Gov. Newsom busy dreaming up new bureaucracies

Susan Shelley reports in the Orange County Register, January 25, 2020:

California’s government, that great hulking mass of parts thrown together to wreak havoc on the state’s unwary villagers, is growing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget is drawing criticism for its proposed expansion of the state bureaucracy. The governor requested funding for the creation of a new Department of Early Childhood Development, an Office of Health Care Affordability, a Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages, a Department of Cannabis Control and a brand new state Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

It sounds like the governor is using your tax dollars to create fake accomplishments that will look good when he lists them as bullet points in his next campaign ad.

In a Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee hearing on Thursday, even fellow Democrats expressed skepticism. Senate Education Chairwoman Connie Leyva, D-Chino, questioned the use of $8.5 million to consolidate programs and funding related to child care into a new Department of Early Childhood Development. “I wonder if that $8.5 million could be better spent fixing the department we have,” she said …

The administration says the Office of Health Care Affordability would be assigned to crack down on any part of the health care industry that isn’t doing enough to reduce costs. We can only imagine how much the increased compliance and legal costs will add to medical bills …

But the most outrageous of the new bureaucracies is the Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages …

Here’s what the governor’s budget documents say about the Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages:

“The Labor and Workforce Development Agency (Agency) requests $2.4 million General Fund and 10 positions in 2020-21. This will provide Agency the necessary resources to establish the directorate for the Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages that will develop and align programmatic strategies and service delivery models to better meet California’s workforce needs and proactively address the state’s future of work challenges.”

Some of the new positions will be director, chief deputy director, chief legal counsel and public affairs deputy director …

“The department will benefit job seekers and workers who need good jobs,” the governor’s budget request states.

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From Lefticon:

Bureaucracy the administrative staff essential to all governments, comprised of unelected career employees, with powers delegated by executive order, legislation, judicial injunction, or assumed by default.

A bureaucracy has the power to write, administer, and enforce rules and regulations that constitute regulatory law, as distinct from statutory and case law. Its dedicated workers, aptly called civil servants, fully appreciate the role of government and dedicate themselves to serving the people, often at great personal sacrifice.

A mature national bureaucracy can be so adept at doing its job of ruling and regulating, that it seamlessly becomes a fourth branch of government in need of very little input or oversight from the other three branches. This can then free the other branches to do what they do best: The legislative branch can raise funds and campaign for their next election; the executive branch can appoint their supporters to high positions and project power internationally; and the judicial branch can suppress hateful ideologies and advance the cause of social justice. The concept of deep state derives from the actuality of such a semi-autonomous, self-serving, and self-replicating national bureaucracy.

In the United States, state and municipal level bureaucracies mimic, duplicate, and add to the structure, functions, and costs of the federal bureaucracy. Progressive states take pride in their sophisticated and innovative bureaucracies.

UW lecturer claims he was demoted after pointing out male & female differences

This was reported by Ben McDonald in CampusReform on January 21, 2020:

Stuart Reges, a principal lecturer of computer science at the University of Washington, alleges that he was demoted for being sympathetic to James Damore, the fired Google employee who wrote the controversial Google memo in 2017.

In an article for Quillette, Reges wrote that it all started in 2018 when he wrote another piece for the outlet titled, “Why Women Don’t Code,” which gained popularity after Jordan Peterson tweeted a link to the story. 

The recent Quillette article states that he was initially hired to run UW’s introductory computer science classes to which he developed two “highly successful courses that have over 4,500 enrollments combined per year.” 

Yet after his 2018 Quillette piece graduate students at the school filed a grievance against him with their union …

In response to the graduate students’ complaints, UW created a working group, which in turn released new guidelines. 

The guidelines included less rigorous grading when it comes to coding, sensitivity and bias training for teaching assistants, and spending less time trying to identify students who are cheating. The working group also suggested reviewing each course to ensure it is inclusive.  

Furthermore, the guidelines recommended that professors include in their class syllabi “indigenous land acknowledgment” gender-neutral names that also reflect a number of different cultures, and the avoidance of the use of phrases like “y’all,” “folks,” and “you guys.”

Reges said that before he wrote the Quillette article he spent a year discussing it with professors, to which he concluded, “I am convinced that our diversity efforts are entering a dangerous phase where we emphasize blaming men more than encouraging women, seeing any difference in participation as proof of oppression when perhaps it is just a difference in the choices that men and women make for what career options most interest them.”

He told Campus Reform, “There was an intense reaction from my faculty colleagues and particularly from a group of graduate students in our department.  Many have called for me to be fired.

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Mr. Reges and Mr. Damore were obviously guilty of gender stereotyping.

From Lefticon:

Gender stereotypes – generalizations about men and women, usually negative.

Like all stereotypes, gender stereotypes have an element of truth which apply to some men or women but not necessarily to individuals or a majority. They are mainly of concern to feminists who, while emphasizing the positive attributes of women and the negative attributes of men, insist on the equality of all genders.

The United Nations has long recognized gender stereotyping as a serious global problem and has devoted its vast resources to addressing it. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), gender stereotypes can be wrongful and/or harmful. Two cited examples are the beliefs that women are more nurturing and physically weaker than men. The belief that they are more nurturing can result in their being given all the tasks of rearing children, with men getting a free pass. The belief that they are weaker hinders their entry in male-dominated occupations requiring physical strength, such as firefighting, logging, and commercial fishing. Both stereotypes harm women because they restrict feminine agency; eliminating them requires a massive, long-term, international, re-education program, in the schools (K-16) and through the media, to reconceptualize women as non-nurturing and just as strong as men.

Other common examples of wrongful/harmful stereotypes are dumb blondes and women drivers. These are easily debunked. There are at least as many unintelligent women with black, brown, red, and gray hair. In fact, many intelligent women bleach their hair to become blondes. Hydrogen peroxide is not known to affect intelligence, and no known studies have shown a decline in cognition, memory, or executive function after hair-bleaching. Regarding  women drivers, women are demonstrably as skilled as men when driving, especially when multitasking by chatting on a cell phone, sipping a Frappuccino, applying makeup, and subduing boisterous children in the back seat of an SUV.

Climate change could kill thousands of Americans each year ‘triggering a surge in deaths by drowning, assault and suicide’

As reported in the DailyMail, January 13, 2020:

Temperatures rising just a few degrees could lead to thousands of early deaths in the US, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that if global temperatures rose by 3.5 Fahrenheit (F), or 2 Celsius (C), it could result in 2,100 fatal injuries such as from transportation accidents, drownings and assaults.

What’s more, most of the deaths would occur among young men from ages 15 to 34, and most likely in either California, Florida or Texas. 

The team – from Imperial College London, Columbia University and Harvard University – says that warmer temperatures lead to more swimming, driving and drinking alcohol, which lead to an increased risk of fatal accidents.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the team analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics to calculate the number of deaths from injuries from 1980 to 2017. 

It showed that 5.9 million American died from injuries over the 38-year study period, mostly from transport accidents, drownings, falls, assault and suicide.

The team then looked at unusual temperature changes in every month in every county in the mainland US. 

Researchers then used a statistical model to see how many additional deaths would occur if global temperatures rose by 2.7F (1.5C) or 3.5F (2C).

These numbers were chosen because countries in the Paris Agreement are committed limiting the increase in temperatures to 2.7F (1.5C).

Since the mid-19th century, Earth’s surface temperature has risen by approximately 2F (1C), according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) …

Results showed that if temperatures rose by 2.7F (1.5C), there would 1,600 excess deaths per year- more than 1,200 would be in young men dying from transport accidents and drowning.

This is because warmer temperatures meaning more people swimming and more people driving on the roads …

If global temperatures rose by 3.5F (2C), researchers calculated there would be as many as 2,100 additional deaths annually from the same causes.

‘These predictions suggest we should expect to see more deaths from transport accidents, suicides, drownings and violence as temperatures rise,’ said senior author Dr Majid Ezzati of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London …

One reason could be that, in warmer weather, more people spend time outdoors, which could lead to confrontations – and thus, deaths from violence.

Another could be that agitation from hot weather could lead to drinking more alcohol, and that combination could cause a rise in assault … ‘Our work highlights how deaths from injuries…currently rise with warm temperature, and could also worsen by rising temperatures resulting from climate change, unless countered by social and health system infrastructure that mitigate these impacts,’ said lead author Dr Robbie Parks, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University. 

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The original study reported in this article appeared in Nature Medicine:

Parks, R.M., Bennett, J.E., Tamura-Wicks, H. et al. Anomalously warm temperatures are associated with increased injury deaths. Nat Med 26, 65–70 (2020) doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0721-y

From Lefticon:

Paris Climate Agreement – a climate change agreement between 195 nations initiated in 2015.

Also called the Paris Agreement, Paris Accord, and the Accord de Paris, the Paris Climate Agreement was initiated by consensus in 2015, ratified by 144 of 195 national signatories, and scheduled to be in full effect by 2020. Called an “executive agreement” rather than a treaty, it derives its authority from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty in effect since 1992.

The Paris Agreement dealt with climate change by agreeing to restrict greenhouse gases and fossil fuel consumption in industrialized nations. It set a specific limit for global warming of less than 2 °C above the pre-industrialization average global temperature levels, using the earliest recorded levels in 1880 as the baseline.

The signatories agreed that in 2018, each country will set its own carbon reduction goals, to be called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and increase their NDCs every five years thereafter. There are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties other than “reduced standing” of the delinquent nations in the international community.

Annual financing of $100 billion a year until 2025 would be obtained from developed countries and transferred to undeveloped countries to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate the effects thereof. It thereby advanced the Marxian principle of wealth redistribution from each according to their ability to each according to their need—or more specifically in this case, from the taxpayers of rich countries to the ruling oligarchs of poor countries.

Critics say that without a scientific basis or real enforcement measures, the Paris Agreement was nothing but a token treaty with the purpose of reinstalling carbon taxes and carbon exchanges to enrich the international cabal of financial capitalism.

The basis of the 1880 baseline is challenged by the fact that pre-industrialization temperature levels are not only unknown but had wide fluctuations during ice ages and warm periods, and the selection of 1880 as pre-industrial was a convenient but unscientific choice. The world in 1880 was hardly pre-industrial. It was a full century after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a century when anti-pollution measures were unheard-of, so the planet would have had around a hundred years of carbon-fueled prewarming at the time of its arbitrary “pre-industrial” temperature.

Taki: To Hell With the Perpetually Offended

Taki wrote in Taki’s Magazine on December 28, 2019:

I began my journalistic career under strict censorship. It was imposed on the press and media by the Greek colonels who had seized power in a bloodless coup in Athens on April 21, 1967. Censorship, however, suited me fine. That’s because I was an ardent backer of the coup, the democratic process having been torn to shreds by the socialists and extreme left-wingers in Parliament. Fifty-two years later I am once again writing under censorship, this time virulently unsuited to it, the inspectors now being the politically correct gestapo who hand down punishments for life. One wrong word and one’s career is kaput, no ifs or buts about it.

A society in which free speech or an ill-judged joke means losing one’s livelihood is not a laughing matter. And this is taking place right here, in the good old U.S. of A. Free speech and due process have become things of the past. Let me explain: The Orwellian vision of total conformity derives from an intrusive government that polices thought, the written and spoken word. Today’s demand for total conformity as far as free speech is concerned does not come from any government, but from the media, the film industry, and university campuses. When you think of it, it’s really quite unique. Governments have been suppressing free speech since time immemorial, but for the first time in man’s history the abolition of free speech has taken place through osmosis, by the very people who teach and make movies and write about freedom: the universities, Hollywood, and the media. The key words that are used for restricting speech are racist, sexist, homophobic, nationalist, white supremacist, and other taboo words I cannot think of right this minute …

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Taki makes the interesting observation that the current suppression of free speech and the draconian penalization of the incorrect does not come from government but from indoctrination of the young and self-policing. In Lefticon, the process is described as otherization.

From Lefticon:

Otherization – the act of treating a person as someone outside a specific group, or as someone behaving outside an acceptable norm.

Otherization is a merciless form of ostracization. Also expressed as otherizing or othering, it results in total alienation of the person otherized.

In colonial times, othering described the treatment by the colonial overlords of the people they subjugated as the helpless and morally inferior “others.” This mindset persisted as the rationale for policing and “bringing democracy” to third-world countries, or “rescuing” children from said countries for adoption by better-off families in the West.

More recently, othering has become a form of denigration and ostracization, with a permissible touch of virtue signaling, for offenses so loathsome that they warrant zero tolerance. It is an important weapon in the progressive struggle against bias, racism, hate speech, and sexual harassment.

Once a transgression has reared its ugly head, such as a racial slur, accusation of sexual assault, or Holocaust denial, the transgressor is immediately otherized, much like removing a rotten apple from a basket of good apples. If he is an employee, his employment is terminated; if a member of an organization, his membership is revoked. If he is an elected or appointed official, the opposing political party (or even his own party) demands his resignation, censure, or in some cases, impeachment.

If the transgressor is a public figure, an otherization protocol has emerged. First, there is the statement of denunciation by a high-level spokesperson for the transgressor’s former organization—a formal “declaration of otherization,” so to speak. This declaration can include some or all of the following statements:

 

        • We are not like that.
        • It is not who we are.
        • We are better than that.
        • He or she is not one of us.
        • It is not what we stand for.
        • Such behavior is unamerican.
        • He or she does not speak for us.
        • Our employees have higher values.
        • Such speech/behavior is unacceptable.
        • We do not tolerate bias/hate in any guise.
        • These core values permeate our community.
        • He or she is no longer part of our organization.

For maximal effect, the declaration must be forceful, laser-focused, crystal clear, and contain power words like shocking, appalling, repulsive, reprehensible, disgraceful, shameful, inexcusable, and unacceptable. It must be announced immediately upon termination of the otherized party as a Twitter tweet, a press release, and televised interviews with corporate or institutional officials.

After acting swiftly, responsibly, and decisively, the officials of the offender’s organization or company must publicly apologize to the victim(s). They must humbly accept responsibility and proclaim that they will never rest until every vestige or possibility of such hateful or hurtful speech, behavior, or thought is eliminated from their organization. Finally, they must promise to take appropriate countermeasures—including but not limited to an independent investigation, immediate sensitivity training of all employees, an employee hotline to anonymously report offenders, and in-depth screening of all candidates for employment or appointment—to ensure that whatever happened will never happen again.

The Facts About Iran and Terrorism

Larry C. Johnson, writing in Sic Semper Tyrannis on January 10, 2010, examines the conventional narrative regarding Iran as a supporter of terrorism:

When emotion rules the day facts do not matter. Sadly, that is the reality we confront when it comes to talking about Iran and terrorism. The U.S. Government and almost all of the media continue to declare that Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism. That is not true. That is a lie. I realize that calling this assertion a lie opens me to accusations of being an apologist for Iran. But simply look at the facts.

Here is the most recent U.S. State Department claim about Iran and terrorism:

Iran remains the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. The regime has spent nearly one billion dollars per year to support terrorist groups that serve as its proxies and expand its malign influence across the globe. Tehran has funded international terrorist groups such as Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It also has engaged in its own terrorist plotting around the world, particularly in Europe. In January, German authorities investigated 10 suspected Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force operatives. In the summer, authorities in Belgium, France, and Germany thwarted an Iranian plot to bomb a political rally near Paris, France. In October, an Iranian operative was arrested for planning an assassination in Denmark, and in December, Albania expelled two Iranian officials for plotting terrorist attacks. Furthermore, Tehran continued to allow an AQ facilitation network to operate in Iran, which sends fighters and money to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Syria, and it has extended sanctuary to AQ members residing in the country.

You notice what is absent? A list of specific attacks that caused actual casualties. Plans and plots are not the same as actions. If Iran’s malevolent influence was so powerful, we should be able to point to specific attacks and specific casualties. But you will not find those facts in the U.S. State Department report because they do not exist. 

The statistical annex that details the attacks and the groups responsible reports the following:

The Taliban was responsible for 8,509 deaths and 4,943 injuries, about 25 percent of the total casualties attributed to terrorism globally in 2018. With 647 terrorist attacks, ISIS was the next-most-active terrorist organization, responsible for 3,585 fatalities and 1,761 injuries. Having conducted 535 attacks, al-Shabaab was responsible for 2,062 deaths and 1,278 injuries. Boko Haram was among the top-five terrorist perpetrators, with 220 incidents, 1,311 deaths, and 927 injuries. It should be noted that local sources do not always differentiate between Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa.

Not a single group linked to Iran or supported by Iran is identified …

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(Sic Semper Tyrannis is the blog of Col. W. Patrick Lang, USA (Ret. Military Intelligence). Larry C. Johnson is a former CIA analyst.)

We are seeing here a fine example of propaganda being applied to foreign policy in order to obtain the consent of the masses.

From Lefticon:

Propaganda – dissemination of information, misinformation, or disinformation for the purpose of controlling public opinion and behavior, advancing an agenda, promoting a politician, or diminishing the opposition.

The word propaganda comes from the Latin for propagation and was used by the Roman Catholic Church to mean propagating the faith. It developed its negative connotation in the modern and postmodern eras from governments spreading false information (disinformation) to their own people as well as the rest of the world, with the willing cooperation of the media. This methodology was perfected by Edward Bernays, who wrote the classical book on the subject (Propaganda, 1928). Working as a public relations consultant for major corporations and the government in the first half of the twentieth century, Bernays developed and used the same deceptive techniques for public relations, advertising, and wartime propaganda. Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud.

Every government uses propaganda in wartime. In both World Wars, Anglo-American propaganda dehumanized the Germans and Japanese and exhorted the people to support the war effort. Nazi propaganda under Joseph Goebbels dehumanized the Jews and excelled at stimulating the martial spirit of the German people; the movies of Leni Riefenstahl were classics of the genre. Soviet propaganda dehumanized kulaks, the bourgeoisie, and Christians while spreading disinformation (dezinformatsiya) and promoting Marxism in the West through agents and sympathizers in academia, the media, and the film industry. During the Cold War, the CIA-funded Radio Free Europe broadcast American propaganda into the USSR, and in the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA used the legacy media in the US to propagandize its own citizenry (Operation Mockingbird).

Propaganda in foreign relations is no longer called propaganda except by the alternative media; a preferable term is soft power. Domestically, propaganda is an important tool of social engineering. Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent (1988), exposed the US legacy media as propaganda organs of governmental and corporate special interests.

It is possible to identify much of the propaganda of the media by their pseudo-attribution to anonymous sources labeled as authorities, officials, experts, or someone close to someone else. Though immediately open to suspicion, such sources (if they exist) are protected by law so that they are not individually refutable; nor is this practice systemically correctable. This has led the inquiring reader to feel alienated, turn to the alternative media for real news, and be exposed to an abundance of reactionary, counter-progressive, hateful “fake news.”

Manufactured consent – agreement of the masses with the agenda of the ruling class, achieved through propaganda widely disseminated by the corporate media.

In their landmark exposé, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky described how the corporate media changed from seekers of objective truth to a propaganda model, generating popular support for the agendas of the government and corporate elites.

Published in 1988, their observations are still valid today if not more so.

Amazon’s plan for Alexa to run your entire life

On November 5, 2019, Karen Hao reported in MIT Technology Review:

I started using Alexa before it was cool. I bought a first-generation Echo a few months after its launch because Amazon.com showed me a banner ad as I was shopping for new speakers. After it arrived, my then-roommate, a software engineer at Google, eagerly compared Alexa’s capabilities with those of her Google Assistant. Alexa didn’t really measure up. But as far as I was concerned, it did everything I wanted: it played my favorite songs, sounded my morning alarms, and sometimes told me the news and weather.

Five years later, my simple desires have been eclipsed by Amazon’s ambitions. Alexa is now distributed everywhere, capable of controlling more than 85,000 smart home products from TVs to doorbells to earbuds. It can execute over 100,000 “skills” and counting. It processes billions of interactions a week, generating huge quantities of data about your schedule, your preferences, and your whereabouts. Alexa has turned into an empire, and Amazon is only getting started.

Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, has now revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.In fact Prasad, who will outline his vision for Alexa’s future at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal, later today, has already given the world a sneak preview of what this shift might look like. In June at the re:Mars conference, he demoed a feature called Alexa Conversations, showing how it might be used to help you plan a night out. Instead of manually initiating a new request for every part of the evening, you would need only to begin the conversation—for example, by asking to book movie tickets. Alexa would then follow up to ask whether you also wanted to make a restaurant reservation or call an Uber.

To power this transition, Amazon needs both hardware and software. In September, the tech giant launched a suite of “on the go” Alexa products, including the Echo Buds (wireless earphones) and Echo Loop (a smart ring). All these new products let Alexa listen to and log data about a dramatically larger portion of your life, the better to offer assistance informed by your whereabouts, your actions, and your preferences.

From a software perspective, these abilities will require Alexa to use new methods for processing and understanding all the disparate sources of information. In the last five years, Prasad’s team has focused on building the assistant’s mastery of AI fundamentals, like basic speech and video recognition, and expanding its natural-language understanding. On top of this foundation, they have now begun developing Alexa’s intelligent prediction and decision-making abilities and—increasingly—its capacity for higher-level reasoning. The goal, in other words, is for Alexa’s AI abilities to get far more sophisticated within a few years …

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Alexa is part of the Internet of Things (IoT), made possible through technological advances in connectivity.

From Lefticon:

Internet of Things (IoT) – the control of multiple devices through the Internet or a local network via a computer or smartphone equipped with the appropriate apps (applications).

The IoT is already in use in many manufacturing processes involving connectivity with and between robotic devices. In healthcare, it makes possible robotic surgery and remote monitoring. In transportation, it is behind self-driving cars, trucks, and buses.

For the home-owning or apartment dwelling consumer, a voice command or a mere touch of a phone or tablet screen can remote-control everything electrical or mechanical in their home environment from wherever they are: the heating, air conditioning, lighting, door locks, security cameras, alarm system, hot tub, sauna, television, stereo, coffee-brewer, oven, range top, crockpot, gender-specific personal robot, and more. To the capitalist entrepreneur, it would be difficult to imagine a savvy consumer not yearning for the ultimate comfort-oriented and effort-saving convenience of IoT.

The IoT is one of the reasons for the installation of the next-generation telecommunications network known as 5G, which utilizes high radiofrequency (microwave) electromagnetic waves transmissible over relatively short distances, requiring many more transmission towers (than 4G) spaced more closely apart. The other reason, of course, is the ability to more precisely monitor user location, communication, and behavior in the home as well as out.

The health risks of chronic microwave exposure to the general population are negligible when compared with the convenience benefits to the consumer, the economic benefits to multiple related industries, and the functional benefits to our security agencies.

Connectivity – direct communication between persons, persons and groups, persons and objects, or between objects.

Person-to-person communication has always been by voice, gesture, expression, posture, and the emission of pheromones. Person-to-group communication was not much different, still mainly by voice but formalized into lectures (didactics), speeches (oratory), political (rhetoric), and religious (sermons). After the invention of the printing press, person-to-group connectivity was augmented by pamphlets, fliers, posters, books, magazines, and newspapers, the last two of which eventually became the legacy media. Then came a marked increase in connectivity, both person-to-person and person-to-group, through the telephone, telegraph, radio and television.

Now, of course, we have better ways of connectivity such as computer networks (the Internet), social media, and the smartphone. Besides the legacy media, we have the alternative media, where anyone can communicate with limitless others as a contributor, investigator, reporter, critic, blogger, tweeter, videographer, activist, revisionist, conspiracist, marketer, or entertainer.

All these remarkable changes were incremental but accelerated markedly in the postmodern and post-postmodern periods following the Second World War. A new form of connectivity, with and between objects—as in robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation, voice-control, unmanned aerial vehicles, and self-driving cars—also began during those periods.

The latest exploitation of the Internet, called the Internet of Things (IoT), involves expanded communication between interconnected objects. When applied to industry, closed networks of computers and robots monitor and control manufacturing processes with minimal human participation. In the home, a consumer armed with a smartphone and the appropriate IoT apps can monitor and control multiple interconnected utilities, devices, appliances, and objects with embedded sensors, each with its unique IP address or URI. Clearly, this home-based personal version of IoT is more about marketing and data collection than genuine consumer need or convenience. Supporters of IoT see an emerging “fourth industrial revolution;” marketers see unlimited potential for directed advertising; hackers see more possibilities for intrusion; and our security agencies see exciting new opportunities for behavioral monitoring, tracking, and surveilling everyone, even in their homes.

An equally innovative use of the new connectivity is happening in the People’s Republic of China. By combining the latest 5G Internet transmission, high definition closed circuit television, facial recognition technology, massive data storage, and artificial intelligence (AI), the Chinese government is implementing audio-visual surveillance of its people for the purpose of improving their behavior. Every Chinese urbanite gets their own personal social credit score with rewards for good behavior and penalties for bad. Three US technology “giants” (Microsoft, Apple, and Google) assisted China in this endeavor. They will certainly be on the “ground floor” when something like it comes to the United States, where it is much needed to bring an end to hate speech, racism, and white supremacism.

Note:  Much of the technology we enjoy today was originally purposed for the military. The first jet aircraft were military, and from radar came television and microwave ovens. Lest we forget, the Internet was originally ARPANET, developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense (now DARPA), originally for exclusive use by the military. It is no surprise, then, that the new connectivity has been a boon to its first beneficiaries. On one level is drone warfare, where remotely guided strikes on targeted individuals or groups in distant lands can neutralize the leadership of an enemy and their families. On a higher level, commanding officers can exert full spectrum dominance with overwhelming force against an asymmetrical enemy from the comfort of their secure command posts safely distant from actual combat, surrounded by real-time displays of data supplied by satellite, AWACs, and live audio-visual feeds. They can maintain comprehensive situational awareness of the battlefield, communicate with their troops down to the squad level, and integrate their input with the output of naval assets and air support.

Caveat:  All versions of the new connectivity in their current state are vulnerable to disruption by loss of electrical power, hacking, and jamming. The military version is obviously less effective and possibly ineffective against an enemy with symmetrical capabilities.

Proposed plans for underground ‘sleeping pods’ in San Francisco

As reported by Amy Graff in SFGATE on January 8, 2020:

San Francisco’s high housing prices may be driving some people into the ground, literally.

Developer Chris Elsey of Elsey Partners in Manhattan, Kansas, has plans to build two apartment buildings in San Francisco’s Mission District that would each include two basement-level floors with 88 so-called “sleeping pods,” measuring about 50 square feet each, just a little bigger than a king-size bed …

The plans to transform two surface parking lots that are kitty-corner from each other at 401 S. Van Ness and 1500 15th St. have been in the works for more than four years. Above ground, the building would feature eights floors with 161 units — each 200-square-feet including a bathroom and kitchen …

In the basement-level floors, the sleeping pods are stacked on top of one another, like bunk beds, with one side opening to a common living space. It has a feel similar to a youth hostel or college dorm. A curtain could provide privacy in the sleeping pods, but the city’s building code doesn’t allow them to be closed in with a wall and door that closes.  The basement-level housing units don’t have windows that open to the outdoors, but Elsey argued they receive natural light as they circle common living spaces facing an outdoor courtyard in the center of the building …

The sleeping pods would rent for $1,000 to $1,375 each and the studios for $2,000 to $2,375. Elsey feels that in San Francisco, where the average rent for an apartment hovers around $3,700 (according to Rent Cafe), the lower-cost units will be in high demand.

“We’re trying to build the most affordable market-rate living arrangement,” said Elsey. “That’s been our main objective.”

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This is a prime example of the urban planning concept known as smart growth.

From Lefticon:

Smart growth – an urban planning concept that emphasizes sustainable development through small, high-population-density, self-contained, urban areas replacing suburban expansion.

Smart growth is fully compliant with United Nations Agendas 21 and 2030 for sustainable development. It is based on the premise that, left on their own, the masses can be destructive to the environment, and they need the guidance of computer-savvy, highly-educated, and accredited central planners with vision and creativity.

It is abundantly self-evident that cities, bicycles, and public transportation are smart, while suburbs, cars, and SUVs are stupid. In a smart city, all dwellers live in small apartments. Even the apartments of the urban elites are small when compared with their luxury estates in exurbia. Small is smart. Small apartments need less energy than big houses for heating and cooling, so they are carbon friendly. Vertical expansion allows more people/apartments in a smaller footprint, thereby smartly achieving a high population density. It also accommodates mixed-use, with commercial enterprises on a ground floor and human habitation on the floors above.

Food is more expensive in urban areas, but less is necessary to maintain a normative body image and avoid fat-shaming. Everything is in convenient walking or bicycle distance via safe, designated footpaths and bicycle lanes. For those who must drive, there are smart cars-for-two, electric of course, the same idea as bicycles for two. Thanks to bicycles and smart cars, the smog and pollution of urban yesteryears become just a banished memory. No need to go to the countryside to breathe fresh air or experience the beauty of nature; properly designed parks and public green spaces, staffed by certified arborists and horticulturists, fulfill the most demanding nature-lover’s needs. The green spaces are large enough for concerts, townhall meetings, volleyball, yoga, frisbee throwing, and demonstrations. As a progressive bonus, they are maintained by a racially and culturally diverse work force.

Some urban dwellers may prefer a more sedentary lifestyle. They can be disabled physically or have a social phobia. They can be writers, bloggers, vloggers, online retailers, social justice activists, or just plain, ordinary intellectuals. No matter; the Internet of Things will enrich their lives immeasurably through the power of voice control, automation, and connectivity. Their apartments will have 5G access to world-wide vistas of information and entertainment, and a personal, gender-specific robot will fulfill their every desire. Amazon will deliver their food and essentials by drone. Every labor-saving device will respond instantly to a voice command or the touch of the screen of their tablet or smartphone, and if they must walk from bed to couch to refrigerator, the small size of the apartment will be a welcome feature.

The central planners know that everyone will want to live in a vibrant, high density, self-contained smart city. Younger suburbanites will envy the carefree, healthy, active lifestyles of the fortunate urbanites. They will tire of the exorbitant costs of heating, cooling, and maintaining their McMansions; of driving miles in their SUVs to outdated, deteriorating malls; of driving children to and from school; of long commutes to and from work; of cutting grass and shoveling snow; of food-shopping and cooking meals or choosing between burgers, pizza, and Chinese takeout. An inevitable exodus from the suburbs to the cities will occur.

Eventually, the malls will close, their demise already smart-planned for replacement by online shopping. The suburbs will be returned to the animals and plants that they displaced. Animal corridors between habitats will replace highways. There will be no need for regular cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and gasoline. All deliveries will be by drone. Hunting and firearms will be banned in support of animal rights. High speed trains will levitate magnetically between urban areas for those permitted to travel. The magic of 5G and the Internet of Things will make it all possible.

Planned Parenthood continues to fight Arkansas late-term abortion restrictions

According to Live Action News, a pro-life website, as reported on January 5, 2020:

Arkansas’ 18-week abortion ban is still coming under attack by abortion advocates after the state attorney general filed an appeal to a preliminary injunction blocking the pro-life law, along with two others.

According to Fox 24, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office filed an appeal of Federal Judge Kristine Baker’s preliminary injunction, which was issued in August. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Planned Parenthood Federation of America, responded, asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to keep the ban blocking the abortion laws in effect. There are three Arkansas laws restricting abortion that are on the line with this lawsuit. The first prohibits abortion after 18 weeks, the second requires that abortionists be board-certified or board-eligible in obstetrics and gynecology, and the third prevents eugenic abortion due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

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From Lefticon:

Abortion – the termination of life of an embryo or fetus located in the uterus of a woman.

An abortion can be spontaneous, induced by pharmacologic means, or surgical. It can be early in the pregnancy or late-term when the fetus can survive outside the womb. Surgical abortion is one of the clearly-defined political and moral issues separating the left from the right.

Abortion rights – the right of a woman to have an abortion, also called the right to choose.

The right to choose an abortion is based on a woman’s constitutional right to privacy in the fundamental choice of what she does or allows done to her own body, as affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, 1973. It recognizes that the fetus is part of her body and not a separate, full-fledged human organism until full-term birth.

When the fetus, as a body-part, becomes an unwelcome intruder, or overstays an initial welcome, it is clearly invading the woman’s privacy. The woman then has the right to dispossess it. Though she may have been a willing partner in its creation, she has every right to change her mind, which is always a woman’s prerogative. It is like removing a tattoo that she once wanted but wishes she never got.

In their war on women, conservatives of the religious right challenge the woman’s right to choose by claiming a dialectically opposed right to life of the unborn child. They hold that a fetus is a unique human being from the moment of conception, residing temporarily in the mother’s womb and depending on her for sustenance and protection until birth. This view, conceptualized biologically, is clearly an objectification of a woman’s body and a denial of her feminine agency, in addition to violating her established constitutional right to privacy.

Note:  Abortion rights are part of a woman’s more comprehensive reproductive rights, which further include her right to free contraceptive drugs through health insurance.

Feminine agency – the ability of a woman to function independently, as her own agent, and to do what is necessary to achieve her goals.

Feminine agency is essentially the self-actualization of a woman to reach her full potential. It enables the autonomous female to achieve, upon self-reflection and self-awareness, self-realization of the self-conception of her self-definition. Only then, through self-acceptance of her self-determined identity, can she realize the agency of her potential for self-direction, self-assertion, self-achievement, and self-fulfillment.

Note:  Through feminine agency, a woman can acquire the same self-respect as a “self-made man.”