Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Do So Few Scientists Belong to the GOP? ANS: They HATE Dummies & Zealots!

As this WSJ  article from 2012 shows, the bulk of free market -brainwashed puppets are those that refuse to accept man-made climate change, global warming. This is driving real scientists away .

The issue has surfaced, in a recent report, that barely 6% of scientists belong to the GOOPr party. Some people want to know how this can be and others (critics) insist it's just that the terrible media (largely Neoliberal and free-market, war worshipping) paint the poor lil Goops as "more anti-science than they really are". Oh REALLY? I seem to recall during the Repuke debates last year, when the question was asked of the 'puke candidates if any accepted evolution, not one raised a hand! You call that painting them as more anti-science than they are!?

Another aspect that infuriates physical scientists (and which can be repeatedly seen in letters appearing in Physics Today) is the GOOPr questioning of  climate change. This alone has plausibly driven away thousands of climate scientists, as well as physicists and astronomers who essentially say they “just don’t get those people.”

Enter one Barry Bickmore, professor of geology at Brigham Young University and a  one-time Republican convention delegate for the state of Utah.. Bickmore told The Salt Lake Tribune that :

my party is increasingly ruled by zealots and a demand for ‘ideological purity’ that turns off scientists.”

Duh! If it's one thing scientists detest it's zealots who appeal to either ideology or religion to attempt to insist their "models" of the cosmos or its origin are the only right ones.  Ok, so none of this is exactly news, but it is a major change from the past when the proportion of scientists was almost evenly split. The Tribune, for its part,  dedicates a lot of thought to what could be driving the rift, which is especially visible in red states. The discomfort, evidently, is mutual:
One theory goes that conservatives tend toward a single-minded, “authoritarian” world view, so they are less comfortable with the uncertainty that’s built into the practice of science.
The above is spot -on. Examine any born or bred authoritarian, of whatever stripe, and you will find someone who detests intellect, free inquiry and higher education or abstract research that exposes human beliefs as false. These authoritarian types, if they only had their way, would doubtless put all questioning scientists back on the rack or even burn them alive. They hate questioning, and they regard it as impudence or disrespect. Needless to say, none of them have any place in any scientific field. They are better suited to being military intelligence officers (note the oxymoron there), bible punchers, G-men or CIA water-boarders.

An even more interesting take (ibid.):
Another hypothesis holds that the stauncher someone is about free-market economics, the more likely they are to see conspiracies in science, such as NASA faked the moon landing, there’s no proof cigarette smoking causes cancer and climate change is a hoax.

This actually dovetails with a tendency I noted before, called agnotology - which free marketeers practice to a fault - in order to protect their free market idiom and economy!  Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor has correctly tied it to the trend of skeptic science sown deliberately and for political or economic ends . In other words, the supporters of agnotology - whoever they may be- are all committed to one end: destroying the science to enable economic profit and hence planetary ruin. Proctor also notes these special interests are often paid handsomely to sow immense confusion on the issue.

A perfect example of what I am writing about is depicted in the graphic shown, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal last January.  The piece claimed to be "signed by 16 scientists at the end of the article". Before getting to some of their bollocks, let us inquire into exactly WHO these people are. Do they have the gravitas or the disputative basis of real climate scientists? Going through the list, one found:

Jan Breslow: Head of Biogenetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University

Edward David: Member, National Academy of Engineering

Michael Kelly, Professor of Technology, Univ. of Cambridge

Richard Lindzen, prof. of atmospheric sciences, MIT

James McGrath, prof. of Chemistry, Virginia Technical University

Bert Rutan, aerospace engineer

Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut

Nir Shaviv, prof. of astrophysics, Hebrew University

The only marginal climate scientist in the lot is Lindzen,  and I already lambasted his drivel in earlier blogs:

But this is the type of phony setup that free-market pandering media employ to try to make the unwary or gullible believe: i.e. that most of academic science is on the side of the doubters, deniers. This is exactly the worst aspect of agnotology.

In many of my past  blogs I've repeatedly cited the actual results from REAL climate scientists, as opposed to pretenders. Specifically, I've referenced the scientific consensus on global warming reported in Eos Transactions, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22, by P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman found that (p. 24) :

the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

In their analytic survey for which 3146 climate and Earth scientists responded, a full 96.2% of specialists concurred temperatures have steadily risen and there is no evidence for cooling. Meanwhile, 97.4% concur there is a definite role of humans in global climate change.

The authors concluded (p. 24) :

The challenge appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact (non-existent debate among real climate specialists) to policy makers and a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate exists among scientists

The problem, of course, is that so long as a few pseudo-climate scientists are given large header displays and article space in the likes of The Wall Street Journal, this perception problem will continue and many people will mistake the views of these pretenders for those of actual climate scientists.

In the meantime, the reason so few scientists belong to the GOP ought to be obvious: they detest liars and zealots more invested in protecting a perverse economic system than in accepting scientific truths.

YES! Give Those Fast Food Workers A Living Wage!

The workers in the photo are upset and on strike, as they have every  right to be. Their wages are pathetic, most at a $7.25/hr minimum wage, and as one explained on an ABC News segment two nights ago (to finance reporter Rebecca Jarvis) there is no way they can survive on such pay, or feed a family or pay rent and medical bills. The worker then looked Jarvis in the eyes and asked her: "You put yourself in my place. How would you get through?" Jarvis could only blink a few times before cutting away, back to Dianne Sawyer in the studio.

Look, this is serious shit, especially as we approach Labor Day. It is not fodder by which to make insipid sport, say by posting images on a hate blog showing a person dressed in a fast food uniform (which could have come from anywhere)  spitting on food and then using that as a basis to piss on them and argue they deserve nothing. That sort of shtick is the sign of sick mind. One that needs ECT or perhaps a neural implant to ameliorate whacko tendencies.

These morons, also profoundly ignorant (but likely derived from their moron IQ status)  insist that fast food industry workers are the dummies because, hey, the job is supposed to be "entry level" only! DOH!  Well, tell that to the hundreds of Intel and other tech workers in Colo. Springs who were all tossed out of their jobs back in 2004-05  (due to companies closing or moving operations overseas) and are now working at Safeway, Burger King, KFC, McDonald's and Chili's. Their wages now, most of them, are barely one third what they used to earn. With it, the fortunes of the city itself have plummeted since obviously less is collected in taxes, and city services have also declined. Hence the stories people across the U.S. heard the past two years of COS turning off street lights, shuttering schools and allowing the weeds to grow to monstrous proportions on meridians and other public places.

The backstory here? Evidently, the loss of 15 million American jobs via globalization hasn't been processed by the dummies who still believe fast food jobs are "entry level". Newsflash! Fast food jobs, along with other service jobs (as waitresses etc. with a $2.13 /hr minimum wage and only tips to live off) are now the working NORM!   Because the jobs pyramid has collapsed, especially since the financial meltdown in 2008, these are the about the only jobs people (including many recent college grads) can get!

This also explains why, as noted in a July 29 Denver Post article:

"Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in government data, engulfing more than 76% of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge to be published next year in the Oxford University Press."

The Post article noted that "measured across all races" the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79% or nearly 4 in 5. Pardon me, but this indicates a nation of rising inequality and the degradation of most citizens in terms of their economic welfare. One of the reasons is that there are now too few decent paying jobs, by which I mean, paying a living wage - not a minimum wage. This is not adequate to raise  a family on and indeed it is one of the factors creating government dependency that the Rightist deplore.

But they can't have it both ways! If the Rightists scream and yowl at any proposed increase in the minimum wage - yes to at least $15 an hour- they can't also scream and yowl about the increasing use of food stamps!  Obviously, people -families have to eat and if $7.25/hr is inadequate to feed a family then they are going to have to get food stamps to make it to the end of the month! (Indeed, this is one of the strategies McDonald's, for example, recommends, in order to "make ends meet."  Meanwhile, Walmart offers advice on how to secure gov't health insurance via assorted programs such as SCHIP.)

To read some of the Righties' screeds you'd think jobs grew on trees (or fell from the skies), and upward mobility is just a matter of will - not that there is a remaining deficit of some 8 million jobs - which explains why so few college grads are able to pay off their student loan debts. Newsflash! They can't find jobs that pay the rent, provide food and also pay off loans on $8.50- 9.25/hour!

Yes, I also worked at a fast food place (Jackie Gleason's Restaurant in Miami, FL) busing tables - removing refuse such as half-eaten "Norton's hot dogs",  but that was in between quarters at the University of South Florida.  The pay was $1.60 /hour but whatever I saved from the job was ample to pay for my in-state tuition and textbooks. Today, that same type of job has now become a permanent fixture of our service economy and it is the service jobs that dominate. Then assorted idiots wonder why the spending of the American "consumer" has declined in recent years. (Never mind that corporations that could create extra jobs are still sitting on over $1.7 trillion in capital).

As for the claim that increasing fast food workers' wages would increase prices, that also is essentially  bollocks, since the Economy Policy Institute has found the increase would be minimal and not kill any fast food addict's budget.  As an example, your bare bones special "dollar burger" from the BK  "Dollar menu" would go up to maybe $1.25. Big freakin' deal! Look, if you can afford a buck you can sure as shit also afford a buck twenty-five. NO one in his right mind is going to argue and tell me that a paltry 25 cents will spell the difference between buying the damned burger and not buying it!

It is time fast food workers catch a break and their wages are increased to a living wage. They will then be able to buy more -  propping up the sagging economy and stimulating aggregate demand - and they won't have to go on food stamps! Even a moron ought to be able to grasp that!

The U.S. Lacks The Moral Authority to Launch Any Unilateral Attack

"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough—more than enough—of war and hate and oppression."- John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963 (Speech at American University)

"Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone" -  John 8:7

Is the U.S. "without sin" in the sense that it has any moral authority to "cast the first stone" in a unilateral attack on Syria? Hardly! The problem is most Americans are too forgetful of past hideous U.S. war crimes.

Yes, you heard that correctly! The exasperating thing about the U.S. to a citizen invested in its adherence to its own principles, is the recurring hypocrisy and double standards. Case in point is "the war on terror".  While the Bushistas marked al Qaeda as the supremo terrorists in the world, they had no problem pardoning the perpetrators (or letting them off on less serious crimes) of the most horrific terror episode before 9/11: the bombing of Cubana Arlines Flight CU-455 off the coast of Barbados. This is personal to me, because I was there on Paradise Beach on Oct. 6, 1976 with my 5 nieces. I won't even begin to describe the blood and horrors we beheld but I warrant they far exceeded what any smarmy ass hate blogger claims he saw in the Army or Marines. In fact, I will bet he didn't see any blood at all as a cook and bottle washer. Wait! On second thought, they probably did see some blood after accidentally cutting a fat paw whle slicing tomatoes!

Anyway, last night on Chris Hayes'  'All In', Amy Goodman reminded memory -challenged Americans of our own violations of international norms over the years. She thereby showed that unless we have adhered impeccably to our own standards we have no business hectoring or lecturing other nations on right or wrong. And certainly not launching any unilateral attacks based on the presumption WE are the unsullied moral guardians, or police of the planet! She listed a number of examples, including:

- The use of napalm and Agent orange during the Vietnam war (itself an illegal operation based on LBJ exploiting a bogus attack which was itself provoked by the U.S.)

In the case of those two horrendous chemicals, and for those who don't know:

"napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline. This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing. “Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.” Kim Phúc sustained third degree burns to portions of her body. She was one of the only survivors of such extreme measures "

The preceding is from the website:

Is anyone in his or her right mind going to now claim - based on the above description- that napalm is less terrible than the nerve agents Kerry claims were used on a Syrian opposition enclave? If so, believe me, that's an argument you do not wish to get into!

What about Agent Orange? According to the same site:

"Agent Orange is a toxic chemical herbicide that was used from about 1965 – 1970 in the Vietnam War. It was one of the main mixtures used during Operation Ranch Hand. Operation Ranch Hand was intended to deprive Vietnamese farmers and guerilla fighters of clean food and water in hopes they would relocate to areas more heavily controlled by the U.S. By the end of the operation over twenty million gallons of herbicides and defoliants were sprayed over forests and fields."
 Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over 4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to Agent Orange.
    Agent Orange was later determined to be in violation of the Geneva Contract".

The problem again, is too many Americans, including Presidents, are oblivious to our own bloody history in violating international norms and standards which, if they knew or took them to heart- would halt them from their own precipitous actions violating such norms.

Amy then referenced how the U.S. in the 1980s, not only dispatched nerve agents to Saddam (when he was still a useful pal) but actually helped him target Iranians - giving him the coordinates- during the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

Finally, Amy referenced the horrific use of white phosphorus in Fallujah, Iraq  e.g.

Laughably, critics of the preceding as well as the film Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre , try to argue that white phosphorus is not considered a "chemical weapon" under the Chemical Weapons Convention but an incendiary weapon . Oh, OH, excuse the hell out of me! So then it's preferable to be burned alive than gassed? Give me a break!  Again, we have irrational, baseless and skewed arguments that seek to analogously invoke the  egregious ruse of "picking gnat shit out of pepper" (according to one famous quote by former congressman Hale Boggs, referring to the inconsistencies in the Warren Commission Report).

JFK warned in his June 10, 1963 speech at American University (See  ) that no kind of peace could be forced on the world using American weapons of war. Yet since his speech, the U.S. has progressively adopted the role of planetary cop and done just that, often invoking bogus "laws" or "war resolutions" to justify unilateral action outside the UN or even congress.

Among the key excerpts more Americans (and American Presidents!) need to take to heart:

"What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time."

"First  examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."

We have no business, not with our sordid past of numerous violations of international norms,  of launching any unilateral attacks on any country  - no matter what the excuse or rationalization. Obama would do well to consider that before issuing the go ahead for an attack that may escalate to the point we may all regret it!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brits Say 'NO!' to Syria Strike: NO Fake "Coalitions" This Time

William Rivers Pitt's picture
William Rivers Pitt: concludes that attacking Syria would be one of the stupidest acts U.S. militarists could do, even with a fake coalition. I agree.

"Surely it is a basic principle that evidence precedes decision, not that decision precedes evidence!"- Edward Milibrand, British Opposition Leader yesterday

The British, stung once by bogus "WMD" crappola (by Tony Blair and Dumbya Bush) before the illegal Iraq invasion, are not about to be played again: "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me." Well, they won't be made fools of again.  And who can forget Colin Powell volunteering for the Bushistas' 'dog and pony' show at the UN where he trotted out alleged photos showing missiles and chemical weapons stores. Obviously, trying to emulate the actual U2 spy photos from October, 1962 that really showed Russian missiles in Cuba.

Well, that dog won't hunt again! Brit PM David Cameron had to accept defeat with the parliamentary vote yesterday, though he said he wouldn't apologize to Obama. Why should he? It was a democratic vote, something this country has long forgotten since awarding carte blanche power to the commander-in -chief to single handedly launch aggressive strikes via the misbegotten "war resolution" bunkum passed during Bush II's first term (after 9/11 when the whole nation was in the grip of hysteria and fear). All while a pussified congress rolled over like beaten whelps, as they did with the egregious "Patriot Act".

Now, of course, having found some measure of testosterone, congress seems to be demanding to have a say and final authorization for any military action. Well, a tad too late, wouldn't you say - given you allowed your "oversight" to lapse on so many other major "laws" that were executive driven?

Obama, meanwhile, having somehow been converted to a "Bush" clone over the past 5 years, seems to want to dive in, cruise missiles blazing. But make no mistake that misfired or misguided cruise missiles could kill as many as the recent chemical attack on Damascenes. Another worry, Russian warships are ominously reported to be steering toward the Syrian coast.  Does Obama really want to risk an altercation with the Russians that could get out of control? (Let us recall that Syria is a primary client state of Russia and Russia has major defense and other investments there - they won't just stand by while Uncle Sam unleashes dozens of missiles!)

Blogger, writer William Rivers Pitt, in his article: 'War on Syria:Twenty Pounds of Stupid in a Ten Pound Bag', notes the level of folly involved in barging in there alone, no matter what specious "lawful" pretext is found, or what phony "rhetorical coalitions" are invoked. He writes:

"I'm just going to throw this out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up: instead of attacking Syria, how about we don't attack Syria?

Crazy, I know; this is America, after all, and our presidents like nothing more than to flip a few cruise missiles at other countries, combined with a few bombing sorties for good measure, because it's a hell of a lot easier than actual statecraft. Besides, it looks good on television, and all those meanies in Congress can't accuse the Commander in Chief of not doing anything. Oh, also, cruise missiles and bombs cost a lot, so if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely.

What ho, this we call "diplomacy," right?

Flatten a few buildings, blow some children sideways out of their kitchens during breakfast, take a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk shows...what could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

He goes on to note that unlike the Iraq debacle (which violated Nuremberg Principle VI against pre-emptive war) , there does seem to be fairly impressive  evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used in Syria. Doctors Without Borders seems pretty convinced it happened, "despite the fact that the use of such weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, given the fickle nature of chemical weapons and how closely concentrated his own forces were near the area of the attack."

Which introduces the possibility  - not to be too hastily dismissed - that the rebels themselves (likely al Qaeda elements within them) staged a "false flag" operation using these nerve agents to try and lure the U.S. into the mess. Unreal? Maybe, but not outside of the realm of possibility - and given how al Qaeda under bin Laden made no bones about the fact their prime objective is to bankrupt our nation with military expenses. So we need to tread carefully, not barge in, missiles blazing as the necrophilious would have us do. One must ask the question, 'Cui bono?' - who benefits?

Now, what if the UN inspectors find evidence: a) there was indeed a chemical attack, and b) the munitions used originated with the Syrian army? Then, enormous pressure will be brought to bear on President Obama to "punish" the Assad regime with a military attack of some kind. Obama himself may also be his own worst enemy, as he's too aware of too many of his past "red line in the sand" comments  - so may worry he will be perceived as weak if he makes no move. But this sort of action on the basis or maintaining bravado and appearances is a bad move and not likely to bring positive results.

William Rivers Pitt again, on why - no matter what the UN inspectors find- it's not a wise move to attack Syria even in a "limited" fashion:
" The short version of why such a course of action is an invitation to catastrophe: Syria is no paper tiger, and is very much capable of both defending itself as well as attacking American interests in the region if provoked. Syria and Iran are strategic allies and are pledged to each other's mutual defense, which means all the Iranian missile sites in the mountains above the Persian Gulf coast could launch their missiles in retaliation...and those Iranian missiles, by the by, are advanced enough to spoof Aegis radar systems, which means thousands of American service members currently manning our warships in the Gulf could very quickly be delivered into a watery grave.

Russia is also a staunch ally of Syria, and could also be provoked into getting involved by backing Assad even more forcefully than they have to date. In essence, any attack on Syria could quickly escalate into a full-scale war that would further destabilize the region and quite probably lead to the kind of conflagration found in the last chapter of the Bible."

Another reason there's little upside is that Obama himself has conceded he's not after "regime change". Then what's the point? Any attack of the type contemplated will plausibly just enrage Assad's forces and make more chemical attacks likely - assuming he did them at all. After all, the planned strikes are not even against the chemical weapon storage depots - but rather the "supporting transport sites". Big deal! What if they miss and strike a school? What if a cruise missile goes awry and hits a Russian warship by mistake? All sorts of unintended consequences can transpire! Obama needs to be fully aware of them before taking any action.

Mr. Obama would do well to emulate John F. Kennedy in the most intense days of the October, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when his Joint Chiefs  - including Gen. Curtis LeMay - tried to pressure him into bombing Cuba and invading it. JFK stood back, examined the consequences, saw the folly of the move and resisted. Good thing he did since, as his former defense secretary Robert McNamara noted in a 1993 interview, had he committed such a precipitous action, some 93 odd nuclear -loaded IRBMs would have struck the eastern U.S. and we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Now is the time for Obama to resist the Siren songs and pleas of the military industrial complex. Do we have his "back"? Yes, IF he resists and doesn't succumb to military foolishness that could have dire consequences for us all.

Make no mistake the Syrian situation is dicey, but that means there are no easy answers. Yes, the apparent nerve gas attack on Syrian civilians was vile, but killing 1,000 more as collateral damage, to "teach a lesson" for the chemical killing of the earlier 1,000 is not exactly the epitome of logic., sobriety or judicious leadership.

What is really needed here? A full UN Resolution allowing action, not a unilateral, Pax Americana mission! If the UN Resolution is not forthcoming - then no action can be allowed. There has to be more this time than a flimsy rhetorical cover. The possible consequences are too horrendous to agree to anything else. The U.S. -lone  superpower or not - must be accountable to a higher organization, and that's what the UN was set up to be!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are Some People Destined to Be HATERS? It Seems So!

Image put up on a hater's blog some time after Obama was re-elected.

The issue of people who compulsively hate, everything and virtually everyone (including family members, siblings, relatives) is a puzzle that has confounded psychology for many decades. Why is it some people are loving and nurturing almost from birth, and others are terrifyingly hateful - spewing venom and invective with almost every communication?

It appears Scientists believe they've discovered the answer to one of the questions that has plagued societies for millenia: Are haters gonna hate? Researchers have shown that indeed some people have a disposition to hate everything.

But this isn't really that novel, and Harvey A. Hornstein in his monograph: 'Cruelty & Kindness: A New Look At Aggression and Altruism' revealed the psychological basis for compulsive hatred more than three decades ago. He actually tied it to a very specific character profile.

Hornstein' research exposed what he called the "necrophilious character" - basically a lover of death, war, fighting and mayhem. He relishes death, dead bodies, broken limbs and worships any act that engenders them from war to mass shootings. He prides himself on a false machismo and often may have had military service, but oddly not on any front lines, more in the back - say as a cook or supply person. But that doesn't seem to matter. He proudly declares himself a "real man" (not any "sissy") because he has been near to death and isn't afraid. By his narrative he'd have you believe he'd have slaughtered all the Viet Cong single-handedly if he'd had the chance.

In truth, he loves the necrotic. As Hornstein put it (p. 34):

"They are passionately attracted to all that is harsh, dead, and decaying - and have a desire to transform that which is alive to that which is not alive."

They also detest with a passion anyone who is "biophilous" (a lover of life and service, volunteering etc) because they are seen to be "weaker" compared to the sort of people they admire: the cruel, the merciless, the heartless, the racially bigoted, and  the overall intolerant  (of "ragheads", "gooks", "apes", "homos", women - dissed as "c*nts" - and anyone else too different from themselves. This led Erich Fromm, for example, to classify humans into two groups: the biophils and necrophils. The former would tend to a constructive bent and go into professions that are life affirming, including teaching, medicine and the like. If they serve they'd choose a non-militaristic form such as Peace Corps. The latter would go into forms of work that often demean or demean others: prison guards, military and the like or sign on as torturers, say to waterboard prisoners or rendition them.

The most hateful and necrophilous characters chose to destroy only for the sake of destruction and became like the recently convicted Sgt. Robert Bales -  who massacred innocent Afghan women and children - or a mass killer like Andrew Brevik, or a serial killer, say like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy.

Hornstein went on to point out (ibid.) that these necrophilious people - since they detested altruism, benevolence and concern for others - would never volunteer for anything life affirming  -whether Peace Corps, or even helping out at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. In fact, because of their hatred, they'd rather see anyone they regarded as inferior or non-human as dead.  More likely, they'd volunteer to drop bombs on hapless civilians in foreign lands, or as Bill Maher once put it: "blow up any country with too many brown, black or yellow people". Then, on coming home, they'd pound their chests and declare themselves "patriots".

Early childhood experience, according to Hornstein, often also imprints its permanent necrophil character mark. For example,  if as a child the vulnerable little person was battered, paddled or strapped, he'd likely absorb the hatred perceived in the authoritarian disciplinarian and begin to adopt the authoritarian bearing himself. This bearing and attitude would then  be displayed as hatred toward anyone viewed to "need discipline" such as: free thinkers, hippies, women's liberation proponents,  civic protestors, MJ smokers (or just MJ law proponents) or anyone prepared to use their own minds as opposed to merely following orders.

The worst case would be for the more formative necrophil to find himself in a situation where either he was subjected to constant abuse (say in a military boot camp) or he assumed authority to mete it out on others.

Hornstein, alas, saw no way out for these haters because in the end  their only putative solution, love, was also denied to them. They saw everyone only as an enemy, except maybe their closest family members.  According to both Hornstein and Fromm, until love and tolerance entered the lives of haters, human hatred would remain an inescapable part of human life.

Broncos' Fans - Petulant and Whining as Ravens' Banners Go Up in Denver

Joe Flacco poster hangs in Bronco land
What Broncs' fans are crying over: Giant Joe Flacco Billboard near entrance to Broncos' Stadium

The Denver Broncos' fans are miserable, whining and they aren't going to take it anymore! Not after Baltimore Ravens' QB banners have appeared all over Denver's 16th Street Mall and a giant billboard stands outside Sports Authority Field.  (This is in preparation for the NFL kickoff  game on Sept. 5th between the Ravens and Broncos.) OH BWWAAHAHHHHAAA! Give 'em their sippy cups and change their nappies!

In an interview with Denver radio station 850 KOA, Broncos'  quarterback Peyton Manning said "it doesn't seem like it makes sense that the Denver Broncos have to have an opposing player on their stadium."

Errrrrr....YES it does, Peyton! Because this game originally was designated a BALTIMORE home opener! Not a Denver home opener! (See below).

Via Twitter,  rabid pony fan Vanessa Park wrote: "The fact that there are Joe Flacco posters on the 16th Street Mall is just unbelievable. Marketing fail by the NFL. Way to make people angry!"

Aw, cry me a river!

Another irate  Broncos' fan named Rachel Nicole wrote: "Why in the hell are there Joe Flacco posters all over downtown Denver? Pretty sure he's one of the most hated people in this city."

Rachel, listen while I play the sounds of the world's smallest violin, to the accompaniment of your veil of tears.....mmrmeeoooowooeeoooaooeoooeooowwiiaaah...ouch!

Yeppers, all those whining Broncos' fans recall that double-overtime victory in the AFC divisional-round playoffs where Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones at the end of regulation behind flailing Broncos safety Rahim Moore. To see a Broncos' fan  'screaming Mimi' losing it over the tying Raven TD at the end of regulation, check out:

Recall that before that game the hyper-delusional Denver Post sports writers were flapping their gums non-stop on how the Ravens and Ray Lewis would be handed their heads. A few of the offhand comments of the worst offender, Mark Kiszla:

“It’s high time to send Ray Lewis into retirement as a loser!” -  Mark Kiszla, Denver Post, p. 1C, 1/6/13

“The Baltimore Ravens are about as terrifying as parakeets.” -          Mark Kiszla, Denver Post, 1/10/13

“Advice to Broncos: Take the football, give it to Peyton Manning and let Manning shove it down the throat of linebacker Ray Lewis and that over-the-hill Baltimore Defense.”- Kiszla, Denver Post, Jan. 13 column

Despite all that bravado and fulsome bloviating, the Ravens took the game, then went on to beat the Patriots and Niners - showing they are perhaps the toughest team in the NFL. Their smackdown, smack talk, edgy attitude is part of that because they aren't choir boys and take no shit. And they aren't awed or overrun by any QB - whether Manning, Brady or Kaepernick! That said, it's the NFL and its marketing arm sponsored by the league and Pepsi that put up the banners.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy noted on Twitter via this photo, there are huge banners of both Flacco and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning up at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
And there are more signs promoting the rematch at Times Square in New York, via this photo.

It's not as if the Ravens or Flacco have invaded the Broncos' turf and posted these banners independently. It's part of the NFL's marketing plan.

Let's get one other thing straight here, for the benefit of the exercised Ponies' fans: The NFL owes Baltimore and the Ravens LOTS of promotion, even on enemy territory!  How so? Because traditionally the NFL seasonal kickoff game is played on the turf of the Super Bowl winning team.

The problem is that the Sunday opener was in "collision mode" with a home game of the city's baseball team,  the Baltimore Orioles. Despite the fact the Ravens play at a different stadium (M & T Bank Stadium) the traffic congestion in the city would have been a nightmare with over 120,000 people piling out of two stadiums. The Ravens appealed to the NFL to have the game moved to Wednesday, Sept. 4th - to preserve the home opener advantage - but the NFL denied this request on the excuse that the date was a "Jewish holiday". (Never mind that they have absolutely NO problem playing games on Christmas Day!)

This left only the Thursday, the 5th but this also was an Orioles' game date so the NFL shifted (for the first time) the opener to enemy territory: Denver!  Having done that, the NFL owes it to Ravens' fans to make the accommodations as Raven-fan friendly as possible. Hell, as wifey suggested, they damned well ought to be selling Ravens' gear in the Broncos' stadium too, as well as Baltimore style pit beef sandwiches.

What do WE plan to do? Watch it from home fortified with plenty of brats and chicken wings! You need lots of great food when gearing up to see the Ponies bite the dust again!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Chutzpah of Racist White Trash Yahoos Knows NO Bounds!

Even as some misguided GOOPr morons and white racist asses attempt to “boycott” the excellent film ‘The Butler’ (too late, you dolts!) on the basis of being “anti-American” (because Jane Fonda plays Nancy Reagan) a reminder has surfaced that racism remains as strong as ever in this country

This with an incident at a Charleston, SC restaurant called “Wild Wings Cafe” , where 25 black family members were chased out because one lone white trash woman (of clearly questionable intelligence) claimed she felt “threatened” by the group. Aw, boo hoo hoo, missy. Here’s a piece of advice then: better not go to Barbados where you will find ALL the customers are black.

How the hell could this occur in this day and age, when we supposedly left the Jim Crow past behind, in the South? Well, the logical reason is that too many haven’t heard the news that the Jim Crow laws went out with the Civil Rights Act! Also, maybe the establishment that forced the African-American family out needs to be forced to watch ‘The Butler’ (along with a certain cretin fake Confederate asshole) to see just what went down at multiple lunch counters in the South some 50 years ago.

Turning peaceable folk away who just wanted some food, on the basis of “feeling threatened”? Threatened of WHAT? A spontaneous riot? Violence? Any such feeling must therefore clearly be at the root of a primeval racist reaction – which paranoia NO restaurant should honor or succumb to. The correct reaction here? The rational one?

“Lady, we are sorry you feel the way you do, but we aren’t going to turn away 25 customers because you are suffering from paranoid schizophrenia,”

According to WNEM Channel 5 in Charleston, Michael Brown stood up to the manager and asked her to clarify her actions, which she did as another member of the group filmed the confrontation.

According to Mr. Brown, the woman said – get this – she felt “threatened” by his party so asked the restaurant manager not to seat them in HER section when they’d already been there for two hours! Brown's party was then denied service and essentially informed it had to depart. All this because of one piece of white trash – who really did believe it was HER section and that the restaurant was obligated to meet HER needs! Are U fucking kidding me?

This woman and all the proto-Rebel trash that would defend her and the Wild Wings honchos, need one thing and one only: a series of electro-convulsive therapy treatments! Oh, in addition to seeing ‘The Butler’ in the same manner as the punk protagonist Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – forced to view therapeutic films to curb his violence with his eyelids taped open!

Brown has since made countless attempts to contact the corporate office of Wild Wings to file a complaint, to no avail. So he took the issue to Facebook, notifying his circle and all others who might read it that he will never go to Wild Wings again. In his own words: “This type of racial discrimination is unacceptable and we have to put a STOP TO IT. The manager looked me dead in the face and said she was refusing us service because she had a right to and simply she felt like it. “

Does a place of PUBLIC business have the right to refuse service based on skin color? No it does not! The era depicted in ‘The Butler’ ought to have ended by now, but this is yet one more reason to go to see the film – to be reminded of what our African –American citizens had to endure a half century ago, and why it must never be permitted to return. No matter how much the disgusting racist revisionists, including all latter day pro-Confederate traitors, want to try to turn history on its head!

On this, the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's 'I Have A Dream' speech (on the D.C. Mall) it reminds us of just how much work we have to do to bring this nation fully out into an era of genuine post-racial reality. Where one's character ought to trump the color of one's skin in any human interaction.

Where Do You Stand on the Sample GRE Aptitude Test Scale?

First the answers to the last set of quantitative questions:

Section I:

1. (B), 2. (E), 3. (E), 4. (E)

Section II:

1. (E), 2. (E), 3. (E), 4. (B), 5. (D), 6. (B)

Now, assuming you followed the time constraints, add up your correct responses which will be some total out of 25 for the verbal, and out of 20 for the quantitative.  These yield a "raw" score which - when scaled to the no. of questions (relative to the original test) yields a comparative GRE score out of 800. These are given below:


Raw score/ 25..............................GRE analog














Raw score/ 20................................GRE analog




17................................................... 680







10 ..................................................430

Now, add up the verbal plus quantitative  GRE analog scores. If you got 1250 or over, you'd likely qualify for Mensa (remember this is a sample facsimile test of the 1985 version, not the actual one with same no. of questions, time etc.). To get an idea of comparative (estimated, i.e.  plus or minus 3 pts)) IQ to sample GRE scores, see :

The Net Rises to Fight the Surveillance State!

Snowden's real crime: Humiliating the state
Ed Snowden: His revelations have set the Internet to work to combat the super snoops!

Even as the Denver Post Sunday Editorial blistered the laxity of congress and the FISA courts in failing to oversee the indiscriminate  NSA surveillance ('Surveillance Court Must Be Reformed', p.3D), noting they have "wandered far from the Constitution in the quest to keep the nation free and safe" (that's putting it mildly!), the internet is now gathering muscle to outwit and outmatch the snoops. (Essential given the NSA "can now tap into 75% of all internet traffic" according to one Post citation of a WSJ article).

Start with yesterday's Financial Times article ('Internet Launches Fight Against State Snoopers') noting that an organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force (which develops internet standards) is proposing a system whereby ALL communications between websites and browsers will be protected by encryption.  Something astounding and never before heard of? Hell NO! Merely using the same methods of encryption already used by banks and commercial entities like Amazon, to protect customers across the world wide web.

Certainly then, if customers (i.e. consumers) deserve such protection from snoops, so do citizens! Indeed, citizen rights to privacy as enshrined in the 4th amendment ought to be sacrosanct before any consumer protections.

The FT notes that while this plan is still in an early, developmental phase, it has the potential to transform the net and make it more difficult for governments and criminals to eavesdrop on citizens as they browse the web. After all, NO one is entitled to your own predilections, thoughts, opinions, words, unless you choose to disclose them - such as I do on this blog- which a certain unnamed,  deranged and hateful loser (who rails about everything on it)  would do better to avoid if he really wishes to spare himself from an early grave via stroke. (But maybe he never heard of not tuning in on a station if it evokes outrage, which leads me to conclude he's a masochist.)

Anyway, according to one software engineer cited in the FT piece: "There's been a complete change in how people perceive the world" since super patriot Edward Snowden did his patriotic duty (above any "oaths" or "orders") and revealed the extent of the NSA snoop machinery in their PRISM and Xkeyscore programs. Since Snowden did that, users of the net now understand how fragile their communications and how vulnerable their privacy, not to mention having gov't know more about them than they know about it.

Along with the IETF push to implement encryption systems impervious to the government snoops, other initiatives are also under way, such as  an impetus for assorted groups to push for fundamental reforms in laws governing the web. (To reduce user transparency)  The groups include the World Wide Web Foundation, as well as the ACLU which has condemned the NSA blanket surveillance.

Meanwhile, as a recent article ('My Own Private Internet') in Mother Jones documents (Sept-Oct, p. 30) creative software techies have already created a "parallel net" (actually a mesh) which "is faster than the Net we pay for" and which has the capability to skirt the snoopers. Data travels through this mesh  nearly 30 times faster than the commercial net.

Already Joseph Bonicioli (the developer) has created a community mesh (the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network) which has over 1,000 members who can "send messages, video chat, and exchange huge files without ever appearing on the regular internet". In other words, beyond the ears and eyes of the snoops, whether ensconced in NSA or its Brit counterpart GCHQ.   According to Mr. Bonicioli:

"It's like a whole other web. It's our network and also a playground."

He adds his mesh has become "a major social hub with blogs, discussion forums, and a Craigs knockoff".   And all this beyond the prying eyes of the government's surveillance renegades.

Bonicioli adds that "anyone can join free by installing some equipment".

The MJ article goes on to note that the Athens mesh is by no means unique, and "scores of communities worldwide have been building these roll your own networks - because a mesh can also be used as a cheap way to access the regular internet."

The MJ piece adds:

"In an era where governments and corporations are increasingly tracking our online movements, the user-controlled networks are emerging as an almost subversive concept. 'When you run your own network, no one can shut it down' said Bonicioli."

Will the Internet finally conquer the super snoops? I believe it will and probably the community mesh solution will multiply as users become more empowered - distrusting the coziness of the commercial net  providers with the government. In the meantime, the IEFT encryption solution will be prodded onward but whether the powers-that-be allow it remains to be seen. Meanwhile, hopes for the FISA courts and congress to grow a pair to rein in NSA may be expecting too much.  Most of their members have obviously lost sight of the 4th amendment if they ever believed in it.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Looking at More Complex GRE-style Quantitative Aptitude Questions

First, the answers from last time:

Verbal (I):

1. (B), 2. (C),  3. (D), 4. (E), 5, (B)

Verbal (II):

1. (C), 2. (A), 3. (B), 4. (E)

Verbal -Analytic (III):

1. (A), 2. (B), 3. (A), 4. (E), 5. (E), 6. (C)

We look now at GRE- style quantitative questions. In each case for the given question set, study the graph and information concerning it, then answer the questions that follow:

Quantitative (I): 7 Minutes:

The graph shown displays the chemical potential vs relative temperature for pure water, a saline solution and ice.  For  an "ideal solution" (a solution in which all molecules interact in the same way) the chemical potential of water in the solution is given by :

µsolution water = µpure water + RT ln xsolution water

chemical potential falls with temperature and water mole fraction

where R is the gas law constant (8.314 J/mol K), T is the temperature, and xsolution water is the mole fraction of water in the solution. (On the graph, T0 is the freezing point of the pure water. ) As salt is added to the water, the concentration of water in the solution goes down. That makes xsolution water less than one, and the natural log of a number less than one is negative. That makes the concentration correction negative, so the chemical potential of water will drop as more salt is added.

1. The decrease in chemical potential occurs because:

A. The quantity x (solution water) is less than one.

B. There is a lower concentration of water in the solution than in the pure liquid.

C. There is a higher concentration of water in the solution than in the pure liquid.

D. There is no change in concentration between ice and pure liquid.

E.  The freezing point remains unchanged.

2. At the freezing point, it is clear that:

A. Ice and pure water co-exist

B. The tendency of the ice to melt is exactly counter balanced by the tendency of the water to freeze

C.  The chemical potentials must be equal so that: µice = µpure water

D.  Pure water has a higher chemical potential than water in salt solution

E. All of the above.

3. It is clear that when salt is mixed with the pure water solution:

A. The dissolved salt will lower the chemical potential of the (originally) pure water.

B.  The chemical potential of the ice is barely affected at all.

C. The water must now be more unstable than ice - so the ice will melt more slowly.

D.  Answers A, B and C

E. Answers A and B.

4. Which, if any, of the following can be deduced from the graph?

A. The chemical potential for all 3 substances rises as the temperature decreases.

B. The solution (water in) curve is shifted below the curve for pure water because the RT in the xsolution water   term is less than zero.

C. The lower chemical potential of solution water shifts the point of intersection (with that for ice) to the left. This means the freezing point for water in the solution is lower than the freezing point for the pure water.

D.  Answers A and B

E. Answers A, B and C.

Quantitative II: (8 Minutes)

The graph above shows the radiocarbon C-14 excess over C-12 over a 2,000 year period. In general, C14 is produced in the upper atmosphere via the impact –interaction with high energy cosmic rays, say from galactic sources. Solar activity in turn modulates the intensity of these cosmic rays via the action of the heliosphere's magnetic field which deflects a fraction of the intense cosmic ray flux and other harmful interstellar radiation.

When the Sun is more active, the heliosphere will be stronger, shielding the Earth from more intense cosmic rays the effect of which is to reduce the C14 produced in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Conversely, when the Sun is less active then the shield is weaker and more intense cosmic rays penetrate to our upper atmosphere yielding more C14 produced.

To conform with observed solar activity the plot (from P.E. Damon :'The Solar Output and Its Variation', The University of Colorado Press, Boulder, 1977) is such that increasing radiocarbon (C14) is downward and indicated with (+). The deviations in parts per thousand are shown relative to an arbitrary 19th century reference level.


1. The  increasing C14/C12 ratio, i.e. from left to right on the graph probably arises from:

(A) Injection of anthropogenic CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere.

(B) The result of the known, slow decrease in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic moment.

(C) Increased cosmic ray fluxes on Earth

(D) Increased radiocarbon production on Earth resulting from (C)

(E) All the above

2. The sharp upward spike at the modern end of the curve (e.g. from about 1850 on) , representing a marked drop in relative radiocarbon, is probably due to:

(A) Anthropogenic causes—the onset of increased population and the Industrial Age

(B) The burning of low radiocarbon fossil fuels, such as coal and oil

(C) The systematic burning off of the world’s forests for agriculture.

(D)  Processes (B) and (C) only

(E) All the processes: A, B and C

3. The percentage C14 excess over C 12 by the mid-20th century is approximately:

(A) +25,  (B) -25, (C) +30 (D) +5  (E) +10

The graph below shows the changes in the heliosphere's magnetic field over different solar cycles,  starting from 1900 to about the beginning of the 1st quarter of 2000.  The vertical axis gives the magnitude of the magnetic field (B) in nano-Tesla. Note that the red portion of the graph denotes magnitudes observed from Earth, while the earlier (blue, light green) denoted inferred magnitudes.

4. Based on where Damon's (earlier) C-14 excess over C12  graph terminates, estimate the magnitude of the inferred or observed heliospheric magnetic field:

(A) 3 nT  (B) 7 nT,  (C) 9 nT  (D) 5 nT  (E) 8 nT

5. According to existing solar data, sunspot cycle 16 was a "weak cycle"  which led to a much more energetic and active one (cycle 17). Estimate the ratio of the maximum magnitudes of the  heliospheric magnetic fields, in cycle 17 relative to 16:

(A) 0.5 (B) 2.0  (C) 8/7   (D) 8.5/6.8  (E) 9/ 7

6. According to the World Meteorological Office:

The year 2010 is almost certain to rank in the top three warmest years since the beginning of instrumental records in 1850.”

Assuming the validity of the arbitrary norm (zero line or abscissa) for 1890 in the Damon graph, then it is clear that the magnitude of the Middle Ages warming period (relative C14 strength of -18), for example, is less than about ½ the relative effect attributed mainly to anthropogenic sources in the modern era (-40).  Based on this, and examining the two graphs, is it logical to conclude that the magnitude of the heliosphere magnetic field directly affects climate change on Earth?

(A) No, not enough data  (B) Yes, to a small degree - because it modulates cosmic ray flux

(C) Yes, since the magnitude of the relative C14 over C12 excess, for Middle Ages warming, is less than about ½ the relative effect attributed mainly to anthropogenic sources in the modern era.

(D) No, because there weren't actual instruments to measure the heliosphere magnetic field  in the Middle Ages.

(E) Yes, because the maximum peak for cycle 23 falls close enough to the beginning of 2010.

Answers tomorrow. Also, where do you stand on a truncated GRE aptitude test scale? Find out tomorrow, assuming you've taken all these sample segments in the time.

"FRISCO" - A Name to Hate? REALLY?

Looking toward the Orchard Hotel in San Francisco - where we stayed last September while I received my prostate cancer treatment at the UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center . The Powell Ave. cable car is in view.  Needless to say, I fell in love with the city!

According to a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle online the other day, a woman phoned the paper in a literal rage after visiting a museum in the city and finding a work of art partially tagged with the hideous word "Frisco". She fulminated at length expressing how such a travesty could occur and in a place of culture. Have people no shame?

This reminded me of when I first inadvertently used the word "Frisco" in Fairbanks, AK soon after I arrived to take up a research assistantship in the fall of 1985. A Ph.D. plasma physics classmate named Jeff Collier heard it, and went ballistic.

"FRISCO? The name is NOT 'FRISCO'! It is San Francisco! Please, PUH-leeze, never use the word 'Frisco' again for San Francisco! It is gauche and cruel to us who are natives!"

Whoa! Seriously?  Brother, you need to take a valium! It's just a name!

But is it just a name? Not to old line San Franciscans who detest 'Frisco' with a passion. Which elicits the question of why there's such an emotional response to a name. According to the Chronicle piece, the trouble began in the old days when the city was a major port and all manner of louts ("shrimpers, crimpers, criminals and sailors" ) and low- class people infested the area - getting drunk, starting fights and displaying all around bad behavior. Most of the louts were recognizable by an emblematic pair of crusty pants called "Friskos". 

Somehow the name caught on, and the next thing you knew, authors like William Saroyan were adopting it in their novels, and Woody Guthrie was using it in songs. Then it spread to other songs and poems etc. Before you knew it, to the more staid San Franciscans' horror, it had become entrenched - like a parasitic worm. The Chronicle noted that the main culprits for using it continue to be tourists who apparently have no idea how it offends.

While we were in the city last year, I made the mistake of using the term off-handedly (essentially under automatic pilot) at a restaurant called 'Scala's" on Powell Avenue and wifey promptly corrected me before the waitress appeared:

"You can't use that word here! It's not 'Frisco'! People here don't like it!"

You'd think I had used a four letter epithet.

"Why not? What's wrong with it? Why don't they like it?"

"I don't know!  Please don't say it when we go to the cancer treatment center!"

Of course, by then I'd totally forgotten about it and 'Frisco' was the least thing on my mind as I was being admitted then taken for anesthesia and implant surgery.

The Chronicle noted, however, that the word is now in such widespread use that the old line tribe of SF has just about given up on their crusade. Especially as the paper notes a new culprit has arrived to take its place: "SAN FRAN".  Now, it turns out, almost as many San Franciscans detest "San Fran" (again mostly used by the tourist hoi polloi) as "Frisco".

Look, whether "Frisco", "San Fran" or San Francisco, the city is a delightful place ("a rose by any other name" etc.)  And after my treatment, I couldn't wait to sight see! Pier 31, Golden Gate bridge, Chinatown, the Redwoods. No American should omit it from his or her "bucket list". Just don't use the term "Frisco" (or "San Fran") when you're there!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why The Epidemic Of Depression In The US of A?

Why the prevalence of so much depression in the U.S.? In 1998, Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association, spoke to the National Press Club about an American depression epidemic: “We discovered two astonishing things about the rate of depression across the century. The first was there is now between ten and twenty times as much of it as there was fifty years ago. And the second is that it has become a young person’s problem. When I first started working in depression thirty years ago. . . the average age of which the first onset of depression occurred was 29.5. . . .Now the average age is between 14 and 15.”

  Sad! Even sadder, the deck is stacked against the struggling citizen being squeezed into passive consumerhood almost from the get go. In schools he's branded with ADD and forced on drugs because he sees he's merely being trained to be a cog in a corporate machine. At work, the intelligent employee who sees himself performing mechanical drudge tasks beneath his brain power can't help feeling enraged, frustrated. And then there is the fundamental bias in mental health professionals when any one seeks assistance. They then learn that their "problems" - often inattention and noncompliance - are treated as mental disorders. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where they all pay attention to much that is unstimulating. In this world, one routinely complies with the demands of authorities......or deemed a "trouble maker". Thus for many MDs and Ph.Ds, the genuinely passionate people who rebel against this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world.

By accepting this tommyrot (committing the fundamental attribution error), people become mentally passive, no longer transgressive in their outlooks. They end up blaming themselves instead of the foul system that plays both ends against the middle to trap them. Enter the so-called “free market” which is really a COERCIVE market in which people are forced to compete but almost never win. THIS above all is responsible for the absurd rise in depression. And so we become disengaged from our jobs and our schooling. Young people are pressured to amass increasingly large student-loan debt so as to acquire the credentials to get a job, in a profession for which they often have little enthusiasm for. And increasing numbers of people are completely socially isolated – so will tend to self-medicate using assorted drugs, sex or even writing hateful, angry blogs in which they thumb their noses at the world. How to know if a market is free or coerced? Charles Reich provided the test ('Opposing the System’, 1995, p. 22):

"A free market produces results that favor the health of society as a whole, because an essential balance is maintained. But in a coercive market, the balance is destroyed, the earning power of work and the standard of living of workers declines, and society as a whole is devastated while those with economic power gain an ever more unbalanced share of the nation's economic wealth"

This is exactly what we have with the top 1% controlling 57% of the nation's wealth, and 400 billionaires with the same monetary resources as 150 million fellow citizens! And they control the purveyors of PR, whether based on university "research" or the compromised media, who want people to believe THEY are responsible for their failures and not the corrupt SYSTEM which forces them to play both ends against the middle and lose. Merely take the example of a family barely making it, one of whose members now get a promotion. But by getting that promotion - earning say $5,000 more a year - which might help them breathe easier, they then forfeit their food stamps and Medicaid benefits, so are right back behind the "eight ball". Fairness? Hell, the system's coordinators and promoters never heard of it!

  Factoring into the false consciousness that gives rise to mass depression is the "fundamental attribution error" which is defined as:

The tendency to credit or blame individuals for their level of failure or success without considering the aspects of the social structure that impel or impede their progress. Thus, it results in praise of the system and condemnation of individuals who are defined as losers.

This in turn leads to workers who mutate into automatons prepared to tolerate any amount of systematic abuse from a corrupt system, because they lay the blame on their own "lack of ambition" or some other false excuse contrived by the corporate thought controllers to deflect blame from their own greed. Then, when their own expectations for their future success aren't met, they turn the selfsame perverted paradigm onto themselves and ...become depressed. Which can manifest in many ways.

This may well be at the heart and core of why so many of the working and middle classes vote against their own best interests (even when they're on food stamps). Precisely because they blame all or most of their failures to get ahead on themselves, instead of the vicious system of economic tyranny where it belongs. In this sad way, people become passive and their own worst enemies. The idea that our mental illness epidemic is being caused by a peculiar rebellion against a dehumanizing society, is then removed from the mainstream memetic map. When a societal problem grows to become all encompassing, we often no longer even notice it.

The poor shmuck who just killed himself because he got downsized two weeks before his pension? Hell, he should have chosen a better job! The sorry loser who sits in a depressed apt., cranking out hideous hate blogs all day until he's on the verge of a stroke? He needs to go to a shrink - who, of course - will blame him for not being "adjusted". She will then steer him onto Paxil or Zoloft and if those don't work, likely have him briefly committed for electro-convulsive therapy. The young mother who lost her job because she couldn't find or afford child care? Tough luck! She shouldn't have had so many kids, or any kid, period! And so it goes!

What happens when struggling people are shut out by the deliberately dysfunctional system? Well, then they will seek to survive any way they can! They will most likely try the route of getting Social Security disability or maybe some form of VA benefits (if they were in the service) to be able to continue, since working is no longer an option - at least in their minds.

Here's a stat to blow minds: The tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders (including depression) that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007—from one in 184 Americans to one in 76. For children, the rise is even more startling—a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades,” as Marcia Angell summarizes in a New York Times Book Review. Angell also reports that a large survey of adults conducted between 2001 and 2003 sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health found that at some point in their lives, 46 percent of Americans met the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association for at least one mental illness.

We literally have nearly half the country putatively off its rocker! Another wowser: In 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that antidepressant use in the United States has increased nearly 400% in the last two decades, making antidepressants the most frequently used class of medications by Americans ages 18-44 years. By 2008, 23% of women ages 40–59 years were taking antidepressants. And we won't even add to this all the poor zombies on sleeping pills like Ambien, because they can't sleep properly!

Another barometer - using questions - to assess whether our society is as fucked up as it appears or not. Do our major societal institutions promote: ·

Enthusiasm—or passivity?

· Respectful personal relationships—or manipulative impersonal ones?

· Community, trust, and confidence—or isolation, fear and paranoia?

· Empowerment—or helplessness?

· Autonomy (self-direction)—or heteronomy (institutional-direction)?

· Participatory democracy—or authoritarian hierarchies?

· Diversity and stimulation—or homogeneity and boredom?

  I warrant most readers will know which answers are forthcoming. I warrant they will also see why this society - such as it is- is totally fucked up and generating fucked up, angry or pathologically sick people almost at twice the birth rate. One way to make it healthier? Ease up and back off from all the hyper-militarist bullshit which is creating authoritarian personalities at a rate unheard of in our history. According to Harvey A. Hornstein in his terrific book Cruelty and Kindness: A New Look at Aggression and Altruism (Prentice-Hall, 1976, 'We and They', p.13.), this militarist-oriented personality "is pathologically rigid, absolutist and displays little or no flexibility" . In the words of some, “It’s my way or the highway”. This type of psychotic then becomes ensconced in the corporate world, say as a bully employer or worse, the guy in the next cubicle!

The problem with endemic militarism is that it literally breeds millions of such personalities, or else paranoid ones that tend to join subversive Right wing terror groups, or gun groups. As Hornstein shows, deprived of their manhood - either because of losing a job to a black or brown person (or woman), or unable to provide for family - they take out their anger and frustrations on anyone or anything that they deem offends them. In the process they dehumanize their targets, using epithets like "monkeys", "baboons", "libtards" or "c*nts" to try to make themselves feel superior - but they never do. In the end, despite all the words of roiling hate, their depression continues and their families and society pay the price.

Can this insanity be halted? Maybe, but the odds right now are slim. Too many are caught up in the brain grinder. It will likely take an alien invasion - with the focus on lobotomizing all the authoritarians and dispatching them to Tau Ceti- to fight a real war against a giant race of super -armored beetles or giant spiders. (See 'Starship Troopers' or better, read the book by Robert Heinlein.)

Looking At More Complex GRE Verbal Aptitude Questions

First, the answers from the previous sample GRE aptitude test questions:

Verbal (Pt. I):

1.(A),   2. (E),  3. (D), 4. (B), 5. (B)

2. Quantitative (Pt. I)

1. (A), 2. (E), 3. (C), 4. (D), 5. (C)

Verbal (Pt. II):

1. (D), 2. (D), 3. (C), 4. (C), 5. (E)

Quantitative (Pt. II):

1. (C), 2. (B), 3. (B), 4. (D), 5. (A)


Now, lest any readers believe the GRE questions were typically as easy as those in the last blog, let's look at a few examples of more complex ones. We will start out with a series requiring filling in the correct word pair in given blanks for a sentence, then go to one example each of a passage which must be read, then interpreted-analyzed and responses given. Here goes:

Verbal (I): (5 minutes)

Each sentence below has two blanks, each blank indicating a word has been omitted. Choose the pair of words which best fits:

1. It is true that seeds of some plants have _____ after two hundred years of dormancy, but reports that viable seeds have been found in ancient tombs such as the pyramids are entirely_______:

(A) revived: empirical

(B) germinated: unfounded

(C) endured: irrelevant

(D)  erupted:reasonable

(E) proliferated: substantiated

2. The most technologically advanced societies have been responsible for the greatest ______  indeed, savagery seems to be in direct proportion to_______:

(A) wars: viciousness

(B) catastrophes: ill will

(C) atrocities: development

(D)inventions: know-how

(E) triumphs:civilization

3. The combination of ______ and ______ in Edmund's speech can be startling, especially when he slyly slips in some juicy vulgarity amid the mellifluous circumlocutions of a gentleman of the old school.

(A) tact: innocence

(B) raciness: ribaldry

(C) piousness: modesty

(D) elegance: earthiness

(E)propriety: bashfulness

4. Every new theory not only must _____ the valid predictions of the old theory, but must also explain why those predictions ______ within the range of that old theory.

(A)organize: failed

(B)generate: faltered

(C) promote: functioned

(D)refute: evolved

(E) accommodate: succeeded

5. Human reaction to the realm of thought is often as strong as that to sensible presences; our higher moral life is based on the fact that ______ sensations actually present may have a weaker influence on our action than do the ideas of _____ facts.

(A) disturbing: ordinary

(B) material: remote

(C) emotional : impersonal

(D) definitive: controversial

(E) familiar: symbolic

Verbal (II): (5 minutes)

Read the passage provided then choose the correct letter referencing some part of the passage - with conclusions stated or implied:

The Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed severe restrictions on the use of antibiotics to promote the health and growth of meat animals. Medications added to feeds kill many microorganisms but also encourage the appearance of bacterial strains that are resistant to anti-infective drugs. Already, for example, penicillin and tetracyclines are not as effective therapeutically as they once were. The drug resistance is chiefly conferred by tiny circlets of genes called plasmids, that can exchanged between different strains and even different species of bacteria. Plasmids are also one of the two kinds of vehicles (the other being viruses) that molecular biologists depend on when performing gene transplant experiments. Even present guidelines forbid the laboratory use of plasmids bearing genes for resistance to antibiotics. Yet, while congressional debate rages over whether or not to toughen these restrictions on scientists in their laboratories, little congressional attention has been focused on an ill-advised agricultural practice that produces known deleterious effects.

1. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with:

(A) discovering methods of eliminating harmful microorganisms without subsequently generating drug resistant  bacteria.

(B) explaining reasons for congressional inaction on the regulation of gene transplant experiments

(C) describing a problematic agricultural practice and its serious genetic consequences

(D) verifying the therapeutic ineffectiveness of anti-infective drugs.

(E) evaluating recently proposed restrictions intended to promote the growth of meat animals.

2. According to the passage, the exchange of plasmids between different bacteria can result in which of the following?

(A) Microorganisms resistant to drugs

(B) Therapeutically useful circlets of genes

(C) Anti-infective drugs like penicillin

(D) Viruses for use by molecular biologists

(E) Vehicles for performing gene transplant experiments

3. It can be inferred from the passage that the author believes that those in favor of stiffening the restrictions on gene transplant research should logically also:

(A) encourage experiments with any plasmids except those bearing genes for antibiotic research

(B) question the addition of anti-infective drugs to livestock feed

(C) resist the use of penicillin and tetracyclines to kill microorganisms

(D) agree to the development of meatier livestock through the use of antibiotics

(E) favor congressional debate and discussion of all science and health issues

4. The author's attitude toward the development of bacterial strains  that render antibiotic drugs ineffective can best be described as:

(A) indifferent,  (B) perplexed, (C) pretentious, (D) insincere, (E) apprehensive

Verbal-Analytical (III): (6 minutes:)

Read the passage then answer the questions on it which follow:

The work week in a small business is a five-day work week running from Monday through Friday. In each workweek, activities L, M, N, O and P must all be done, but the work is subject to the following restrictions:

L must be done earlier in the week than O but not earlier than P

M must be done earlier in the week than N and not earlier than O.

No more than one of the activities can be done on any one day

1. Which of the following is an acceptable schedule of activities with the activities listed from left to right in the order from Monday through Friday:

(A) L, M, N, O, P,

(B)M,N, O, M, N

(C) O, N. L, P, M

(D) P, O, L, M. L

(E) P, O, L, M , N

2. Which of the following pairs of activities could be done on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, of some week:

(A) L and O

(B) M and L

(C) M and P

(D) N and O

(E) O and M

3. If P is earlier than M on the schedule for some week, which of the following must also be true of that schedule?

(A) L is earlier than M

(B) N is earlier than M

(C) N is earlier than O

(D) O is earlier than L

(E) O is earlier than P

4. If P and N were done on Thursday and Friday, respectively, which of the following must be true?

(A) L is done on Tuesday

(B) L is done on Wednesday

(C) M is done on Monday

(D) O is done on Tuesday

(E) O is done on Wednesday

5. Which of the following could appear on the schedule for some week?

(A) L on Friday

(B) M on Thursday

(C) N on Monday

(D) O on Monday

(E) P on Tuesday

6. The one day of the week for which any one of the five activities could be scheduled while still allowing the other four activities to be scheduled is:

(A) Monday

(B) Tuesday

(C) Wednesday

(D) Thursday

(E) Friday

Answers tomorrow!

(Note that if you plan to try this portion of the sample test under relatively consistent conditions with the actual one,  you should take no more than 16 minutes.)