Ad Blocking Software – Strongly Recommended

Check out this pleading inanity from one of my (otherwise) favourite sites

Dearie me, am I to understand that it’s a problem for Physorg that I choose not to conform?

Idiots like this just don’t get it. Some of us are not just immune to advertising, we actively and passionately object to it as a manipulative abuse of bandwidth.

This antipathy is more prevalent, perhaps, in UK citizens than most because we have the Beeb, producing consistently high standards of broadcasting without commercial breaks. Before we had our hard-drive backed digital TV services we often had to wait two hours before getting to pee.

Nowadays, we can just pause the program, which neatly eliminates the one advantage that commercial breaks could boast. And boy does it make for a massive culture shock when we are exposed to American TV. That culture must be behind the sentiments expressed by this drivel.

They clearly believe it is their god given right to advertise to me. As my regular reader will know, I obviously don’t believe in god given rights. And, as it happens, I don’t believe in human rights either. I believe in Liberty – which is merely the absence of constraint – and Reciprocity – treat others as you would wish to be treated in return. That combination covers every conceivable ethical question you’ll ever confront; including whether or not to tolerate intrusive commercials on a web page.

And I see absolutely nothing which justifies any constraint whatsoever on my ability to install Adblock and not just ignore your adverts but remain blissfully unaware of their existence. Adblock is a free Firefox add-on – strongly recommended if you’re as allergic to ads as I am. And those who might be inclined to follow my recommendation will not confuse the previous sentence with “advertising” because they will know I have absolutely nothing to gain by that recommendation other than the knowledge I am spreading a little more contentment. My motives, are, therefore, entirely honorable. As I’m sure is true even of some commercials. But not many…

What Physorg and those who think like that obviously don’t understand is that if I was forced to suffer their sites with ads, I would simply exercise my liberty to avoid visiting those sites. How would that improve the human condition?


The Growing Wealth Gap in America and Around the World

Like me, I suspect most of you were already aware of the facts presented in this video, but I doubt you’ve ever seen such a devastatingly simple and effective presentation of those facts. I certainly haven’t. The only thing I would add is that viewers should remember that this picture of America is broadly true of the world at large. Over the last few decades, the global ruling class have ALL massively increased their wealth while those they rule have all suffered significant reductions in their own standard of living

One Law For The Rich

The sheer brazen effrontery of this corruption is breathtaking. Not just the banks’ corruption (15 years – in the case of HSBC – of criminal money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist groups) but the State corruption in the form of the decision that banks like HSBC are “too big to prosecute”. Oh, and don’t forget to ask yourself the routine question: why are you having to watch this on The Real News rather than mainstream media?

Few, if any, events in recorded history have so clearly illustrated not just the gap between the elite rich and the rest of us, but even the illegitimate means by which they are permitted and even helped to maintain their illicit advantages over civil society.

ANY criminal prosecuted, from now on, in any country where trial by jury is the norm, should now argue – direct to the jury – that whatever crime they are accused of cannot possibly be as serious as what the banks have been allowed to get away with for decades and that, if the banks can be let off with a token fine (less than a day’s profit), there can be no ethical case for any lesser prosecutions. Judges and prosecutors will, of course, try to resist that argument, but let’s see what the Juries decide…

I Was a Teen Conservative: How I Learned That Life Is Too Complex for Right-Wing Ideology | Alternet

I didn’t expect to get much from this Alternet article. but I was pleasantly surprised. Like some critics are saying about the new Hobbit movie, the slow start might put you off, but it's worth sticking with.

It is the "confession" of a one time freedom-loving Republican "conservative" who, as a teenager in the 60s, worshipped Barry Goldwater (whose attitudes then were close to Ron Paul's today) and thought he represented mainstream Republican ideals. Gradually, over the ensuing decades he realised that if that ever had been true, it was becoming less and less valid as time marched on.

Even as a 14 year old he had to swallow hard to accept Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights bill that finally made racial discrimination illegal. But the first major game-changer was the infamous Kent State massacre where students were gunned down by the National Guard while protesting, peacefully, against the Vietnam War:

To a Jeffersonian, the brandishing of state power in order to conscript people to fight in a faithless conflagration and then to oppress the right of assembly stipulated by the First Amendment was repellent.

He watched with growing alarm as the definition of “leftist insurrection” became protest against the war or in support of civil rights and, crucially (for students of the rise of American Authoritarianism) how the previous Republican focus on Liberty switched to Control:

…while the Jeffersonian conservatism that I signed up for gave the benefit of the doubt to freedom, a new conservatism now chose order.

Reagan’s 1980 election set the new trend in concrete and the Police State put down firm roots:

Under Reagan… the Justice Department paid a purposely ominous attention to what adults read and watched; the war on drugs grew more ruthless; cynicism about science, particularly as it had to do with the environment, grew more pronounced; antagonism to the freedom of women to make choices about their bodies grew more vehement.

He charts how the Republicans overtly sold their soul to Money and made explicit their religiously based control-freakery:

…three impulses distinguished the new right. The first was how the right’s enmity toward centralized state power was matched by an adoration of centralized corporate power. This constituted an abandonment of the principle of a truly free marketplace—with entrepreneurship and the flourishing of small business becoming more constrained and difficult — and the overarching principle of decentralization. The second impulse was the displacement of liberty as conservatism’s core priority by a new priority, “values,” by which the right invariably meant sexual behavior, predominantly the sexual behavior of women and homosexuals. The third new impulse was most profound. This was a reconceptualization of the republic as one in which citizens are bound not by a Constitution in which God isn’t once mentioned, euphemized, or alluded to but by an unwritten Christian covenant that implicitly subjects free will to an organizing ethos that’s unmistakably theocratic. What was a freedom movement became an authority/wealth/religious movement.

And he gained important insights into the poison of “ideology”:

The extent to which ideology hijacks independent thought, refracting an issue through the lens of an already-settled bias, was all the more disturbing for how long it took me to see it. Ideology is pathological: It provides a psychological structure posing as a theoretical one.

Which led to some puzzlement on my own behalf when I read the only thing I could take issue with:

I honestly believe my children are best served by a free politics that needs two wings to stay airborne and a push-me/pull-you tension between what is a right and what is a privilege, what is entitled and what is not, what reasonably progresses and what responsibly conserves

which seems to me to be supporting the very ideological division which he laments in the rest of the article.

Be that as it may, his transition is very similar to my own journey here in the UK. Born into a Daily Mail family where the Labour Party and other potential Socialists were painted as the devil incarnate while the Tories wore the badge as the party of “individual liberty” I dedicated my adolescent political years to the struggle against the march of totalitarianism which, so I had been conditioned to believe, was the inevitable consequence of Communism or Socialism. This was helpfully illustrated by the plainly authoritarian Soviet and Chinese states, together with their slave states in Eastern Europe and their puerile satellites such as Romania, Albania and North Korea. No one with an ounce of libertarianism in their body was going to be following that path in a hurry.

I resolved to become a more effective enemy of Communism by studying it and exposing its philosophical flaws. I got lucky. I bumped into a proper Socialist who educated me more completely than I’d ever anticipated. I still have a soft spot for the Socialist Party of Great Britain as a result. What I learned was “proper” communists were just as outraged as I was by the obvious authoritarianism in the so-called communist states. If anything they were more angry because their true ideology was being so badly tainted by what the totalitarians were doing in their name. The SPGB and a few other genuine socialist parties are as genuinely libertarian as I am. The only reason that I didn’t end up calling myself a socialist was that, when the chips are down, they’re still committed to an “ideology” and have an almost religious faith in the Marxist analysis of Capitalism and its inevitable self-destruction.

While I was still absorbing these new insights, Britain’s own Reaganite came to power in the shape of Margaret Thatcher and Britain started overtly aping the authoritarian progress of our American cousins, at least in economic terms and, of course, the war on drugs.

Fortunately, they’ve never had the constituency to support the development towards Theocracy and though they’ve made occasional attempts to squeeze the homosexual or abortion genies back inside their bottles and dallied with the “values” question, all such attempts have been thwarted, usually as the result of one or more of them being found guilty of some hypocritical breach of such values. The inevitable public ridicule usually forces them to scuttle back underneath their stones and keep stumm. But their attacks on working class organisation, arguably inspired, or at least encouraged, by Reagan’s defeat of the Air Traffic controllers, were hugely successful and their massive increases in Police powers were a sign of things to come.

The biggest difficulty “free thinkers” now face is that the rest of the world still prefers to believe in black and white, right or wrong answers to the complex questions facing humanity. Those of us who have confronted and overcome our childhood conditioning – whether right or left-wing – usually recognise that all the other forms of conditioning are similarly flawed, to the extent that if you still think the answer to any significant political question is even partially provided by a political party, you almost certainly do not understand the question and have little or no chance of arriving at a real answer.

Conrad Black and The Rule Of Law

Until I watched this interview, I was utterly indifferent to the fate of Conrad Black. Just another rich bastard caught with his hand in the till. Who gives a shit?

Check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed. And then we’ll have a bit of a chat about it…
(Newsnight – 2012-10-22)
Let me say, up front, I have no idea whether Conrad Black is guilty or innocent.

But given this confident and spirited performance, and given that absolutely everything he has to say about the corrupt Prison State of America is pretty easy to validate, I am forced to concede that he is more plausible, by far, than his accusers and moralistic interrogators such as Jeremy Paxman.

As you’ll have noticed if you followed the link, I stopped updating that page in 2007, when it became clear that Obama was about to replace Bush and I foolishly allowed myself to believe that he would – if not sweep away the Police State – at least reverse some of it’s worst excesses. He hasn’t even slowed its progress. Reluctantly I’m going to have to fire it back up one day and add another couple of hundred examples.

Be that as it may, Conrad Black produced such a barnstorming performance that I feel obliged to hedge my bets. ONLY two kinds of individual could have performed like that. Both of them would believe with utter sincerity absolutely everything they are saying. The first would be a complete Sociopath who has no concept of rational ethical analysis and sincerely believes he is right and entitled to behave as he did. The second is genuinely innocent. I leave you to judge which category Black belongs in.

But the vastly more important point is what Paxman appeared to believe was a killer question:

“Do you not think a man who has been found guilty by due process of law ought to be slightly penitent?”

If nothing else, it demonstrates that Paxman himself is a fine actor; probably a key requirement for someone who has to try to pretend to be interested in “balance”.

It was like watching someone to whom it had never occurred that innocent people can EVER (let alone frequently) be found guilty by “due process of Law”. Such innocence is not remotely plausible on the part of a premier league political interviewer. Especially not one who has – for decades – professionally interviewed so many of the participants in so many of the high-profile cases of wrongful conviction and abuse of process that we’ve suffered here in the UK.

He obviously isn’t that naive, but he had to ask the question. Why?

Because, as I wrote only recently in reply to a question on my forum:

Moral Obligation to Obey The Law?
First, most of the laws we all still live under fail the Reciprocity test and thus, to this ethicist at least, remain entirely illicit. Instead of challenging the validity of such laws, moral philosophers have often been the keenest apologists for them. If you need a clearer example of the failure of Moral Philosophy, I can’t think of one.

But second, secular authority has taken its lead from the success of the religious model and routinely frames its edicts as though they are solutions to moral dilemmas. The over-arching meme is the one that tries to portray Obedience To The Law as a moral virtue in its own right. The mere fact that something is a Law is supposed to be enough to give it moral weight. [emphasis added]

It is rare that something happens in the real world (so soon after I’ve written something like that) which illustrates my point so clearly and so powerfully.

I’ll be coming back to this theme from time to time but the question I urge you to consider is this:
We all know that when a dictator wins an “election” with 99% of the vote, that the vote was rigged and the system is corrupt and unfair. But what about the Law? What success rate (for prosecutors) would you expect in a genuinely fair and honest legal system?

Did you notice GlaxoSmithKline’s $3 Billion Fraud Penalty?

Actually a MUCH bigger story than Barclay’s LIBOR fixing scam, yet I haven’t heard a single discussion of it on the beeb and have only spotted a couple of mainstream media covering it.

This New York Times story will fill you in.

In short, I believe it’s the biggest criminal fraud settlement in US (and, I think, global) history. Ten times bigger than the Barclay’s fine and publicly described as criminal (whereas there is an ongoing debate about whether what the banks got up to was also criminal)

In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen the 3 top executives of Barclays walking the plank. Not a peep from GSK or its shareholders. Obviously they consider such fines merely the cost of doing business. It hardly affects the bottom line, so the dividends will be safe.

You’d think, given the hours and acres of coverage being heaped on the banks’ story, we might here a minute or two about the British arm of Big Pharma, the biggest organised crime syndicate the world has ever known.

Don’t hold your breath…

Hospitals ‘run out of drugs as stocks are sold abroad’ by at least 19 trusts | Mail Online

Misleading Headline Of The Week.

My reaction (stupidly, this is the Daily Mail after all) was “how on earth can NHS Trusts be allowed to sell their drugs overseas when they need them for their own patients??!!”

You have to read a few paragraphs into this tabloid tat before you learn that the people selling the drugs are the wholesalers and pharmacists, not the trusts. And they’re presumably entitled to sell wherever they can find a market.

Nothing to see here. Move along…

Michael Sheen’s The Passion: 72 hours in theatre heaven | Lyn Gardner | Stage |

Everything I’ve heard and seen about this modern Passion Play makes me want to see it.

It might even qualify as a major new art form, given the multiple simultaneous staging of the story, in real-time, with an audience directly participating (by recording and “witnessing” the events as they happened) on an unprecedented scale.

It will certainly put Port Talbot on the map. What I can’t figure out is why it’s currently only showing – on its UK Release Date – in 3 sodding cinemas. You’d have thought at least the Welsh cinemas would have wanted to punt it. Weird…

Click this to watch Michael Sheen guide us through the making of the movie

The Path To Globally Organised Crime

an amusing introduction to the illusion we call Money…

Democracy 2.0: Iceland crowdsources new constitution

were you aware of this?

and if not, why not? You can see (from the linked article) it’s dated back last June. Could it be that those who rather like the way things are haven’t been talking about it? I wonder why that might be…

The Best Law Money Can Buy…

Legal Fairness

What do you think of the new StumbleUpon?

This page provides a textbook lesson in how to REALLY fuck up your Social Network. Makes Facebook’s occasional user-baiting look positively amateurish…

What do you think of the new StumbleUpon?.

Starting in March, Everyone Experiences the New – StumbleUpon

Unfortunately non Stumblers aren’t allowed to see this page. One of Stumbleupon’s weirdest decisions has always been to hide the content created by its users – which would have generated at least as much traffic as the basic stumbling activity and thus given them a fighting chance of “monetizing” their invention.

But here’s a literal snapshot of some of the comments being made, page after page, against the latest enforced changes and in support of an excellent demolition piece which the whole world can read.

Stumblers Opinion Of Stumble changes...

Even Non Stumblers might be entertained by this. Hopefully other control freaks might learn something from it.

Such is the reaction of the Stumbleupon community to the owners’ latest puerile crassly commercial attempt at social control.

It’s amazing how someone who built up a thriving social network can fuck it up so completely despite about a million warnings. And it’s been painful to be one of their victims…

All in all, a splendid example of how the motivation of money can make innovators lose the plot…

Starting in March, Everyone Experiences the New – StumbleUpon.

Owen Jones: If trade unions don’t fight the workers’ corner – others will – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent

This article touches on what I touched on the other day, when I suggested that it was a bad idea to seek (in Chicago) a physical confrontation with the world’s best armed military state. Shutting down Chicago (during the forthcoming NATO and G8 summits – at which the world’s elite will discuss how best to manage our continuing decline) is a fine strategic aim, but we need to consider a more intelligent way to pursue it than by giving the state employed bullies a “legitimate” excuse to crack heads.

The victory over the UK Government’s Workfare scheme is an example of such intelligence, whereas McCluskey’s ill thought out suggestion of targeting the Olympics is an example of how the working class generals remain adept at leading us into the valley of death.

Bad publicity frightens capitalists because it can turn customers away from their doors. That’s all it took to force the retail giants to tell the State to back down and the government had no choice because it required the co-operation of those employers in order to be able to offer ANY “work experience” placements to young unemployed teenagers. The fact that the SWP were involved is irrelevant; though kudos to them for recognising a viable strategy. It’s the strategy that matters, not who implemented it.

In contrast, the Olympics are a major component of the Bread and Circuses package with which the masses are tranquillised with entertainment into tolerance of their submissive state. If that tranquilliser is interfered with, the first target in the eyes of the huddled masses is not going to be the State who set up the Circus, it will be the activists who are trying to prevent the citizens from enjoying it. This should be self evident to anyone with an IQ exceeding their shoe size.

So why are UK Trade Unions still led by such tactically challenged idiots? You’d have thought that the evolutionary pressures of the Miners’ defeat, Thatcherite dismantling of sundry “Rights” like secondary pickets, supportive strike action, strikes without ballots, selective attacks on trade union membership etc would have pensioned off the Scargill tendency and ushered in a more canny wave of intelligent activists who knew how to subvert the system rather than take it on with a frontal assault.

Having spent nearly 40 years myself somewhere on the fringe of the UK Trade Union movement, I can offer a partial explanation and it’s rather depressing. Because the Trade Union movement has no real understanding of Democracy (it apes the electoral politics of the Capitalist system it professes to challenge) it has no means of recognising and adopting intelligent policies. Instead, power battles with the Trade Union movement are very similar to the ego driven battles to gain control of the national political parties.

However, though political parties appear to gain nominal control of the country after the “bewildered herd” elect them, they have the major advantage that the people who really run things (the “owners”) will tell them what they can and cannot do. Occasionally such advice is sound and gives the illusion, albeit rarely, that politicians are occasionally competent.

Trade Union leaders have no such obvious experienced external puppeteers and thus have to learn their limitations the hard way by trial and error. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they demonstrated the intellectual capacity to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Sadly, no such intelligence has yet surfaced within the ranks of “electable” activists…

Owen Jones: If trade unions don't fight the workers' corner – others will – Commentators – Opinion – The Independent.

Banks and their Naive notion of Account Security

I’ve whinged long and often about that pathetic procedures that the banks consider to offer “security” to their customers. More often than not, all they do is present obstacles to legitimate use and alienate said customers.

Standup comic Andy Parsons just had a run in with his own bank which illustrates the problem much better than I can: Download and listen to this 3 minute gem from last night’s “Now Show”.