Saturday, December 29, 2012

The final solution . . .

GENOCIDE CAN BE CULTURAL, and NativeWritesNow is grateful to Christie Blatchford for the explanation, with a post, "Christie Blatchford is telling the truth".  Take a minute and check out how this is so.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Allied efforts . . .

IDLE NO MORE: Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth.

Re: Chief Theresa Spence. Here's an idea: get the UK newspapers involved. "Canadian GuvGen won't meet dying Hunger Strike Indian Chief". The publicity will put pressure on Buck House, which dumps on the GuvGen, who dumps on Stevie. Remember, Stevie reacts to publicity like a cockroach to light. International publicity that makes him look bad, that leaks back to Canada, especially as the election is coming up might have a lot of power.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Odious and disgusting . . .

KUDOS TO MONTREAL SIMON: his post, "When the Cons Try to Cover Up Murder" is something you must read. Stevie will have much to answer for.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A present . . .

MACROPHAGES AND VIRUSES can kill cancer: According to George Dvorsky's article in io9, "Researchers create a ‘trojan-horse’ virus to eliminate cancer in mice".

clinical trials on humans could start as early as next year

Monday, December 24, 2012

Glen Coulthard: "#idlenomore in historical context"

Very serious game
With respect to the emergent #IdleNoMore movement, although many of the conditions that compelled the state to undertake the most expensive public inquiry in Canadian history are still in place, a couple of important ones are not. The first condition that appears to be absent is the perceived threat of political violence that was present in the years leading to the resistance at Kanesatake. #IdleNoMore is an explicitly non-violent movement, which accounts for its relatively wide spectrum of both Native and non-Native support at the moment. However, if the life of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence continues to be recklessly put in jeopardy by a Prime Minister who negligently refuses to capitulate to her reasonable demands, it is my prediction that the spectre of political violence will re-emerge in Indigenous peoples’ collective conversations about what to do next. The responsibility for this rests solely on the state. The second condition that differentiates #IdleNoMore from the decade of Indigenous activism that lead to RCAP is the absence (so far) of widespread economic disruption unleashed by Indigenous direct action. If history has shown us anything, it is this: if you want those in power to respond swiftly to Indigenous peoples’ political efforts, start by placing Native bodies (with a few logs and tires thrown in for good measure) between settlers and their money, which in colonial contexts is generated by the ongoing theft and exploitation of our land and resource base. If this is true, then the long term efficacy of the #IdleNoMore movement would appear to hinge on its protest actions being distributed more evenly between the malls and front lawns of legislatures on the one hand, and the logging roads, thoroughfares, and railways that are central to the accumulation of colonial capital on the other. For better and for worse, it was our peoples’ challenge to these two pillars of colonial sovereignty that led to the recommendations of RCAP: the Canadian state’s claim to hold a legitimate monopoly on use of violence and the conditions required for the ongoing accumulation of capital.  In stating this, however, I don’t mean to offer an unqualified endorsement of these two challenges, but rather a diagnosis of our present situation based on an ongoing critical conversation about how these differences and similarities ought to inform our current struggle.

The federal government of the early 1990s was run by adults who were wise enough to understand the seriousness of what happened at Oka and Kahnesetake. We are not so fortunate today.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

If Chief Spence dies...

If Chief Theresa Spence dies, the nature of Aboriginal-Government relations will radically change. At present there's simply no reason the other than decency that the Harper government will entertain a meeting or reconsider Bill C-45. There is no decency in today's Conservatives.

If Chief Spence dies, Aborginal people and their allies will have a martyr. If there is an uprising of some kind following her death, the Harper Conservatives will use it to justify taking what ever measures they deem necessary to break the back of Aboriginal political mobilisation. This is what they do.

It's a very serious business, this. 

"Settler Canadians"

Note to the #idlenomore uprising: "Settler Canadian" is a well-intended but divisive and couterproductive term. Some of you are engaging in arguments about who is more authentic as an Indigenous person and who is "allowed" to participate in the movement. This does three things. First, it  reproduces the mechanisms of colonialism by othering, by constructing boundaries and in-groups. Second, these divisions are what the Harper government will look to exploit when it moves to stop the movement. Third, if the movement is successful in the short-term, these divisions will very likely spoil it in the long term because it lays the foundations for factionalism. The history of decolonising societies is rife with examples.

Just saying.

Stevie does Gangnam . . .

ACCORDING TO HUFFINGTON, the Air Farce has nailed it. Delightful!

Stevie needs a reading . . .


Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA: Paroxysms of lunacy

NRA says gun violence on TV, movies, and videogames is to blame for US massacres.

NRA also says the "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." 
Somehow I don't think it occured them that the the very idea of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun is also the central theme of just about every US action movie or western since the invention of the genres. The good guys always win and the bad guys always lose, and the cop guarding the school isn't the first one shot by the next mass murderer.  

Yippi-Kai-Yay with that one, Wayne. Also, please, I mean it, please do keep talking because not only will Americans find themselves unable purchase military-grade small-arms, violent entertainment will be kerbed too!

It really is amazing to watch the gun debate in the US because it's so utterly fantastical. Nothing they talk about has any connection to the reality of gun violence. Walter Mitty all around. 

LaPIerre: Database of the Mentally Ill?

Head runnion of the NRA W. LaPierre is apparently calling for a database of the mentally ill as a means of thwarting would be mass-murderers. The idea I suppose is to exclude the mentally ill from owning firearms.

OK, I'll play. Ten per cent of Americans are on anti-depressants. Others have various other issues which could be considered mental illness. PTSD, anxiety disorders, autism, addictions, and so on.

I'm not sure LaPierre has thought this one through.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guns in Israel

Balloon Juice from Forbes.

Israel’s gun control laws are the opposite of America’s, say Israeli officials. “Only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license,” the head of the firearms licensing department told the Jerusalem Post. To qualify for a license, Israelis must be at least age 21, pass a physical and psychological examination, undergo a background check and then qualify at a licensed shooting range. Gun owners are retested every three years, they get a one-time supply of 50 bullets when they order their weapon, and as of next year, they must keep their gun in a safe.
For a nation that has been at war for more than 60 years, it is notable that Israeli officials estimate that there are only 170,000 weapons that are privately owned in a population of less than 8 million, or a little less than one weapon per 50 Israelis. There are an estimated 300 million weapons in America, or roughly one for every America’s 315 million people...

"Evil" declareth he, the gunlobbyist

This is quite amazing. Most of the attention naturally seems focussed on the vapours inducing fact that Piers Morgan factually called Larry Pratt a "stupid man".  But pay attention at the 7:30 mark where Morgan calls the Newtown mass murderer Adam Lanza "derranged" and Pratt interjects and corrects him by judging Lanza an "evil son" then goes on to justify himself by saying that "if you believe there is evil in the world you don't as your first line of defence attempt to solve psychiatrically".

OK, first, I would bet substantial money that's a theory straight outta Christian Fundie School. In a few words, Pratt rejects the science and reason that defines and codifies mental illness, let alone separates us from barbarism, and instead reclassifies it as evil. How do you protect against mentally ill evil people?

Shoot them.

Me thinks the psychiatrists should take a good look inside Pratt's head.


What Michael Kimmel says:

In the coming weeks, we’ll learn more about Adam Lanza, his motives, his particular madness. We’ll hear how he “snapped” or that he was seriously mentally ill. We’ll try to explain it by setting him apart, by distancing him from the rest of us.
And we’ll continue to miss the point. Not only are those children at Sandy Hook Elementary School our children. Adam Lanza is our child also. Of course, he was mad — as were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and Seung-Hui Cho, Jared Lee Loughner, James Eagan Holmes, and Wade Michael Page — and the ever-longer list of boys and young men who have exploded in a paroxysm of vengeful violence in recent years. In a sense, they weren’t deviants, but over-conformists to norms of masculinity that prescribe violence as a solution. Like real men, they didn’t just get mad, they got even. Until we transform that definition of manhood, this terrible equation of masculinity and violence will continue to produce such horrific sums.
I was telling a friend this morning that I think gender equality is as much about access for women and gender minorities as it is a much improved standard of behaviour from men. Kimmel's essay describes the problem acutely, much of the world suffers a toddler-manhood centred on a whinging "you're not the boss of me" narrative backed up by infantry-grade firepower.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bushmaster Man-card

Patriarchy boiled down to its stupid, terrified essentials.

Apparently [American] men need an AR-15 slung over their shoulder and a really erroneous instruction card in their wallet to explain to them how to be psychopaths men.

I sometimes think the best way to deal with rightwing is to mock them mercilessly. Man-card calls out for a piss-taking. "What, you need an wallet-sized reminder card and a gun? Are you that uncertain of your gender construction or sex AND terrified?"

Teachers and guns

Mr Z was an elementary school French teacher I had for a year. Like many French teachers in peripheral Anglo-Canadian communities, he'd probably spent decades trying to teach French to kids who mocked him without mercy for his efforts. When I got him he was old, very angry, and verbally and physically abusive. Chalk-brushes, text-books, and sometimes chairs and desks impacted the bodies and heads of 10 year old children when he'd go apoplectic. Of course, this being a Catholic school, abuse of this and darker natures was ignored or covered-up.

I hate to think what might have happened if Mr Z had been armed during one of his fits.

The assumption that for the purposes of firearms possession and use teachers are universally saintly creatures, is beyond me.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The police department logged more than 50 gunfire complaints this year through July, double the number for all of 2011, records show. Some of the complaints raised another issue. Gun enthusiasts here, as elsewhere in the country, have taken to loading their targets with an explosive called Tannerite, which detonates when bullets strike it, sending shock waves afield. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, Tannerite is legal in Connecticut, but safety concerns led Maryland this year to ban it.
Tannerite. Youtube is full of videos of idiots being anything but responsible with this stuff. 

The Gun Problem

Round about 1860 a monumental advance occured in firearms development. The metal cartridge was invented. Until then a round of small-arms ammunition consisted of a normally lead projectile, then some form of wadding, and a flammable or explosive powder ignited by a spark produced from a flint, burning cord, or percussion cap located on the outside of the weapon. Cartridges of the day sometimes wrapped all but the cap  in paper in order to make loading faster and easier. Then people got the idea of replacing the paper with metal, usually brass, and then adding a percussion cap at the end, and voila, the modern cartidge was born. Now ammunition was effectively weatherproof, durable, self-contained and safely stowable. This technological advance also allowed for new kinds of magazine-fed firearms, from hunting and target rifles, to handguns and assault rifles. The marvels of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism permitted the mass production and distribution of reliable cartridges and firearms that continues to this day.

People could now possess a device that would accurately propel a small piece of metal faster than the speed sound for purpose of killing living things from a distance. The power that represented was phenomenal. It changed warfare from set piece battles to prolonged and exponentially more lethal wars of attrition. It also allowed a person possesing one of these new devices the power of life or death over others in a way unseen in human history. A pistol fits in a pocket, a rifle over a shoulder, and allow the bearer to kill from a distance whereby the risk to themselves is minimised and the kill is or incapacitating wounding of their target or bystanders is very nearly assured.

That kind of power is incredibly seductive to a fearful-minded and untrusting tribal primate only a few evolution-years out of the caves and trees.

Somewhere along the way the possession of that power became normalised, as if Remingtons, Glocks and AR15s always existed and aren't products of culture, ingenuity, and economics. For some, the gun became part of their culture and even their indivdual identity. Some nations put them on their flags, some people insisted on the right to carry them anywhere they pleased. Governments passed laws allowing greater or lesser distribution of firearms depending on the sentiments of their varying electorates.

The narrative of the gun and the empowerment it gave the individual spread with other techologies. Cinema genres evolved around the lone gunman gunslinger fending off hoards of improbable nasties to save himself/family/children/community/country/civilisation. Live and virtual ranges were created where men and women could shoot at cardboard or computer-pixel improbable nasties.

However within all this mythmaking, real people used their gun-provided godpower to kill other real people. The ready access to firearms made it possible to walk into a workplace, a school, or a street and kill whomever one wished, while other people argued and lobbied for the 'right' that made firearms available to murderers.

The cost of 'gun-rights' are massacres, murders, and accidental deaths. Arguing for looser controls on firearms means that you're willing to accept that periodically someone is going to walking into a school or workplace and kill a lot of people. It means that somewhere some toddler is going to accidently shoot themselves or their sibling. It means that somebody's spouse is going to die after abuse or rejection.

Gun-rights also mean that small arms industries do grow to the point where economies of scale make light weapons and ammunition easily affordable in the poorest places on Earth. Places where warlords flourish and mass graves fill.

Firearms are a social attractor. They are something that members of society for differing reasons congregate around because they have value to those members. In order to limit gun violence two things need to happen. The physical attractor, guns, need to be removed from play. The second thing that must happen is the reduction in the symbolic value and therefore importance of firearms. Yes, guns are a large part of certain cultures, but cultures are not static and the things they value can and do change under the right conditions. Turning gun-fanatics into social lepers, combined with severe restrictions on firearm types, sales, and distribution will go a long way to removing their importance. It could be done in under a generation.

The gun culture of today did not exist 150, 50, or even 20 years ago. It emerged with advancements in firearms technology and the progression of culture, war, and economics that followed the metal cartridge and it can disappear when the social impacts of those developments are no longer tolerable. It does not have exist 20 years from now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Epigenetic Key . . .

HOW HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR arises has been a mystery. According to an article by George Dvorsky in io9, "Scientists claim that homosexuality is not genetic — but it arises in the womb", as the endocrine system copes with operational life. Fascinating, click on the link to find out more.

A team of international researchers has completed a study that suggests we will probably never find a ‘gay gene.' Sexual orientation is not about genetics, say the researchers, it's about epigenetics. This is the process where DNA expression is influenced by any number of external factors in the environment. And in the case of homosexuality, the researchers argue, the environment is the womb itself.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Human behavior . . .

HUMAN MOTIVATION is incredibly complex. Attempts to tweek with it are invariably mis-directed. Esther Inglis-Arkell's article at io9, "The lasting mystery of the Hawthorne Effect" is worthy of  attention.

The Hawthorne Effect is cited by both business experts and psychology experts, but rarely in the same way. Some say it's real, some that it's real but misinterpreted, and then others that it doesn't exist and never has. It all started with an attempt to increase productivity at a factory in the 1920s, and we've been arguing about it ever since. 

The story of the Hawthorne Effect begins in the 1920s, when productivity studies began at the Hawthorne Works electrical equipment factory in Illinois. They continued for the better part of a decade, with investigators tweaking nearly every aspect of working life.

— The Home Office —

Friday, December 14, 2012

Right to work . . .

RIGHT TO WORK got its start in Texas in the early 1940's. It's the malignant creation of a particularly odious American, Vance Muse. According to Mark Ames at Not Safe For Work Corporation, in an article "You Hate "Right To Work" Laws More Than You Know. Here's Why", Vance Muse was quite a piece of work. Click on the link to get a fascinating explanation of the rise of the fascist Right in America.

Vance Muse was a racist political operative and lobbyist from the state of Texas — the native habitat for all America’s vermin —as Satanically vile as "Turd Blossom" Rove, a racist smear-peddler like Andrew Breitbart, only without Breitbart’s degenerate heart and fondness for blow.

Here is a description of Vance Muse, creator of the "right to work" movement, from a book by an old celebrated journalist, Stetson Kennedy, the reporter who famously went undercover inside the KKK and wrote a tell-all in the 40’s:
"The man Muse is quite a character. He is six foot four, wears a ten-gallon hat, but generally reserves his cowboy boots for trips Nawth. Now over fifty [this is published in 1946—M.A.], Muse has been professionally engaged in reactionary enterprises for more than a quarter of a century."

Among Vance Muse’s "reactionary enterprises": He lobbied against women’s suffrage, against the child-labor amendment, against the 8-hour workday, and in 1936, Muse engineered the first split in the South’s Democratic Party by peeling off the segregationists and racists from the New Deal party, a political maneuver that eventually led to Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, and at last a Republican right-wing takeover of the South, and with it, the collapse of the old New Deal coalition. Which worked out fine for Vance Muse, since he was a covert Republican himself, serving "for years" as the Republican Party state treasurer in Texas.

• • •

To understand why Fred Koch and the Bircher libertarians hated Ike so much, imagine today a Republican like Eisenhower who raised the top marginal tax rate to 91%, who poured massive government investments into building roads and schools, who publicly declared his support for Social Security and denounced any Republican who opposed it

Is it any wonder that the Right has a problem with Obama?


Nothing good ultimately comes from firearms.
Millions of human beings in the global South slaughter each other and innocents because of ready access of weapons and ammunition.

People, ill and 'sane' in the global North kill each other in smaller numbers and intellectualise the debate over the right to own and carry guns.

As if a device designed to kill living things, most often people, really deserves a place in our world.

"Responsible gun owners" are exactly that until the day they aren't. I suggest that any truly responsible gun owner would be campaigning to ban the things.

Hunters? Single shot rifles or shotguns are all you need. Or bow. Because you shouldn't be taking the shot if you think you need more in the magazine. 

Military and armed police? There'd be little use for your weapons in a disarmed world. 

Enough already.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Great military men

“He is neither a strategist nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general. Other than that he's a great military man” said US 

[Apologies of the formatting on this post appears weird. Blogger seems to have having issues.]


General Norman Schwarzkopf on Saddam Hussein during the 1991 war, but he might has well have been describing the US military-industrial complex as a man. Brian 

Stewart has an opinion piece up on CBC, where he details what the F-35 fiasco means for the US military and overal US global influence. 

In a nutshell, Stewart describes a US military industrial complex that has priced itself out the game. The F-35 represents a point just past the limit of design feasibility and cost-effectiveness. Seduced by US and Lockheed-Martin lobbying, many of the Western governments and air forces fell for a design they could not afford then and definitely cannot afford now. Yet, this was probably a forgone conclusion at somepoint if not now with this particular aeroplane. The US beat the Soviets by outspending them, in the meantime, as Steward suggests, stimulated an arms industry produced more and more sophisticated designs at higher and higher costs. It would eventually invent and price itself out of the game and turn itself into a strategic obstacle to US and its allies.


Because with all the technological superiority came hubris and narrow-sightedness. The military and politicians convinced they could solve complex foreign policy problems with laser-guided bombs dropped from large-package coalition air assaults supporting or in lieu of the most heavily armed and armoured ground forces in the history of the world. The tech made them stupid and once, twice, thrice, from Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan they through the most masses of the most sophisticated armed forces in the world at small groups of lightly armed locals in sandals and had their strategic clocks cleaned. The Communists outright won in Vietnam. Iraq eventually through the Americans out and is still in the throes of factional violence. Afghanistan is a decade old now has actual "fighting seasons" as its NATO trained national army slow disintegrates, US allies make for the exits, and the politicians are still killing Taleban and remaining NATO soldiers on the same roads they were killing them half a decade ago. 

The Western military-industrial complex and its subservient politicians and generals has produced people who know how to organise militaries and deploy and coordinate advanced weapon systems in deadly fashion. It has produced operational technologists and technicians, but it has not produced strategists and artists who know the limits of their tools and thinking. Great military men indeed, but none simply great.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Land of the free . . .

ACCORDING TO ZERO HEDGE'S George Washington, "Americans Have Less Access to Justice than Botswanans … And Are More Abused By Police than Kazakhstanis", America is now Amerika with State Security.

Genetic patents . . .

MONSANTO'S MONSTROSITIES? Seems that Monsanto has been really pushy about patents, with the result that WIRED reports "Supreme Court to Rule on Patents for Self-Replicating Products", as people have resisted Monsanto's demands for payment because some of their patented seeds have spread to their crops.

The Supreme Court is weighing in on the soybean patents, agreeing to hear an appeal by a Knox County, Indiana soybean farmer who was ordered to pay $84,456 in damages and costs to Monsanto in 2009 for infringing those patents.

Farmer Vernon Bowman’s dirty deed? The 74-year-old bought soybean seed from a local grain elevator that was contaminated with the patented seed, which he used to produce beans on his 299 acres.

There's a lot at stake here, for Monsanto and other corporations, including Big Pharma.


And maybe even more important, because according to WIRED, "Supreme Court to Decide if Human Genes Are Patentable". That could mean that you might not own some part of what makes you you.  Given Monsanto's track record, that's not impossible to imagine. Could be worse, though, like Orson Scott Card's "I Put My Blue Genes On" or the genetic slavery envisioned by SF authors like Frank Herbert or Eric Weber.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Syria squeeze

NATO SAM batteries in Turkey, near enough to the border to knock down Syrian aircraft operating there, US talk about chemical weapon redlines, hints of troop deployments mean something is shifting in the West's approach to the Syrian government. No, I don't think it will be full on Iraq-type invasion but or a Libya-style air campaign. Syria is bigger and badder and actually has chemical and biological weapons which mean the potential for massive casualites among NATO troops should they get involved.

However, placing surface to air missiles in range of Syrian air force operations can have a dampening effect on those strikes. What I suspect is happening is a policy of forceful nudges with an aim to decisively tip the conflict in favour of the rebels.

Didn't see that coming...

Watching events around the new Observer status granted to Palestine at the UN it struck that only real international ally the Israeli rightwing has is the Canadian government. Sure the US continues to provide the Israel material support, but the Obama administration is also frustrated by the petulence of the current Israeli government.

Peace between Palestine and Israel is ultimately in the US interest and the US will begrudgingly support Israel when it acts unilaterally.

Baird and Harper on the other hand, are star-struck teenagers. I'm left wondering just what they'd do if Israel voted in a more liberal government?

Unfriend them on diplomatic facebook? Whimper into their pillows?


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cybercrime . . .

BANK ROBBERS FOR HIRE. According to KrebsonSecurity"Online Service Offers Bank Robbers for Hire", these are North American operations.

The service, advertised on exclusive, Russian-language forums that cater to cybercrooks, claims to have willing and ready foot soldiers for hire in California, Florida, Illinois and New York.