In my last blog posting I discussed a recent discussion at dinner about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the “in-depth” propaganda piece in Time Magazine. Rather than argue at the dinner table, I instead emailed my friend a link to Gareth Porter’s article on the very same topic at antiwar.com
Well, that wasn’t quite the end of it. My lovely interlocutor, who originally brought up the Time Magazine piece and its expose of Pakistani Intelligence’s gross incompetence as an example of why “we” shouldn’t be trusting Pakistan with nuclear weapons, emailed a thank you for the link. She had read the article I sent, but then there was another article in Time, and then Jon Stewart had a guy on who had just written a book, and they all claimed to have “insider access” to the raid, and so now she just doesn’t know who to listen to!
Let’s face it: not everybody has as finely tuned BS detector as the readers who follow this blog. Now, I am not going to ruin a burgeoning friendship by getting into it with them, but this is very important. So I’m going to blog about it instead.
There are a zillion different slants from which a story can be presented, and I fully understand what my friend is talking about. She is clearly of above-average intelligence, and she has some definite opinions about politics. But I believe that when you have a solid, well-defined set of basic, core operating principles, then 97% of your decisions are already made for you! Apologies to whoever said that first.
So, how should one think when faced with several different slants on a story of importance? First thing one should ask is:
Cui bono? When hearing a story from three different angles, then always ask who stands to benefit from the angle of this story? For instance, if an article gently leads readers to conclude that Pakistan cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons, then that would certainly benefit those who want war with Iran, right? I mean think about it: if “we” are going to go about deciding who has nukes and who hasn’t, and then we’re going to enforce it with the blood of our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and classmates, then once we’ve decided Pakistan shouldn’t have them, then how many steps away are we from deciding Iran shouldn’t have them, too? How convenient. So there’s one way to see an article.
Not just conservatives, but left-wing progressive social democrats love their little wars just as much as right-wing hawks. It’s just that their justifications are always humanitarian-sounding. Just look at the hunt for Kono! That frenzy was whipped up by the left, not by the right.
This is hard to do. NPR, for example is very good at presenting news and analysis from a seemingly unbiased angle. Fox News spouts “Fair and Balanced” into the eyes and ears of its followers that I have actually met people who believe it! But don’t think that just because you listen to NPR and not Fox, that you’re not being sold a bill of goods!
Furthemore, there are cases in which so many people benefit, that asking the question doesn’t get you very far. After all the military-industrial-congressional-pharmaceutical-insurance-agricultural-executive-judicial complex is no small beast. So asking cui bono? is not always going to get one very far. This is why a few basic critical thinking and logic skills are necessary.
Another thing is to question assumptions. Most articles contain partial truths, so the reader has to pick apart what is true and what is outright false, before allowing oneself to be led down a primrose path to a conclusion that’s being spoon-fed to you.
Another is to question the choices. Usually folks are presented with a false dichotomy, or a false set of choices. If an article or news story only shows two choices, then there’s a pretty good chance both are BS. For example, in American politics, voters are usually faced with a conservative or a liberal, who disagree about how tax money should be spent. But the tax money is collected nevertheless. Nobody ever presents a third choice, which would be to explore ways to solve problems without taxation. Another false dichotomy is “either fight ‘em here, or fight ‘em there.” Another is, EITHER we institute a worldwide one-child policy, OR we destroy the planet. Therefore, a good thinker always asks, does it have to be “either or”?
Another is to follow things to their logical conclusion, and this might lead to some painful introspection. A politician may state, as Nancy Pelosi recently did, that marijuana possession should be a state concern, not a federal concern, but then if you follow the logic, why shouldn’t gun possession be a state concern also? You may feel that a rich and powerful nation with the resources to go in and unseat a tyrant who is oppressing the women of a country has a moral obligation to do so, but then if you follow the logic, why isn’t said nation going in and busting heads in every country where women are oppressed? A good critical thinker asks why some and not others?
So, if you are presented with opposing angles on an item of importance, and you’re not sure what to think, take a few simple steps to improve how you think.
Last evening at dinner, the subject of the hunt for Osama bin Laden came up. One woman at the table, whom I might venture to describe as left-progressive leaning, had read an in-depth analysis of the hunt for bin Laden. Of course, that was a huge red flag right there: if you ever hear “in-depth analysis” and Time Magazine in the same utterance, your BS Detector should start going off right away. (I believe I found the article to which she was referring here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2113156,00.html), but I’ll be danged if I’ll subscribe to Time just to read it. Besides, this is not so much a criticism of Time as it is a critical look at how some people tend to think–or fail to think–and how they get so easily sucked into the propaganda message that Time is selling.
Here’s what our friend told us about the “in-depth” Time article: the CIA pretty much tracked down Osama bin Laden on its own with no help from Pakistani intelligence. They were so incompetent, and we’re trusting these people with nukes!
My reply was, I agree! The CIA is incompetent, as is the entire United States Government! And, no! They should not be trusted with nuclear weapons!
She looked at me like I had two heads. I continued,
“As the heroic Gareth Porter reports at antiwar.com, the CIA had no clue where Osama bin Laden was and only tracked him down with the help of Pakistani intelligence.”
As I whipped out my iPhone to email her a link to the Gareth Porter article, I further reiterated that I agree: Uncle Sam is incompetent and should not be trusted with nukes.
My beloved spouse was at this point kicking me under the table, so I backed off. This is why I am writing this article.
If you accept Time Magazine’s contention at face value, then you accept that “we” shouldn’t allow the “incompetent Pakistanis” to have nuclear weapons. “We” being, in this case, the rich western superpower who knows how to handle their nukes, and individuals who happen by virtue of the geographical location where they hang their hats, are to agree in lock-step with the Voice of said superpower. Here is a good time for a pop quiz: Name the only country that has ever actually used nuclear weapons?
Here’s what Time magazine is selling. Pakistani intelligence’s alleged incompetence in aiding Uncle Sam in tracking down OBL is proof that Pakistan cannot be trusted with nukes. Easy to go along with for most folks, right? So, if you accept that “we” are self-anointed to decide who gets to have nukes. So, it’s only one small step from there to saying, “Well, obviously, Iran can’t be trusted with nukes, either.”
So in a not-so-subtle way, Time is doing its part to sell war with Iran, just as NPR did its part to sell the war in Iraq (here’s a nice post-invasion example: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4996218
And you bought it, my dear friend. Small wonder that these same people are more than willing to buy the propaganda that Afghanistan is about the women, or that WWII was about the Holocaust.
For the first time I found a microsoft article helpful. I’ve been trying to figure out what was preventing my Windows 7 64-bit machine by HP from going to sleep as scheduled. Here’s the punchline, and then I’ll go to all the other stuff I tried.
Start: Right-click Computer: click Properties; click Device Manager: Click Network Adapters. Double-click each one, One of them might have the box checked: “Allow this device to wake the computer.” Uncheck it! If that doesn’t work, then try the USB Root Hubs under Universal Serial Bus Controllers. If that doesn’t work, then you should double-click every device under every heading and see if that box is checked. Hint: if there is no tab for Power Management, then move on. It’s not your problem.
If that doesn’t work, then unplug your mouse and see if the computer goes to sleep.
I’ll tell you what doesn’t work: Restarting in Safe Mode (Turns out windows 7 has a different way to go to Safe Mode. Instead of hitting F8, you go msconfig, click the Boot tab and check Safe Mode then Restart) will not help you: Sleep appears to be disabled in Safe Mode.
I pre-recorded this interview with Kevin Carson, author of “The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto”, “Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective”, and “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy”, for airing at the Agora I/O Unconference. It has not been uploaded to YouTube, so I am making it available here:
Kevin Carson interviewed by Gene Basler 2011-09-08
No. At least it didn’t work for me. I tried to pay online, and the message kicked back to me was (paraphrase) Your Financial Institution Declined the Transaction (end paraphrase).
At least for the moment, it’s still legal not to have a bank account in this country. It’s damn-near impossible, though. I was hoping that the WalMart MoneyCard might be a viable alternative to having a traditional checking/debit card account, but it’s turning out to be a disappointment.
If you have found the WalMart MoneyCard FAQ to be wanting, I hope you find this blog posting useful. For my other WalMart MoneyCard experiences, check out Can I use my WalMart MoneyCard to pay my Netflix bill online? and Can I use my WalMart MoneyCard to pay my Progressive premium?
Check out my book, “Environmental Non-Policy” at www.environmentalnonpolicy.com.
Thanks for stopping by!
Yes and No. Yes, you can pay the premium for the entire policy cycle. However, you cannot set up monthly auto debit using any method other than bank draft. So for those of you who don’t trust banks and are looking for ways to live without them, just bite the bullet and pay the entire auto insurance premium. It’s cheaper than monthly auto debit anyway.
Yes and No. When you go into Netflix and want to update the Visa/Master Card that you use for your monthly automatic debit, it will pop up an error stating “Sorry, we do not accept pre-paid cards.”
So you can set up your auto debit through Pay Pal. Once you’ve done that, make sure you go into Pay Pal and update you card info.
I haven’t had a Netflix monthly charge go through Pay Pal yet, but I’ll update this post as soon as it happens.
This begs the next question: how do Pay Pal and WalMart Money Card work together? Well, it allowed me to enter the number as a method of payment, but I read somewhere that you can’t withdraw/transfer funds from Pay Pal onto your WalMart Money Card. This will be a problem if you receive income from Pay Pal.
OK, I know next to nothing about bitcoin, but it seems to me that any agorist, anarchist, libertarian, or anyone else who knows what the Federal Reserve has been up to, or who understands just what a violent act it is to force a “legal tender” down people’s throats, should find out about it.
According to www.weusecoins.com, bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency. Imagine being able to transfer payment for a product or service directly from person to person, via the internet, without going through a bank or clearing house.
Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet. You can download the digital wallet from sourceforge.net, or you can apparently keep your digital wallet on somebody else’s server, for instance InstaWallet and MyBitcoin. (Credit to weusecoins.com for all this information, by the way)
Once you have a digital wallet, you need to get some bitcoins. You can pay cash for them (there’s a foreign exchange for them at bitcoincharts.com.
The best way to get bitcoins, it seems to me, is to start selling your products and services in exchange for them. If you have a book or auction item or workshop or instructional video, then you should start offering it in exchange for bitcoins.
You can also pay cash for Bitcoins from local Bitcoiners in your area at www.tradebitcoin.com. Using this With this service, you can contact and meetup in person with people in your area and pay cash for the Bitcoins. I’ll tell you from my own limited experience: it’s a little buggy. You can log in using FB or Twitter, but then when I went to update my profile and provide methods by which other Bitcoiners may contact me, I was unable to ascertain whether it actually saved it or not.
That’s all I know about it for now.
Back to Klããs Høhêrz: Do office jobs for Transregional Market Participants exist? Yes, they do. I’m in the Green Industry and I’ve worked in the hotel business. Anybody who owns a business who’s willing to pay cash to his laborers can hire them for whatever they want. My folks are on W2. They’re on payroll and they pay their taxes, and that’s because I’m not self-employed yet. I work for big corporation, and we make extensive use of Trans-Regional Market Participants, but office jobs? You bet. Here in Houston, Texas where I live–which is, by the way, a great place to learn Spanish if you’re creative and have a good imagination–there’s a high demand for bilingual people, and you don’t have to speak the king’s Castilian, the kingth Cathtilian. Your Spanish-English, neither one has to be that great. I know folks who work in the medical profession that don’t even have a GED, yet, because that’s another cool thing I should’ve put it in my talk, because these folks have an inherent distrust of the state-monopolized education system. You know they say, why don’t I become a Certified Echocardiogram Technician for 600 bucks, and make as much money if not more? As much money as, if not more than my American counterpart who gave these people whatever 30-60 grand and still can’t get a job, right? Like in my business, you can become a Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional, you can become a Certified Arborist, you can become a Certified Tree Worker/Tree Climber Specialist. These are all voluntary certifications that exist on the market that people have come up with through their voluntary associations, to help distinguish themselves from their competitors. They lend credibility to their operations. I had a guy who was so fired up about becoming a certified arborist, finally passing the test after the fourth time, he says “I’m gonna go up. I’m gonna go get my GED.” I didn’t know he didn’t have one. I certainly didn’t ask as part of the hiring process. I didn’t talk him out to get this GED, it was like “Why I gonna get your GED, you already got the job, man?”
That’s the next point. These guys know how to work their way up. These guys’ll go up to their boss and buy an ownership stake in the business, they do it all the time. I see it. Under-the-table cash operations work in corporate structures the same way so-called “legitimate” businesses do. Again I say: they don’t have a traditional education, they’re not stupid and they save their money.
Tanya Sargent DeCant (in the chat) says she knows a girl, knew a girl from Mexico who worked in an office as a bilingual receptionist for a lawyer. (Reading) She’s right, she says that so-called illegals with fake social security numbers actually pay more taxes, because they can’t file for a refund for fear that they might be found out. That’s correct. Uncle Sam just sucks out the taxes but doesn’t give them their refund back, so they do pay a higher percentage in taxes. But oh yeah, you know, fake social security numbers are–they’re how it works. I mean the folks that work for under-the-table cash are fewer and farther between, most of them are W2.
Yeah (laughs and reads from the chat:) Social security is being propped up by fake social security number users.
The same neocons who would never give up the social security system: “By God, I’ve been paying into it all these years, I want my check, too!” They are the same people who want to round up and ship back to Mexico those who are keeping it solvent!