Chicago, of course, is special. But let's not get distracted. The rise in homicide is not just a problem in "a few, select cities." It's a problem except in few select cities.

False claim #3) Some years murder goes up and some it goes down.

Well, yes, that's true. But not right now. The increase in murder is not, despite what they say, some story of random statistical year-to-year fluctuation:
A similar phenomenon occurred in 2015, when a group of three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — accounted for more than half of the increase in murders. This year Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are projected to see their murder rates decline, by 6 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively.
Well, you know, up one year and down the next.... Except murder is up. Not up-and-down. And when a few cities go up one year, and other go up next, and all of them go up overall, it's we who took advanced statistics call "a trend."

And dammit, cause Baltimore is personal, Baltimore is not a city running contrary to this upward trend. 2015 was off-the-charts bad for crime Baltimore, after the riots. 2016 was horrible, as in the worst year ever... except compared to 2015. I mean, it's good 2016 is not worse than 2015, but it's not good. To say crime is down in Baltimore is disingenuous at best. The highest murder rate ever -- 2015 -- should not be the new normal by which we judge success.

False claim #4) "Concerns about a national crime wave are still premature."

OK, but if not now, when? 27(?) of the 30 biggest cities have seen an increase in murder over the past two years. We need to do more than simply, "suggest a need to understand how and why murder is increasing in some cities." Are we not supposed to care as long as violence remains segregated in poor segregated black neighborhoods? And we know why murder is increasing in some cities. It's not rocket science. "Lack of socioeconomic opportunity has long been credited with high levels of crime." Yes, no shit. Of course violence happens more in shitty neighborhoods without "socioeconomic opportunity." But that's neither here nor there because "socioeconomic opportunity" hasn't gone down the shitter in the past two years. "Socioeconomic opportunity" might explain (part of) the problem. But it doesn't explain the increase in homicide in the past two years. (Last year, in fact, saw a record decrease in poverty).

False claim #5) Sure homicide is up, but not crime overall.

First of all, if you think rising homicide doesn't matter because other crime is steady, for shame. Second, homicide matters more than other crime. Period. If homicide is up, stop right there. But the statistical problem is that data on crime overall is not that good. A lot of crime isn't reported. We know that. (There's the NCVS, but they have their own problems.)

And I'm not even talking about intentional data manipulation here. An unreported mugging is still a mugging. And the reality gap between crime and reported crime is worse than you think. And it's even worse from a statistical perspective, because there's no reason to think that errors and missing data are consistent year-to-year. (I'm a big stickler about non-random missing data, if that means anything to you.)

When police get out of their car less, they make fewer arrests. And when cops make fewer arrests, *poof* reported crime goes down in sync. It's like a crime never happened. (Except, of course, it did.) If cops get out of their cars more, if cops confront more criminals, there will be more crime recorded. (Which can be falsely interpreted as an increase in crime.)

So when it comes to crime, I trust murder. And very little else. Conveniently, homicides are correlated with all kinds of crime. So if homicides are up (and I'm using "homicide" as synonymous with "murder"), and somebody tries to tell you crime is steady... you shouldn't believe them (even if they believe what they're saying). Question crime data. Hell, question all data. How else will we know if data is valid or from some fakenews meme. And when bad data gets out there, it's a problem for all data.

False claim #6) Crime is still at a historical low

Kind of, sort of. But who's to say what "normal" is? Why should the high crime decades be the standard bearer? Why not the lower crime decades? Crime is kind of where it's always been, if one excludes the high crime 1970s and 1980s. And certainly by civilized world standards we're still crazy murderous.

The point shouldn't be some arbitrary historical date but current trends. And we don't apply that "historically low" BS to other issues. You know what other things, big picture, are at historical lows despite recent uptick? Racism, hate crimes, authoritarian rulers, scurvey, and the bubonic plague. I can't put this strongly enough, but f*ck historic lows (and keep in mind when it comes to crime our "lows" are pretty high). When bad things rear their ugly head, of course we worry and try to nip the problems in the bud before they become an epidemic.
          Misteri Svelati - Viaggio razionale tra i classici dell'ignoto        
Avete amato alla follia la rubrica "A che punto è la notte", uscita su Query Online tra il 2015 e il 2016? Avete adorato il tono leggero e scherzoso di Sonia Ciampoli misto al rigore della ricerca del CICAP?

Ecco, ora quella rubrica che parlava di mystero - con la "y", sia come omaggio a Martin Mystère, sia per indicare fenomeni particolari che però non hanno spiegazioni al di là della razionalità - Ã¨ diventata un libro dalla copertina stupenda, "Misteri Svelati - Viaggio razionale tra i classici dell'ignoto" disponibile QUI al prezzo di 9,90€.

Come spiega l'autrice, "[...] scopo originario della rubrica era quello di fare il punto su eventi più o meno celebri che nel corso degli anni erano stati indagati e debunkati, cioè risolti e spiegati in maniera razionale, ma che per qualche ragione continuavano a circolare nella versione misteriosa:
il titolo stesso, citazione del verso biblico Sentinella, a che punto è la notte?, voleva suggerire proprio questo tentativo di sintesi sulle varie vicende e le loro conclusioni, partendo dall’assunto che spesso si fa un gran parlare dei misteri ma raramente si dà la stessa enfasi all’eventuale risoluzione razionale del caso".

Se è vero, come diceva Tolkien, che non hanno mai fine i grandi racconti, lo stesso si può dire di molte storie del mistero: alcune circolano da decenni nonostante siano state a più riprese incontrovertibilmente smentite. Sonia Ciampoli prova quindi con questo ultimo quaderno CICAP - quaderno che non ha certo pretese di esaustività - a fornire degli spunti per soddisfare la curiosità proprio verso quelle storie che continuano ad affascinarci tanto. 

Gli argomenti sono i più disparati: si passa dai medium agli OOPart, dalle porte dell'inferno ai mysteri dell'acqua, anche se i miei capitoli preferiti rimangono quello sui libri e quello sui viaggi, ovviamente impossibili.
I capitoli sono brevi e godibilissimi, ma la vera particolarità è la sottile ironia che, insieme all'agilità della prosa, fa sembrare le pagine acqua fresca di sorgente: passano senza accorgersene, un attimo e il libro è finito, non come certi saggi interessanti, eh, ma da tagliarsi le vene.
Un unico consiglio: fondamentale è avere Google a portata di mano, perché avrete voglia di cercare tutte le immagini che sono evocate - come per esempio quelle delle quali si parla nel capitolo sulle foto di paura - e che non è stato possibile riprodurre per motivi di diritti di utilizzo. 

Devo confessare che tengo particolarmente a questo libro, sia perché l'idea è nata cazzeggiando insieme a Sonia e ad Andrea Ferrero sul gruppo social del Cicap e mi sento un po' responsabile della sua nascita, sia perché ho avuto l'onore di leggere in anteprima le bozze - e l'ho amato. 
Quindi sì, sono di parte, anzi sono molto di parte nel consigliarlo, ma è davvero scritto bene e non può mancare nella biblioteca di un vero scettico.

          Welcome to the Twenty-First Century Satanic Panic        
Satanic Ritual Abuse. Hey, didn't we figure out more than a few years ago what a crock it was? Well, unfortunately there's a whole new generation of gullible people who haven't been exposed to the debunking, and a whole bunch of trouble-makers who want to spread these insane rumors all over again.
          One-Stop Shopping for the Framing Science Debate        
You may be aware that there is a huge discussion about framing science going on in the blogosphere. It has gotten out of hand. But, for those who want to dig in, or want to analyze the posts and comments (that is a lot of data!), here is the comprehensive list of links (excluded are links to Creationists' sites). Most of the posts also have long and interesting comment threads as well, worth reading through:

First, the source metarial, i.e., the stuff that appeared in non-blog media, and some background resources (which, if everyone have read them, would have reduced some of the misunderstandings):

Matthew C. Nisbet and Chris Mooney: Framing Science (Science)
Scientists Must Improve Communication Tactics, Science Article Proclaims (press release)
Deric Bownds (MindBlog): Framing Science (complete text of the 'Science' article)
Nisbet radio interview: Blinded with Science (NPR, On The Media)
Matthew C. Nisbet and Chris Mooney: Thanks for the Facts. Now Sell Them. (Washington Post)
Matt Nisbett: What is Framing?
Matt Nisbett: A “Two Step Flow of Popularization” for Climate Change: Recruiting Opinion-Leaders for Science (Skeptical Inquirer)
Chris Mooney and Matthew C. NisbetUndoing Darwin (Columbia Journalism Review)
Matt Nisbett: Framing as a Tool for Engaging the Public (pdf)
On Framing Science (Bloggingheads.tv)
Christy Nicholson: Framing Science (APS Observer)
Rockridge Institute
Rockridge Nation
Wikipedia: Framing - sociology, Framing(communication_theory), Framing - psychology, Frame - analysis, Framing effect, Lakoff, Moral politics

Blogospheric Responses:

Matt Nisbett (Framing Science):
At the journal Science, a Nisbet/Mooney focus on framing
Framing Science sparks a seismic blog debate
Full text referral link for Framing Science article
More on framing and media influence
What George Will Understands about Framing
At NPR's On the Media, a Focus on Framing Science
At the Washington Post, a Nisbet/Mooney focus on framing
Don't be a Dodo: Olson on Dawkins & Framing
Coturnix: A Candle in the Dark
What the Discovery Institute Understood about Framing
The UN Frames Global Warming as Really about Security
BloggingHeadTV on Framing Science
NPR: Are we asking scientists to be advocates? To spin false information? Read the transcript.
On Framing, Two More Candles in the Dark
Steve Case on Framing and Dawkins

Chris Mooney (The Intersection):
I Have a Paper in Science (And No, This is Not an April Fools Joke)
Framing Science: Additional Resources to Back Up the Argument
Of Inertia, Ostriches, and Science Duds--Randy Olson's Take on 'Framing Science'
Framing Science: Many More Posts, a Few Replies
Framing Science: My Response to PZ
Framing Science: Blog Overload
'Framing Science' Article Now Available
Another Great Reaction to 'Framing Science'
Nisbet on NPR; I'm Down Under
Responding to PZ (and Others) in The Washington Post
'Framing Science', Round II
Details, Details, Details

Bora Zivkovic (A Blog Around The Clock):
Framing Science - the Dialogue of the Deaf
Framing Science - the Dialogue of the Deaf (on DailyKos)
Framing 'framing'
Did I frame that wrong?
Framing and Truth
Just a quick update on 'framing science'
Joshua Bell and Framing Science
Framers are NOT appeasers!
Framing Politics (based on science, of course)
Everybody Must Get Framed

Alonzo Fyfe (Atheist Ethicist):

Chris (Mixing Memory):
Talkin' Science
Cognition, Language, and Culture: Components Not Levels of Analysis
How Bad Was Abu Ghraib? It Depends on the Comparison
Frame Analysis

Dietram A. Scheufele (Nanopublic):
Nano needs framing: new 'Policy Forum' piece in Science
Standing on the shoulders of disciplinary dwarves? A note on the reactions to Nisbet and Mooney

Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon):
Descendents of apes with computers for brains and a fantastical unicorn leader

Chris Clarke (Pandagon/Creek Running North):

Revere (Effect Measure):
Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: Framing spinning

John Fleck (Inkstain):
Scientists Can Be Dense
P.Z. Myers Just Doesn’t Get It
Framing Me
A Show of Hands
An Example of Framing
Another Example of Framing
And Yet More Framing
Charging at the Loading Dock
An Example of Framing
Framing: The Results

Mark Chu-Carroll (Good Math, Bad Math):
My Take on Framing: Don't Frame Framing as Spin

David Roberts (Grist):
Scientists and framing

Paul Sunstone (Cafe Philos):
How Jim Made Me Pessimistic About Scientists Selling Evolution
Public Relations and the Grand Debate Over Evolution
De-Mystifying Scientists

Mike Dunford (The Questionable Authority, and, The Panda's Thumb):
Strategically communicating science
Framing: It's About The Goal
If we could extract iron from irony, we'd never need to mine again.
Strategically communicating science

Greg Laden:
Framing Science 'Paper' Is Deeply Flawed
Framing Frames in the Service of Science
Framing Nesbit: Is He Offering Us McScience?
Can we frame something and see how it goes?
Science is the BEST!!!
Why we foam at the mouth
Richard Dawkins and Framing?

Orac (Respectful Insolence):
Fear of the frame
Fear of the frame, part II: A cultural divide

Eclectics Anonymous:
Science = A Free Exchange of Ideas?
Science Framing needs a business plan
The Global War on Framing
Desperately Seeking Framing

Teresa Lhotka (Anomalous Data):
'Framing' reality
The power of the frame
We've got Geckos! And How!
Making light of the 'framing debate'
Use the tools

Steppen Wolf (The skeptical alchemist):
First of all, frame your own frame
More frame madness + last day to blog against theocracy
Framing science: to frame, or not to frame?
Framing science: the debacle
The framing challenge - coming up

Steven Novella (NeuroLogica Blog):
Teaching Science to the Public

PZ Myers (Pharyngula):
What if the right role for science is to shatter the frame?
Believing and understanding
I like ‘framing’ less and less; why are scientists the targets?
Framing: still baffled.
It's all about the context
What's the creationist position on 'framing'?
Nisbet and Mooney in the WaPo: snake oil for the snake oil salesmen
Once more unto the frame
Fraggin' … frickin' … frackin' … oh, that f-word again

Joshua Rosenau (Thoughts From Kansas):
Framing and the invisible college
An example of framing
Reframing framing

Dan Conover (Xark):
Science and media

W2JIG (Jig's Old Saws):
Framing 'The Knack'

Framing, er, anything
PZ as rebel leader
Discussion of framing goes down a rat hole
Putting a good picture in a bad frame
Great framing examples
National Security and Richard Dawkins
New frame for climate change

Tristero (Hullabaloo):
Framing Science

FriendlyAtheist (FriendlyAtheist.com):
Framing Science

Larry Moran (Sandwalk):
How to Communicate Science
Coturnix on Framing Science
Science Policy Forum: Framing Science
Nisbet & Mooney Reveal Their True Colors
Orzel Is Confused

Mike the Mad Biologist:
Framing Science, Evolution, and Peanut Butter

Nicole Michel (The Peripatetic Naturalist):
Framing Science

JLowe (Impact Analysis):
We’re Right, Who Cares if We’re Boring?

Katie Kish (Liberal Debutante/Appletree):
I don’t speak Chinese
I don’t speak Chinese

Brian Switek (Laelaps):
Evolution for IDiots Creator Responds
Mixed signals: Communicating Science
Who are we trying to convince?

Tyler DiPietro (Greedy, Greedy Algorithms):
Mooney and Nisbet Hit Rock Bottom
Some Elaborated Thoughts on Nisbet and Mooney's Latest

John Wilkins (Evolving Thoughts):
Science in public between consenting adults
Framing framing wrong?

Devo (White Souse):
Rhetoric and Framing

Zeno (Halfway There):
A framework for peace

Jim Torson (Global Change):
Denial of Reality

Jason Rosenhouse (Evolutionblog):
On Framing, Part One
On Framing, Part Two
On Framing, Part Three

Mark Hoofnagle (Denialism.com):
Framing science
A terrible turn for framing (or why everyone is wrong but me)

Carl Zimmer (The Loom):
Scientists Armed With Frames

Simon Donner (Maribo):
Climate change, the IPCC and the framing of science

Dave Munger (Cognitive Daily):
How concerned should scientists be with 'framing'?

PonderingFool (... ponderings of a fool):
Framing science (Part I)...
Framing science (Part II)-A revolution will be needed...
Am I missing something? Or am I just suppossed to accept the world as it is?

Kristina Chew (Autism Vox):
Autism Speaks Now

Joshua (The Adventures of Tobasco da Gama):
Let’s Skip the Frames and Examine the Claims
Comment Cross-Post: Framing Again
Framing: Forget It
Let’s Skip the Frames and Examine the Frames, Part II

James Hrynyshyn (The Island Of Doubt):
Framing Science or Dumbing it Down

Alan Boyle (Cosmic Log):
Frame or be framed?

S.A.Smith (ERV):
Nisbet, Mooney cant possibly be this naive
Hey, at least there's a dialogue going on this issue now :P
An answer better than that damn 'Frame'
Okay, Chris, Matt-- Stop digging. Stop it.
I'm done with the Frame

Jon Udell:
Talking to everyone: the framing of science and technology
Darwin’s rhetorical strategy

Chad Orzel (Uncertain Principles):
Framing and Coordination
Framing and Arrogance
The Final Word on Framing

Kate (Anterior Commissure):
Framing science, blog chatter, Tom Friedman, and more
OK more framing bits and pieces...

Buridan (Buridan's Ass):
Science going Hollywood
Clarification on 'Science going Hollywood'

Guru: (Entertaining Research):
To frame or not to frame
Science affecting politics and vice versa

Mark Leggott (LoomWare):
Inform the Public About Science Issues...How?

Kent (Uncommon Ground):
Framing science
Fear of framing
Creationism and framing

Knight Science Journalism Tracker:
Wash. Post: On Dawkins, 'framing' science, and the dynamics of beliefs

Hank Campbell and 'Sciencesque' (Scientific Blogging):
Do scientists need to 'frame' the debate for non-scientists?
'Framing Science' - a new skin for the old ceremony?
'Framing Science' - a new skin for the old ceremony?

Kevin Beck (Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge):
The obligatory follow-up 'framing' babble-stream
Commoners discuss ID and evolution

Wolfrum (Shakesville):
NPR shows we are losing debate on Global Warming

Chris Rowan (Highly Allochthonous):
The perils of an empty frame
Science - a victim of framing?

Sean Carroll (Cosmic Variance):
Scientists Talking to the Public

John Hawks (John Hawks' Anthropology Blog):

John Lynch (Stranger Fruit):
No more theory!
Dammit! It is OUR job to frame!

Kristjan Wager (Pro-science):
Framing science
Has Nisbet and Mooney lost it?
Friedman framing global warming

Janet D. Stemwedel (Adventures in Ethics and Science):
Is solving the absenteeism/attendance issue really a matter of framing?

Gavin Schmidt (RealClimate):
A Tale of Three Interviews

RPM (Evolgen):
The Press and Our Educational System Suck

Madhu (Reconciliation Ecology):
Communication in Science stirs tempest in science blogosphere teacup
Why don't Nisbet and Mooney frame Dawkins for the religious instead of slamming the closet door on him?

Eric Baerren (Among The Trees):
Framed science

Blake Stacey (Science After Sunclipse):
I Was Framed!
Interlude: Framing
In Soviet Russia, Evidence Frames You!

Sam Wise (Sorting Out Science):
Don’t fear the frame…

Eric Berger (SciGuy):
Here's something that will make scientists sweat

Brian Larnder (Primordial Blog):
The Great Framing Debate of 2007
One Last Word about Framing

Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars):
The Endless Irony of William Dembski

Susannah A. (Wanderin' Weeta):
My Two Cents Worth

Benjamin Cohen (The World's Fair):
Is PZ Bad for Science?

Ig Nore Ad Vice

Andy Fell (Egghead):
Framing science

Samuel D. Bradley (Communication, Cognition and Arbitrary Thoughts):
Frame Your Science or Have it Framed

Robert Camp (Nightlight):
Framing? Hey, that's our turf!

Catherine Brahic (New Scientist Environment Blog):
'Sex up climate talk' says Arnie

Robin Engelhardt (Robin's repository):
The Framing Debate

Daniel Morgan (Debunking Christianity/Get Busy Livin', or Get Busy Bloggin'):
Framing Science and Atheism for the Public
Framing Science and Atheism for the Public

river2sea72 (Visualize Whirled Peas):
On Framing the Message

Brad (The Banana Peel Project):
The framing of science
More framing of science

Rebecca Hartong (Fantasies, Epiphanies, Rants...):
Selling Science

Chris Hallquist (The Uncredible Hallq):
The college view / obscene jokes

Austin Cline (About:Atheism):
Facts? Bah, Spin and Spin to Appease Religious Believers

Bruce Loebrich:

E.C. Nisbet (Framing Conflict):
Framing Science and Framing Conflict

Ebonmuse (Daylight Atheism):
Et Tu, Chris Mooney?

Water Words That Work:
Lakoff Revisited: Framing Science

jcasey (The NonSequitur):

John Timmer (Nobel Intent):
Communicating science through frames

Are we being framed?

StaceyG (Rockridge Nation):
Framing Science

Eli Rabett (Rabett Run):
Newt Gingrich, triangulation, the DLC and Framing Climate Change

Michael Tobis (Only In It For The Gold):
Flipping the Question
More on the Framing Frame [updated]
Authority and Trust
Frames and Frames
The Invisible Audience Problem

Fergus Brown (Old man in a cave):
What is the ‘public opinion’ on climate change?

LeisureGuy (Later On):
Framing is vital

Davo (Wombat's Waffles):
The langwidge Inglish

Will Von Wizzlepig (I am Jack's Smirking Revenge):
Cafeteria Food

Alethian (Heaven is not the sky):
Framing Science–Right and Wrong

Shinga (Breath Spa for Kids):
Reporting Science: Who Is Interested, Who Is Offended?

Aileen Thompson (The Blog Herald):
All Hell Breaks Loose In Sci-Blog Land!

ORF On Science - in German.
Wissenschaftskommunikation: 'Rahmen' statt Fakten

JLT (*Evil Under the Sun*) - in German:
Bullshit bleibt Bullshit.
Eins noch, dann ist aber Schluss

Franc (LiLoLe) - in Slovenian:
'Framing' v znanstveni misli
          The Top 7 Critiques of Obama from a Reality-Based Perspective        
deficit exploding, tax increasing, class-warfare waging liberal elitist. He's been compared to Hitler and denounced for wanting to destroy capitalism and/or America. He pals around with terrorists. They say he wasn't born in America and secretly hates white people. For partisan Democrats, the Right's diluge of attacks on Obama over the years might be seen as a great gift, as it has understandably painted conservatives who echo these sentiments as laughably crazy (or brilliant propagandists adept at appealing to the fears of their base). But for those that get their news from outside the right-wing echo chamber, the truth of these smears is well understood. Criticism from MSNBC or the mainstream left on the other hand has been largely shallow or non-existent (although I confess I rarely watch any mainstream TV to keep score). But from what I have seen, I've observed a great tragedy, as this partisan jockeying has given the mainstream debate about Obama's successes and failures a false illusion of depth. On one hand you have all the lies and myths of the Republicans representing Obama's fiercest critique, and on the other hand you have all the defenders of Obama singing his accomplishments and virtues while debunking all the myths constructed by the Right. What this left/right positioning of the debate has accomplished is to shut out and marginalize legitimate, reality-based, deeply meaningful and truly damning critiques of the Obama presidency and his administration. Moderates, independents, and casual progressives not tuned in to alternative media are left to wonder, "If Republicans hate him so much, and the baseless attacks from Republicans is all they have to complain about, he must be doing something right... right?" The following 5 articles and two videos challenges this falsely constructed spectrum of opinion and offers a true (reality-based) critique of Obama. Just imagine if these perspectives were allowed to enter the mainstream debate.

7. Daniel Ellsberg: Defeat Romney, Without Illusions about Obama
It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine -- progressives, especially activists -- to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.Romney and Obama exchange fingers in Tuesday night's debate. (Reuters)An...

6. The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic
The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral...

5. The Case Against Voting for Obama -- Even if you Think He's Better than Mitt Romney
Tell certain liberals and progressives that you can't bring yourself to vote for a candidate who opposes gay rights, or who doesn't believe in Darwinian evolution, and they'll nod along. Say that you'd never vote for a politician caught using the 'n'-word, even if you agreed with him on more policy issues than his opponent, and the vast majority of left-leaning Americans would understand. But...

4. The Case for Voting Green in a Swing State
I live in a purple part of the country (Virginia) and move in academic circles, so of course I know many, many people who will be voting for Obama. It is impossible to know, but if I sodomized the Easter Bunny in front of their children the look on my Obama-voter friends’ faces could scarcely be much different than the look they get when I say I am voting for Jill Stein.“But this is a...

3. Barack Obama VS Those Craaaazy Republicans: Is He the Lesser Evil, or the More Effective Evil?
The last refuge of Obamaphiles is that no matter how many times the First Black President double-crosses us by cutting Medicare and Medicaid, no matter how completely be betrays his voters by ignoring black unemployment, by deporting one million Latinos, by protecting the banksters responsible for the foreclosure crisis and by invading, bombing, occupying and subverting even more countries than...

2. John Pilger - Obama is a Corporate Marketing Creation (video)
Renowned author, journalist, and film maker John Pilger speaks at Socialism 2009. Filmed by Paul Hubbard at the Women's Building in San Francisco 7-4-09. Pilger offers a stinging critique of Obama and his administration's policies in his first six months of office, as well as the recent silence of the left and anti-war movement.

1. Lifting the Veil: Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy (2011) (Documentary) This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the "graveyard of social movements", the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the continuity and escalation of neocon policies under Obama, the insufficiency of mere voting as a path to reform, and differing conceptions of democracy itself. Original interview...

Did I miss something really good? Post your suggestions and/or comments below.
Original source: Films For Action]]>
          The Truth about 9/11 Isn't Black or White - It's Time our Media Reflected This         
Note to readers: This article does not > advocate 9/11 conspiracy theories. No > where in the article does the author > state "9/11 was an inside job," or > even imply as much. > > All that said, to properly understand the context > of this article, readers should know that > [dozens of high-ranking government > officials have called for a new > investigation][1], and over [220+ > senior Military, Intelligence Service, > Law Enforcement, and Government > Officials][2] have also criticized the > official story. This includes [41 U.S. > Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence > Agency Veterans][3]*. Hopefully this makes clear > that criticizing the 9/11 > commission does not imply inside job > or conspiracy. Rather, there is a wide degree of middle > ground which is the focus of this article.

With the 11th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 just around the corner, we can expect America and our media to look back once again on this turning point in our nation's history. 

But like every year before it, we will look back with our eyes half open, not wanting to look at the full complexity of this enormously influential event, preferring to remember and reflect on a simplified caricature of our history instead. It's the story that our government and nation's media settled on quickly in the days and months following the attack, and despite all the new information that has come to light, it is the story that sticks with us today.

It's a story of a great nation taken by surprise, of a country built by a love of freedom attacked by those who hate it. It's a simple story. You know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are immediately. Our government may have been neglectful or incompetent, but it was essentially innocent - a victim of a tragic act as much as the people who died that day. The 9/11 Commission confirmed this, placing the blame nowhere in particular but on Osama Bin Laden and the hijackers that aided him. And a comic book for kids further iconified our story for a whole new generation to help come to grips with this event.

What's most sad, to me, is that this story is a fiction. Not because it doesn't contain some truth, but because it doesn't contain all of it. To do this story justice, you have to tell the whole story, so far as we know it, and it's fair to say that story has never been told.

But to tell the whole story of 9/11 is impossible in our current cultural climate. To criticize this story at all will have you quickly branded a "conspiracy theorist." Because when it comes to 9/11, there is no room for gray area, no room for nuance or complexity (or a deep memory of history for that matter). Those reading this may even be holding their breath for that regrettable moment when I declare that "9/11 was an inside job" simply because this article didn't begin with the implicit acknowledgment of the official story.

And that's the terrible position that most journalists and citizens find themselves boxed into: Either you implicitly acknowledge the official story or you get lumped into the other extreme as a "9/11 truther" - a label which could be associated with the most respectable beliefs among the movement or the most ludicrous and absurd, depending on what media exposure has shaped your opinion of what the label implies. Either Osama did it and our government is blameless or Osama had nothing to do with it and our government staged the whole thing. Really? Is the truth really found in one of these extremes?

I think it's time this black and white thinking is challenged. America deserves a grown-up telling of this story and journalists have a professional responsibility to provide it.

It's true, there is a lot of misinformation on the subject, from official sources and from activist voices. That is why it is the journalist's job to impartially look at all the available evidence, sift out the unsubstantiated claims (no matter the source) and report on the facts as best as they can be discerned. Will this evidence disprove some official claims? Yes it will. Will it disprove some 9/11 truth movement claims? Yes it will. The responsibility of journalists is to weave complex narratives that deal in nuance and gray area.

To say this story can be summed up in a black and white fashion, making our government out to be blameless or the only blame, is a disservice to reality. So that is the tough job Films For Action has embarked on. It is the job all journalists should aspire to, despite that being largely an exception to the rule.

The sad, hard truth of the matter is that, to tell the whole truth, you're going to have to piss off a lot of people.

The government would prefer a black and white conclusion because the "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric makes it easier to promote aggressive foreign and domestic policy without dissent.

The media prefers it because it makes writing stories easier and they don't have to stick their necks out or risk getting fired, as Dan Rather did for a story critical of then-president Bush.

The 9/11 truth movement, while dealing in grey area more than most, can jump to conclusions too quickly, suffers from one-sidedness, and can overestimate their case in an effort to counteract the imbalance of the current debate.

People in general would prefer to think in terms of black and white, because no one would rationally want to consider that their government is anything but universally a force of good.

No matter which way you cut it, it's hard to deal with complexities. And you can't sum that up in a slogan or a soundbite.

Of course, all these words are meaningless unless it can be proved that a critical view of the official story is a credible and principled position to take. And to demonstrate this, this author would point you to one compilation of news stories.

Although widely under-reported by even 9/11 justice advocates, the mainstream media itself has verified and reported on enough contradictory news stories to justify the movement's basic call for a new investigation.*1

Taken together, this 25 page timeline of 9/11 may be one of the best, highly nuanced, full accounts of this story that has been compiled so far. And all of it has been sourced by mainstream news outlets.

The fact that this information has actually been reported on by established, credible news organizations with rigorous fact-checking departments may come as a shock to many. After all, we're led to believe that all the good, honest reporting on the subject unanimously supports the clear-cut 9/11 commission's findings, and that anything critical of this story was put together by amateur alternative media which can easily be debunked. But of course, such stereotypes are false as well.

This is one of the more incredible stories behind the story of how the media has reported on 9/11. The mainstream media has, in the course of hundreds of news stories, written a powerful "unofficial" history of 9/11. It is exactly the story that must be told, and it is anything but black or white.

In fact, it severely undercuts the official story. Some might say it completely "destroys it." But you cannot sum it up with any slogan or simple conclusion. To say "9/11 was an inside job" is as much a disservice to the truth as saying "they hate us for our freedoms." To get the full truth, so much as we know it today, you simply have to read it yourself.

*1 -- It's also worth noting that "the movement" is not the only direction this demand is coming from. Dozens of high-ranking government officials, many even personally involved in the 9/11 Commission, are calling for a new investigation - making this legitimate, high-profile story one of the most under-reported and ignored news stories in recent memory.

For more on Films For Action official position on 9/11, see our F.A.Q.

[Original Source][4] [1]: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/09/the-co-chair-of-the-congressional-inquiry-into-911-and-former-head-of-the-senate-intelligence-committee-calls-for-a-new-911-investigation.html [2]: http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/ [3]: http://patriotsquestion911.com/Counterterrorism_Veterans.html [4]: http://www.filmsforaction.org/Articles/The_Truth_about_911_Isnt_Black_or_White_Its_Time_our_Media_Reflected_This ]]>
          YouTube Starts Redirecting People who Search for Certain Keywords to Anti-Terrorist Videos        

On Thursday, YouTube announced a new effort to push back against terrorist recruitment efforts on the site. As the company announced in a blog post, “[W]hen people search for certain keywords on YouTube, we will display a playlist of videos debunking violent extremist recruiting narratives.” Arising out of partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, this new feature is part of a larger project called the Redirect Method, an effort specifically targeted at those vulnerable to ISIS’s messaging.

It’s also part of a larger YouTube strategy, one that  Google (YouTube’s corporate parent) counsel Kent Walker laid out last month in a blog post. That announcement came in part out of a response to an advertiser boycott earlier in the year, one driven by companies frustrated to find their own clips running in front of terrorist videos. In response, as Variety reported at the time, Google claimed that it would “be taking new steps to improve controls advertisers have over where their ads appear on YouTube.”

But as Walker explained in his June post, the company was “pledging to take four additional steps” as it worked to actively combat extremism on its platform: It was stepping up technological-identification of terrorist videos, increasing human flagging of such content, more aggressively some videos that don’t directly violate the terms of service, and “expand[ing] its role in counter-radicalisation efforts.” This newly announced redirection strategy seem to be a a product of that fourth and final prong.

In framing both the problem and its approach to it, Google is careful to avoid rhetoric that would suggest it intends to engage in censorship. That’s less of a concern in Europe, where courts have found that free speech laws do not protect extremist videos. But tech companies walk a finer line in the United States, “where free speech rules are broader,” as the Verge observes in a post on related efforts to rein in terrorist content.

As it grapples with this potential concern, YouTube appears to be stressing that it stands in opposition to those who would silence others. Note, for example, how Walker opens his blog post with the phrase, “Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all.” If terrorists oppose “open societies,” then any attempt to combat them should be in the service of defending openness, a conceit that grows fuzzy if technology companies are seen to be silencing some of their users.

In this sense, YouTube’s embrace of the redirect method looks like a smart strategy. It is, as it makes clear, actively removing content that violates its terms of service. But it also gives the impression of a company more focused on drowning out ugly voices than in actively eliminating them. Here, there’s a small but potentially important detail in its announcement: As it moves ahead, YouTube hopes to collaborate “with expert NGOs on developing new video content designed to counter violent extremist messaging at different parts of the radicalization funnel.” Significantly, redirection has the potential to reach those who come looking for terrorist videos, whether or not they’re present on the site.

All that said, it remains to be seen how effective the redirect method will be.

As the Verge reports, “An earlier pilot of the Redirect Method led to 320,000 individuals viewing ‘over half a million minutes of the 116 videos we selected to refute ISIS’s recruiting themes.’ ” While that’s promising, it may run aground against the ways that terrorists get around YouTube’s existing content restrictions. In a long article on the topic, Motherboard writes, “[I]n order to prevent users from flagging explicit or inflammatory extremist videos, terrorist media groups and disseminators like The Upload Knights and AQ’s As-Sahab Media Foundation often label YouTube videos as ‘unlisted,’ meaning that the videos cannot be searched—only accessed if you are given the link.” If potential recruits are finding extremist material by other means, search redirects may not make that much of a difference.

          By olinerd in "Misogyny based on flawed/erroneous/outdated social science theories" on MeFi        
Call for discussion: "I find myself having trouble fully understanding the reasoning behind Google and other tech companies' Diversity and Inclusivity initiatives. I'd like, perhaps as part of our mandatory bias training, to see the cited research that has led to this movement so I can educate myself, and I'd like to feel free to discuss it with our new VP of D&I - right now it feels like those conversations aren't welcome for people who want to understand better and I think creating a space for those conversations to take place would be beneficial."

Creating a hostile work environment: "Everything Google is doing is wrong, here are my uncited, unscientific, well-debunked reasons why, and coincidentally, people like myself are the ones who are much better at this job because of reasons I have just made up. Let me throw out some sexist stereotypes to justify my claims, and then insist that anyone who argues with me is an anti-free-speech authoritarian who is discriminating against my political views. Let me also discount the experiences of the people affected by the discrimination I don't believe exists, because I am logical."

What is especially painful to me (hi, I'm a woman engineer in the Bay Area tech industry) is not just the knowledge that people are constantly questioning my right to have my job, or my right to have gotten my engineering degree, or my right to do any of the not-stereotypically-feminine things that I actually fucking love doing, but that when stuff like this comes up people like you, MikeWarot, get all "but can't we maybe just discuss it because maybe there are some points here" - what you're missing is that we're not discussing economic theory or existential philosophy where we can all maybe agree to disagree. What we're discussing is my right to be treated as an equal to someone else in pay, work environment, work opportunity, etc. To me, that seems like a really fucking fundamental right most white men take for granted, and yes, it greatly offends me for someone to consider that my equal rights are up for academic debate among friends as opposed to a deeply personal, human thing they themselves would consider untouchable. This isn't abstract. This is my life, and it is many other women and PoC's lives. It's the same whether we're debating the rights of LGBTQ people or the rights of immigrants or anyone else - this isn't just a "huh, interesting thought experiment" kind of discussion. It is a "do [marginalized group] deserve to be treated like people the way I am" discussion. And that kind of discussion has to be managed extremely carefully, because it is deeply hurtful, not just in a "oh no poor offended snowflake" sort of way, but in a way that can push people out of jobs, out of families, out of society and further marginalize them in dangerous ways.

So sure, by all means let's discuss it, but let's up the standards for this discussion - throwing out uncited claims about evolutionary biology and how societal expectations are "identical across all cultures" (which is utterly untrue - ask any of my friends who grew up in the former Soviet bloc for whom engineering was always considered women's work) doesn't fly. Come in educated. Come in with citations. THEN we can have a conversation if a conversation must be had. But making wild claims without any backup, the way this guy did, pretty much just looks to most people like you're parroting talking points from MRA groups to advance your internally biased agenda, not making some really good points no one had ever considered before.
          After Several Months, UK Doctors Fail Detect President Buhari's Actual Ailment Despite Multiple Tests - Presidency Source        
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Despite several months of medication and intensive care in the United Kingdom (UK), President Muhammadu Buhari’s doctors are yet to diagnose what the president’s illness is all about, INDEPENDENT has learnt.

According to credible source in the presidency, despite series of tests and treatments from renowned medical practitioners both within and outside the UK, nobody has been able to pinpoint what ails the president except that he has completely lost his appetite for food.

The failure of the presidency to tell Nigerians the actual state of health of the president has fueled speculations in the country with many alleging that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is guilty of what it accused the then ruling party,  the People’s Democratic  Party (PDP) when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua held sway.

But according to our source, “Those accusing the presidency of being economical with the truth on the actual state of health of the president are missing the point because you can only disclose what you know.
“As at today, nobody knows the kind of ailment battling Mr. President. Even his doctors in the UK don’t know what is wrong with him. Lots of tests have been done; in fact, they have done everything humanly possible but they still can’t detect what is wrong with him. That is why the doctors have decided to place him under long observation to see if they can diagnose what is wrong with him on the long run.

“For those of us who are close to President Buhari, he can’t stay for a long time without food. He doesn’t have the endurance for long fasting and that is why those referring to him as a religious fanatic are wrong. Here is a man who doesn’t joke with his food but suddenly once he takes a spoon, he throws up. And you know if you don’t eat for a long time, you become weak and emaciated.

“When the condition became critical, they have to devise other means of feeding him, but we’re happy at the level of significant progress he has made in the last couple of weeks”, he said.

He also debunked the claim by some online news media that the president is being treated for acute prostate cancer or battling with Crohn’s disease, a medical condition that could have affected his digestive system.

“From the information we have, every organ of the president is working perfectly. The only problem is his inability to eat well due to loss of appetite. That is why some people are alleging that the president may have been poisoned or under some kind of spiritual attack”, he noted.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari’s first active year in office which was from May 29, 2015 to 2016 was frost with some minor challenges, especially delays associated with appointing his cabinet members, the frustrations and criticism that greeted it left much to be desired.

No sooner had he sorted out some of these issues to settle down to the business of governance came his health challenges.

The first time he took a vacation to undergo medical check-up in London, the United Kingdom was in February 2016.

He left the shores of Nigeria for the United Kingdom for a six-day vacation from

February 5 to February 10, 2016. After a formal letter was written to the National Assembly leadership he transferred powers to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had explained that the letter to the National Assembly was in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution.

The spokesperson had assured Nigerians of the well-being of the president and the need not to panic over the state of his health.

He had hinged the vacation on the need for the president to take a break from work as he had worked non-stop for eight months and could break down like every other person.

On January 19, 2017, shortly after resolving the leadership crisis in The Gambia, where Yahaya Jammeh was recalcitrant to hand over power to his successor, President Buhari fell ill again and had to leave the country on another vacation.

As usual, he wrote Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, before bidding Nigeria goodbye to examine his health on January 23, 2017 to be precise.

Nigerians were sympathetic and in fact showed understanding that the president needs to take care of his health issues so that he could function maximally as the nation’s leader.

However, when the 10-day medical leave began to extend to several weeks, rumours began to fly over the actual date of his return, deepening suspicions that his health was far worse than officials were publicly admitting.

Finally, on March 9, 2017, the president returned to wild jubilations in some parts of the country and to the relief of Nigerians.

Despite attempts by his spokesmen to conceal his health challenges, Buhari revealed to Nigerians when he came back that he had never felt “so sick” in his entire life.

Upon returning, his absence in public functions, including skipping the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings gave room for more speculations, prompting concerned Nigerians to suggest he take another leave to rest more and recover fully.

Upon return, he said, “I deliberately came back towards the weekend, so that the Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) will continue and I will continue to rest. All I will need is to do further follow ups within some weeks.”

Having weighed options available to him and sensed that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was doing well in the governance of the country, Buhari jetted out again, shortly after he took inventory of 82 school girls abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram sect in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

He left on Sunday, May 7, 2017, and has spent about 94 days undergoing medical care also in the UK.

Despite the fact that the acting president, some caucus members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), including the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and selected governors who have gone to pay him solidarity visit and came back with assurances that he would soon return, the date for his eventual return is still unknown.
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          You Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is All About, So Say So        
Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about  voter fraud? No, of course not. And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again. In Pennsyvlania, [...]
          Re: Youths’ support for Ron Paul is misplaced        

I see that I forgot to turn off comments on a "Ron Paul" article, because I grew sick and tired back in 2008 of debunking hordes of dope-legalizing, blame-America-first, head-in-the-sand, do-whatever-the-Hell-makes-you-feel-good Paulbots.

I'm fixing that oversight right now.

          Re: The Orwellian Republican Voter Guide        

Now how did I guess that you just made it up and tried to pass it off as a fact? Because I know liberals so well.

Your first reference talks about how the Nazis tried to capitalize on the isolationists within the Republican Party to help protect their military aggression in Europe.  We have some isolationists today (e.g. Ron Paul); big deal. At least it's not the vast majority of the party playing appeaser and head-in-the-sand politics like the Democrat Party. Not a shred of support for your lie that the Nazis said the GOP was the "vanguard of fascist values."Your second "reference" doesn't mean squat either. The Koch brothers that Leftists loathe today were a little young for supporting Nazis or fascism.  Whatever the Koch family may have done in the past has no bearing whatsoever on what any particular Koch does today.  One of my grandfathers was a racist (he was a Democrat, too, incidentally, as were most of the racists throughout American history) who hated blacks and Jews, yet you won't find a better friend to blacks or Jews than me (not trying to toot my own horn, just pointing out a stark contrast in one family).  You socialists are so desperate to loathe anyone who stands for freedom, there is no end to the length you'll stretch to imagine dirt on a conservative.I don't have time or inclination to read and debunk the rest of your feeble attempts to prop up your brazen lie.  Debunking the first two, in addition to your own admission that you lied, is more than enough to quench any interest in entertaining your drivel any further.

          DTD Podcast 12 – Interview with Stan Prokopenko – From Artist to Entrepreneur        
DTD Podcast 12: Stan Prokopenko from Artist to Entrepreneur - Often times when I see people on Youtube that I find interesting with a high degree of talent, I wonder what drives them to accomplish so much. Stan Prokopenko, an artist and entrepreneur, is one of those special guests, that has completely exceeded my expectations on all fronts! He debunked the "Starving Artist" stereotype and epitomizes what most of us would consider being a "success." Which is enjoying and loving what you do and bringing impactful change to peoples lives in the form of art education.
          T3 Exposes “Truth” Of Japan’s Retro Gaming Market        
Our tech-focused colleagues seek to debunk claims of bargain rarities
          Comment on No Means No: A Feminist Fantasy. by Elisa Fernández Vic (@Elisafvic)        
Hello Star! My name is Elisa and I'm writing on behalf of www.mehanviolado.com, a Spanish website about sexual violence (the translation of the name is www.ihavebeenraped.com ) . Our site provides basic information about what to do if you are victimized and aims to debunk myths and stereotypes about sexual violence and its victims. The website has a blog where we write about all kinds of topics related to sexual violence. We LOVE this post, and we would like to translate and publish it. Of course, we would quote the original source and link back to you. Are you ok with this? Best wishes, Elisa
          The Apartheid Smear Debunked        

As ‘Israel Apartheid Week‘ returns to university campuses, BICOM has released a comprehensive rebuttal to the Apartheid Smear. According to BICOM: The idea that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ is the intellectual foundation of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS). This pamphlet shows it is a smear: a malicious lie that...

Original article can be viewed at The Apartheid Smear Debunked on HonestReporting.

          Journal Club Debunks Anti-Vaccine Myths        
READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT SCIENCE BASED MEDICINE American Family Physician, the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has a feature called AFP Journal Club, where physicians analyze a journal article that either involves a hot topic affecting family physicians or busts a commonly held medical myth. In the September 15, […]
          Logical fallacies – debunking pseudoscience        

The Skeptical Raptor, stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle.

Logical fallacies are essentially errors of reasoning in making an argument – identifying them is an excellent tool in debunking pseudoscience and other junk science. When logically fallacious arguments are used, usually based on bad reasoning to support a position (or to try to convince someone to adopt the same position), it is considered a fallacy. Most of you didn’t …

Skeptical Raptor

          Debunking the Second Amendment        
When a parent of one of the Sandy Hook victims appeared before a hearing at the Connecticut Capitol to talk about stricter gun control, he may never have expected to be the target of verbal abuse in the hearing room. Apparently he expected too much from the gun cult.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws and tougher penalties for violators Monday at a hearing that revealed the divide in the gun-control debate, with advocates for gun rights shouting at the father of one 6-year-old victim.

Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed in last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, asked people in the room to put themselves in his position as he questioned the need for any civilian to own semiautomatic, military-style weapons.

‘‘It’s not a good feeling. Not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It’s a real sad thing,’’ said Heslin, who held up a large framed photograph of himself and his son.

A handful of people at the packed legislative hearing then shouted about their Second Amendment rights when Heslin asked if anyone could provide a reason for a civilian to own an assault-style weapon.

Newtown parents urge enforcement of gun laws

The gun cult are low-effort thinkers. As long as we allow them to lean on the Second Amendment, they will continue to resist strict gun control. We need an interpretation of the Second Amendment which denies it to the gun cult and that wouldn't be hard to create.

The Second Amendment has been said to be the least clear and most ambiguous of the Bill of Rights. That shouldn't surprise anyone. We've been arguing about it for decades and only found in it a personal right to guns in 2008 when the judicial hacks of the Supreme Court created one. That came after years and years of gun cult propagandizing.

The thing about propaganda is, it can be made to work both ways. It can do good as well as bad. To be successful, a strict gun control movement would have to create its own view of the Second Amendment. It would have to forget about fighting with gun cult stooges in Congress and create a pervasive new understanding of the Second Amendment which doesn't include a right of personal gun possession.

That would be relatively easy to do. The Second Amendment is not about guns. It is about the military. It never was intended to declare a right gun possession. It was intended to ensure the military comprised common citizens. The "right of the People to keep and bear arms" means we should have common citizens in the military not everyone can have a gun. That's what the Founders intended.

          MSNBC's Morning Joe Edits Out David Ignatius' Debunking Of Clinton Email "Scandal" | Blog | Media Matters for America        
Ignatius: "I Couldn't Find A Case Where This Kind Of Activity Had Been Prosecuted... Legally There Is No Difference Between [Clinton] Using Her Private Server And If She'd Used State.gov"
          Reasons to Avoid these Top 5 Vitamins        

When it comes to the intake or incorporation of vitamins in your diets, especially in the form of supplements, people make the basic mistake of assuming that all the vitamins are good for their bodies, and more often than not, they fall for the current fads and trends in the dietary world. But did you know that some of these may actually do you more harm than good? Well, it’s true.

Take a look below at the list of the top 5 vitamins you should avoid and the reasons to avoid them.


Over the years older women and men have been told by their physicians to consume calcium supplements and tablets because apparently, they help with the strengthening of bones and teeth, which, as we grow older, become weak. However, older bones have difficulty absorbing calcium and making it a part of their structure. Instead, they get absorbed into the walls of the arteries. As a result, the arterial walls become tough, leading to increased chances of strokes and other heart related diseases.

Vitamin C

It is true that Vitamin C is an important part of your diet, but on an average, an individual gets enough vitamin C in their diets. You can get your Vitamin C from any citrus products like the lemon, lime and other citrus foods. Therefore, there is absolutely no necessity to take additional Vitamin C supplements. This is because consumption of vitamin C in large quantities can lead to the formation of tiny stones in your kidneys. Also, quite recently, the myth that Vitamin C cured the common cold and cough, has been scientifically debunked by a team of researchers.

Soy Isolate

Soy isolate is a popular ingredient, which is mostly found in energy drinks, energy bars and even in capsule form. It has been favoured especially by athletes over the years. However, recently, doctors have warned individuals from consuming excess of soy isolate, especially after the age of fifty. This is so because it can lead to a heavy production of estrogen in the body, the female hormone. In men, there needs to be an even balance of hormone, especially after fifty since that is when the homeostasis of the body is disturbed. Then, increased levels of estrogen can cause gynecomastia, the formation of breasts.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an important antioxidant and is an important part of a diet. It has also been highly valued for its anti-cancer properties. However, in a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, it has been discovered that regular or heavy smokers who take Vitamin A are more prone to getting lung cancer than the ones who don’t. Also, large quantities of Vitamin A can cause poisoning.

Magnesium Oxide

When doctors talk about incorporating magnesium in an individual’s diet, they end up taking magnesium oxide, which is not at all well absorbed or utilized by the body. Instead, it is always a better idea to take magnesium citrate because they are absorbed more easily, and help the blood pressure and other heart conditions.

          National Massage Therapy Awareness Week        

massage therapy week massage therapist relax health

Happy Massage Therapy Awareness Week!  What?  You didn’t get us anything?  That’s okay; in fact, we have some things for YOU in the form of “I bet you didn’t know” facts about massage therapy, as well as a few false notions we’d like to debunk.  Many professions have their common misunderstandings or misconceptions tied to them, and massage therapy is no exception.  In fact, we have A LOT.  And what better time than National Massage Therapy Awareness Week to talk about them? 


Need some clarity?

  • Massage therapist or masseuse/masseur?  NOT the same thing, although it technically is.  Confused?  You’re not the only one.  This one is tricky, because, by definition, a masseuse or masseur is simply one who performs massages professionally.  However, there is a ton of discrepancy between that simple, innocent-sounding definition, and the reality of society’s image of the title.  (Think of all the seedy “massage” places you’ve seen in various parts of town.)  Massage therapists, by contrast, are professionals who have achieved licensure in massage through hours of school and practice.  The massage practiced by therapists will focus on healing muscles and joints in a very deliberate, educated way.  If you want a massage, that’s what we (HIGHLY) recommend. 


  •   A massage is a massage is a massage?  Nope.  That’s like saying that all beer is the same.  Or all movies.  Or all tacos.  Massage can, and should, be very specific to your needs and your requests.  Within the normal options of sports massage, prenatal massage, deep tissue, or trigger point, there are endless personalized customizations that can be made, just for you. 


  • Your massage therapist can read your body, but not your mind.  So while we are very good at discovering sore, tight spots that you didn’t even know you had, and while we can often tell if your neck pain stems from your hands, or that your feet are actually responsible for your hip problems, that’s where our telepathic abilities end.  We can’t read whether you’re too hot, situated uncomfortably, or prefer to chat it up during your appointment.  Are your calves extra-sensitive today?  Or are you in the mood for extra time spent focused on your feet (ummm, as if that isn’t always)?  Speak up and let us know.  It’s a common misconception that once the massage therapist gets started, he or she are “in the zone” and shouldn’t be interrupted.  Quite the contrary, you should most definitely let your therapist know.  This is your massage, not ours.  We want you to be satisfied, and to get the very most out of your massage. 


And in case you were wondering . . .

  • Last year there were an estimated 350,000 massage therapists and massage school students in the US.  Spread across the country evenly, that makes 7,000 per state, or 18 per city.
  • During a 12-month period ending last year, an estimated 18 percent of American adults had received a massage at least once. 
  • Today’s massage therapists are predominantly female (86 percent), and have a median age of 45 years old.


For National Massage Therapy Awareness Week, and every week, we aim to spread the word on just how valuable we can be for your wellness, and how valuable our clients are to us.

          10 Vaccination Myths Debunked To Put Your Questions To Rest         

           Victor Not Wealthiest ZIP In Idaho         
A report making the rounds of the internet and getting cited in papers around Idaho posits the town of Victor in the far east of the state had the most expensive ZIP code in Idaho. That claim is being debunked. The report came from website GoBankingRates.com which calculated the median home prices in Victor at just shy of $350,000. With that figure, the website awarded Victor the title of priciest ZIP in the state. The Teton Valley News reports that while Victor is more expensive than Boise or some of its suburbs, the website that produced the report left out one Idaho’s toniest locales: Sun Valley. The data used in the survey came from realty website Zillow’s Home Value Index. The index tries to provide a more accurate snapshot of the value of an area’s housing stock as opposed to just an average listing price. To get that more rounded stat, Zillow uses a host of figures that not all places provide. Sun Valley is among other affluent cities that don’t provide an excess of data about
          David Morrison talks about searching for life #nasatweetup Debunks myths #spacenomad        
          QotD: The Borderers (aka the “Scots-Irish”)        
The Borderers are usually called “the Scots-Irish”, but Fischer dislikes the term because they are neither Scots (as we usually think of Scots) nor Irish (as we usually think of Irish). Instead, they’re a bunch of people who lived on (both sides of) the Scottish-English border in the late 1600s. None of this makes sense […]
          Fisking Lee Child        
I like Lee Child. He's a generous guy, pleasant, smart, and a decent writer.

But Lee has aligned himself with the pinheads of Authors United, and though his views differ enough to be considered on their own merits rather than instantly dismissable like the majority of AU alarmism, Child's continued anti-Amazon stance is getting boring.

Yes, I know he wants to defend the crumbling establishment that has made him a gazillionaire, and suck a few more bucks out of it. But be honest that's the intent. Don't spout self-interest under the guise that Amazon is bad for readers, or writers, or the world in general.

I'm very open about my pro-Amazon bias. Amazon has allowed tens of thousands of authors who were screwed or spurned by the legacy publishing industry to make a few bucks. It has brought down the price of books, allowing more readers to enjoy them. I've personally benefited from Amazon's policies, but so have the majority of readers and writers. And the only reward I get for my pro-Amazon activism is thousands of thank yous from writers who have self-pubbed and can now pay bills with their writing income.

Who is thanking Lee? Doug Preston? Scott Turow? James Patterson? It's good to have friends. I'm sure it's rosy at the top, and those megasellers want to keep it that way. But at some point you maybe need to do some soul searching and admit your success is fueled by a corrupted, archaic machine that is ultimately bad for society and culture. And luck, of course. A lot of luck.

Which brings me to Child's piece in The Guardian, Lee Child on Amazon’s real-life bookshops – and why we should be worried.

Don't you love that title? I mean, just think of how terrible the world would be with--gasp!--more bookshops!

The stuff of nightmares, it is. Let's fisk.

Child: In December, Amazon US released its 2015 in-house all-format all-category bestseller list. They also published other lists, for bestselling paperbacks on Amazon in 2015, regardless of publication year and a Kindle list too. Then the newspaper USA Today came out with its own industry-wide all-sources version. What was the difference? Two words: The Martian (good movie, but the book was better). It was number four on USA Today’s list and number four on Amazon’s Kindle list – but it was number 16 on Amazon’s physical book list. There were other titles in the same anomalous situation. Why?

Joe sez: Don't get me started on the WTF factor of bestseller lists. USA Today compiles a list based on surveys of polled outlets. Since publishers don't release actual sales figures to the public (or even to their authors, according to the many who have called for--and won--audits), comparing paper sales of The Martian on USA Today's list and on Amazon's list is apples to oranges.

But for the purpose of this post, let's say that both USA Today and Amazon have bestseller lists that accurately reflect true sales figures.

Child: Because, even now, for most books and most people most of the time, the biggest spur to purchase a physical book is seeing that actual book in a physical place.

Joe sez: That's one interpretation. While I fully believe in the power of the point-of-purchase sale, and I personally believe shelf space and distribution are what has created the name-brand bestselling authors who have dominated bestseller lists for decades, there could be other interpretations of the discrepancy.

Maybe the publisher of The Martian didn't pay Amazon as much co-op as it paid other retailers, so it wasn't as prominently displayed on Amazon.

Maybe people on Amazon prefer buying ebooks, which is evident in The Martian's #4 standing on the Kindle List. (Which would beg the question, where did The Martian fall on USA Today's ebook bestseller list, and why?)

Maybe some publishers paid Amazon more co-op than The Martian's publisher, and so their books had better placement on Amazon and thus sold better.

Maybe some Amazon published or self-published books--which aren't tracked by USA Today--sold better on Amazon than The Martian did.

As I said, I know point-of-purchase is a real thing. Because that's how I believe I've sold two million books. Readers have no idea who I am. I'm not a name brand. But my books are visible on Amazon, and visibility sells books on Amazon the same way it does in airport bookstores.

Child: Because for most people most of the time, reading is a take-it-or-yawn-leave-it activity. Books are not quite distress purchases, but neither are they exciting enough for enthusiastic online hunting. (Again, for most people most of the time, which I’ll stop repeating now, but only if the e-fanboys agree to discuss the real world, not their pretend version. Deal?)

Joe sez: No deal.

Lee, for your audience--like the audience of most mega-bestsellers--book buying may be a take-it-or-yawn-leave-it activity. I won't argue with that. But you're a rare bird. You're the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. Your books are everywhere, so you sell everywhere, and I don't doubt that the vast majority of your buyers are those who read occasionally, picking up a book while on vacation, or for a long flight, or as a gift for the in-laws.

I also have no reason to doubt that the majority of book buyers are casual readers. I can believe that a few hundred bestsellers per year sell far better than their few million competitors, and that most books sold are bought by those who buy fewer than five books per year.

But the majority of authors don't subsist on those type of readers. We make a living from the solid core of medium-to heavy readers, who go through more than a few books per year. This may be a fraction of your audience, but it's still a billion dollar slice of pie to split up among us.

As a legacy fan-boy, you seem to think that unless an author is making an eight figure deal, they're a hobbiest. That is not the "real world" as known by the tens of thousands of our peers who are making a few bucks for the first time ever. Your world is a fairy-tale that you seem to think is the norm (or worse, that you somehow earned).

Congrats. You got really lucky, and won the publishing jackpot. Enjoy it, but stop talking down to us e-fanboys who are making ends meet, because you come off sounding entitled and elitist.

Child: So why would a physical book be number four on one list and 16 on another? Nothing sells physical books better than physical displays in bricks-and-mortar locations.

Joe sez: I can agree with this. It would sure be great if I could get some of that love. Bookstores tend to boycott me, however.

But your argument hasn't even attempted to show why paper sales are somehow better sales than ebook sales for anyone other than the 1% of 1% of 1%. "We" don't need to be worried about this phenomenon. You and Patterson do. And even then, not really. You may lose your eight figure advances as the publishing industry changes, but I'll bet you'll still be able to pay the electric bill if your paper sales disappear.

Child: Millions of people passed by bookshop windows or airport bookstalls, and saw The Martian, and some vague impression clicked in and they said, “Oh yeah, that’s supposed to be cool”, and they bought a copy, and enjoyed it. Same for the other anomalous titles. That is still how books get sold.

Joe sez: No. Nope. Nuh-uh. This is how paper bestsellers get sold.

None of my books have sold this way. Granted, I've only sold two million, not half a billion. And I'm as much of an anomaly to most self-pubbed authors as you are to me. But you're using The Guardian to preach to the Everyday Joe (unless I'm wrong and The Guardian's circulation is limited to members of Authors United), and Everyday Joe simply doesn't have your concerns. The vast majority of writers can't relate, and readers just don't care. Both the casual and the power reader find their books however they find them, and will continue to do that even if the retailers change and the format changes.

Child: Research bears it out. Physical eyeballing is way ahead of any other prompt, be it word of mouth, spam, social media or other kinds of advertising.

Which is a problem for Amazon.

Joe sez: Sure. Except for, you know, the billions of things they sell due to people physically eyeballing Amazon.com. You may have heard the Internet terms surfing and browsing. One does not need to be standing in a shopping mall to impulse buy.

In fact, you may have noticed that Amazon is pretty good at recommending items for customers to buy. The airport kiosk has your latest, a Stephen King, a Nora Roberts, a James Patterson, and whoever took over for poor, dead Michael Crichton. This limited selection ensures that you'll sell a fuckton of paper. I'm sure you like that a lot. I sure would.

But I'm stuck with Amazon, which democratizes that limited shelf space into equal unlimited space for all writers (except for that co-op thing, which we'll get into shortly).

Amazon doesn't have a problem, here. Brick and mortar stores do. Because they have limited space.

You know this. And this is a big reason why you're concerned about Amazon opening 300 stores. Because Amazon could attempt to democratize physical shelf space the same as it has done with virtual shelf space, and that would mean readers would have more than you and six other old white guys to choose from (No disrespect to Ms. Roberts, but old white guys have dominated the bestseller lists for decades.)

Child: Classically it uses books to hook customers and then data-mine them. But it gets only dedicated book buyers.

Joe sez: I have no doubt Amazon is data mining me. Google data mines me. Apple data mines me. My own government data mines me, except they're trying to arrest people without due process rather than sell them stuff. But I don't understand your "dedicated book buyers" comment.

Amazon does get the heavy readers who buy more than a few books a year, and Amazon certainly has loss leads and incentives to get customers to shop for more than just books--they do call themselves "The Everything Store".

Sure, there are more cases of someone grabbing a Red Bull and some M&Ms in an airport and also grabbing your latest paperback at the same time than they are of seeking out a specific Konrath title on Amazon, but what's your point? You sell more so your way is better? You sell more so your way is what the Common Man really prefers?

I think you sell more because you're everywhere. And you're everywhere because you got lucky and won the Big Pub Lottery and could plug into a gigantic distribution network that allows casual readers to find you.

That doesn't make airport impulse purchases the better way to sell books, or the only way. But it certainly discriminates against the vast majority of authors.

Some shoppers look for something specific, like a predator on a game trail. Some graze and devour whatever is in front of them. Most of use do a bit of both. But there is no superior way to buy a book.

Child: Browsing on Amazon isn’t great as a casual experience: fatigue sets in.

Joe sez: Have you ever gone to the mall on Black Friday? You really want to argue fatigue?

Child: (How do you make something totally invisible? Put it on page 17 of an internet search.)

Joe sez: How do you force a midlist legacy author to take a day job? Don't give her a six figure marketing budget.

You're being either myopic or intentionally disingenuous. I'll wager Amazon has allowed many more authors to reach readers in the last five years than the Big Publishing has since 1950.

True, Amazon hasn't created another Lee Child. But I think most people will settle for a hundred Hugh Howeys instead.

Child: And Kindle hasn’t taken over the world. It has settled into a solid niche, like those tiny tubes of toothpaste – essential for travel, but no one uses them at home. (Down, fanboys! Real world!)

Joe sez: Ah, the real world. Do you even remember what that was like, Lee? Worrying about bills? Self-promoting to reach fans? Being paid twice a year and budgeting to make that money stretch?

I like your toothpaste tube analogy, though, even though you intended it to be insultingly dismissive. There are a lot of companies making a lot of money selling travel sized toothpaste. And it may be a niche, but I can subsist in that niche, along with tens of thousands of my peers.

Of course, I really don't believe it's a niche. I believe it's a shadow industry that is a lot bigger than you and your cronies think. It may not have hurt your bottom line, yet. It may never. But my career path doesn't require paper books to fail for me to succeed. My path doesn't require paper sales at all.

Here's a simpler way to explain it. Is it better to have ten people feast until they're stuffed, or for a whole village to eat enough to not starve?

Right there is the difference in our ideologies.

Child: So there is no way for Amazon to replicate that happy, random encounter with a physical bookstore window. Yes, there are bots and algorithms, but those casual millions of three-books-a-year people never see them: they don’t buy books online.

Joe sez: You're proving my point, here. Other than incorrectly romanticizing the selling process of paper books (I debunked paper infatuation way back in 2010), you're preaching to a crowd of a hundred authors, and the bloated industry that has made them rich. The majority of writers don't agree and don't care. Neither do readers. Because those casual three-books-a-year readers will find those books elsewhere if the current paper source dries up, or they'll do something else with their leisure time, like Angry Birds.

Your argument is like saying people truly enjoy the experience of going into a 7-11 and impulse buying a Twinkie. Lots of people certainly do that. But it is far from the only way people choose to snack. And if the Twinkies were gone, these people will find something else to eat, or search elsewhere.

Child: Which is a defeat for Amazon. It prides itself on going where the customers are, and doing what the customers want. And it needs to. Its growth demands all the customers there are.

Joe sez: You have the first part backwards. Amazon's strategy thusfar has been to lead customers to it, not to go where the customers are.

Child: So now, rumour has it, Amazon plans to open another 299 physical bookstores (it already has one, in Seattle). The rumours are denied – or at least, not confirmed – and at first glance they appear economically insane. At the best of times, books are low-velocity, low-margin items, and commercial rents are geared to the opposite – clothes, handbags and other high-profit stuff. But then, for 20 years Amazon has proved willing to eat losses, and investors have allowed it to.

So, what if? And suppose those 300 stores were only the start? We’d quickly approach a de facto monopsony.

Joe sez: And here were go again. I'm so tired of debunking this one. And I'm also tired of repeatedly stating that the Big 5 are a de facto oligopoly; a cartel that fixes prices and censors books. But as much as I debunk the monopoly/monopsony argument, no one has ever challenged my accusations about the Big 5.

Child: Amazon would become the only practical route to market for 1,400 US publishers and a million US self-publishers, for either digital or paper product.

Joe sez: Currently Amazon is the only practical route for millions of self-publishers. Your point?

I've blogged about this before, but can't find the link. In a nutshell, once a company becomes powerful enough to dictate terms for consumers or suppliers, it still has powerful incentives to play fair. That's why Wal-Mart, when it opens in a new town and destroys all the Mom and Pop stores, doesn't raise prices when the competition is killed. If they did, it would allow the Mom and Pops to return and compete. So they have to keep prices low.

The same thing works with suppliers in a digital world. We're not talking oil barons owning a limited amount of land. We're talking the Internet. If Amazon starts screwing authors (you know, maybe like slashing their ebook royalties to 17.5%--who would do something so awful?) then that's just asking for competition to step up and lure authors away with better terms.

And unlike the Big 5 cartel who don't compete on terms (for us mere mortal writers they only compete on the size of advance), Amazon isn't ever going to go the oligopoly route and collude with competitors. Amazon wants to have the widest selection, and they don't want to share. They incentivize authors with Kindle Unlimited in order to offer readers the widest selection. This alarmist notion of "Amazon Will Slash Your Royalties" has no basis in reality.

Or does it? Let's see what Lee digs up...

Child: The history is worrying. Amazon has already tried to use its power in a punitive fashion, as if determined to hurt publishers financially.

Joe sez: Uh, no it hasn't. Anyone who followed the Hachette nonsense on this blog knows what that was really about; publishers wanting higher ebook prices. Which has harmed publishers, and lots of authors (though not Lee Child because he sells buttloads of paper books.)

Child: All kinds of fees and “contributions” are required. “Pay to play” was openly the name of the game, until Amazon’s lawyers suggested a less explicit description. One publisher resisted, and a senior Amazon executive boasted: “I did everything I could to screw with their performance.”

Joe sez: As if Amazon invented co-op. C'mon, Lee. Stop being disingenuous. Publishers have always paid to play. Hint: the reason your books are front and center at Barnes & Noble is because your publisher paid out the ass for it. I don't hear you bitching about those "contributions".

Child: Already, self-publishers have only “terms and conditions”, which change capriciously – so far only to Amazon’s advantage. Is it good public policy to allow one corporation to have total power over a nation’s published output?

Joe sez: Give me "terms and conditions" over the greedy, moronic, inept fuckers who wanted my rights, forever.

You keep demonizing Amazon for things that Big Publishing has already done, and done to a much worse degree. They had total power, and the exercised it lockstep, and fixed prices, and kept millions of books from reaching readers, and screwed authors.

Amazon can never have total power, because they don't own rights, and they can't censor other sales outlets for authors. The Big 6 could and did censor, because they controlled distribution.

You said earlier that the Kindle is niche. So pick an argument, Lee. Does Kindle cater to only a small percentage of the book market, or does it command total power over everything published?

And why, exactly, should we be worried if Amazon opens 300 bookstores? Didn't you say that readers prefer that "happy, random encounter with a physical bookstore window"? What's wrong with 300 more windows?

Oh... wait. I know.

Those are 300 windows that your books won't be prominently featured in unless your publisher pays for it. And how could your poor publisher hope to afford that when they keep giving you eight figure advances?

My my, this is a dilemma.

As for me, who has had zero physical premise in brick and mortar bookstores since Shaken was published in 2010, I'm hoping Amazon does start opening stores and giving those casual readers a broader choice than that same handful of old white guys. And I'm not worried about Amazon having "total power" because, unlike you, I have an understanding of how Amazon works. Every Amazon imprint, every section, functions as its own company. It has to bid for co-op just like publishers do. That's how it avoids any DOJ problems. Amazon will sell used products alongside new ones, for less, via third parties. Amazon allows third party vendors to sell things that Amazon doesn't even carry. Consider that. If you're really worried Amazon will boycott your publisher, Amazon will still offer your publisher's titles on Amazon.com via third parties.

Probably not at the discount you'd like, though.

Amazon won't ever have "total power" because it competes with itself. It wants to sell everything to everyone. Even at the expense of its own profits and shareholders.

The Big 5 want to sell certain books to certain people in certain ways. They want higher prices, and will collude to get them. Except for 1% of 1% of 1%, they pay they authors much less than Amazon does. They keep rights. They demand unconscionable clauses like non-compete and next option.

Amazon has allowed me a career. But I'm only pro-Amazon for as long as they are pro-author.

I said "pro-author" not "pro-Joe."

The Big 5 are not pro-author. They are pro-Lee Child.

That's awesome for you. But--down legacy fanboy!--the rest of us live in the real world.
          Freedom of Expression?        
A guest post by frequent contributor to this blog, Barry Eisler. I chime in midway.

Barry sez: I just learned about an event put on by an organization called New America(formerly The New America Foundation): Amazon’s Book Monopoly: A Threat to Freedom of Expression? Ordinarily, propaganda is something that concerns me, but when it veers this far off into parody, I sometimes welcome it as a comic diversion.

Because, come on, putting your tendentious conclusion right there in the title and disguising it as a question, while an impressively textbook instance of question-begging, in this context is also pretty funny. Because, “Hey, we’ve already established that Amazon is a monopoly; we’re just here to determine how much of a threat the company poses to Freedom and All That Is Good. Is it an existential threat, like Roger Cohen said about ISIS? Or merely an extremely threatening threat?”

And who knows, maybe they’ll answer the question, “No,” right? Maybe the panelists will decide that Amazon’s “book monopoly” is actually a benefitto freedom of expression, as monopolies often are. It’s not as though they’ve structured things so that the question answers itself, and I don’t know why anyone would suspect this panel might be anything other than a diverse collection of open-minded people honestly engaging in free inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge wherever the facts may lead!

Thanks to the efforts of serious-sounding organizations like New America (and if that vague but happy-sounding name didn’t cause your bullshit detector to at least tingle, it should—see also Americans for Prosperity and the Center for American Progress), this “Amazon is a Monopoly” silliness is so persistent that Joe and I dealt with it in our inaugural post on zombie memes—“arguments that just won’t die no matter how many times they’re massacred by logic and evidence.” Half the purpose of the Zombie Meme series is to save Joe and me from having to repeat ourselves, so if you want to have a laugh about why, despite its persistence, “Amazon is a Monopoly” is so embarrassingly dumb and misguided, here’s your link.

But here’s the amazing part: “Amazon is a monopoly” is actually the cleverhalf of the event’s title. The really funny part is what follows: that Amazon poses a threat to freedom of expression!

As I said in a previous Techdirt guest post called Authors Guilded, United, and Representing…Not:

Given that Amazon’s self-publishing platform enables all authors to publish whatever they like and leaves it to readers to decide what books they themselves find beneficial, while the New York Big Five (no concentrated market power in a group with a name like that!) has historically rejected probably 999 books for every one they deem worthy of reaching the public, a few questions present themselves. Such as:

•                     Who has really been “manipulating and supervising the sale of books and therefore affecting the exchange of ideas in America,” and who has really “established effective control of a medium of communication”—an entity that screens out 99.9% of books, or one that has enabled the publication of any book?

•                     Who has really been running an uncompetitive, controlled, supervised, distorted market for books—a company dedicated to lower prices, or a group calling itself the Big Five that has been found guilty of conspiracy and price fixing?

•                     Who is really restoring freedom of choice, competition, vitality, diversity, and free expression in the American book market—an entity that consigns to oblivion 999 books out of a thousand, or one that enables the publication of all of them?

•                     And who is really ensuring that the American people determine for themselves how to take advantage of the new technologies of the 21st Century—an entity responsible for zero innovation and dedicated to preserving the position of paper, or one that has popularized a new publishing and reading platform that for the first time offers readers an actual choice of formats?

Think about it. This “New America” organization has put together a panel dedicated to persuading you that there was more freedom of expression when an incestuous group of five Manhattan-based corporations held the power to disappear 999 books out every thousand written, and indeed performed that disappearance as the group’s core function (they call this “curation”). And that, now that Amazon’s KDP platform has enabled all authors to publish virtually anything they want, freedom of expression is being threatened.

 For an organization calling itself “New America,” these jokers sure seem wedded to the old version.

In fairness to New America, I should note that their worldview is hardly unprecedented. The notion that the traditional way of doing things is ipso facto the best way of doing things was lampooned by Voltaire over 150 years ago through his character Dr. Pangloss, who was convinced (before experience in the world introduced doubts) that “All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” And Pangloss was himself based on the religious philosophy known as theodicy—a word coined over 300 years ago to describe a kind of faith that’s doubtless as old as the human race (and a word I admit I like because it sounds a bit like “idiocy”).

In fact, it was as recent as, say, the 1950s that a group of tweed-jacketed, straight white male college professors were genuinely convinced that the collection of books they deemed the most intrinsically worthy—all, coincidentally, written by other straight white males—represented the maximally possible amount of valuable expression, information, and ideas. They even called their collection the “canon,” which I admit did tend to make their subjective choices sound important and even divinely ordained. As people came to question the absence of women and minority writers from this collection selected exclusively by straight white males, I imagine the straight white males genuinely believed that broadening the “canon” to include women and minorities was a threat to freedom of expression and all that. This is just the way a lot of people are wired, especially when status and privilege are part of the mix.

And really, you do have to take a moment to applaud the mental gymnastics required of otherwise presumably intelligent people to say shit like “more authors writing more books reaching more readers is threatening freedom of expression, the flow of information, and the marketplace of ideas.” It’s War is Peace/Ignorance is Strength/Freedom is Slavery level doublethink. On the one hand, it’s sad, but on the other hand, in all the universe could there be a race as capable as humans of clinging so resolutely to faith in the face of so many contrary facts? Seen in this light, there’s something tragically beautiful about it.

And while I admit that New America’s “day is night, black is white” bizarro worldview isn’t easy to parody, I can’t resist trying. So…

Coming up next from New America: The Internet’s Dictatorial Grip: Impeding Access to Information? And The Tyranny of the Cell Phone: Shutting Down Communication? And Our Addiction to Paved Roads: A Threat to Freedom of Movement?

One more thing about this event that’s unintentionally hilarious, and then I need to get back to something worthwhile (AKA, the new manuscript). Take a look at the guest list. If you hired a team of NASA scientists to design the most rabidly, incestuously anti-Amazon panel possible, this is pretty much the group the team would propose. Though I doubt even the scientists (assuming they had a little dignity) would have gone to far as to bring in Douglas Preston and his literary agent, Eric Simonoff. I mean, this is getting pretty close to just adding clones of existing panelists and eliminating the last fluttering fig leaf of diversity.

They also have the dean of the Amazon Derangement crowd, Scott Turow. And Franklin Foer, who in fairness should be disqualified from even being on this panel because of his claim—in his much-derided “Let us kneel down before Amazon” screed—that “That term [monopoly] doesn’t get tossed around much these days, but it should”!

By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Foer makes the same cringe-worthy claim again, on this very “Amazon is a Monopoly” panel. The anti-Amazon crowd has never been particularly educable.

Also present will be Mark Coker, the head of Smashwords, an Amazon competitor. And author Susan Cheever, a member of Authors United, an organization that represents pretty much the platonic ideal of Amazon Derangement Syndrome. A couple of anti-trust lawyers to provide a veneer of legal gravitas (and to troll for clients, no doubt). And a second-year law student named Lina Khan who has argued that Amazon “should alarm us.”

And that’s it. That’s as diverse and wide-ranging as the lineup gets. The full gamut of viewpoints, from A…all the way to B.

Although really, even that feels a little generous.

Oh, by the way, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, another Amazon competitor, is the chairman of New America’s board of directors, too. No conflict of interest there. Nothing to disclose to anyone who might think this is some sort of disinterested, scholarly event.

So yeah, it’s really that much of a hive-mind lineup. But that’s not even the best part. The best part is, this remarkably insular and incestuous exercise in groupthink has been assembled to speak out against a purported threat to…freedom of expression! The flow of information! And the marketplace of ideas!

None of this is an accident, by the way. It isn’t just stupidity and incompetence. There’s a reason organizations will try to take a narrow outlook and propagate it through multiple mouthpieces: doing so can create the impression that a rare and radical notion is in fact widely held—held even by ostensibly disparate groups—and therefore more trustworthy. Indeed, this form of propaganda is a favorite of some of the same reactionary groups New America is showcasing on its panel. As I said recently about the supposedly “unprecedented joint action” of some booksellers, authors, and agents complaining together about Amazon:

Which brings us to the second revealing aspect of this “propaganda masquerading as an interview” drill. You see, in the standard “blow-job masquerading as interview” gambit, it’s generally enough to hope the reader will just assume the interviewer and interviewee are working at arms-length. Making the point explicitly isn’t really the done thing. Here, however, perhaps not trusting readers to be sufficiently gulled, the ABA and AG are at pains to describe the “unprecedented joint action” of the AG, Authors United, the ABA, and the Association of Authors’ Representatives in going after Amazon for monopolizing the marketplace of ideas, devaluing books, and generally crushing dissent, democracy, and all that is good. The impression they’re trying to create is, “Wow, if so many separate organizations hate Amazon, Amazon must be doing something bad.”

But what’s critical to understand is that the most fundamental purpose of the Authors Guild, Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and the Association of Authors is to preserve the publishing industry in its current incarnation. Whatever marginal differences they might have (I’ve never actually seen any, but am happy to acknowledge the theoretical possibility) are eclipsed by this commonality of purpose. Under the circumstances, the fact that these four legacy publisher lobbyists agree on something is entirely unremarkable (indeed, what would be remarkable would be some evidence of division). But if people recognize the exercise as a version of “No really, I read it somewhere…okay, I wrote it down first,” the propaganda fizzles. And that’s why these propagandists have to nudge readers with the bullshit about the “unprecedented joint action.” Otherwise, when Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger cites Authors United pitchman Doug Preston as though Preston were a separate, credible source, people might roll their eyes instead of nodding at the seriousness of it all. They might even giggle at the realization that all those “When did Amazon stop beating its wife?” questions were functionally being put by Rasenberger to herself.

So no, this wasn’t remotely a cross-examination, or even a cross pollination (indeed, publisher lobbyists are expert at fleeinganything that offers even the slightest whiff of actual debate—which does make their alleged devotion to the Free Flow of Ideas and Information as the Engine of Democracy worthy of a smile, at least, if nothing else). It was just a stump speech lovingly hosted by someone else’s blog. The sole reason for the exercise was to create the misleading appearance of multiple, arms-length actors when functionally there is only one.

In fairness to the aforementioned Unprecedentedly Joint Actors, there is a rich heritagebehind this form of propaganda. For example, in the run-up to America’s second Iraq war, Dick Cheney would have someone from his office phone up a couple of pet New York Timesreporters, who would then dutifully report that anonymous administration officials believed Saddam Hussein had acquired aluminum tubes as part of his nuclear weapons efforts…and then Cheney would go on all the Sunday morning talk shows and get to say, “Don’t take my word for the aluminum tube stuff—even the New York Times is reporting it!”

So leave aside the fact that the “joint action” in question is anything but unprecedented—that it is in fact publishing establishment SOP. Anyone familiar with the record of these organizations will instantly realize that the “unprecedented joint action” in question is a lot like the “joint action” of all four fingers—plus the thumb!—of someone throwing back a shot of tequila. Like that of a little boy pleasuring himself—with both hands!—and trying to convince anyone who will listen that the Unprecedented Left and Right Action is proof that “Everybody loves me!”

Okay, I apologize for the multiple excerpts from previous posts. But what are you going to do? These bloviators keep vomiting up the same tired bullshit, no matter how many times it’s debunked. It just saves time to refer to the previous debunkings rather than typing it all out again.

My advice to New America? If you’re more than just a propaganda operation—if you really do care about freedom of expression, and the flow of information, and the marketplace of ideas—you might want to add at least a token panelist with a viewpoint that differs even just a tiny bit from that of the nine Borg you’ve assembled to intone that Amazon Is Evil and Will Destroy All That Is Good. Otherwise, your event is going to feel more like a circle jerk and less like sex. And, doubtless, with similarly productive results.

Joe sez: And just when I think I’m out…

Thanks, Barry, for turning a spotlight on this silliness, and patiently picking apart why it is so silly. I’m sure the panel will be a resounding success, much like all circle jerks and echo chambers are for those involved. Masturbation is supposed to be satisfying, and a nice “atta boy!” and backslap at the finish seems preferable to eating the soggy biscuit.

Don’t Google that if you don’t know what I mean. You can’t unlearn it.

One of the reasons I’ve largely eschewed activism lately is because I haven’t seen any ill effects from all the Amazon bashing being done by the usual spin doctoring suspects.

At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, the propaganda classic Triumph of the Will was just released on BluRay for the first time. It’s an effective piece of filmmaking, and Frank Capra imitated a lot of elements from it for his Why We Fight series.

It worked. And it is still being imitated today, both as a film, and as propaganda. Fear mongering is an old standby for getting people on your side. I wrote a whole post about alarmist terminology and spin

But I don’t think this approach works when it comes to Amazon. People aren’t so ready to buy what the pinheads are selling. Today we can have the New York Times, which I believe still has the motto “All the news that’s fit to print”, show such stunning anti-Amazon bias that the public editor has called it out more than once, and the public simply doesn’t give a shit. Amazon still gets their approval and their business, no matter how many times David Streitfeld one-finger-types his screeds while busting out knuckle babies with his other hand.

The public likes Amazon. Even if it were true that Amazon is planning to overthrow the government and replace the Bill of Rights with a guarantee of same day free shipping, its approval rating is so high that I don’t think most folks would care.

But for all the alarmist rhetoric and soothsaying predictions of world domination, I’ve yet to see anyone other than Big 5 apologists and their NY media cronies show much concern over Amazon’s mounting dominance of online retail.

Maybe that’s because—wild guess here—Amazon offers authors unprecedented opportunity to reach readers, and offers readers the widest selection at the lowest possible prices coupled with good customer service.

Authors United, and the NYT, are doing everything they’re supposed to be doing to spread their anti-Zon propaganda, but the people don’t care.

If I had faith in human nature, I’d posit that access to the Internet (and the ability for anyone with second grade spelling skills to type words into a search engine) can reveal in a click or two what utter nonsense the morons are spouting.

But I think the more realistic answer is that p