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Radically Inept
Thursday, October 07, 2004
  Continuing down the rabbit hole

So, I guess the first question is, "How do we establish values?" Or, maybe it should be phrased, "What is the basis for value creation?"

To a certain extent, the question may well put us in the nature vs nurture debate. How much of our values are taught vs how much might be ingrained biologically? Is it possible to to determine which is which?

For instance, I believe it was a book I was rading by Francis Crick, wherein he makes a reductionist arguement in support of us being the product of our brains. If memory serves, he went so far as to say something to the effect that freewill waas illusionary, and it all boiled down to the biochemistry of our brains. I didn't like it when I read it, and I still don't buy it. I find it hard to buy that people like or dislike professional golf based solely on the brains biochemical reaction to the sport, but I don't have the expertise to refute it in any scientifically sound manner. Intuitively, I know/feel it can't all be reduced to that. But then, I'm not much of a reductionist by nature, and really have never liked that approach to science, as a sole approach. It has value, but it leaves a lot to be desired when looking at things on a system level.

Anyway, if I was more of a historian or anthropologist, I might have some could cultural examples to cite of cultures which never developed anything like sports fanship. I know there are a lot of similarities between Rome's 'games' and our society's treatment of sports stars and the like, but since Rome, Greece, and others had such a huge and lasting influence on our modern culture, I think they not real valuable to support a universality of the phenomena. For instance, did the Mayans have a sports culture wherein sports stars were given elevated status in their culture? Or the Incas, or...Well, I don't know.

Do societies/cultures require a critical population density for individuals to begin to live their lives through 'famous' proxies? Is there any similar behaviour to be found in any of the other primates, or elsewhere in the animal kingdom? Again, going back to "Questions I ponder, and perhaps a little progress", I can find what appears to be an appreciation for aesthetics in the animal kingdom, but I'm not sure I've seen animals live their lives vicariously though other individuals. Going back to the nature vs nurture question, why would nature, or perhaps how would nature come develop a trait in a species which causes/allows some members of the species to find joy(?) in the activities of other species members, even if they receive no concrete/material benefits from the active members activities. I don't get a new car, nor eat better, because Tiger Woods wins a match. So why should I derive pleasure from his activity?

As I said below, there is a great deal of economic activity generated by large numbers of individuals consumed with knowing about the activities of a few favored individuals. If money is a valid metric for 'value', than who Britney Spears is currently screwing has value. and that seems odd.

And that reminds me, I should probably develop a list of potential metrics for determining 'value'. Money is an obvious one, and one that's easy to measure. But it's not always available in all situations. The pleasure I feel from 'x', say feeling the sun on my back, is not something that I think is easy to assign a monetary value to. I think 'pleasure' might be it's own metric, possibly measured by the amount of chemical change (release of endorphins, for instance), albeit harder to assign anything approaching an objective measuring system - how much pleasure one person feels may be very different from the pleasure another individual feels from the same activity even if the same amount of chemicals are released. And if plesure, well than pain.

I beginning to think developing a list of metrics may not be all that easy afterall. And than there is the whole question of defining value and, let's capitalize this one - Value. Hell, out of laziness, I think I'll start with Dictionary.com: val·ue Audio pronunciation of "value" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (vly)
n.

1. An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.
2. Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
3. Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
4. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: “The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility” (Jonathan Alter).
5. Precise meaning or import, as of a word.
6. Mathematics. An assigned or calculated numerical quantity.
7. Music. The relative duration of a tone or rest.
8. The relative darkness or lightness of a color. See table at color.
9. Linguistics. The sound quality of a letter or diphthong.
10. One of a series of specified values: issued a stamp of new value.


tr.v. val·ued, val·u·ing, val·ues

1. To determine or estimate the worth or value of; appraise.
2. To regard highly; esteem. See Synonyms at appreciate.
3. To rate according to relative estimate of worth or desirability; evaluate: valued health above money.
4. To assign a value to (a unit of currency, for example).


[Middle English, from Old French, from feminine past participle of valoir, to be strong, be worth, from Latin valre. See wal- in Indo-European Roots.]valu·er n.

[Download or Buy Now]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

value

see at face value.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

val·ue (vly)
n.

1. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.
2. An assigned or calculated numerical quantity.

And then might as well look to Wikipedia's definitions of Value: Value is a term that expresses the concept of worth in general, and it is thought to be connected to reasons for certain practices, policies or actions. The concept can be understood as a verb, as an adjective, or as a substantive noun. So, "I value my life" is the verbal sense, which expresses a valuation. "My life is valuable" is an adjectival use of the term. "My values are all messed up" is the substantive use of the concept.

The concept can also be understood in a descriptive, stipulative, or revisionary sense. So called "social scientists," for instance, might do a study to find out what people in fact value, or more generally, how they might define value. To think that what people value determines what makes something valuable is to be a conventionalist about value. One could simply stipulate a definition of value, instead. So, for instance, in economic theory value is often defined as "willingness to pay," despite the fact that few people actually assent to such a definition, or even exhibit such an understanding of value in their lives. Game theorists often define value in terms of desire, again contrary to ordinary value practice.

A revisionist sense of value will try to take value practice as a starting point and revise the conception where this is rationally defensible to do. There is generally thought to be a fundamental distinction in values between something being valuable as an end, or intrinsically, and something being valuable as a means, or extrinsically. The general idea here is that I might say that I value my happiness for its own sake, but I value having a good job as a means to my happiness.

Some thinkers believe that the notion of intrinsic value, or being valuable as an end, is connected to ethical action. So, consequentialists, for instance, who define acting rightly or wrongly in terms of the amount of value brought about as a consequence of those actions provide an example of this. Even nonconsequentialists though think that intrinsic value is somehow connected to ethical action. The term "value" may also be used in specific stipulative senses in various disciplines. Below are some exampes of this as well as an explanation of the some of the ways the substantive sense of "values" is used...

They have more...Well, The Daily Show is coming on, so... 
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  A reminder - Tomorrow is the Gay Economic Boycott

I for one, will not be buying anything tomorrow, or going out. Sadly, my part in this protest is diminished by the fact that I can't afford to go out or buy anything. But, if you are in a better financial position, I'd hope you would support the Gay community in their efforts to gain legal parity.

Help Yourself - Support the Gay Economic Boycott 
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  Lack of a value free viewpoint

It dawned on me after I wrote the post below, that it is really loaded with unexplained value judgments. I'm sure most of you caught on, and I don't think I will always point out where I lack objectivity, but I did think it important to at least let you know that I recognize that I'm writing from a value laden perspective.

For instance, though I don't come right out and say it, it should be obvious that I find the need to resort to anti-depressant drugs to avoid depression a 'bad' thing. What I don't do is to offer any justification for that point of view. Hell, I'm not so sure I can find evidence of any society having existed that had an inherently lower level of depression. I mean it's especially difficult since depression as a recognized ailment and records there of, is a relatively recent development. And I don't have a clue for what the rate of 'clinical' depression might have been for the Minh dynasty vs the Ming Dynasty vs that found within the Hawaiian caste system pre-Capt Cook vs that found within The Cherokee Nation or the Australian Aboriginals. For all I know, they all resorted to their own form of anti-depressants, for instance the early opium trade in China. So, I can not say that there ever was a definitive 'happy society'.

But I do think it is fair to question a system wherein there appears to be a huge rise in the use of drugs that presumably reduce the 'pain' of society. I also think it is fair to ask to what degree do cultural and societal norms and values contribute to the rate of depression within a given population. And while I won't take the time to look up the studies right now, I do remember reading that the US population has one of the highest rates of 'unhappiness', and my personal values say that unhappiness is a negative.

A few examples, which certainly aren't definitive, that I remember coming across that might give us some fodder for the discussion include: 1) A study/survey done a few years ago on the female population of Guam, and their feelings about their physical appearance. When the survey was first done, the majority of the females had a fairly positive view of their physical body type and attractiveness. A similar study/survey done after they had cable and MTV for a couple of years noted a huge rise in depression, bulimia and anorexia. 2) A similar occurrence was found in Nigeria, when they selected a woman as Ms Nigeria for the Ms World competetion that did not reflect the cultural values of beauty among the Nigerians. In the past, Nigeria had sent contestants who met their own values for beauty, but they always lost. When they sent a skinny woman, and she won, their was a huge increase in depression, bulimia and anorexia among Nigerian female teens.

I could point to others, and I probably will later, but that should suffice for now. Well, I think this is related, and it's the reason I decided to post this, so...I had to make a run over to the Kroger's to pick up some flour for the Wife a little while ago. For some reason the check out person appeared to have retired from her job while still running the checkout register. She was slower than mere incompetence and laziness would explain. Regardless, I had time to peruse the headlines of all of the fine publications that you find by the checkout counters across America. Stuff like J-Lo this, and secret baby that, and 10 fantastic sex tips that won't look like you got them from a magazine(?), and somebody something.

I don't get it. Why should I care about the lives of the rich and famous? Really. Why the fuck should I care if Jennifer somebody is bangin' Ben vs some other bimbo? What is the value of this knowledge? It has value - rest assured. The publisher is making money selling these tabloids, as is the supermarket, the middlemen and delivery people, the writers, publicists, photographers, fashion designers, etc etc etc. So, the information certainly has financial value. Why? I don't get it.

I have used pro football and baseball as examples in a similar nature, but it dawned on me, that a better, more extreme, example would be a sport like pro golf. Why does pro golf exist? This is not like pro sports franchises, where one could argue about the value to the community derived from the communal aspect of the franchise/game/whatever.

I'm talking pro golf. Can there exist a more selfish pursuit than pro golf? There is no 'win one for the Gipper', or for the town, or for anything but to line the player's pocket and his own personal agrandizement (Okay, maybe the ball and club manufacturers, but that's a real stretch). I can think of no more self sport than golf. Singles tennis or pro skate boarding or pro racing may fall into the same sort of category, but golf is so much easier to pick on. There's not even the thrill of potential injury or wreck to drive its popularity. Maybe the guy shanks it into the water or overshoots into a sand trap. Woooh..Now there's excitement!

Who the fuck cares? I really don't get it. I think playing golf can be fun, but I really can't understand the cult of personality that arises within the fan base. I don't. I really don't understand the socio-economic mechanism that makes pro golf a huge money maker.

So, I have to recognize that there is value in these things I'm ranting about, at least if the measure is ultimately financial. I can't deny their power to elicit strong feelings from the fans. I just can't understand how people can care about these endeavors to the extent of spending money, time and emotion on them. Hell, who decided that hitting a ball with a crooked stick into a gopher hole was worthy of watching in the first place?

So, what is the value of information? Well, I think it's examples like those above that make the question difficult to answer. I have discussed aesthetics as a source of information value, and as a contributing factor to our economic system, but I'm not sure what label to apply to the "value created" by living life vicariously through individuals who engage in what appears should be a perfectly worthless past time. Again, I can understand the pleasure derived from playing these games, I don't understand the fanaticism that arises from the non-participants.

so, all of these posts will be value laden. I know you knew that, but I wanted you to know that I recognize my prejudices. Of course, mine are right...

Quick Note: I meant to point this out also. Not only do we assign a value to the game of golf, and to the professional golfer, but we assign a value to people who can recite golf and other pro sports statistics. So, even if you have no atheletic talent, you can achieve prestige by memorizing the intricacies of a 'worthless' past time. Really, I don't get it. 
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  Would Major Nelson play the Lottery?

Darrin Stephens ("Bewitched" (1964)) marries a witch.

MAJ Nelson ("I Dream of Jeannie" (1965)) finds a bottle with a genie.

Both deny themselves the opportunity to have everything they ever wanted, instant gratification, and pursue 'ordinary' lives. Why?

There are other examples of this type of story, but these two provide a decent starting point.

How do these characters actions and choices fit in with what we see in society? Are they only the product of sixties idealism, or is there something deeper?

When I watch TV today, I am amazed at how much 'lying' is going on in both the shows and commercials; especially the commercials. What I see on TV now appears to tell me that I should have everything regardless of the methods I use to get them. As a mater of fact, our society seems to say that if you achieve financial success, you are a great person, regardless of the harm to others you caused getting there, and it also doesn't appear to matter whether or not it required actual effort on your part. Success is its own absolution.

So, if you win the lottery, you are a success. You are respected. Why? Because you have financial wealth, presumably.

So, has our culture morphed in the intervening years since the two sitcoms that I started this post with, aired? Would they still play today? I don't think so. I think currently we would not buy into the idea of 'self-denial' based on principles. In fact, I think Tony and Darrin would be considered idiots. I'll grant that at the time these shows aired, there were probably many who thought so. But I think today, everyone would think so. "You have the chance to have everything your heart desires in one fell swoop and you don't take it? You are an idiot." Actually, I think that was reflected in the initial coverage of Tillman's choice to join the military. Not that they called him an idiot, but there did appear to an expression of shock that someone would voluntarily give up the good life. Our culture found this behaviour to be aberrant - outside the norm. And yet our society presumably values patriotism.

So, let's take a slightly different tact. As I stated below, 'Real' Truth questioned, I am inclined to think that our society and economy is based on information exchanges at the 'photon' level, and that most motivations appear to be based on achieving an ever higher endorphin [or some other 'pleasure' enhancing chemical reaction. I am using 'endorphin' as a convenient term to cover a host of reactions] rush, and these seem to lead to a culture of greed and materialism.

So, does getting everything you want via your wife the witch, somehow deny or reduce the pleasure you would normally experience? Or even a step further, if you yourself were gifted with 'supernatural' powers and good blink wealth into existence, would it be fun? Or would life become boring if you could have it all - true instant gratification of your every whim? If this is the case, is there some point at which materialism reaches diminishing returns in terms of the resulting endorphin rush?

If this is true, than our society seems locked in an ever accelerating drive to achieve 'less bang for the buck'. A culture doomed to pursue unhappiness? If this is the case, should other cultures oppose us in our cultural expansion? We seem to be exporting the idea that materialism brings happiness, which if true, leaves me to wonder why so many people in our society are depressed. We are the wealthiest nation on the planet - the one with the most material and expendable wealth - and we seem to also have the highest murder rate, one of the highest rates of anti-depressant prescriptions, and apparently, of the highest rates of people dissatisfied with their lot in life. Is this cause and effect?

None of the 'great' philosophers/prophets/whatevers espoused materialism. Quite the contrary, most of those recognized as the 'greatest' have pointedly stated that happiness is not found via the accumulation of wealth and power. Yet somehow, especially in this country, wealth seems to have become associated with 'godliness'. How? What the fuck were the calvinists on? How could they have simultaneously professed to believe in the teachings of Jesus and that idea that the accumulation of wealth was representative of a closeness with the almighty? In contrast, "the Amish, the Mennonites, the Brethren, and the other 'Plain People' of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country" are considered oddities, and we find it incomprehensible that they reject our culture while living among us. And I doubt they would play the lottery.

So, at some point I am going to I will take this further, right now, I need to get back to the job hunt. While I don't expect to actually come up with anything original in these posts, I hope to further my understanding of what appears to being going on in our society, why it seems so unfulfilling, how it got here, and what if anything can actually be done to change it. The idea of change will probably wind up being several posts on just that subject. There exists a great deal of social/cultural resistance to any change. This true just about everywhere, every society, and even within large organizations - much of it the result of pure inertia - but also active resistance on the part of powerful stakeholders who don't wish to give up their positions of power, regardless of how truly unfulfilling that power might be. On the otherhand, maybe these people are inherently different; maybe the endorphin rush does not diminish as they acquire more, or maybe they are in a position where they can acquire so much more, it's worth the shot for the rush.

Anyway, I'm still not doing a good job of organizing these thoughts, and I have no desire to go back and edit beyound the spell check function, so some of this may be confusing - though I hope you can decipher my meaning from context.

Like I said, back to the job hunt... 
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
  'Real' Truth questioned

I don't know. I sort of promised to try to come to grips with my apathy concerning our election process. I made the bold statement, that our election process means...Well, almost m=nothing. There will be no real change regardless of who's elected.

I think this is true.

I got a call from a friend today, who says he was denied health coverage based on his weight. And, admittedly, if I'm the insurance company, based on actuary tables, I wouldn't cover him either.

The problem is, that if no insurance company covers him, I wind up paying anyway. I pay through taxes. He will receive coverage. He will receive health care, the difference is whether I pay for it via my insurance company , or whether my tax dollars pay it. I am still out the money.

We don't have a healthcare industry, we have a profit industry. But I pay for both.

I pay regardless of what happens. And I think that's the point I was sort of trying to address earlier- this election doesn't address the real issues. One of the real issues is - regardless of the system in place - I pay for your healthcare...Or I don't.

Those are the questions - do I pay for your health via my premiums, do I pay for your health via my taxes, or do I not pay for your health at all?

It comes down to a value judgment. What values and who's judgment remain in question; but in the end, I still pay. You can argue the extreme point, the one that says it's his choice to be 'obese', and I consider that a fair argument...Sort of...I mean, based on that thinking, I would have let Stephen Hawkings languish and die. Really...Based on pure actuarial tables, I'd have no reason to invest in his existence. The odds of Hawkings providing anything of value, is close to nil.

On the otherhand, how do I 'actualize' his contributions to society? Well, based on the current system, I'm never asked to.

Is keeping a quadriplegic alive and hooked to an expensive communication system, worth my premiums and/or my tax dollars? Well, it sort of depends, doesn't it? And, how do I decide?

Why do I pay to keep "X" alive? How much should I pay?

Well, the previous was an example, I think, of the questions I am trying to work through, and that I absolutely do not hear the candidates addressing.

Who should pay; how much; to keep who alive, and why?

Just an example...

Okay, how do we get past these kind of questions? Really...How?

Well, initially, I think how much profit someone else makes, is not my concern. Again, really. Why should I care whether or not company "X" makes x profit? How is it my problem?

Ah, but you say, they are employers, and if they don't make profit, they can't employ your neighbors, ETC. ETC.ETC.

So? What do I get out of it? Do my taxes go down? Am I covered? Why the fuck should I care? The system doesn't; why should I?...

Okay, I want to start a from a very reductionist point, one that I have addressed, somewhere, in Rogue Analyst, I just can't find where.

Anyway, let's start from a few reductionist premises, and see where it leads:

I have tried to explore reducing the economy to photons, and while people look at me like I'm an idiot, I think all information exchanges happen as a result of photon/electron energy transfers. II will gladly accept arguments pro and con to this point].

I've also argued for an 'endorphin' based economy, though not on-line, until now. On the otherhand, I think the idea of an economy based on aesthethics has some relevance [Questions I ponder, and perhaps a little progress], but does not go far enough. I think endorphins may explain far more. Why do I want a new car versus the totally utilitarian vehicle I already own? Endorphin rush - the belief that other people will think more highly of me - provides the chemical motivation for my actions...Eh, I'm not convinced, but I'm still pondering it.

It's sort of like Maslow's Hierarchy of needs had validity up to the point of self-actualiztion [or whatever term he used], but at that point totally broke down. People, once they meet their security and food and sex needs, don't look to acheive a higher level of self-actualization, rather, they seek endorphin rushes.

Our's is an endorphin based economy. But, like so many other 'addictions', once someone has acheived this level of endorphin activity, they crave an ever higher endorphin rush. It's 'Jonesin' for the next higher level of rush. And, like most addictions we've studied (presumably), satisfaction can not ultimately be acheived. It's a pretty fucked up basis to build a society.

Let's see:

Endorphins
Photons

and, oh yeah,

Greed and materialism

The latter are seperate categories, but 'symptoms?' I'm not sure. But, it does seem that our society requires/teaches that you can not be happy until you have more than anyone else.

Okay. This isn't well thought out as a post, but I think it provides somewhat of a guideline of where I think this blog needs to go. None of the current political dialogue addresses the idea that our society is built on an individual's dissatisfaction with their life. But that is what our economy/society is based on - unhappiness. And I would like to see a political dialogue that addreses 'unhappiness' with life as a primary issue, and not just giving me Prozac.

Why is it that all of our problems can be fixed by a profit based industry that promises to 'hide' the pain? I argue there is a problem with our society...

Okay, that was an extreme ramble, and I owe everyone a more well thought out position, and eventually - some sort of acheivable alternative...I'll bet I acheive the former - the well thought out position, and bet against me acheiving the latter - alternatives. But I might as well try. I'm pondering the issues, anyway.

Oh, and I don't think our political process will ever address the issues I'm raising...


Long rant, no purpose.. 
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
  A sort of mea culpa

I know there has been a serious lack of posts at this site lately, and I can certainly claim that damage to our home caused part of it - but nowhere close to the absence some of you may have experienced.

Part of it, a major part, is a certain level of boredom. Not boredom with blogging per se, but rather boredom with the subject, especially in the area of pointing out fallacies and corruption within the system, and then allowing myself to be side-tracked with a meaningless election.

Really, it's easy to point out the obvious evil or ineptness, or the combination of evil and ineptness, that has been this administrations record over the past, nearly four years.

And developing major rants against the Bush Administration is too fucking easy.

And they do not address the problem(s) as I see it.

The problems are not just with this administration or the obvious corporate malfeasance, both of which have occurred in abundance, but they are not actually the problem. They are symptoms of something that is far deeper.

And during my surfing across the bloggosphere, I realize that I have been acting as a merely redundant voice.

Anyone can take a NYTimes article or a WaPo editorial, and offer their own insightful opinion. But that opinion is than dependent on the validity of the information source - however many of levels that has passed through.

I can point you to a great commentary by 'whos-it', whose basing their opinion on another 'whos-it', who's basing their opinion on a 'what's-it', but in the end, all credibility is, or should be, derived from the original source.

Sadly, the credibility of the original source is subject to attack from whichever side doesn't like what it hears. These attacks to not attempt to establish validity, rather, they just undermine whatever credibility I might have thought the source had.

In truth, it may be worse than that. My recent lack of commentary may be due to the fact that I believe that arguing whether Kerry or Bush is worse for the country, detracts from the fact that I think our country is already beyound salvaging. Worse still, I don't have any answers.

So, I have been spending much of my time reviewing basic questions. What is truth? How does one 'know' the truth? How many 'truths' can exist simultaneously? If the 'truths' do not agree, well, what is 'truth'?

Actually, this comment to a previous post, which may have been an attempt at humor or may have been an attempt to get me back on track, asked the right questions:
I'm confused.

I think I've read part of this before.

In no particular order, please answer:
What's real?
What's reality?
What's reality tv?

Thanks.
Josh Narins


I, actually have some glib answers to his questions. Well, it turns out, the part that I thought was glib, anyway, would be simply 'incomprehensible'. I liked it...

But it does leave the question open - How do I establish what is real/truth from all of the 'flack' that surrounds it?

Well, it leaves me asking some rather complicated/simple(?) questions to which I lack complicated/simple answers.

I had a lot to say earlier, but I wasn't able to score computer time, and I don't feel like rushing the effort right now, but...Well, no, I won't rush it right now.

Let me just say, I don't care who wins the election because I don't think the real problems with our nation/society will be addressed regardless of wo wins. You might say it will be worse under one or another administration, but if you do, I don't think you grasp the extent of the problems we face. Neither administration can/will address our root problems - hell, I don't even think we...know...

 
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Monday, October 04, 2004
  Why don't I feel safer?

Radiation Levels Prompt Search (washingtonpost.com)
Radiation Levels Prompt Search
Atlantic Searched Near Where Bomb May Have Fallen in '58

By J.R. Roseberry
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, October 1, 2004; Page A03

SAVANNAH, Ga., Sept. 30 -- A team of Air Force and government security officials, radiation experts and military divers converged on the Georgia coast Thursday to investigate the spot where a long-lost hydrogen bomb may be resting since it was dropped from a bomber in 1958...

...The bomb, a 7,600-pound Mark 15, which has been described as a hundred times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima, was intentionally jettisoned from a B-47 bomber after a midair collision with a jet fighter.

An intensive 90-day search conducted at the time failed to turn up any sign of the bomb, which has been officially listed as "irretrievably lost." Air Force officials have said that the bomb does not carry the plutonium needed for a nuclear blast but that it does carry 400 pounds of explosives...
But doesn't the former contradict the this:
Duke first became interested in the lost nuclear weapon four years ago when he spotted a reference to it on the Internet.

After studying information that included a recently declassified 1966 document prepared by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy W.J. Howard indicating the bomb was fully armed and capable of nuclear detonation, Duke approached Air Force officials urging them to either conduct another search with modern equipment or cover his expenses to conduct a search on his own.

The officials said the bomb posed little danger because it had only a low risk of leakage of the highly radioactive material it contains and should be left alone. In a report three years ago, the Air Force said the bomb was probably under 15 feet of mud in as much as 40 feet of water.

But Duke's latest radiation findings sparked new interest in the site from the Air Force and Thursday's search.
I like it better when DoD's stories are self-consistent throughout. 
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Sunday, October 03, 2004
  Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Three)

Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part One) and Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Two)

Yeah. So there I was. In a room with some of the biggest power players on the planet. I don't know how I missed it, but Murdoch must 'a given a signal, 'cause all of a sudden conversation amongst these guys went back to normal - normal for these guys and gals, anyway. I was truly outclassed

Ya sorta' gotta understand when these people talk down 'bout the masses, they got a pretty good reason. I mean 30, 40 or more generations of reasons. The ol' line 'bout how you are only here 'cause your parents survived to breed, holds especially true in this group. Your parents may have survived the plagues and wars of history; these people's forebears inbred and survived each other.

Think about it. All of these people could trace their roots back to the same bloodlines - hell, they made the people of Americus, Georgia look like a beacon of genetic diversity. Just look at Prince Charles. Couple that with generations of progeny that knew letting a sibling survive would mean competition for the family's hereditary powers. These people's forebears had survived by killin' off the family competition - fratricide, patricide, matricide and 'cides I ain't even heard of, which left their family trees looking like so many stumps in a burnt out forest. These were truly natural born killers.

That's what separates them from average folk - birth and a predisposition to the ruthless quest for power at all costs. So whereas I might not be opposed to killin', these people were good at it, and the masses were just so many poker chips, and what mattered was who wound up controlling the biggest pile - always had been. Yeah, I was armed with a plastic fuckin' paint stirrer/stiletto but these people were armed with power.

Murdoch led me over to a small table at the corner of the suite's wet bar and ordered drinks for us, and no, he didn't ask. The waitron unit poured brown liquid from a decanter into two glasses and set down in front of us. I waited 'til Murdoch took a sip before I started on mine. Like I said, 'cides I ain't heard of - poison probably flowed in his veins, but still I felt better letting him go first.

Setting down his half empty glass, "What do you think of it?"

"Smooth, real smooth," was all I offered. It was smooth, but so what? Personally, I like the burn of cheap of whiskey. This smooth stuff pretty much all tasted like they'd took the kick out of the bottle and didn't replace it with anything. Not as bad as non-alcholic beer to be sure, but it also sure wasn't worth payin' more for it.

"So, R.E., why'd you quit? You were makin' good money, good connections...," he let the question trail off?

"Mostly ' cause it got borin'," knowin' he'd never get it. There is never enough to satisfy his ilk.

"R.E.! Ten percent of what you were transporting was certainly reasonable pay for the risks involved."

"I didn't say it was too risky; I said it got boring. And I mean the money got borin' too."

That one bothered him. I could tell. "What did you do with all the money, R.E.? I know how much I paid for your services, and that was no small sum."

"It's around," was as much as I figured Murdoch needed to know.

"Hmmmm...", Murdoch looked a little puzzled. "You never spent any of it, did you?"

"Murdoch, the best things in life are free."

"R.E., your idea of 'free' is little more than serial petty larceny," he said dryly, still somehow managing to emphasize 'petty'. "And what does it get you? You don't OWN anything."

"Murdoch, you guys already own EVERYTHING. Anything I might buy, is just givin' you guys back your money, and I just wouldn't feel right about lettin' ya'll have your money back."

Murdoch smiled at that one. He knew that was a pretty accurate assessment of how it worked, though I think it bothered him a little to know I was taking money out of the 'market' and stashing it where him and his couldn't make more on it.

'Bout that time some flunky in an expensive, "see how important I am" suit, came over and whispered somethin' in Murdoch's ear. I took the time to do a little head count of who was in the room. All the major businesses and industries were represented. I don't mean to suggest that there were a bunch of CEOs in the room - far from it These were OWNERS. They ran money from their homes and clubs; they didn't even bother to go to board meetings. Hell, they knew THEIR will would be done, and god had no place at the table.

There was one that stood out for me at least, the heir to the biggest global swindle of all times - the De Beers' family rep. Damn, they were brilliant, getting a huge percentage of the population to buy rocks and to spend dearly on them. The rappers of today would hate to have to admit how much they owe to these masters of the bling. Hell, these guys invented bling - bling, the utterly useless stuff people wear, so that other people will measure the stuff, and not see how worthless the wearer truly is. Sorta' like, "I may be a true piece of shit on a personal level, but see, I have cool stuff". Sorta' the opposite of self-worth, I'm guessin'.

I caught DeBeers' eye and gave him a nod of respect. The only way they could have improved on the family scam, is if they'd figured out how to make people think gravel was rare. And hell, they still might.

Then Murdoch started talkin' to me again. He had a pained expression that I recognized could only be due to the interruption of the flow of money. He proved me right.

"R.E., I need to convince you to come out of retirement for the day, and handle a little matter for me."

"Murdoch, I'm here to cover the convention, not to pick up money. Hell, I'm here on a zero budget, what makes you think I want to go back to work?"

"Well, one of your replacements [as if he could replace me] got stupid, and there is a pick-up that must be made in LA in the morning."

"Shit, Murdoch, that gives you plenty of time. You don't need me for this one."

"No, R.E., actually, I do need you for this one, and you are going to like doing it."

Well, I knew Rupie enough to know he wasn't strong armin' me, so there had to be somethin' else. And if he said I'd find it interestin', he was probably right, so I bit, "What've you got goin' now?"

"Actually, R.E., this has been going on for sometime, though knowing your proclivities, I doubt you are aware of the change, except at the periphery," which he knew would get to my curiosity. "Have you heard people complaining about weekend television?"

"Yeah, sometimes, I guess. So what?"

"R.E., do you think me and mine are incapable of putting out a product on weekend nights that people would watch?"

"Hell, no. Of course you can," I mean, that was one thing for sure, if these guys wanted to get eyeballs on a Friday or Saturday night, they were perfectly capable.

"So, why don't we," he asked? "I think you will have it figured out, ohhhh, by now..."

And he was right. Once the question was asked, the answer was obvious. If they weren't putting on popular shows on weekend nights, it was 'cause they didn't want to. And the only reason for that was they were makin' more money some other way.

"They're fuckin' pay you off??!!" Wow, this was good and Murdoch knew it. "How long has this been goin' on, and why ain't no one else caught on, Murdoch? I mean, it is kinda' obvious once you think about it."

"Of course it is, and it started back with "Twin Peaks". You remember, it had fantastic ratings back in the early 90s, and then all of sudden we started playing with its time slot?" I nodded.

"Did you wonder why?"

"Not really," I didn't, but then I didn't watch TV much, even back then.

"Well, much of America thought we were fools for screwing around with a successful program, but it served our purposes well. See, people were staying home Friday nights to watch it. Restaurants and bars were losing customers to the program, and they approached us. Moving Twin Peaks around and destroyin' its ratings proved to them, that if they wanted to max their weekend cash flow, they had to deal with us."

"So now, they pay you under the table to air shitty programs on weekend nights, eh?" It really was brilliant. I mean, think about it. Rather than pay for advertisin' to be made and aired to convince people, who were at home, to go out, it would be cheaper for the industry to pay cable and broadcasters to not air anything that would keep people at home in the first place - 'bore' the people into the restaurants and bars, and save on production costs at the same time. Truly, brilliant. Not quite 'DeBeers selling rocks brilliant', but brilliant.

"I knew you would understand, R.E. Your lack of personal greed might irritate me, but you have always demonstrated an innate sense of larceny," smilin' big, he was. "So, why don't you stay here with us and catch "Der Arnold" (really, Murdoch said "Der Arnold") and the Bimbo twins, and I'll arrange for your transportation to the left coast and back. I can assure you, you will be back in plenty of time for tomorrow's festivities."

So, alright, I bought, "Who do I see, and what's my take?"

"Well, due to the screw up, Phil Hickey is out in LA, and that's who you will be meeting, and I think your usual 10%?"

"Fine. You wanna go ahead and wire it now?"

"Sure, R.E. I always trust you when I control your transportation."

"Whatever. Here the numbers," handing him a business card blank, except for 24 digits, "The last eleven are to the bank's phone." I really wasn't takin' any risk. This account was a one way account - money couldn't be takin' out. Money could only be deposited in, and then automatically transferred to a second receiver account, and from there, I had to send them a 'key' which would move the money, split up amongst several of my other accounts.

Well, I sat there and got bored watchin' Schwarzenegger, and then just plain disgusted by the airhead twins - geez, so much like their father - maybe they'd get elected to prez on some twisted dual ticket platform somewhere in the future - twice the ignorance for a single vote. Weirder things were goin' on already, so that sure wasn't out of the question.

Murdoch must have found the twins pretty worthless too. He asked me what I thought about the show.

"Murdoch, I can't believe you guys can pass off this level of banality on to the American people, but I guess it's so. Pretty fuckin' sad."

Then he smiled bigger than a fuckin' Cheshire Cat, "But what do you think of the SHOW?"

"Well, it ain't happenin' down their on that stage, that's for sure."

"Where do you think the show is happening?"

I looked Murdoch over - this had to be goin' somewhere...somewhere...Well, it wasn't up here in this suite, and I said as much, "Murdoch, the real shit ain't up here and it ain't down there on that stage."

Murdoch smiled bigger, if'n that was even possible, and asked, "R.E., where will the real process be?"

Well, like I told ya'll before, it's all about the prep, and I had done my prep. "It's either goin' to happen in the basement of this place, but that don't seem likely, or you guys paid $10 million dollars to raise the floor of the Garden for a reason - a reason like a sound proofed room for the real deal."

"See, R.E., that's why I miss you. Really. You’re the only one that doesn't want what I have, but is still devious enough to understand the game."

"Yeah, Murdoch, but it's the game I don't particularly like; especially the fact that you and your buddies control all the pieces and change the rules at your convenience. Not exactly a game I want to play," is what I told him. "Hell, I still can't figure out how a game this rigged can be any fun for you at all."

"R.E., the fun is in the rigging."

I let it slide. I had another drink, and when the vapid twins were done, Murdoch passed me a phone. I called a number that verified the money had been transferred. [You don't really think I'd tell you, do you? Here? I mean, the IRS could read this. I doubt it, but they could] We decided on the details of the transfers - from Hickey to me, and from me to Murdoch's man, and then agreed that I'd be Murdoch's guest in what he was referrin' to as "the Temple of Doom" for the Wednesday night festivities. Murdoch also assured me Wednesday night was THE night, and that most of the players would actually have left town by Baby Bush' Thursday night appearance. These guys were too big to stay around out of any pretend, bullshit politeness to their stooge. Hell, they got him there, and here he was tryin' to throw it all away.

No, the real stuff was going to happen the next night, Wednesday night. I was gonna be there to get the skinney. In the mean time, I caught the Vip elevator down, and Murdoch's limo took me to a waitin' private charter, and I didn't even have to wait for clearance before the plane was on it's way. The details ain’t worth your time.
 
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GEORGE W. BUSH - TOUGH ENOUGH TO TORTURE CHILDREN
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