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Wed, 28 Sep 2022
The World for People who Think

Society's Child


Chris Hedges: How to Think

books culture thinking
© Associated Press/Michael Probst
Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who question and challenge national myths. Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster. Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is triumphant, serve as prophets. They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive, because they do not embrace collective self-worship. They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if not challenged, lead to destruction. They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt. They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion. They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth. They make us face ourselves, from the bitter reality of slavery and Jim Crow to the genocidal slaughter of Native Americans to the repression of working-class movements to the atrocities carried out in imperial wars to the assault on the ecosystem. They make us unsure of our virtue. They challenge the easy clichés we use to describe the nation - the land of the free, the greatest country on earth, the beacon of liberty - to expose our darkness, crimes and ignorance. They offer the possibility of a life of meaning and the capacity for transformation.

Human societies see what they want to see. They create national myths of identity out of a composite of historical events and fantasy. They ignore unpleasant facts that intrude on self-glorification. They trust naively in the notion of linear progress and in assured national dominance. This is what nationalism is about - lies. And if a culture loses its ability for thought and expression, if it effectively silences dissident voices, if it retreats into what Sigmund Freud called "screen memories," those reassuring mixtures of fact and fiction, it dies. It surrenders its internal mechanism for puncturing self-delusion. It makes war on beauty and truth. It abolishes the sacred. It turns education into vocational training. It leaves us blind. And this is what has occurred. We are lost at sea in a great tempest. We do not know where we are. We do not know where we are going. And we do not know what is about to happen to us.

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'Skull' in Burnley River Drama was Elaborate Hoax

Fake Skull
© Burnley Express
Elaine Bell with the human skull found in a river close to Cemetery Wood near the former Hapton colliery(s).
A suspected human skull found in a river by a Hapton couple out walking their dogs in May was an elaborate hoax.

Police said forensic experts initially thought the skull belonged to a man but when they tried to subject it to carbon dating, they realised it was a fake.

Further chemical tests confirmed that it was an elaborate replica of a skull belonging to an Aboriginal man.

The fake skull even had a fracture which had healed, incision marks suggesting a pre-death operation and signs of a significant infection around the nose and mouth.

It was initially handed to police by Mr and Mrs Mick and Elaine Bell, of Valley Gardens, who had been walking their dogs near to a shallow section of water which flows through Spa Wood, between Burnley Cemetery and Hapton Colliery.

Det. Sgt Charlie Haynes, of Burnley CID, said that it had been cast from an original skull.

"A visual examination of photographs by the anthropologist indicated that the skull was that of a human male," he said.

"Given the close proximity to the colliery and the cemetery this was not surprising, and a number of theories emerged including the possibility that the skull had been washed away from the rear of the cemetery by the recent heavy rain, or had been washed out of the colliery having been the remains of a miner who had died there prior to the 1962 disaster.


Time To Get Crazy

© Mr. Fish
Native Americans' resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the "expanding" wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards.

Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism "a machine for demolishing limits." This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.


Even Scientists Can't Find Jobs In America Today

© crimfants on www.flickr.com
We've written about how college students should major in science, tech, engineering or math (STEM).

This conventional wisdom is based on government propaganda (Obama: "This is what will make a difference in this country over the long haul.") and studies showing that science majors from the past forty years have scored better jobs.

Unfortunately today's science job market doesn't live up to the hype (via @curriculumveto).

Jim Austin of ScienceCareers tells WashPo's Brian Vastag:
"There have been many predictions of [science] labor shortages and . . . robust job growth. And yet, it seems awfully hard for people to find a job. Anyone who goes into science expecting employers to clamor for their services will be deeply disappointed."
Pharmaceutical engineer Kim Haas agrees:
"It's been a bloodbath, it's been awful... Scads and scads and scads of people" have been cut, Haas said. "Very good chemists with PhDs from Stanford can't find jobs."
The dearth of science jobs follows "a decade of slash-and-burn mergers; stagnating profit; exporting of jobs to India, China and Europe; and declining investment in research and development," according to Vastag.

Of course, other majors aren't doing better. Check out earnings and income by major.


'Angry birds' strike fear in Swedish golfers

Angry Birds
A golf club in southern Sweden is planning to hunt the crows on their course after a violent spate of attacks and thieveries have left golfers in fear.

Golfers at the Rya Golf Club in Rydebäck, southern Sweden, have been subjected to a swarm of attacks from angry birds which are both hungry and breeding.

"This year, they actually attacked our guests for the first time," the club's receptionist, Annika Hermansson, told The Local.

"The crows have always come down looking for people's food, but they are getting vicious this year."

Hermansson claims that around 10 people have complained of attacks, one of whom compared his ordeal to a horror film.


U.S. Border Patrol: Agents Fire Shots After Rock Attack

U.S. Border patrol
© Spencer Selvidge
San Antonio, Texas - U.S. Border Patrol agents opened fire Saturday along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border after being pelted by rocks and having a gunman point a weapon in their direction on the Mexican side of the river, an agency spokesman said.

Spokesman Henry Mendiola said no Border Patrol agents were injured in the incident Saturday near Brownsville. He did not know if anyone else was hurt. He said the Mexican government had been notified and was responding to the area. The FBI also was investigating.

The Border Patrol released little details about the morning gunfire, including what the suspects were doing on the river.

Mendiola said several people had been taken into custody but that he could not provide details about the suspects or charges they face.

Che Guevara

Thousands protest in Mexico City against president-elect, alleging vote fraud

© Marco Ugarte /The Associated Press
Wearng a Guy Fawkes mask, a protester holds a banner that reads in Spanish, "No to another fraud," during a march in Mexico City on Saturday.
Thousands of protesters marched through the Mexican capital on Saturday against President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, accusing him of buying votes and paying off TV networks for support.

The demonstrators, including students, leftists, anarchists and union members, shouted slogans criticizing Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and the electoral authority.

Pena Nieto won Sunday's election by almost 7 percentage points, according to the official count, returning the PRI to presidential power after 12 years in the wilderness.

The PRI previously ruled Mexico for seven decades, during which time it was accused of rigging elections and repressing protesters.

"The PRI threatens many people and buys others with a couple of tacos," said Manuel Ocegueda, a 43-year-old shop worker participating in the march.

Pena Nieto is due to take power in December, replacing Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN.

The constitution barred Calderon from running for a second term. The PAN candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, finished third, with many voters dissatisfied over relentless drug violence and sluggish growth.

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Foreign National Sentenced in Vancouver Human Smuggling Case

© The Canadian Press
Mikael Prone was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in November .
Canada, British Columbia - A French citizen convicted of human smuggling offences in Vancouver has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Mikael Prone was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in November after escorting two Iranians, a brother and sister, into Canada from China. The pair paid $90,000 to get into Canada illegally using forged Israeli passports.

Border officers say Prone helped the pair get on the plane with the passports, and planned to leave them for customs officials to deal with.

Prone was found guilty on May 31 of five counts involving human trafficking.


Head Found in Park Belonged to Victim of Canadian Porn Vampire Killer

Jun Lin
© unknown
Jun Lin
A human head found in a park belongs to a Chinese student who was killed and dismembered in May by a Canadian porn actor, Montreal police have confirmed.

The head was the last missing body part belonging to Jun Lin.

Luka Magnotta is accused of dismembering Lin - his lover - and mailing the body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. He pleaded not guilty to murder charges last month. Police confirmed on Wednesday that the head was Lin's.

Lin's head was missing until Sunday, when Lemieux said investigators found it in Park Angrignon after the major crimes unit received a tip. The park is a few kilometres south of Magnotta's apartment.

"It had been there for quite some time, but we won't go into details, partly out of respect for the family and friends of the victim," said Montreal police spokesperson Anie Lemieux.

"What is important is what we were looking for has been found and the rest of the investigation can continue."


TSA: Is That A Bomb In Your Coke...?

The morons at the airport in charge of our pretend security are now dipping something into travelers' drinks -- when they're well-past security. Janelle Ericsson reports at KJCT8 News, and Lisa Simeone blogged it at TSANewsBlog that passengers could be asked to let the TSA test their drink:
Yes, dear reader, that water or coffee or soft drink in your cup, the one you bought after you passed through the checkpoint, in the so-called sterile area? That could contain a bomb! And you didn't even know it!

Thank heavens the TSA is here to save the day. As they dip their little Magic Bomb-Detecting Stick into your beverage, be sure to smile and thank them. After all, they're Keeping You Safe.

It's telling that this article from KJCT in Colorado has elicited, as of this writing, over 1,800 comments, most of them assailing the TSA for the idiocy of this policy, and many of them relating readers' stories of their own about having their drinks "tested." Yet compare that to the response when a story is published of people getting assaulted by the TSA. The outrage exhibited over the latter pales in comparison to that over the former.

"Strip me, grope me, abuse me, molest my children -- just don't touch my drink!"

Ah, ain't it grand living in the Land of the Free?