Thor’s Day Link-ning Storm (crash, rumble, rumble)

“It should be against the law to break the law. Unfortunately, it is not. In early 21st-century America, a dirty little secret still exists among public officials, politicians, judges, prosecutors, and the police. The government, federal, state, and local, is not bound to obey its own laws. I know this sounds crazy, but too many cases prove it true. It should be a matter of grave concern for every American who prizes personal liberty.”


The current post is concerned with current events, but in the coming months I plan to start blogging about the philosophy of authoritarian thinking.

On the topic of authoritarian mass-murderers, don’t miss Isegoria’s series on Alexander the Not-So-Great:

Sheer military force cannot take over a territory before it has developed to an economic level at which the conquering forces can be sustained. At the cusp of civilization, large armies couldn’t even traverse such places if economic organization isn’t complex enough. Conversely, a state with a strong enough infrastructure to support its military rulers also can support a conquering army.

And on the topic of female authority, be sure to read:

modern society would have us believe that women are either ‘just as capable as men’, or ‘are better than men, because they are more compassionate’. Pish and posh. Just read some of the following short snippets and you’ll see that women are more likely to be violent and war-mongering.

the subject matter of these plays were ever focused on the gods. The main characters of this new form of ritual were mostly human, but their fates were inevitably decided by the gods. The tragic hero was smart, capable, and extraordinarily gifted and his fate was unusually cruel.

This characteristic, unfortunate turn is what gives tragedy it’s power. The downfall of the main character is most often brought on by his own hubris and arrogance to the gods. Through this, tragedy becomes an inherently moralistic art form. It strives to teach the audience member reverence for the gods through these tales of great misfortune.

In contrast, Christianity and similar Asiatic religions tell fables that promote hope through resurrection and redemption to the lowliest of men. A pagan playwright has no use for such endings. Its values are inherently European. Tragedy demonstrates how no one can escape consequences. The gods will always have the final say, despite the greatest efforts of man.

Strong and healthy European societies have always embraced this tragic outlook in their mythology and art. Later European paganism tragic tales such as The Death of Baldr and The Fall of Sigurd. We see similar themes appear in the plays of the Renaissance with writers such as the great Shakespeare and in Romantic Europe through operatic composers such as Wagner.

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.

In western Ukraine the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector. From the way this group’s leaders speak, they assume that they are in charge. One of the group’s leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against “Jews and Russians until I die.” Asserting the Right Sector’s authority over the situation, Muzychko declared that now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.”

Speaking of David Axelrod and “Astro Turf,” for years, Mr. Axelrod has run a firm in Chicago, ASK Public Strategies, that specializes in creating fake grass roots support for projects/big deals that clients are having trouble selling to the public (he was supposed to divest himself when he went to the White House in 2009, but somehow he got around the laws, stayed control of his firm, and had business dealings with the firm’s clients while in the White House). …

BTW, Axelrod and David Plouffe also run a political consulting firm called AKPD Message and Media. Among AKPD’s past clients is former Ukranian president Yulia Tymoshenko, who before being imprisoned, lost the presidency in 2010 to the now-deposed-and-in-hiding Viktor Yanukovych (a.k.a., the most evil, despotic tyrant in the world for the moment).

As luck would have it, the interim president sprang Ms. Tymoshenko out of prison on Saturday, and she’s free to run in the upcoming impromptu election.

I wonder how much the overseas business dealings of consultants who have been Washington insiders both drives American foreign policy and encourages foreign governments to do crazy stuff because their American consultants have implied to them that they can drop a word in the President’s ear.

Former National Bank of Commerce CEO James Stuart Jr. was found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz., the morning of Feb. 19.

Which brings the total number of recent banker deaths to 9 (via Intellihub):

1 – William Broeksmit, 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide in South Kensington in central London, on January 26th.

2- Karl Slym, 51 year old Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, was found dead on the fourth floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok on January 27th.

3 – Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan employee, died after falling from the roof of the JP Morgan European headquarters in London on January 27th.

4 – Mike Dueker, 50-year-old chief economist of a US investment bank was found dead close to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.

5 – Richard Talley, the 57 year old founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.

6 -Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, however the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

7 – Ryan Henry Crane, a 37 year old executive at JP Morgan died in an alleged suicide just a few weeks ago. No details have been released about his death aside from this small obituary announcement at the Stamford Daily Voice.

8 – Li Junjie, 33-year-old banker in Hong Kong jumped from the JP Morgan HQ in Hong Kong this week.

FBI agents arrested a Mexican tycoon named Jose Susumo Azano Matsura at his Coronado, Calif. home on Wednesday as part of a political bribery investigation based on captured emails, seized banking records, and covertly recorded conversations.

The unfolding scandal is soaked in irony: Azano is a surveillance evangelist whose company won a secret, no-bid contract with the Mexican military for computer and mobile phone hacking and spying technology in 2011. He is chairman of a company called Security Tracking Devices SA de CV, and he is now chained to a tracking device—on house arrest.

When documents leaked to the Mexican press two years ago revealed Azano’s role in a massive expansion of Mexico’s electronic surveillance power, the story developed into a national scandal surrounding the business owner’s almost legendary political power. What received less attention is how Azano began an effort to expand his pull in the U.S. and elsewhere through an online pro-surveillance marketing campaign. He also started dabbling in U.S. politics—and that’s what got him into trouble.

For years, Park Sang Hak has fought the North Korean government with balloons.

The long, thin, translucent, 36-foot-long (12-meter) balloons are loaded up with USB sticks with Wikipedia entries, DVDs of popular TV shows, anti-government leaflets, and even single American dollar bills. (The last is included so starving North Koreans can buy rice on the black market.) While the balloons typically make it over the border by only a few kilometers or so (often dropping inside the Demilitarized Zone), sometimes they can land as far away as Pyongyang, about 125 miles from the border.

Rent-extraction or rent-seeking is one of the concepts developed by orthodox economics to attempt to explain these massive, obvious gaps between income and social value. …

In the US, rent-extraction appears to be heavily skewed by economic sector. The health care sector is perhaps the most prominent, both because of the large number of customers and dollars involved as well as the blatant visibility of the looting — and, of course, the increasingly miserable consequences. Of similar size, but perhaps more subtle in its operations, is the finance and insurance sectors together with their lesser cousin, real estate (FIRE for short)… massive expenditure in technology has failed to provide any visible social efficiency.

In a healthy, functional capitalist economy, FIRE’s fundamental role is to match the surplus funds of savers with the funding needs of investors, and to select among the latter the most profitable ones, which are presumably the most socially beneficial.

But even then, what does FIRE charge society in return for these services?
… the salaries paid to FIRE employees plus the profits of FIRE companies. In other words, the total rent collected by the sector. Orthodox economics also refers to this as the “value add” of the sector, as always making the assumption that rent extracted equals value delivered. So how efficient is the FIRE sector?

As it turns out, not at all — and it’s getting worse.

The theory is this: the time spent in deciphering a difficult text has to be justified somehow, meaning that an especially impenetrable text will seem especially wise. As long as the sentences are more or less grammatical and contain words that are individually meaningful, it is easy for the earnest knowledge-seeker to believe that they’ve found great truth in the text, and, given the obscurity of it and the apparent lack of any real meaning, this truth will probably correspond quite well to what the knowledge-seeker already believes. Since we like reading things we already agree with, it is easy for this fundamentally irrational process to override any prior scepticism towards the texts and authors.

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