Propaganda

Aside


It seems in the internet age that propaganda has been completely democratized, and is no longer completely in the preview of government agencies and secret extra-governmental conspiracies.

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A Sunday Morning Quickie – FaceBook what’s that all about? and how do you decide what to respond to?


Sunrise, Chanupa Sapa Tiyospaye (Blackpipe Community, Norris, SD), Aug. 2001
                                                                                                                       [Sunrise ©Atani Studios-2012]

I was hoping that this would be a Sunday morning quickie, but such was not to be the case.

This morning’s FaceBook experience was derailed by a FB acquaintance’s urgent plea.  I stopped by briefly to see what the problem was, and wound up having to say a lot more than I originally planned in order to say what I felt was the minimum needed to be said.

It went like this:

Don’t like this ~ Help stop it! Help save a man like your father, brother, uncle , grandfather from expenses he doesn’t need and jail time that is being handed down for doing what is in our nature! Please we can all give this enough exposure so it wont happen at all ~ so it wont happen to friends who worked hard to build a home for their family and now the government wants to own our water too!

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/oregon-man-sentenced-30-days-jail-collecting-rainwater-his-property 

After reading the linked article I came to the conclusion that I really wasn’t sure that I had enough reliable information to form any type of an opinion on the matter, but wrote a length response on some of the more general implications of the situation a la Meme Merchants.

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The Durability of Links – the impact of the massively colaborative


Jimmy Wales in 2008 by Manuel Archain via Wikimedia Foundation

Jimmy Wales is staring at me again – he’s hard to get away from sometimes, he can be quite relentless – it must be that time of year again –  you know Wikipedia‘s annual fundraising drive.  Eventually I will rummage around under sofa cushions, raid the change dish, generally do what ever it takes to round up my piddling $25 annual contribution and send it off hoping I can buy him off for another 11 months.  It’s not that I mind making the contribution it’s that I’m easily disturbed by confrontational stares.

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Black Swan Bad – Tutelary Insults, the strangest beast in the world can’t be imagined – or how Cygnus atratus dreams of being a Platypus


For over two thousand years the idea of a ‘Black Swan’ has been synonymous with something that does not exist or cannot exist, and comes down to us originally from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics where the concepts: white, black and swan are proposed as predicates in syllogisms using white + swan as a necessary relations and the black + swan as an improbable or impossible one – not an entirely unreasonable position when you consider that no one had ever seen anything but white swans and seven eights of the world was unknown to the Greeks.

The Black Swan form was further popularized from the 2nd century on by Roman satirist Juvenal’s couplet:

rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno

[a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan]

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All Other Things are Never Equal – Pielke the Younger on the Simplified Math of 7 Billion – or what is wrong with this picture


Glass Empty, c. 1000CE

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr, [‘Pielke the Younger’ around here] my go-to-guy for science policy related topics posted a video on his excellent blog produced by NPR  entitled, “Filling Up – 7 Billion, How Did We Get So Big So Fast” a several days ago which hasn’t attracted much comment, but was particularly interesting to me in light of having spent an electricityless weekend two weeks ago reading David P. Goldman’s [the online columnist ‘Spengler’ over at Asia Times Online] very new book, “How Civilizations Die, (and why islam is dying too)” – a must read for people interested in the geo and socio-political implications of demographic trends [well worth looking at as long as you remain aware that his thesis has some theoretical limitations]  If you are frightened of the Islam angle for some reason, it is possible to  subtract out that aspect and you still come up with a fascinating thesis – which I will let you read the book to discover – or maybe I will write more at a future date.

The take away I will leave you from that book is that the radical decline in fertility rates in the Western world in the last three centuries and the currently collapsing fertility rate in the muslim [you didn’t know either?]  and much of the developing world requires a radical rethink of the neo-Malthusian paranoia, of overpopulation apocalypse we have been force fed since the Ehrlichs and their ilk made their onto the scene in the ’60’s and continues to be a core assumption of a great many people, as we grope out way forward into a global future that may be dominated by demographic decline rather than a population bomb.  In other words, it reintroduces that concept of depopulation to the modern vocabulary, which used to be a subject of great concern in the premodern and classical worlds.

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Liberal Cognative Egocentrism on The Augean Stables – A day late again


Hussam Abdu at the Hawara checkpoint March 24, 2004

Richard Landesover at the Augean Stables, who is my go-to-guy for all issues millenarian, Israeli/Palestinian media bias, and such hip new nomenclature as “liberal cognitive egocentrism” and “demopathy”.  Richard had a post up Oct 31st  [yes I’m that far behind the power curve]  entitled LCE and the Arab-Israeli conflict: Arab mothers are just like everyone.  I’m going to use this as a way to broach the subject of Cognitive Egocentrism here at Meme Merchants.

In an article in Ha-Aretz, where he [Paul Halsall] argues a stylish pomo-poco case that the prisoner exchange reveals Israel’s racism, Alon Idan makes a number of statements that reveal the counter-empirical assertions that necessarily underly his argument:

Yet behind this feeling of superiority [at how much Israelis value life more than Palestinians] lurked a murky, inverted truth. The fact is, the release of one Israeli soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners is not normal; certainly it does not represent an inferior love felt by a Palestinian mother for her son compared to an Israeli mother…. This equation derives from the way we, not Hamas, view reality: 1,027 Palestinians are worth one Jewish life not because the Palestinians minimize the importance of their own lives, but because we diminish the value of their lives.

Certainly. I remember hearing the same from Ted Koppel at the outbreak of the intifada. Hosting a program in which he had to have the Israelis separated from the Palestinians – on the insistence of the Palestinians – he responded to one Israeli claiming that the Palestinians wanted war: “I don’t believe that for a minute. A Palestinian mother cares about her children every bit as much as an Israeli mother.”

It was indeed these dogmatic kinds of politically correct statements that led me to formulate the expression “liberal cognitive egocentrism.” This kind of thinking, which Edward Saïd insisted we – not the Arabs – adopt, is a major element in the cognitive war that Islam wages against us, and creates an extensive epistemological confusion in which we cannot identify the problems or analyze how to resolve them. The editors of the NYT, and their major columnists like Friedman, Kristof, and Cohen, all participate in this liberal, PC dogma, and accordingly, find themselves constantly ignoring reality and coming up with ludicrous solutions. (As Pierre Taguieff pointed out long ago, when all the fishes swim in the same direction it’s because they’re dead.”)

This is a pretty difficult thread in that Richard is taking a position that there may be some real differences between Palestinian culture and modern society, at least presently, that are tangible even in such sacrosanct institutions as motherhood that need to be faithfully and accurately analyzed, especially in terms of what he refers to as Cognitive Egocentrism and how that reflects in the Western media and society.

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Cold Fusion – Tangency to LUMO and Teaching Towards Prior Art


Luboš Motl [aka Lumo around here] over at the The Reference Frame, my go-to-guy on String Theory, Particle Physics, and Physics in general, has a post up entitled MSNBC VS FOX NEWS ON COLD FUSION.  In this post our super-stringy, super-symetric, non-quantum loopy correspondent strays form the physics implications of the possible invention by Italian physicist and inventor Andrea Rossi of the University of Bologna of a device claimed to produce cold fusion by some unknown physical mechanism, to the quality of reporting or biases in reporting on the subject by MSNBC and Fox News – with predictable results – a lot of bad humor and name calling on all sides.

Here are the links to the original MSNBC article “Italian cold fusion machine passes another test” , and the Fox News article “Cold Fusion Experiment: Major Success or Complex Hoax?”

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2nd Aside PtI – or – An Anti-SMS Manifesto


Back in the introduction to rave no.2  First Post PtII-A New Kind of Blog, you were mercifully spared a diverticulum that threatened to side track the entire enterprise, you will now be subjected to it full force as its very own post – sorry about that.

So as to not kill entirely the feelings of good will toward this blog has thus far engendered, I will mention that we are commencing a two part essay touching on a subject that is near and dear to out hears here at Meme Merchants, and very central to what this blog is all about namely words, language, [the english language in particular] and the evolution of modern society – before that though we launch into a rant on the deleterious trend of impoverishment of language being fostered by modern media run amok.

So to begin

Have you ever wondered why your cell phone company after charging you $500 or $1000 for your 14 year olds excessive text messaging bill at the end of the month is willing to politely back down and wipe out all or most of that fee? [at least the first time]

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And What Kind of Troll are You?


Eventually someone will comment on one of our blog posts – it is possible – certainly it can’t yet be excluded from the realm of possibilities at least while the issue of having people actually reading the blog is still such an unsettled issue.  Never the less, the editorial staff of the Meme Merchants have been carefully examining the issue we have come to a few initial conclusions as to what may be going on.  The first most obvious issue is that at the current hit rate the blog has achieved up till now has not allowed the vapor pressure of the blog to reach the point necessary for spontaneous commenting to occur.  Another factor could be an insufficient number of nucleation sites available in the currently available raves to catalyze auto-comment formation, this could be do to inadequacies in editorial practice, or people are just hanging back while we get the administrative preliminaries of the blog out of the way – in other words people are waiting for the first REAL post to jump in and comment.  In the interest of exhaustive thoroughness the possibility of reader apathy was discussed, but tabled as unlikely.  A third and more disturbing possibility is that because Meme Merchants has not yet announced its Moderation Policy the few readers that we do have are hesitant to jump in and post a comment for fear or uncertainty over what may happen if they do.

Not to worry, there is no Moderation Policy here, or rather to say that our policy is no moderation.

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First Post – Pt II – A New Kind of Blog


In Part One of this introductory missive there was a point I had intended to make that was completely swept away by the rather longish aside that actually got written.  I can feel the weight of another one bearing down on me, but I will push it off for now, or the main point of this whole introductory post may never get written, which is the answer to this question:

And exactly what kind of blog is this supposed to be anyway?

[And that other aside that I was warning you about?  Anticipate it very briefly here.]

But really, the world is filled with blogs – why one more?

Well, that is a very, very good question.

There are two types of people, the type of person who divides people into types – and the type who does not.  Being the type dividing type myself, I could further subdivide people into two other distinct types:  the ‘It’s all good’ type, and the ‘But some things are better than others’ type.   The ‘It’s All Good’ type might feel very little inhibition about just plunging recklessly ahead and starting yet another WordPress blog, while the ‘But somethings are better than others’ type might feel a stronger sense of inhibition about adding yet another potentially hazy, unfocussed patch of real estate to the digital domain of the nooshpere.

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Oh dear, yet another hazy, unfocused WordPress blog by the semi-literate – – or another precious moment of your life scuppered


Yes, I know what you are thinking already,  ” And with a blog post heading like that you are not helping your cause any.  In post-post-modern blogospheric representation a heading like that it will definitely cost you points.”

Yes, yes, yes, – of course – we know – but, the REASON for the extended headings occasionally to be found here is that it is in itself an obscure literary reference, and bridgehead into a possible new conversation;  which, cognoscenti maybe to be able to pick up on from a couple of different angles, [and you are allowed to congratulate yourself if you succeed] or maybe you will simply enjoy the display of linguistic eccentricity.

There WILL be a cost no doubt, it will probably cost us points with some readers, web aggregators, and search engine indexers – what will Google think?

So, to begin.

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