Notebook, 9 May 2015: Information Really Is Power

Just to state the obvious, the power of information (as opposed to what amounts to the “noise” of op-eds, punditry, “research” emanating from pre-ordained conclusions and the like), it’s useful to note what the Information Age has recently wrought. This seemingly “DUH” title Citizen videos of police misconduct are eroding the presumption that police do not commit misconduct ought to be understood as a given, but the underlying assumption needs to be made explicit: people are hungry—starving—for real information (in a format they understand).
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Notebook, 26 June 2013: American Exceptionalism?

“Russia can neither be grasped by the mind, nor measured by any common yardstick. Russia’s status is special: no attitude to her other than one of blind faith is admissible.”

“He who is not with us, absolutely and without reserve of any kind, is against us, and should be treated as an enemy alien.”

The first is something I’ve quoted before; the poet Feodor Tyuchev singing his devotion to Mother Russia — the Third Rome. The latter was proclaimed by our own “progressive” hero, Teddy Roosevelt.

So much for freedom of conscience.

Updated 2X: Notebook, 8 June 2013: I Have Nothing To Hide Either, But . . .

A guy sits at a bank of computer screens at the NSA. On one screen is a list of the target’s contacts. Who placed the call, which calls got returned, the date the calls were made, the time and duration of each call. He doesn’t know who his target is? Of course he does. He has the phone number, which he cleverly enough matched up to a name he found in a phone book. (Lets just assume for the sake of argument that the NSA’s phone books are both a lot more comprehensive and more up to date than something you or I might buy on Amazon.) Both the target’s and the party (or parties – this could be a conference call) on the other end of the line(s) appear on another screen.

Which brings up a good point.

Just because the only FISA court order we know about is supposedly restrictive (just phone call meta data) doesn’t mean that the NSA doesn’t already have all the data they need to fill in the blanks, including content. After all, there’s always the much rumored, but never confirmed ECHELON Program. As far as I know, nobody has yet asked what the phone call meta data is being matched up with.

So this NSA analyst gets a request to keep tabs on the target, and being sufficiently “sound” to pass the clearance hurdles necessary to actually sit at this desk, he’s not only more prone than just about everybody else to follow orders that he knows are wrong, but he’s far more likely to embrace a world view in which the threat is routinely exaggerated. So he got his orders, and now he’s found what he’s looking for. His target has repeatedly made contact with an “anti-American” element.

This needs to be reported!
Continue reading “Updated 2X: Notebook, 8 June 2013: I Have Nothing To Hide Either, But . . .”

Notebook, 3 March, 2012: Persuasion . . .

Hello there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the magazine so far. Now I’d like to let you in on something of great importance to you personally. Have you ever been tricked into saying yes? Ever felt trapped into buying something you didn’t really want or contributing to some suspicious- sounding cause? And have you ever wished you understood why you acted in this way so that you could withstand these clever ploys in the future?

Yes? Then clearly this article is just right for you. It contains valuable information on the most powerful psychological pressures that get you to say yes to requests. And it’s chock-full of new, improved research showing exactly how and why these techniques work. So don’t delay, just settle in and get the information that, after all, you’ve already agreed you want.

Robert B. Cialdini, The Science of Persuasion

No, this isn’t about Jane Austen’s last novel, but about the Cialdini’s work on the psychology used to sway people, extracting the decision and/or action you want out of an individual.
Continue reading “Notebook, 3 March, 2012: Persuasion . . .”

#occupywallstreet #occupyboston Part Seven: A Right to be Heard

If you’re interested, parts one through six of my #occupywallstreet #occupyboston series:

Speaking for Myself . . .


I begin this post on 1 December 2011, the day Suffolk Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre held a hearing to hear cause why a temporary restraining order restricting the City of Boston from evicting the camp at Dewey Square be lifted. As well as as attempt to get inside Judge McIntyre’s head, it’s also a reflection on the issues at hand. Right off the bat, my attempt to get inside Judge McIntyre’s head is, I realize, a fool’s errand. I’m not a lawyer. I am just a sporting amateur who happens to care deeply about the issues surrounding and involved with the existence of the camp at Dewey Square. I happen to feel that there is no other voice in all of American politics who speaks for me and my issues. As a life long labor democrat and then an active ex-blogger at the Big Orange Satan for years, I am convinced that it is no longer the fatally compromised Democratic party.
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