Thursday, February 27, 2014

News: A User's Manual

Alain De Botton, author of the book "News: A User's Manual" was on NPR "On Point" talking about how consumers can get more out of the news.  

De Botton assure us that news isn't a conspiracy with a few white men in a room somewhere pulling all the levers.  However, he does confess the news system is much more "sinister" than that. De Botton says that if he were a monarch in control of information, he would not practice censorship but do as the system does now by hiding the truth under a mountain of other distracting information and differing opinions.

De Botton recommends that news consumers be educated and infomed about the news process that it is not organic but very much artificial and manufactured. And, he says, that an informed consumer in our current media environment will better be able to self-select, evaluate, and internalize that news that is most important and impactful.

De Botton recommends that news reporters be open about their bias and advocates hearing the news from more points of view. He says it is disingenuous for a reporter to claim their reporting is unbiased.  Also, that the news should report from more perspectives and points of view than just a far right and far left bias.  

Finally, he says news isn't just to "hold power to account" but also for the benefit and advancement of society.  De Botton also says that our news fascination with death, murder, and accidents is not a bad thing but reminds us of our mortality.

First, the media IS a conspiracy controlled by a few mega-corporations. The control of the media has been consolidated into the hands of just a few individuals.  These few use both censorship and distraction to hide the truth.  Also, the media uses software systems that allow editors to monitor, skew and censor information at the very moment the stories are being written.  

However,  it is not true that education alone will help.  In this age were we can now self-select our information, knowing is only half the battle.  It is NOT true that an informed public will necessarily care about the truth.  If the public has been demoralized, then the demoralized people will look for illusion and dillusion to explain the facts which reinforce and validate their immoral, self-serving behavior. The darkness does not comprehend the light. Americans must be a moral people and not just an educated people.

It is true that a free press is an important check and balance on the Government.  Democracy is not just about having a vote but also having accurate information and a vote.  It is NOT true that the purpose of news is for the betterment, advancement and improvement of society.  Who determines what is advanced, better, or improved?  A better focus of news is to create a moral society based on the Bible's "golden rule" to do unto others what you would have them do unto you.  Government leaders should also be chosen based on their morality and not merit.

Finally, De Bottom equated the media with religion.  However, media's purpose should not be to constantly remind man of his mortality. This fear-based programing can lead to a "You-only-live-once" and "eat drink and be merry" attitude.  Instead, religion's purpose is a faith-based message to get individuals to develop an eternal perspective.  The true perspective is that this life is a test to see if man can delay immediate gratification in return for a better, infinite and eternal reward in the next life.

We all know about the famous psychological test with kids and marshmallows where children are given amarshmallow  and told they can have 5 more if they just wait 5 minutes.  Some kids for whatever can't wait and immediately devour their marshmellow. Researchers have tracked these children and found those with impulse control generally do poorly in nearly every aspect of their lives. Religion simply explains life as a huge eternal and infinite marshmellow experiment. If we can just learn to delay immediate gratification, develop impulse control, self-restraint and self-mastery, we are promised infinite blessings in the next life.

It really is disturbing that there are many institutions and organizations out there set up to promote fear, a focus on death, and in a real way, encourage people to just eat their marshmallow.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No Economic Collapse

The Fear of Economic collapse is a cover for eventual nuclear war. The ultra-rich are building bunkers and moving out of the US. When the nuclear strike comes they will come out of their bunkers saying they had no idea Russia and China were prepping to strike the US.

They will say they built bunkers for fear of economic collapse and not nuclear war. T
here will be no economic collapse before war comes. The US can keep on printing money without significant inflation.  Remember that we will still be "marrying and giving in marriage" right up until the end.  Economic collapse is a cover.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ukranian Protests

Western media likes to tell us the Soviet Union fell apart under Glasnost (publicity, transparency) and Peretroika (openness). But the same Soviet Communist are now the Russian Oligarchs. The KGB is now the FSB and the ex-KGB Vladimir Putin has been at the head since 1999. 

Russia like China sits in a difficult strategic situation.  China's problem is that it is surrounded by other counties like Japan, Philippines, India, Russia, Korea, Mongolia in addition to scores of ethnic minority groups in China itself.  Russia's problem is that most of it's territory and ports are covered in ice and snow most if the year.  One of Russia's only warm water port in the Black Sea is in the Sevastapol, Crimea, Ukraine.  The other major Russian cities on the Black Sea are Sochi and Novorossiysk.

Russia has developed its current economic power thanks to US companies coming in and developing its gas and oil economy for them and then exporting that energy to China and Europe.  However, the problem Russia depends on the Ukraine for food. The Ukraine is still the "bread basket" of Russia.  Russia says because of the Riots they are suspending some agricultural trade, but I doubt this will be permanent. 

My point here is this. The fall of the Soviet Union was a farse. The failed coup of the KGB was political theater.  Russia still maintains control of its former states.  The rejection by the Ukrainian president of the EU trade deal in favor of a Russian trade deal with Putin is proof. Ukrainians dislike Russians and have always seen themselves as European.  This is why we are seeing the protests in Kiev.  The Ukrainians finally realized that Russia was still in control all this time.  And if you talk to the other former Soviet states, they will tell you the same story.

In addition, while the US has been down-sizing and dismantalling our millitary and nuclear arsenal, Russia and China have been upgrading, expanding, and modernizing theirs. Russia maintains a secret weapons complex at Yamantau where they have been reprocessing old nulcear warheads not just into nuclear fuel but also into new warheads.  Russia has developed new, new multi-MIRV Topo-M missiles, and hypersonic missiles, that can be delivered by new stealth submarine, rail-based, and shipping container missile systems.

Also, Russia is suspected of several political assassinations and attempts such as the crash of the Poland Tu-154 carrying most members of the Poland Government.  Dioxin poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko. Polonium 210 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

Joel Skousen on "Radio Liberty " with Dr. Stanley Montieth, commented on the sudden disappearance of the Ukrainian Riot police, the unanimous vote of the Ukrainian Parliment to impeach President Yanukovich. First, he believes that the Ukrainian protestors are sincere.  However, he believes that the Ukrainian government has made no serious attempts to disband the demonstrators and that someone would have to have given the order for these events to occur the way they did. Skousen believes Russia is still in control in the Ukraine and will allow the Ukraine to receive money from the West which only will end up in Russia.  Skousen believes that Russia is not ready to confront the West just yet.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Svendborg Maersk

The Svendborg Maersk Super Container ship ran into hurricane-force winds and waves after leaving the Port of Rotterdam , Netherlands on its way to Sri Lanka. The Svendborg lost 520 containers into the ocean and was forced to stop for repairs in Malaga, Spain.

A friend of mine who served in the Coast Guard told me that cointainer ships destined for the US are inspected in Rotterdam and not reinspected upon entering port in the US.  He also said that Coast Guard inspectors typically will serve the rest of their career in Rotterdam  because of the relationships they form with local authorities.

This sounded like the Rotterdam situation was a recipe for corruption.  So, it will be interesting to see if any contraband washes up on shore that can be traced to the Svendborg.

There may be as many as 5-6 million containers in transport each day.  Surprisingly, container ships only loose from between 2,000-10,000 containers each year.  After the lose of one container In 2006, thousands of bags of Doritoes washed up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  In 1992 a canister broke apart carrying 29,000 plastic ducks and frogs which have been washing up on shores from Scotland to Japan ever since.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Georgia 2/12/14: Snow-mageddon and the Ice-pocalypse

Augusta, Georgia and the rest of the Southern US from TX to NC is experiencing one of the worst winter storms in its history. The last severe ice storm to hit Augusta was 9 years ago. 

Light fluffy snow is one thing, but when you have heavy sleet mixed with freezing rain, the heavy ice builds up on tree branches causing the branches to snap and fall suddenly to the ground.  Falling tree limbs can damage homes, cars, and take out power lines.

This winter storm started on 2/11/14 and really wasn't all that bad at first.  The past couple of days before the "polar vortex" arrived were warm and the initial sleet didn't stick to the roads much.  However, as the storm continued about 1-2 inches of sleet and wet snow accumulated the first night with only about a 1/4-inch of ice. There were a few downed limbs and trees and the power was out for only about 3-4 hours.  

However, the storm isn't done yet.  And now the power is out for the second time.  The wet slushy sleet is re-freezing and more freezing rain is falling.  As I listen quietly, all around me I can hear the sound of branches cracking and falling to the ground.  The sound is like gun fire going off. Breaking branches in my immediate neighborhood begin with a very loud and startling "crack" followed by a "thud" as the branch impacts the ground.  Trees further away make a brief echo-y "pop" sound.

Interspersed with the sound of "cracking" and "popping" branches is an occasional "buzz-buzzz" sound of high-voltage electrical wires arching and electrical transformers burning up.

With the power out, we are heating the home with our gas fireplace and using candles and headlamps for light.  I also have a car jumper battery pack that I'm using to keep the smart phones charged. Cellular-service and 4G data still works.  Also, the local HAM radio repeaters have been working great. 

I expect Augusta and the rest of the South to wake up to quite a mess in the morning.  Fortunately, the weather forcast calls for warmer temperatures and clear skies for the weekend and next week.