Still Trust Government & The News?

6752438751_d8c4b893d7_z

Two small items as I’m traveling today.

Destroying evidence works

DHS ordered me to scrub records of Muslims with terror ties

[In 2009] Twenty-three-year old Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253, but the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned…

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.”…

Most Americans were unaware of the enormous damage to morale at the Department of Homeland Security, where I worked, his condemnation caused. His words infuriated many of us because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material—the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots…

After leaving my 15 year career at DHS, I can no longer be silent about the dangerous state of America’s counter-terror strategy, our leaders’ willingness to compromise the security of citizens for the ideological rigidity of political correctness–and, consequently, our vulnerability to devastating, mass-casualty attack.

…in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS).

Fifteen points to the reader who understands that if the government deletes the evidence it has about terrorism, that same government will be able to say truthfully after the next attack, “We had no evidence that this attack was coming.” Plausible deniability.

Extra points to those who can say “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab” three times fast.

Words for hire

Interesting thing was the above story appeared in a mainstream source, The Hill. Is it therefore suspicious? Russia Today is not a mainstream source, at least not here in the West. It is Russian mainstream.

Headline (my version): Journalist admits to lying.

Dr. Udo Ulfkotte is a top German journalist and editor and has been for more than two decades, so you can bet he knows a thing or two about mainstream media and what really happens behind the scenes. Recently, Dr. Ulfakatte went on public television stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, also adding that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job.

Ulfkotte (which is also easy to say fast) himself said:

I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.

There is a video of Ulfkotte with more information.

Believe what you like about it—I’m not defending or criticizing–but I’ll tell you this. I myself have been (recently) presented with op-eds, written by those who specialize in that kind of thing, that I was asked to sign as if I had written them. I am, of course, a relative nobody but I am a small authority in some areas.

I refused these commissions, and will always do so, but you have to wonder how common the practice is. I think we all know the answer. And I think we all know of the close ties the mainstream media has with the government.

The other odd thing is the increasing belligerent attitude we’re taking with Russia. But that’s a subject for another day.

On Twitter’s Shadow Banning

twi

Friend of ours noticed late last week that his tweets were no longer showing up in Twitter searches. So I searched for his name, complete with Twitter handle, and saw that his tweets from the last two weeks weren’t showing up in searches, except those in exchanges with me, probably because we follow each other.

I conducted the same searches for others in our circle and found the censoring applied to the more prominent members, but not to all. One gentleman with over nine thousand followers (whom I’ll not name) had all his tweets undocumented; I mean, none of his tweets (over a period of years) come up in a search.

Now this could have been a hiccup in the system; perhaps Twitter’s search engine was lagging a few weeks behind. But the distinct correlation between the distance a person’s tweets departed the Overton Window and the delay in turning up said tweets in searches was suspicious.

Our friend meanwhile was actively tweeting about his possible shadow banning, and letting Twitter know he knew about it. Several others did the same.

Next day, all the searches were restored.

Shadowing banning? On social media, it’s when all appears normal to a user, but where that user’s content is in some way hidden from all the other users. In this case, it appears Twitter let users talk to each other but removed the rest of the community from searching the content of these users.

This isn’t the first time Twitter did something like this. A few weeks ago Twitter, in the weakest form of ban it has in its armamentarium, petulantly removed the verification badge from Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, who uses the handle @Nero. This move blew up in Twitter’s face and resulted in many new followers for Yiannopoulos and in worldwide negative publicity for Twitter. Twitter also removed, partially, the ability to easily search for the incident.

Twitter never explained and it never put Yiannopoulos’s badge back. Twitter has also outright banned, as in kicked off its system, many others. It doesn’t take a statistician to tell you the commonalities of most users cast into the wilderness.

Word is that Twitter will make the banning official “to tackle ‘trolling’ and ‘abuse’“. Which is strange for a system where everybody has to designate who they want to see, and where anybody can block anybody.

Well, now, what do you think of that?

It is, of course, Twitter’s perfect right to ban anybody they want, willy-nilly, or formally. It’s their playground and we pay nothing for it. So I’m not complaining, but I am noticing.

The first thing I notice is that Twitter wants to increase its followers, which they, and Wall Street, consider necessary to boost the stock price, which has fallen by half since the return of CEO Jack Dorsey. The executive staff has also fallen off, with a bevvy of top people bolting not too long after Dorsey’s return.

Still, the relevant question is: will Twitter gain followers from muting people on the right? The idea is to let people follow non-progressives, but to keep sensitive, triggerable eyes from accidentally discovering their opinions. That works, but the maneuver if applied widely tends to drive content towards the average, to the banal, to the same thing you can get anywhere. Why go to Twitter when it’s just an endless retweet of NPR stories?

Twitter regards right-wing thought as harmful to itself. Let that be so, and let them make it known to the world that “extremists” are no longer to be found on its system. Will those progressives and lefties who have been holding back in fear now throng to the site?

Consider too that as word gets out about these bans that people will be reluctant to try Twitter. And folks like me, who provide (so Twitter stats tell me) tens of thousands of impressions a day, might wrap it up and head off into the sunset.

Problem is, Twitter is too specialized, its content too transient. Twitter is like a cocktail party where the conversation never stops, and where you can pop in and take part, but where it’s difficult to discover what exactly was said before you go there. It’s only for the truly Internet-savvy. Casual users don’t get much out it. You also have to like to argue and pay attention, which isn’t most folks. So I think Twitter is already at its true maximum in terms of active users. Of course, any number of people can sign up, but if they don’t engage consistently, Twitter won’t realize any new substantial advertising dollars from whatever users it can coax out of the dark now that I and folks like me have been censored.

In other words, it’s time to short the stock.

UpdateFacebook is now removing speech that presumably almost everybody might decide is racist — along with speech that only someone at Facebook decides is ‘racist.’

In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at a UN development summit in New York. As they sat down, Chancellor Merkel’s microphone, still on, recorded Merkel asking Zuckerberg what could be done to stop anti-immigration postings being written on Facebook. She asked if it was something he was working on, and he assured her it was.

Update La la la.

Obama’s Climate Challenge. Do Business Leaders Dare To Take It?

5018161220_cff4fece71_z

Today’s important political post is at The Stream: Obama’s Climate Challenge. Do Business Leaders Dare To Take It?

President Obama is bruiting the idea of a $10 per barrel oil tax, which will of course ride on top of existing oil taxes, and which naturally you would end up paying for in increased gasoline taxes and food and goods costs.

Besides employing a whole swath of new government bureaucrats tasked to write regulations, Mr Obama would “invest”, i.e. spend your money on “clean-energy technologies that will power our future.” Politico reports that he has already “doled out unprecedented green energy subsidies” to those who are friends (like Solyndra) of his administration.

So with these new taxes we can move from “unprecedented” to, what, astronomical?

Anyway, everybody knows the reason the government gives to explain its largess, and that is global-warming-of-doom. We’re long past the point of taking this subject seriously, since every forecast of tragedy over the last thirty years has failed to be realized. But let’s here assume what isn’t true, that global-warming-of-doom really will kill us all unless we spend your money in so-called clean energy, clean transportation, and clean whatever.

Now that is going to cost a bundle. It would take hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe even trillions or multiple tens of trillions, to switch out all fossil-fuel electricity generation and swap all gasoline- and diesel-propelled vehicles, which includes your car. That means somebody has to sell new power plants and new methods of transportation.

Who gets the money?…

That brings us to Obama’s Climate Challenge, which is this. I hereby challenge all and every seller of any clean or green technology who accepts any money or consideration whatsoever from government to…

Go there to read what it is! And pass it on to all those greenies who would sell us “clean” energy products.

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Brought Things Into Being Out Of Nothing

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

We’re only to start the proof of the title’s contention; we’ll finish it next week. Don’t complain. I once sat through a two week proof of a theorem in a long-memory course. This is peanuts next to that.

Chapter 16 That God Brought Things Into Being Out Of Nothing(alternate translation)

[1] FROM this it is clear that God brought things into being out of no pre-existing thing as matter.

[2] For if a thing is an effect of God, either something exists before it, or not. If not, our point is proved, namely that God produces an effect from no pre-existing thing. If however something exists before it, we must either go on to infinity,–which is impossible in natural causes, as the Philosopher proves (2 Metaph.)–or we must come to some first thing that presupposes no other. And this can only be God. For it was shown in the First Book that He is not the matter of any thing, nor can there be anything other than God the being of which is not caused by God, as we have proved. It follows therefore that God in producing His effects requires no prejacent matter out of which to produce His work.

Notes We did this in Book One. Y could cause Z, and X could cause Y, and W cause X, and so on, but we have to bottom out somewhere to get the process going. There has to be some A which is the root or fundamental cause from which all other things have their being. prejacent = preexisting.

[3] Further. Every matter is constricted to some particular species by the form with which it is superendued. Hence to produce an effect out of prejacent matter by enduing it with a form in any way belongs to an agent that aims at some particular species. Now a like agent is a particular agent, since causes are proportionate to their effects. Therefore an agent that requires of necessity prejacent matter out of which to work its effect, is a particular agent. But God is an agent as being the universal cause of being, as was proved above. Therefore He needs no prejacent matter in His action.

Notes You, dear reader, a particular agent, can make an astray, a form within a species of ash-catching devices, out of preexisting clay. But you cannot make the clay out of nothing, where by nothing Aquinas means the complete and utter absence of any material thing or energy (the two are now known to be equivalent in a certain sense). superendued = endowed = superinductam in the original.

[4] Again. The more universal an effect, the higher its proper cause: because the higher the cause, to so many more things does its virtue extend. Now to be is more universal than to be moved: since some beings are immovable, as also philosophers teach, for instance stones and the like.

It follows therefore that above the cause which acts only by causing movement and change, there is that cause which is the first principle of being: and we have proved that this is God. Therefore God does not act merely by causing movement and change. Now everything that cannot bring things into being save from prejacent matter, acts only by causing movement and change, since to make aught out of matter is the result of movement or change of some kind. Consequently it is not impossible to bring things into being without prejacent matter. Therefore God brings things into being without prejacent matter.

Notes We’re back—as we often are!—to Chapter 13 of Book One. Aquinas, incidentally, does not mean that stones cannot be moved; he means they don’t self-motivate. That makes this the most fascinating part of this argument: “everything that cannot bring things into being save from prejacent matter, acts only by causing movement and change, since to make aught out of matter is the result of movement or change of some kind.”

Now physics is the study of movement and change. But physics is not science of how things are brought “into being without prejacent matter”. Too, that things are created out of nothing could not have been proved within physics proper. A physicist who doesn’t understand this can therefore misdirect his energy. Finding the precise point of intersection where metaphysics ends and physics begins isn’t necessarily easy, either!

[5] Again. That which acts only by movement and change is inconsistent with the universal cause of being; since by movement and change a being is not made from absolute non-being, but this being from this non-being. Now God is the universal cause of being, as we have proved. Therefore it is not becoming to Him to act only by movement or change. Neither then is it becoming to Him to need preexisting matter, in order to make something.

[6] Moreover. Every agent produces something like itself in some way. Now every agent acts according as it is actually. Consequently to produce an effect by causing in some way a form inherent to matter, will belong to that agent, which is actualized by a form inherent to it, and not by its whole substance.

Hence the Philosopher proves (7 Metaph.) that material things, which have forms in matter, are engendered by material agents that have forms in matter, and not by per se existing forms. Now God is actual being not by a form inherent to Him, but by His whole substance, as we have proved above. Therefore the proper mode of His action is to produce a whole subsistent thing, and not merely an inherent thing, namely a form in matter. And every agent that requires no matter for its action, acts in this way. Therefore God requires no preexisting matter in His action.

Notes It is not the form of the ash tray which, somehow Platonically, creates the ash tray out of the clay. It is you, the agent, which is the cause. The form in the clay is inherent, but the clay itself, its total matter-energy, is subsistent. But you still don’t have power to create the clay itself. God, since He is subsitence or being itself, can do what is impossible for you.

Next week we finish the chapter.