February 26, 2015 archive

Black Sites, Rhaaaaam, and the Tangerine Dream

All y’all (a southern way of saying everyone just like ‘bless your heart’ equates to ‘fuck you’) may remember Tarheel Dem, a frequent commenter (257?) and reliable recommend (637?) if a little short on the diary end.

Perhaps he understood his audience better than I.

What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.

And I only mean it in the most sincere and clinical sense.

In any event he’s featured prominently by Marcy Wheeler in her latest Salon piece.

“I was in a black site”: Chicago’s policing nightmare – and assault on people of color

by Marcy Wheeler, Salon

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015 03:14 PM EST

In June 2012, an activist writing under the name Tarheel Dem described his arrest on May 17, 2012, with a group of other activists in advance of the NATO summit in Chicago. For most of a day, he was held, shackled, without his heart medications, in a location in western Chicago before being released with no charges. He described being held where lawyers couldn’t find him. “I was held over 12 hours before the National Lawyers Guild could find me; essentially, I was in a black site.” Contemporary reporting of the detentions described the activists being “disappeared.”

A confluence of events has brought newfound attention to the location of this detention site, the Organized Crime Bureau in Homan Square, and the Chicago Police Department tactics that have been used there.

Last week the Guardian, following earlier reporting that had made the connection, described the role a Chicago Police Department murder detective, Richard Zuley, played in the wrongful conviction in 1990 of Lathierial Boyd. In a civil suit, Boyd now accuses Zuley of planting the evidence that led to him spending 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But it’s not just in Chicago where Zuley has been tied to abuse: After allegedly mistreating Boyd and others – including long-term shackling and threats – while at CPD, in 2003 Zuley would go on to lead a team at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base detention center, overseeing one of the most notable plans of torture to take place there, that of Mauritanian Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Along with subjecting Slahi to sleep deprivation and a fake rendition on a motorboat, Zuley threatened Slahi’s mother with rendition to Gitmo. (Slahi’s recently published memoir, “Guantánamo Diary,” reached the New York Times bestseller list shortly after it was published.)

Richard Zuley, in short, is a direct link between the detention and torture of innocent men in Gitmo and wrongful detention and abuse of African-Americans in Chicago. Our war on terror and police assault on minorities in one person.

As the executive director of the Chicago Justice Project, Tracy Siska, explained in an interview with the Atlantic, arrestees get brought to Homan Square prior to being charged, making it easier to interrogate people for extended periods without a lawyer. “What used to happen at Homan Square is that prior to a year ago, if you get arrested and you get brought down anywhere in any district, you would not pop up in the city computer as being arrested until they processed the police report, which could take anywhere from an hour to 15 hours,” Siska explained. “If they ‘arrested’ you, then they have to report it. But if they don’t ‘arrest you,’ nefarious things could happen and they could interrogate you without a lawyer.” The scheme worked because most of the people brought to Homan Square – “black and brown and poor kids” involved in the drug war, according to Siska – don’t get lawyers until being assigned one by a court.

That is, in addition to a building on the west side of Chicago, this is a ploy designed to extend the time during which authorities can interrogate men without the intervention of a lawyer. This ploy is not limited to Homan Square. The government has used it increasingly in high-profile terrorism cases, most notably when Boston Marathon bomb defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was interviewed for a weekend even as he demanded a lawyer; so long as the government didn’t “present” him to a judge, they managed to avoid giving the accused terrorist a lawyer. Gitmo was designed to take this to an extreme; in early years, the government tried to prevent detainees from ever obtaining a lawyer, and in recent years lawyers have repeatedly had to fight to continue to represent their clients after their habeas corpus cases were denied. But it can happen anywhere a local cop delays the time before officially processing a detainee.

The exchange between the war on terror and regular police work (especially the war on drugs) goes both ways – as Chicago’s previous torture abuses under Jon Burge made clear long before Zuley renewed the exchange.

A myriad of developments has focused new attention on Chicago’s black site: Boyd’s suit, the Guardian’s reporting, increased pressure for Chicago to compensate Burge’s victims. The mayoral election surely didn’t hurt. And Rahm Emanuel’s failure to win outright Tuesday may focus more national attention on the things he has done to piss off Chicago’s communities of color, of which policing is just one small part.

Now Tarheel Dem I know nothing about other than he professes to be a Democrat from North Carolina.  About the Great Orange Satan I know a good deal and my motivations are clear- I intend to buy it, lock, stock, and damaged reputation as soon as the price is right and in my opinion it’s not worth a plugged nickle.  And then I will fire people starting with Denise Oliver Valez whose (the possessive case of who used as an adjective which is something she should know as an adjunct professor at a state university which is not outing because you can look it up in her very own biography on the site she and her pack of bullies controls) concern for the African-American community begins and ends with boot licking Barack Obama.

She’s a reprehensible excuse for a human in many other aspects also, but that will do for a start.

Tarheel’s time away is verging on 5 years and entirely voluntary as far as my diminished powers can ascertain.  Mine are enforced by edict because they know I’m right and I threaten them.

Good.  I double dog dare you to bring it.

Oh, Greece

Capitalism’s War on Democracy

European Banks vs. Greek Labour

How Radical is the SYRIZA Party in Greece?



The Modern History of the Greek Debt Crisis

Greece Now Positioned to Negotiate a New Loan Agreement


Feeble-Minded Fantasies

I have not lightly chosen to re-think my categorization of sub-normal intelligence, but it has recently been pointed out to me that the range of 80 – 100 IQ is technically termed Feeble Minded.

“Despite being pejorative, in its day the term was considered, along with idiot (Goddard, Binet-Simon age of 3 or less), imbecile (3 to 7), and moron (8 to 12), to be a relatively precise psychiatric classification.”

We know that “Intelligence” is an oxymoron (there’s that word “moron” again) but your testosterone fueled delusions don’t quite kick in until your teens.

Spies, lies and fantasies: leaked cables lift lid on work of intelligence agencies

by Seumas Milne and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian

Wednesday 25 February 2015 13.10 EST

Intelligence agencies thrive on impressing politicians and the public with their mystique, exploits real or imagined, and possession of information that supposedly gives them a unique understanding of the world.

The reality is often bureaucratic and banal, the information unreliable, uncheckable or available in open sources and their judgments frequently politicised and self-serving. All of those elements can be found throughout the spy cables leaked to al-Jazeera and the Guardian.

(I)n the world of espionage, today as in the past, spies peppering reports with half-truths, rumours, the outlandish and the downright ridiculous is par for the course, the secret cables show – and not that remote from the lucrative fantasies and inventions of Graham Greene’s fictional MI6 agent in Our Man In Havana.

Many of the reports, in spite of being marked “confidential”, “secret” and “top secret”, contain information openly available elsewhere, often written by journalists. One South African intelligence report on Israel’s Mossad quotes Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s former correspondent in Johannesburg and Jerusalem, who is now based in the US. “Chris McGREAL has claimed that ‘Israel provided expertise and technology that was central to South Africa’s development of its nuclear bomb’,” the report says.

So much of the spies’ work is banal, dominated by mundane liaison meetings with counterparts from other intelligence agencies. Far from swapping factual information or carefully analysed data, the agencies often supply one another with little more than their government’s political line.

Much of the rest of the time is taken up with watching one another, tracking movements through airports, logging phone calls, keeping tabs on their car registration and checking credit card transactions – or storming out of meetings and commenting acerbically on each other’s weaknesses and “arrogance”.

Oh, my B-S?  I’m too modest to brag but were the scale reversed I’d be a drowning turkey looking up at the rain.

Arrogant am I?  You betcha.

The Breakfast Club (Floor Wax AND Dessert Topping)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThe real problem with physics is the difference between a wave and a particle.

Hey, hey, hey, calm down, you two. New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping! Here, I’ll spray some on your mop and some on your butterscotch pudding.

Mmmmm, tastes terrific!

And just look at that shine!

So imagine a BB (you’ll put your eye out), if you shoot it through a hole you’ll get a mark in your target (there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza (who “emulates a Rogerian psychotherapist“).

ELIZA has almost no intelligence whatsoever, only tricks like string substitution and canned responses based on keywords. Yet when the original ELIZA first appeared in the 60’s, some people actually mistook her for human. The illusion of intelligence works best, however, if you limit your conversation to talking about yourself and your life.

* hello eliza. I am feeling sad about moonlight kingdom

> Did you come to me because you are feeling sad about moonlight kingdom?

* no, I came to you because I’m researching rogerianism.

> Did you come to me because you are researching rogerianism?

* Yes

> Are you Sure?

* I’ve told you that twice now

> Oh…  that twice now?

* wow

> OK… “I’ve told me that twice now”. Tell me more.

These marks tend to cluster kind of fuzzily around the hole because BBs only travel in straight lines (ok, ballistic curves but for the purposes of this experiment we can discount the influence of gravity until later when it becomes relevent or not).  Even if you move around the BB gun you get this clustering because at certain angles of attack the BB is larger than the hole you’re trying to shoot through.

Master this technique and you can become a world class goalie.

If Democritus is right does the world behave this way?  I mean anyone Plato, the proto-Neolib that advocated man (women? hah!) was so stupid that democracy is an unworkable farce and the only political state with a chance to succeed is a dictatorship of elite philosopher-kings (got to love Plato, especially The Republic if you’re one of the chosen few morons with the right credentials) hated so much he wanted to burn their books can’t be all bad, can they?

Like many questions the answer is in how you measure the cat.

Because you see, in the real world, on certain scales, if you take a small enough BB and fire it through a hole you don’t get a clump, you get a wave.  How small is small enough?  Go down to the beach.  On the scale of an ocean a drop of water is small enough.

What is interesting about waves is that they transfer energy from one place to another without disturbing the particles (or non-particles) between them.  In the most commonly observable kind of wave (water in a test tank) this energy is transmitted in an up and down kinetic force so the apparently two dimensional surface in fact oscillates in a third dimension that is not usually measured.

Simple, right?

Not really, scientists still have a problem with spooky action at a distance so they keep junking up a nice clean vacuum with cat hair, and dark matter and energy (the good, the bad, it’s all the same)…

and extra dimensions (you can never have enough, I personally favor 26 dimensional Bosonic string theory because it goes all the way to 26)-

Feeling entangled yet?  You can’t be objective about Nixon.

The Reality of Quantum Weirdness

Edward Frenkel, The New York Times

FEB. 20, 2015

In Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon,” a samurai has been murdered, but it’s not clear why or by whom. Various characters involved tell their versions of the events, but their accounts contradict one another. You can’t help wondering: Which story is true?

But the film also makes you consider a deeper question: Is there a true story, or is our belief in a definite, objective, observer-independent reality an illusion?

This very question, brought into sharper, scientific focus, has long been the subject of debate in quantum physics. Is there a fixed reality apart from our various observations of it? Or is reality nothing more than a kaleidoscope of infinite possibilities?

This month, a paper published online in the journal Nature Physics presents experimental research that supports the latter scenario – that there is a “Rashomon effect” not just in our descriptions of nature, but in nature itself.

Over the past hundred years, numerous experiments on elementary particles have upended the classical paradigm of a causal, deterministic universe. Consider, for example, the so-called double-slit experiment. We shoot a bunch of elementary particles – say, electrons – at a screen that can register their impact. But in front of the screen, we place a partial obstruction: a wall with two thin parallel vertical slits. We look at the resulting pattern of electrons on the screen. What do we see?

If the electrons were like little pellets (which is what classical physics would lead us to believe), then each of them would go through one slit or the other, and we would see a pattern of two distinct lumps on the screen, one lump behind each slit. But in fact we observe something entirely different: an interference pattern, as if two waves are colliding, creating ripples.

Astonishingly, this happens even if we shoot the electrons one by one, meaning that each electron somehow acts like a wave interfering with itself, as if it is simultaneously passing through both slits at once.

So an electron is a wave, not a particle? Not so fast. For if we place devices at the slits that “tag” the electrons according to which slit they go through (thus allowing us to know their whereabouts), there is no interference pattern. Instead, we see two lumps on the screen, as if the electrons, suddenly aware of being observed, decided to act like little pellets.

To test their commitment to being particles, we can tag them as they pass through the slits – but then, using another device, erase the tags before they hit the screen. If we do that, the electrons go back to their wavelike behavior, and the interference pattern miraculously reappears.

There is no end to the practical jokes we can pull on the poor electron! But with a weary smile, it always shows that the joke is on us. The electron appears to be a strange hybrid of a wave and a particle that’s neither here and there nor here or there. Like a well-trained actor, it plays the role it’s been called to perform. It’s as though it has resolved to prove the famous Bishop Berkeley maxim “to be is to be perceived.”

The answer depends on how you interpret the equations of quantum mechanics, the mathematical theory that has been developed to describe the interactions of elementary particles. The success of this theory is unparalleled: Its predictions, no matter how “spooky,” have been observed and verified with stunning precision. It has also been the basis of remarkable technological advances. So it is a powerful tool. But is it also a picture of reality?

Here, one of the biggest issues is the interpretation of the so-called wave function, which describes the state of a quantum system. For an individual particle like an electron, for example, the wave function provides information about the probabilities that the particle can be observed at particular locations, as well as the probabilities of the results of other measurements of the particle that you can make, such as measuring its momentum.

Does the wave function directly correspond to an objective, observer-independent physical reality, or does it simply represent an observer’s partial knowledge of it?

Hmm… Nixon.

If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.  Open the Pod Bay doors HAL.

I’m sorry Dave.  I’m afraid I can’t do that.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

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On This Day In History February 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 308 days remaining until the end of the year (309 in leap years).

Two national parks preserved, 10 years apart. The two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart, the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Tetons in 1929.

The Grand Canyon National Park

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.

Grand Teton National Park

In 1897 acting Yellowstone superintendent Colonel S.B.M. Young proposed expanding that park’s borders south to encompass the northern extent of Jackson Hole in order to protect migrating herds of elk. Next year, United States Geological Survey head Charles D. Walcott suggested that the Teton Range should be included as well. Stephen Mather, director of the newly-created National Park Service and his assistant Horace Albright sent a report to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane in 1917 stating much the same. Wyoming Representative Frank Mondell sponsored a bill that unanimously passed the United States House of Representatives in 1918 but was killed in the United States Senate when Idaho Senator [John Nugent feared that the expansion of Park Service jurisdiction would threaten sheep grazing permits. Public opposition to park expansion also mounted in and around Jackson Hole. Albright, in fact, was practically run out of Jackson, Wyoming, by angry townspeople in 1919 when he traveled there to speak in favor of park expansion.

Local attitudes started to change that same year when proposals to dam Jenny, Emma Matilda, and Two Ocean lakes surfaced. Then on July 26, 1923, local and Park Service representatives including Albright met in Maud Noble’s cabin to work on a plan to buy private lands to create a recreation area to preserve the “Old West” character of the valley. Albright was the only person who supported Park Service management; the others wanted traditional hunting, grazing, and dude-ranching activities to continue. In 1927 philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded the Snake River Land Company so he and others could buy land in the area incognito and have it held until the National Park Service could administer it. The company launched a campaign to purchase more than 35,000 acres for $1.4 million but faced 15 years of opposition by ranchers and a refusal by the Park Service to take the land.

In 1928, a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests met with valley residents and reached an agreement for the establishment of a park. Wyoming Senator John Kendrick then introduced a bill to establish Grand Teton National Park. It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on February 26, 1929. The 96,000 acres park was carved from Teton National Forest and included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at its foot in Jackson Hole. Lobbying by cattlemen, however, meant that the original park borders did not include most of Jackson Hole (whose floor was used for grazing). Meanwhile the Park Service refused to accept the 35,000 acres held by the Snake River Company.

Discouraged by the stalemate, Rockefeller sent a letter to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt telling him that if the federal government did not accept the land that he intended to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers. Soon afterward on March 15, 1943 the president declared 221,000 acres (890 km2) of public land as Jackson Hole National Monument. Continued controversy over the Rockefeller gift still made it impossible for the monument to officially include that land, however.

Opposition to the monument by local residents immediately followed with criticism that the declaration was a violation of states’ rights and that it would destroy the local economy and tax base. Ranchers, led in part by famed actor Wallace Beery, drove 500 cattle across the newly created monument in a demonstration designed to provoke conflict. The Park Service did not respond to the stunt but the event brought national attention to the issue nonetheless. Wyoming Representative Frank A. Barrett introduced a bill to abolish the monument that passed both houses of Congress but was pocket vetoed by Roosevelt. U.S. Forest Service officials did not want to cede another large part of the Teton National Forest to the Park Service so they fought against transfer. One final act was to order forest rangers to gut the Jackson Lake Ranger Station before handing it over to park rangers. Residents in the area who supported the park and the monument were boycotted and harassed.

Other bills to abolish the monument were introduced between 1945 and 1947 but none passed. Increases in tourism money following the end of World War II has been cited as a cause of the change in local attitudes. A move to merge the monument into an enlarged park gained steam and by April, 1949, interested parties gathered in the Senate Appropriation Committee chambers to finalize a compromise. The Rockefeller lands were finally transferred from private to public ownership on December 16, 1949, when they were added to the monument. A bill merging most of Jackson Hole National Monument (except for its southern extent, which was added to the National Elk Refuge) into Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on September 14, 1950. One concession in the law modified the Antiquities Act, limiting the future power of a president to proclaim National Monuments in Wyoming. The scenic highway that extends from the northern border of Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park was named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway to recognize Rockefeller’s contribution to protecting the area. In 2001, the Rockefellers donated their Jackson Hole retreat, the JY Ranch, to the national park for the establishment of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, dedicated on June 21, 2008.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (A One Way Trip)

What?  Lil’ Wayne is only the second most offensive Rapper on the Internet.  Ask the 7 white guys if they’re racist.

So tonight’s topic (just keeping it 100) is whether you would take a one way trip to Mars.  Hands?  Well, you’re all going to die.

Of course so will the rest of us and maybe you’ll get a brass plaque somewhere that aliens can come and look at and say- “what the hell is that?  Is it some kind of alien language or something?”

I guess whether you find that funny or not depends on your perspective.

I knew Or and Wil and Curt and in honestly (oh, you can look at that as a contra-action but then you’d be missing what makes it punny) when I saw those bags of sticks and strings I contemplated not whether I longed for the sweet release of Death, but how quickly I wanted it to happen.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my Grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t there? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello, Ground!

Curiously, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias, as it fell, was, “Oh no, not again!” Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.

There was a time I wanted to go leading my troops in a hopeless battle against impossible odds just as the tide turned to victory.  Now I just want a nap, and in my sleep I would dream of napping.

A cat with restless sleep is a sad thing indeed.  At least Larry is funny when ‘Black Ice’ is around.