The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

Mrs. Dinh Nhu Ngo firing .38 pistol.

 

Chapter 11.
The Huxleyan Warning

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.

No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures whose structure Orwell described accurately in his parables. If one were to read both 1984 and Animal Farm, and then for good measure, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, one would have a fairly precise blueprint of the machinery of thought-control as it currently operates in scores of countries and on millions of people. Of course, Orwell was not the first to teach us about the spiritual devastations of tyranny. What is irreplaceable about his work is his insistence that it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship equally pervasive.

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

In America, Orwell’s prophecies are of small relevance, but Huxley’s are well under way toward being realized. For America is engaged in the world’s most ambitious experiment to accommodate itself to the technological distractions made possible by the electric plug. This is an experiment that began slowly and modestly in the mid-nineteenth century and has now, in the latter half of the twentieth, reached a perverse maturity in America’s consuming love-affair with television. As nowhere else in the world, Americans have moved far and fast in bringing to a close the age of the slow-moving printed word, and have granted to television sovereignty over all of their institutions. By ushering in the Age of Television, America has given the world the clearest available glimpse of the Huxleyan future.

Those who speak about this matter must often raise their voices to a near-hysterical pitch, inviting the charge that they are everything from wimps to public nuisances to Jeremiahs. But they do so because what they want others to see appears benign, when it is not invisible altogether. An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We are not likely, for example, to be indifferent to the voices of the Sakharovs and the Timmermans and the Walesas. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Bacon, Voltaire, Goethe and Jefferson. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?

I fear that our philosophers have given us no guidance in this matter. Their warnings have customarily been directed against those consciously formulated ideologies that appeal to the worst tendencies in human nature. But what is happening in America is not the design of an articulated ideology. No Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto announced its coming. It comes as the unintended consequence of a dramatic change in our modes of public conversation. But it is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not vet assimilated the point that technology is ideology. This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years. For example, it would have been excusable in 1905 for us to be unprepared for the cultural changes the automobile would bring. Who could have suspected then that the automobile would tell us how we were to conduct our social and sexual lives? Would reorient our ideas about what to do with our forests and cities? Would create new ways of expressing our personal identity and social standing?

But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple. Moreover, we have seen enough by now to know that technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation. Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress. And in this sense, all Americans are Marxists, for we believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement…

– Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Paperback (1985)

 

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

 

VIETNAM WAR: NEW KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY DISMISSES THE ORIGINS OF THE FUTILE, DISASTROUS CONFLICT
BY JEFF STEIN
Sept. 17th, 2017

 

Anticipating the Forthcoming PBS Documentary, ‘The Vietnam War’
by Camillo Mac Bica
July 20, 2017

 

Distractions

05.09.2017

Lemme know if you can find the girls in bikinis in this video. What a rip-off.

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI
No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.
by Will Knight
April 11, 2017

I’d like to see Thomas Friedman and Paul Wolfowitz have a Republican marriage.

Why Paul Wolfowitz Is Optimistic About Trump
In an interview for the Global Politico, the controversial Republican hawk says the president has an ‘opportunity’ in the Middle East.

Like many other hawkish Republicans—“do me a favor,” he says, and don’t call him a “neocon,” which he believes is a charged word wielded by critics—Wolfowitz adamantly opposed candidate Trump in 2016, put off by his “America First” rhetoric, his rejection of the Iraq war as a disastrous mistake and his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other autocratic leaders.

Indeed, Wolfowitz tells me that he did not vote for Trump because he feared he would be “Obama on steroids” given Trump’s campaign-trail reluctance to project American power and leadership in the Middle East and elsewhere—and that he decided not to vote for Hillary Clinton either because he was not sure she would pursue tougher policies and thought she had joined Obama in misjudging Putin with their failed Russia “reset” policy.

How U.S. Backing of ‘Moderate’ Rebels Is Bolstering Jihadists
A dispatch from Idlib in opposition-held Syria.
By Lindsey Snell / AlterNet May 2, 2017

I held my breath each time I heard a plane, but the family’s matriarch offered reassurance. “If you can hear that plane sound, it means they are far away.”

The Syrian and Russian militaries have bombed civilian infrastructure in opposition-held Syria, hitting hospitals, schools and markets. My host squinted and listened before declaring the plane was roughly two kilometers from us, demonstrating an uncanny ability honed during years of life under bombardment. The fading sound of the jets filled me with relief.

The chemical attack this month in the rebel-controlled town of Khan Shaykoun was followed by international outrage and a frenzy of Western media coverage calling for the American government to ramp up arms shipments and military training to the Syrian rebels. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called for the U.S. to “dramatically increase our aid to anti-Assad rebels,” describing them as “moderate.” At the same time, he urged the U.S. to weaponize ISIS, rather than combat it, in order to “bleed” the Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments.

Prosecutors Taking Tougher Stance in Fraternity Hazing Deaths

The parents of two former Penn State students, Adam and Denise Lipson, say that they warned administrators in 2014 and 2015 of fraternity hazing that included coercing first-year students to drink to excess, but that their concerns were ignored. Dismayed by that atmosphere, their sons transferred to other universities, where they found less emphasis on alcohol and less pressure to drink.

“Our sons are not prudes, they’re not anti-frat, they’re not anti-alcohol, but they couldn’t believe how far it went,” Ms. Lipson said. “There was this underlying acceptance of it.”

Dr. Barron said concerns about drinking had been taken seriously for some time.

The Marine Corps, 1966
Not Too Many Snowflakes
FRED REED • MAY 4, 2017 • 5,700 WORDS

 

A Handmaid’s Tale

This show is fucking good. It’s the new ‘Game of Thrones.’

THE HANDMAID’S TALE — “Offred” – Episode 101 – Offred, one the few fertile women known as Handmaids in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, struggles to survive as a reproductive surrogate for a powerful Commander and his resentful wife. 

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Renewed for Season 2 at Hulu

 

How Harvard Business School Has Reshaped American Capitalism

But how and why that might be the case isn’t really what interests McDonald, the author of previous books about McKinsey, the consulting firm, and JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon. In “The Golden Passport,” he’s determined to call the Harvard Business School to account, citing its founding doctrine, which was to develop “a heightened sense of responsibility among businessmen” (and eventually women) who “will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways.” In that regard, McDonald is scathing in his critique: Harvard Business School has not only “proven an enormous failure,” but its very success has made it positively “dangerous.”

He drives home the point in chapter after chapter, picking up steam in more recent decades: Harvard, he maintains, provided the ideological underpinnings for the junk-bond-induced takeover mania and resulting scandals of the 1980s; the corporate scandals of the 2000s; the egregious increase in the pay gap between chief executives and ordinary employees; the real estate mortgage bubble and ensuing financial crisis; even the election of Donald Trump. In McDonald’s view, the school has contributed to pretty much every bad thing that has happened in American business and the economy in the last century. In the wake of whatever scandal or financial collapse or recession to which it has contributed, it wipes its hands, distances itself and still has the nerve to put forth its experts as the solution to problems.

 

Macron’s Unusual Marriage Is OK—But NOT What His Type Are Doing to France (And America)
JOHN DERBYSHIRE • APRIL 29, 2017 • 1,300 WORDS

In my study, there hang portraits of my two literary heroes. One of them, Samuel Johnson, at age 25 married a woman twenty years his senior—a widow who, like Mrs. Macron, brought three children to the marriage. Johnson loved his wife dearly, to the bafflement of his friends. After she died seventeen years later, he mourned her for the rest of his own life.

My other literary hero, George Orwell, lost his wife Eileen after nine years of marriage, then remarried on his death bed to the prettiest girl in the office.

 

Putin’s New World Order
MIKE WHITNEY • APRIL 28, 2017 • 2,300 WORDS

 

Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen
JAMES PETRAS • MAY 1, 2017 • 1,000 WORDS

Le Pen’s program will raise taxes on banks and financial transactions while fining capital flight in order to continue funding France’s retirement age of 62 for women and 65 for men, keeping the 35 hour work-week, and providing tax free overtime pay. She promises direct state intervention to prevent factories from relocating to low wage EU economies and firing French workers.

Le Pen is committed to increasing public spending for childcare and for the poor and disabled. She has pledged to protect French farmers against subsidized, cheap imports.

Marine Le Pen supports abortion rights and gay rights. She opposes the death penalty. She promises to cut taxes by 10% for low-wage workers. Marine is committed to fighting against sexism and for equal pay for women.

 

Why Defend South Korean Ingrates?
Trump spills the beans as the “adults” panic
by Justin Raimondo
May 01, 2017

“On the THAAD system, it’s about a billion dollars. I said, ‘Why are we paying? Why are we paying a billion dollars? We’re protecting. Why are we paying a billion dollars?’ So I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. Nobody’s going to do that. Why are we paying a billion dollars? It’s a billion dollar system. It’s phenomenal. It’s the most incredible equipment you’ve ever seen – shoots missiles right out of the sky. And it protects them and I want to protect them. We’re going to protect them. But they should pay for that, and they understand that.”

Ah, but they don’t understand it – and neither does H. R. McMaster, Trump’s newly-appointed National Security Advisor, who rushed to assure Seoul that the President didn’t really mean what he clearly said. And the South Koreans, who are in the midst of a presidential election – the vote is on May 5 – are in a uproar.

 

More NYT ‘Spin’ on the Syria-Sarin Case
April 28, 2017
By Robert Parry

Further, the U.S. and its allies have been conducting airstrikes across much of Syria in campaigns against Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, which have been supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Sunni-led sheikdoms. Turkey has been active, too, with strikes against Kurdish forces. And Israel has hit repeatedly at Syrian targets to promote what it regards as its interests, including destruction of Iranian weapons believed headed to the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah.

Some – if not all – of these entities had a far stronger motive to create a chemical-weapons incident in Syria on April 4 than the Syrian government did. At the end of March, the Trump administration announced that it was no longer a U.S. priority to overthrow the Assad government, an announcement that upset several of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel.

[…]

Shortly after the incident at Khan Sheikhoun, I was told by an intelligence source that U.S. satellite imagery had picked up what looked like a drone in the vicinity at around the time that the poison gas was released. Despite some technical difficulties in tracking its route, the source said the analysts believed that it may have come from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base in Jordan, used to assist the rebels.

 

David Ignatius’ 15 Years of Running Spin for Saudi Regime
BY ADAM JOHNSON

Ignatius, of course, is not alone. He joins a long line of faithful Western pundits who frame the Saudi regime as a reformist entity, earnestly pushing change in a fundamentally reactionary country under perma-threat from Shia forces. The Al Saud mafia is not in league with religious extremists, but a bulwark against them; they are not an illegitimate dictatorship, but an enlightened ruling class helping usher in “reform” in the face of a hyper-religious population.

And throughout it all, they are on a 71,500-year reform plan where they are effusively praised for moving their country toward the 19th century every five years or so. Other regimes that oppress their people and bomb civilians “must go” now, and are beyond the moral pale—mere allegations of being friendly with them, a career-ender. But the Saudi regime, a friendly host to light-touch US pundits, is just a well-meaning scrappy band of reformers this close to turning into Switzerland. All they need is a bit more time.

 

Healthcare

04.04.2017

Healthcare:

Top Opthalmologist: Medical Practices of Dr. Salomon Melgen Were ‘Abusive…Unconscionable…Horrifying’

Racket of Rackets (Good Stuff)
– JHK

They’ve turned an entire generation of office workers into servants of criminal enterprise. Imagine the damage this does to the soul of our culture.

 

I have no idea who this woman is, but apparently MSN thinks this is Important News:

Candace Cameron Bure: ‘Loving Jesus doesn’t mean I hate gay people’

Watching this now. It is good. At least the first 20 minutes. His books are too long and dense and jumbled to read. I’ll try again sometime.

 

Musktopia
-JHK April 3rd

It ought to be sign of just how delusional the nation is these days that Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X is taken seriously.

The political disorder currently roiling America is there because the contradictions in our national life have become so starkly obvious, and the first thing to crack is the political consensus that allows business-as-usual to keep chugging along. The political turmoil will only accelerate the accompanying economic turmoil that drives it in a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

 

Despite Ban, Japan Slaughters 333 Whales in Annual Antarctic Hunt

 

Mexican newspaper closes citing insecurity for journalists

 

South Korean freighter missing off Uruguay
More than 20 crew are feared dead after a South Korean cargo vessel went missing in the South Atlantic after making a mayday call.

Italian Cops Arrest 34 in Race to Foil Plot to Steal Enzo Ferrari’s Corpse

 

I have a hunch that history will look at Obama as not such a good President or good guy if it remembers him at all. Basically, nothing noticeable happened for 8 years. But behind the scenes everything was kinda creepy.

Eerie Prescience of Donald Trump
ISRAEL SHAMIR • APRIL 3, 2017 • 2,100 WORDS

– This surveillance and its leak caused the Flynn affair. I have learned what Flynn actually discussed with the Russian ambassador. I haven’t seen this being reported in the US media: they darkly hissed of Flynn “discussing sanctions” with the Russian. The truth was somewhat different. Flynn called the Ambassador when Obama in a fit of fury expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in 24 hours just before the New Year’s Eve, and forbade them to use their holiday vacation premises. Obama did it in order to poison the US-Russia relations, for as you know, the NWO-beholden Democrats want at least a cold war, or preferably a nuclear one with the Russian bear. Obama tried his worst to spoil the relations to such an extent, that even Trump would find it hard to heal.

– Obama knew that the threats were coming from Israel, but he never dared to say that. Trump is nobody’s fool.

– Trump ordered giving up the regime change drive in Syria, and this is already a good thing. It would be better if he were to forget about the Middle East completely, but probably the US military would not allow that.

-Partnership with the CIA means partnership with the liberals of the WaPo and the NY Times, and it is not the flavour of the month among American industrialists.

 

Searching for Russia
THE SAKER • APRIL 1, 2017 • 3,200 WORDS

For example, Russia never underwent any “Renaissance”. I would even argue that Russia never really underwent any Middle-Ages either since, being an heir to the East Roman Empire (aka Byzantium), Russian roots are in Antiquity. While one could, arguably, describe the phases of western civilization as Middle-Ages -> Renaissance -> Modernity -> Contemporary era, in the case of Russia the sequence would be a much shorter Antiquity -> Modernity -> Contemporary era.

[Sidebar: you will notice that I did place the roots of the modern western civilization in the Middle-Ages, not in antiquity. The reason for this is the fact that when the Franks finally conquered the western Roman Empire they destroyed it to such a degree that the era following the collapse of the western Roman Empire is called the “Dark Ages” (Russia, by the way, never went through this millennium of darkness and, hence, she never had any need for any “renaissance” or “re-birth”). Contrary to the official historical narrative, the current western civilization has never had any roots in the Roman Empire, and even less so, Greek antiquity. The true founders of the “western world” were, in so many ways, the Franks]

Get Out

03.02.2017

Warning: Do not watch this if you have not seen movie, plan to soon, and don’t want spoilers.
Otherwise, if you want to save $14 a head and an hour and forty-five minutes, this is a decent substitute for one of the better movies of the last year.

 

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

The consequences of boomer overconsumption, underinvestment, and appetite for risk reveal themselves every time a bridge or bank collapses, but can be summarized in America’s prolonged economic mediocrity. Finding decent growth requires stretching all the way back to the 1990s, and even so, the 1990s barely edged out 1970s’ squalor on a per capita GDP basis. Thanks to boomer policies, the new normal is 1.6 percent real growth, well below the 2.5 to 3.5 percent rates prevailing from the 1950s to the 1980s. For the young, the price will be incomes 30 percent to 50 percent lower than they could have been.

How the Press Serves the Deep State

 

Concealing and Revealing
by Andrew P. Napolitano, March 02, 2017

 

Enemy of the Year: Why Russia?
What’s up with the current Russophobia craze?
by Justin Raimondo, March 01, 2017

 

In Afghanistan, America’s Biggest Foe Is Self-Deception
William Astore and Tom Engelhardt, March 01, 2017

blackedge

 

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

 

Review: ‘Black Edge’

For those who do not remember: SAC Capital was once one of the most powerful hedge funds on Wall Street. Cohen, its fabled steward, was different from the other colossi of the industry (George Soros, Paul Tudor Jones) in that he never seemed to have a grand unified field theory of investing. Rather, he had a talent for reading the market’s movements and a freakishly high threshold for tolerating risk.

And, miraculously, he was on the right side of almost every transaction — “something that seemed, at least on the surface, to be impossible,” Kolhatkar writes. This improbable winning streak eventually got the F.B.I.’s attention, when it was investigating insider trading at a different hedge fund, the Galleon Group, and managed to lock up its chief.

But Cohen never faced a criminal charge. The most the government could do was order SAC Capital to shut down in 2013 and fine it $1.8 billion — a figure that sounds like an awful lot until you learn that Cohen had almost $10 billion of his own money left over, which he could still trade and invest as a private family office.