Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ol'Stankazz Crypto-Bishes...., De-Dollarize Deeze Nutz!!!

Strategic-Culture |  It is probably too early for the common man to understand what is happening, but in fact the dollar is depreciating in relation to some more tangible assets. But gold continues to be corralled by parallel financial mechanisms and other financial instruments created for the sole purpose of manipulating the financial markets on which the common man depends in search of modest gains. As with others, the gold market suffers from the combine power of the US dollar, centralized financial institutions and market manipulation. Entities such as the FED (and their owners), criminally colluding and working with private banks, hedge funds, rating agencies and audit companies, have made immense wealth by driving the world into a debt scam that has stripped normal citizens of their future.

What is happening in the cryptocurrency markets in not only occurring in parallel with the spread of the Internet, smartphones and the increasing ability to operate in the digital world, but is also seen as a safe haven from centralized financial regulators and central banks; in other words, from the dollar and fiat currencies in general. Whether bitcoin will prove to be a wise long-term investment is yet to be seen, but the concept of cryptocurrencies is here to stay. The technology behind the idea, the blockchain, is a definitive model for decentralized economic transactions without any intermediary that can manipulate and distort the market at will. It is the antidote to the debt virus that is killing our society and spreading chaos around the world.

Washington is now left to deal with the consequences of its demented actions against its geopolitical adversaries. The decision to remove Iran from the SWIFT system, and the ongoing economic war against Russia and Venezuela, have pushed the People's Republic of China to obviate any direct attacks on its financial system by creating an alternative economic system. The goal is to warn the United States and her allies that an economic alternative exists and is already operational, ready to be opposed to the Euro-American system if necessary. Washington does not seem to want to renounce the role of manipulator and ruler of world speculative finance, and the obvious result of this is the creation of a financial system that is slowly working against the current one. Lack of anonymity and the centrality of systems seem to be the two fundamental elements of the current financial system that orbits around London and Washington. An anonymous, decentralized and technologically reliable system could be exactly what Washington's geopolitical adversaries have been looking for to end the US-Dollar hegemony.

You Imagine An Unplanned 4500% Increase In Market Capitalization?

Fool |  What is blockchain technology?
Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records all transactions. Every time someone buys digital coins on a decentralized exchange, sells coins, transfers coins, or buys a good or service with virtual coins, a ledger records that transaction, often in an encrypted fashion, to protect it from cybercriminals. These transactions are also recorded and processed without a third-party provider, which is usually a bank.

Why was blockchain invented?
The main reason we even have this cryptocurrency and blockchain revolution is as a result of the perceived shortcomings of the traditional banking system. What shortcomings, you ask? For example, when transferring money to overseas markets, a payment could be delayed for days while a bank verifies it. Many would argue that financial institutions shouldn't tie up cross-border payments and funds for such an extensive amount of time.

Likewise, banks almost always serve as an intermediary of currency transactions, thus taking their cut in the process. Blockchain developers want the ability to process payments without a need for this middleman.

What are its prime advantages over current networks? 
So, what does blockchain technology bring to the table that current payment networks don't? For starters, and as noted, it's decentralized. That's a fancy way of saying that there's no central hub where transaction data is stored. Instead, servers and hard drives all over the world hold bits and pieces of these blocks of data. This is done for two purposes. First, it ensures that no one party can gain control over a cryptocurrency and blockchain. Also, it keeps cybercriminals from being able to hold a digital currency "hostage" should they gain access to transaction data.

Second, removing the middleman from the equation and working around the traditional banking system should allow for smaller transaction fees. What's unclear is if lower fees would mean cheaper fees for the consumer, or just bigger profits for businesses deploying blockchain technology.

Third, and maybe most important, blockchain offers the potential to process transactions considerably faster. Whereas banks are often closed on the weekend, and operate during traditional hours, validation of transactions on a blockchain occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some blockchain developers have suggested that their networks can validate transactions in a few seconds, or perhaps instantly. That would be a big improvement over the current wait time for cross-border payments.

Bitshit: BUY! BUY! BYE!

ibankcoin |  Crypto currency Bitconnect (BCC) plunged from $321 to a tad over $35 today, a drop of more than 86% after regulators from state authorities issued cease and desist letters for unauthorized sale of securities. That’s right. Just because your shit is on the blockchain, that doesn’t mean you get to solicit your fucking Ponzi scheme to people in America. State regulators will have something to say about that.
Via the company’s website, as per the reasons for shutting down.
The reason for halt of lending and exchange platform has many reasons as follow:
The continuous bad press has made community members uneasy and created a lack of confidence in the platform.
We have received two Cease and Desist letters, one from the Texas State Securities Board, and one from the North Carolina Secretary of State Securities Division. These actions have become a hindrance for the legal continuation of the platform.
Outside forces have performed DDos attacks on platform several times and have made it clear that these will continue. These interruptions in service have made the platform unstable and have created more panic inside the community.
Price action.
What did Bitconnect do? They quite literally ran a Ponzi scheme. Look at one of their brochures, promising investors 40% returns, PER MONTH.
Via Tech Crunch:
Many in the cryptocurrency community have openly accused Bitconnnect of running a Ponzi scheme, including Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.
The platform was powered by a token called BCC (not to be confused with BCH, or Bitcoin Cash), which is essentially useless now that the trading platform has shut down. In the last The token has plummeted more than 80% to about $37, down from over $200 just a few hours ago.
If you aren’t familiar with the platform, Bitconnect was an anonymously-run site where users could loan their cryptocurrency to the company in exchange for outsized returns depending on how long the loan was for. For example, a $10,000 loan for 180 days would purportedly give you ~40% returns each month, with a .20% daily bonus.
Bitconnect also had a thriving multi-level referral feature, which also made it somewhat akin to a pyramid scheme with thousands of social media users trying to drive signups using their referral code.
The platform said it generated returns for users using Bitconnnect’s trading bot and “volatility trading software”, which usually averaged around 1% per day.
Of course profiting from market fluctuations and volatility is a legitimate trading strategy, and one used by many hedge funds and institutional traders. But Bitconnect’s promise (and payment) of outsized and guaranteed returns led many to believe it was a ponzi scheme that was paying out existing loan interest with newly pledged loans.
The requirement of having BCC to participate in the lending program led to a natural spike in demand (and price) of BCC. In less than a year the currency went from being worth less than a dollar (with a market cap in the millions) to a all-time high of ~$430.00 with a market cap above $2.6B.
Lenders into the Bitconnect Exchange have revealed the company is closing out accounts, issuing BCC in exchange for their dollars — which is causing the price to plummet.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Governor Tailor-Made, Hand-Picked, and Fully Funded By Missouri Elites...,

CounterPunch |  Beneath the surface of meanness by the political elite are the needs of corporate masters who anoint them to be our leaders.  An essential characteristic of twenty-first century capitalism is unending war to complete the pillaging of resources from every corner of the Earth.  Those wars are best carried out by politicians who hate not just their opponents but everyone around them.  An economically destructive system encourages, molds and rewards those individuals who are most vile to their fellow humans.

Though Greitens is currently being investigated by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, it is not  clear if criminal charges will be filed.  While local press are on his trail like a hound dog, the still unidentified woman who reports being tied up, photographed and blackmailed is currently protecting her identity by not pressing charges.  Missouri Republicans are saying it is “too early” to tell if the entire affair will blow over.  Greitens, who admits to an extramarital affair while denying taking a photo for blackmail, is going to each GOP legislator and personally apologizing for the Trump-like insults that he hurled at them during the first year of his reign.

Also disturbing is the revelation that before his election Greitens had reserved “Greitens for President” websites, revealing the ego-maniacal core of his soul.  Before the bondage scandal,  Republicans across the country were eyeing Greitens.  They could still end up thinking that someone who could escape prosecution for terrorizing a woman and glorify gun-toting and union-smashing would, in fact, have what it takes to be their man for the white house.

What could be more frightening?  It’s the possibility that Greitens would lose a presidential race to a Democrat who was worse.  Isn’t it time to put aside the fantasy that demonstrating the contemptible nature of a Republican somehow proves that a Democrat is “better?”

Your Elites Are Like A Parasite About To Kill Its Host

oxforduniversitypress |  At the centre of the modern theory of credit rationing, as observed at the macro level, are banks—a critical institution which was missing from DSGE models. This was a particularly peculiar omission because, without banks, there presumably would be no central banks, and it is the central bank’s conduct of monetary policy that is central in those models. The fact that credit is allocated by institutions (banks), rather than through conventional markets (auctions) is an important distinction lost in the DSGE framework. Greenwald and Stiglitz (2003) model banks as firms, which take others’ capital, in combination with their own, obtaining and processing information, making decisions about which loans to make. They too are by and large equity constrained, but in addition face a large number of regulatory constraints. Shocks to their balance sheets, changes in the available set of loans and their expectations about returns, and alterations in regulations lead to large changes in loan supply and the terms at which loans are made available. Variations in regulations and circumstances of banks across states in the US are helping validate the importance of variation in the supply conditions in banking in the 2008 crisis and its aftermath.38

Given how long it takes balance sheets to be restored when confronted with a shock of the size of that of 2008, it is not surprising that the effects persisted.39 But they seem to have persisted even after the restoration of bank and firm balance sheets. That suggests that this crisis (like the Great Depression) is more than a balance sheet crisis. It is part of a structural transformation, in the advanced countries, the most notable aspects of which are a shift from manufacturing to a service-sector economy and an outsourcing of unskilled production to emerging markets; for developing countries, the structural transformation involves industrialization and globalization. Not surprisingly, such structural transformations have large macroeconomic consequences and are an essential part of growth processes. DSGE models are particularly unsuited to address their implications for several reasons: (a) the assumption of rational expectations, and even more importantly, common knowledge, might be relevant in the context of understanding fluctuations and growth in an agricultural environment with well-defined weather shocks described by a stationary distribution,40 but it cannot describe changes, like these, that happen rarely;41 (b) studying these changes requires at least a two-sector model; and (c) a key market failure is the free mobility of resources, especially labour, across sectors. Again, simple models have been constructed investigating how structural transformation can lead to a persistent high level of unemployment, and how, even then, standard Keynesian policies can restore full employment, but by contrast, increasing wage flexibility can increase unemployment (see Delli Gatti et al., 2012a,b).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Religion and Money

gurdjieffclub |  To reflect on the relationship of religion to money, there is no better starting-point than "to go beyond time." In returning to the origin of the question, we may find a grain of truth and thus turn towards the remedy for an otherwise intractable problem. Countless volumes have appeared about the Church's attitude to war and sex but very little has been written about money.

William Desmonde shows1 that in some ancient cultures money was used as a symbol to replace food in sacrificial communion rituals. Participation in the meal implied a bond of loyalty with other members of the group and signified also entering into a covenant with the deity. Each communicant received a particular portion of the sacrificial flesh corresponding to his standing in the community. When money of different denominations began to be used in place of the portions of food, the establishment of a contractual; relationship between two individuals at first retained traces of the original bond of religious loyalty among participants in the same communion, with impersonal bargaining replacing the patriarchal redistribution of foods among the brotherhood.

In any case, there is good reason to suppose that money was originally a sacred device created by religious authority to facilitate the exchange of necessities in an expanding society. It was intended to be a means of recognizing that human beings have individual property rights and at the same time that no human being or family is self- sufficient. In support of this theory, Rene Guenon states2 that coins of the ancient Celts are covered with symbols taken from Druid doctrine, implying direct intervention of the Druid priests in the monetary system.

Given the sacred origin of money, solutions to the problem of religion and money on this level can never be found. A solution is achievable only through reinstating the individual's relationship to money within the whole scale of his spiritual studies and strivings, that is, through re-educating him to regard money transactions as a measure of his individual human relationships. For, like everything existing, money is a vital part of life on the planet and is worthy of respect, of course at its proper level. True religion views everything, including money, in relation to universal laws. In showing us our dependence on each other, money acts to remind us of these laws. The only thing wrong with money is our present view of it. This is what needs to be studied and understood.

Where to begin? It stands to reason that such a program of re-education cannot begin with the masses, who, in the last analysis, are not concerned with human values except in terms of physical survival.

Nor can much be expected from the many studies of money that are being made on the psychological level, although these may serve as useful shocks to our customary unconscious attitudes towards accumulation and waste. For example, Freud noted that in the modern Western world, the language of people of different nationalities is a mirror of their typical attitude to money. Germans earn money, Italians find it, the French gain or win it, the English have it or possess it, Americans make it. Freud pointed out also a common tendency among the clergy of his time to look on money as dirty, you mustn't touch it. He detected here some similarity to their attitude to sexual relations and even hinted at a direct connection between the problems of money and sex.

Who Owns/Controls/Profits By Perpetual Conflict and the War Economy?

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Posing With a Rifle IS NOT Fighting the Money Power...,

subrealism |  However, money does not emerge from barter-based economic activities, but rather from the sovereign's desire to organize economic activity. The state issues currency and then imposes taxes. Because citizens are forced to use the state's currency to pay their taxes, they can trust that the currency will carry value in day-to-day economic activities. Governments with their own currency and a floating exchange rate (sovereign currency issuers like the United States) do not have to borrow from "bond vigilantes" to spend. They themselves first spend the money into existence and then collect it through taxation to enforce its usage. The state can spend unlimited amounts of money. It is only constrained by biophysical resources, and if the state spends beyond the availability of resources, the result is inflation, which can be mitigated by taxation. 
These simple facts carry radical policy implications.

theroot |  I first met Zac Henson a few years ago when we were both invited to a forum in Birmingham, Ala., to talk about economic development. He has an unkempt beard and talks with a Southern accent as thick as Karo Syrup. He looks like a redneck. He sounds like a redneck. I figured that I would be the lone voice railing against the gentrification of one of the blackest cities in America, until he spoke up.

It turns out that Henson is a redneck. It also turns out that Henson is a UC Berkeley-educated economist and scholar with a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management and heads the Cooperative New School for Urban Studies and Environmental Justice. Henson doesn’t consider the term “redneck” a pejorative, and defines a redneck simply as “a white working-class Southerner.” He has been working for years to separate redneck culture from its neo-Confederate, racist past and redefine it according to its working-class roots.

“The only culture that white people and upper-middle-class white people have is whiteness, Henson explains. “To fit in that class, you must strip yourself of everything else. What I would like to do is show white working-class whites that the neo-Confederate bullshit is a broken ideology. ... A lot of the activism in anti-racism is all about white people giving up their privilege in regards to white supremacy. I believe that will never work with working-class whites. You have to find a way to show working folks that anti-racism is within the self-interests of working-class white people. And you have to do that with a culture.”

Henson is one of the people trying to renew the legacy of the Young Patriots and build the anti-racism redneck movement. He is one of the people trying to spread the message and history of the Young Patriots Organization and its connection to redneck culture.

The original YPO was led by William “Preacherman” Fesperman and made up of “hillbillies” from Chicago’s South Side. They saw the similarity in how the Chicago machine treated blacks and how it treated poor whites. Preacherman believed that solidarity was the only answer.

“Let racism become a disease,” he said at the 1969 conference. “I’m talking to the white brothers and sisters because I know what it’s done. I know what it’s done to me. I know what it does to people every day. … It’s got to stop, and we’re doing it.”

Modeled after the Black Panther Party, the YPO adapted the Panthers’ ideas into its platform. It used an 11-point plan (pdf) similar to the Panther Party’s 10-point plan. It opened a free health clinic like the Panthers. The YPO, too, was raided by the “pigs” (pdf).

Today the Young Patriots Organization is looking to build on the legacy interrupted by the death of Fred Hampton. It embraces the term “redneck” as a cultural term and wants to build a movement that fights racism the same way as the Black Panthers it modeled itself after almost five decades ago.
Hy Thurman, an original member of the YPO who is looking to resurrect the organization, says: “Racism was a demon that had to be driven out and slain if we were going to have unity with other groups and to believe that all people have a right to self-determination and freedom. … We had to change to make life tolerable, and for life to have some sort of meaning.”

Henson, Thurman and the YPO chapters across the country are using their history with the Panthers to fight racism, class warfare and oppression on all fronts, and they are rounding up unafraid rednecks willing to fight the power structure in any way possible.

Occupy and BLM Were Symptoms Of A Broken System Too

theglobeandmail |  The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn't get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.

If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers? It won't be the Bad Feminists like me. We are acceptable neither to Right nor to Left. In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn't puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity.

The UBC Accountable letter is also a symptom – a symptom of the failure of the University of British Columbia and its flawed process. This should have been a matter addressed by Canadian Civil Liberties or B.C. Civil Liberties. Maybe these organizations will now put up their hands. Since the letter has now become a censorship issue – with calls being made to erase the site and the many thoughtful words of its writers – perhaps PEN Canada, PEN International, CJFE and Index on Censorship may also have a view.

The letter said from the beginning that UBC failed accused and complainants both. I would add that it failed the taxpaying public, who fund UBC to the tune of $600-million a year. We would like to know how our money was spent in this instance. Donors to UBC – and it receives billions of dollars in private donations – also have a right to know.

In this whole affair, writers have been set against one another, especially since the letter was distorted by its attackers and vilified as a War on Women. But at this time, I call upon all – both the Good Feminists and the Bad Feminists like me – to drop their unproductive squabbling, join forces and direct the spotlight where it should have been all along – at UBC. Two of the ancillary complainants have now spoken out against UBC's process in this affair. For that, they should be thanked.

Once UBC has begun an independent inquiry into its own actions – such as the one conducted recently at Wilfrid Laurier University – and has pledged to make that inquiry public, the UBC Accountable site will have served its purpose. That purpose was never to squash women. Why have accountability and transparency been framed as antithetical to women's rights?

A war among women, as opposed to a war on women, is always pleasing to those who do not wish women well. This is a very important moment. I hope it will not be squandered.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Strict Father Smacking The Lipstick Off The Cathedral's Neoliberal Pig

WaPo |  Thiel’s secret financing of multiple suits against Gawker was legal. But that shouldn’t erase the squeamishness brought on by a billionaire leveraging his wealth to obliterate a media outlet, all as part of a personal vendetta. (Thiel did not respond to request for comment.)

That vendetta is complicated. Thiel claims that Gawker outed him as gay. The author of the “outing” article claims Thiel was out already, but that those who knew assumed the information should remain restricted to certain circles. That attitude was “retrograde and homophobic,” the author argues, and it merited an exposé.

But more about Gawker’s coverage may have rankled Thiel than, as he put it, the website’s “creepy obsession with outing closeted men.” Gawker’s tech-focused website Valleywag trained a skeptical and often searing eye on Silicon Valley culture. It reported on what tech titans said they were about and what they actually did.

Thiel was a titan, so he was also a target. Thanks to the lawsuits he funded, Gawker had to stop bothering him. If he gets his way again, any trace of that troublesome writing may be erased. This starts to look an awful lot like book-burning.

The good news is that ALL institutions are currently in play. Been taking a deep dive with the youngest into questions about dopamine hegemony and the science and engineering of money. Cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency-speculation being all the rage at the moment among the young, dumb, and “want something for nothing” set. 

Am absolutely loving the open warfare erupting in the Impyrian heights among the oligarchs and then licking down like lightning to destroy errant peasants who attempt to fly too high. Ahhhh.., the petty satisfactions of pedestrian schadenfreude. 

Anyway, what we can all know and see for certain at this moment, is that the NYC-DC establishment is going into a strong second-half push in this destroy Trump game. Now that russiagate has failed, it’s down to adultery and faux racism. All just window-dressing over the real game in play – that game being control of the money pump. The Koch/Thiel/Mercer block is not going to easily surrender to the status quo whigs, and the whigs are fresh out of new tricks against their invigorated asymmetrical elite political adversaries.
One of the theoretical forerunners and bases of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is chartalism, an economic theory which argues that money is a creature of the state designed to direct economic activity. The theory has recently been popularized by David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, a wide-ranging work that touches upon issues ranging from gift economies, the linkage between quantification and violence, and the relationship between debt and conceptions of sin. In charting out the history of money, Graeber notes that, despite anthropological evidence to the contrary, economists have long clung to the myth of barter.
However, money does not emerge from barter-based economic activities, but rather from the sovereign’s desire to organize economic activity. The state issues currency and then imposes taxes. Because citizens are forced to use the state’s currency to pay their taxes, they can trust that the currency will carry value in day-to-day economic activities. Governments with their own currency and a floating exchange rate (sovereign currency issuers like the United States) do not have to borrow from “bond vigilantes” to spend. They themselves first spend the money into existence and then collect it through taxation to enforce its usage. The state can spend unlimited amounts of money. It is only constrained by biophysical resources, and if the state spends beyond the availability of resources, the result is inflation, which can be mitigated by taxation.
These simple facts carry radical policy implications. Taxes are not being used to fund spending, but rather to control inflation and redistribute income. Thus, we can make the case for progressive taxation from a moral standpoint concerned with social justice:
Meanwhile, smart black folk recognizing the game of musical chairs on the deck of the Titanic - FULLY REALIZE the ruthless screwing handed down to us by the DC-NYC establishment over the past 50 years, with the replacement negroe program, mass incarceration, and systematic demonization

Fifty Shades of Gov. Smackahoe Greitens...,

LATimes  |  The Missouri political establishment seemed surprised when the story broke.

In an audio recording broadcast Wednesday by KMOV-TV in St. Louis, a hairstylist told her ex-husband that she’d had an affair in 2015 with Eric Greitens — then philanthropist, now governor — and that he had tied her to home exercise equipment, taken a photo of her naked and threatened to publicly release it if she ever told anyone about him. She said Greitens later apologized and said he’d deleted the photo.

Greitens, 43, who has been married since 2011, acknowledged having an affair but denied blackmailing or abusing the woman.

The news raced across the internet and through the state’s halls of power. Several of Greitens’ fellow Republicans expressed serious concern about the allegations and urged the governor to be honest about his conduct; some Democrats said he should resign. St. Louis Circuit Atty. Kimberly Gardner said Thursday that she was launching an investigation.

But maybe the biggest surprise is how long it took for the story to go public.

Behind the scenes, many state political figures and journalists had been aware of rumors about Greitens’ affair with the woman, some of them for months and even more than a year.

“This is the worst-kept secret in the world,” said St. Louis attorney Albert S. Watkins. He represents the woman’s ex-husband, who made and released the recording.

"National media outlets, local media, local newspapers … political operatives calling,” Watkins said. “It became clear that this was a story that was going to get out at some point.”

A Shithole Is The Opposite Of A Vacation Destination

Have you ever noticed how the Cathedral insincerely and hypocritically uses language to enforce its orthodoxies and control the free speech and actions of its political opponents?

What is the best way for this tactic to be effectively fought?

The only methods I can think of right now are words, votes, or bullets.  Are there other ways?

cbsnews | Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, refuted President Trump's tweeted denials that he used the phrase "sh*thole countries" when discussing legal protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.  Durbin, who was in the meeting with the president when he made the remarks, said of Mr. Trump's denial,  "It's not true. He said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly."
Durbin attended an event in Chicago Friday and then held a press conference on the president's comments afterward. He told reporters how the issue came up:
When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group is El Salvadoran. The second is Honduran and the third is Haitian, and when I mentioned that fact to him, he said 'Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's where he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from "sh*tholes" -- the exact word used by the president not just once, but repeatedly.
Mr. Trump on Friday morning tweeted that he had used "tough language" but denied he had used the profane phrase.

And he also denied he had said anything insulting about Haitians, tweeting that he "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said "take them out." Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"

Durbin said he tried to explain to him why it was he shouldn't use the phrase "chain migration," which refers to the process by which immigrants bring their extended family into the U.S. "When it came to the issue of 'chain migration,' I said to the president, 'Do you realize how painful that term is to so many people?'" Durbin recalled. "'African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally.' He said, 'Oh, that's a good line.'"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Decision Neuroscience (REDUX Originally Posted 11/24/08)

This will not be the first time you've heard this from me, I've variously addressed it hereabouts under the rubrics neuroeconomics or dopamine hegemony - but this morning my very good friend Arnach hit me up back channel with a morsel supportive of the theory that global human governance boils down to the science of stimulating and controlling dopaminergy in the individual brain.

From the Stanford Storybank we have This is Your Brain on Bargains.
Scientific inspiration can derive from the most mundane experience. Archimedes was said to have figured out how to compute volume in his bathtub. When Uzma Khan had her eureka moment, she was sprawled on her couch, just back from a shopping mall where she had gone to avoid working on her dissertation.

Khan—then at Yale, now an assistant professor of marketing at the Graduate School of Business—knew all about the supposed levers of consumer behavior: supply, demand, advertising, discounting. Traditionally, business theorists described consumer behavior as being based on rational decisions about value and price. But as Khan looked at the shopping bags strewn around her apartment she realized that the conventional wisdom was, well, bankrupt. She was sure that her buying decisions had much less to do with price than they did her frayed nerves. She had gone shopping to feel better. Once home, the thrill was gone. “I looked at all that stuff, all those bags, and I thought, 'I don't need this stuff. I'm going to take most of it back. What was I thinking?'”

Khan's professional focus today is answering that question—what are we thinking when we go shopping? She is one of a growing number of researchers at Stanford and elsewhere working on consumer mysteries: Why are our needs and wants so disconnected? Why do people dig themselves into debt from foolish spending? Why do our brains perceive expensive products as superior? And what are the biological bases for the pleasures that shopping or even the anticipation of shopping can unleash?
So simple, elegant, and obvious. Selective governance via the natural tendency of the brain's neuronal circuits to Do What They Do..., what could be easier, more powerful, and more durable than that? The basic fact is that humans are routinely exploited by those with the wherewithal to "engineer" values in the outside world and a little knowledge of the workings of the "inside" world. - This takes us then to the meatus of the economic beatus - which isn't quantum mechanics - but a depth psychology informed by an expansive understanding fractal unfolding and the poised realm what that knowledge is and where exactly it came from.

Neuroeconomics: Dopaminergy In The Individual Brain (REDUX Originally Posted 01/26/08)

A couple months ago, I introduced the concept of neuroeconomics in the context of collective psychology. It's time to take that a step further - a la the philosopher Daniel Dennett, channeling the late ATL Gurdjieffian prankster Jan Cox.
Several people have sent me notes about their problems and apparent failures, and have attempted to attribute a psychological basis to them. This is one of the great cutoff points. It is an immediate slap in the intellectual face: to a Revolutionist there is no such thing as "psychological." It is a flawed piece of data. It is as outmoded to a Revolutionist alive today as is the idea of a "capital-g" god. What is called "psychological" is serving, and has served, a purpose with some people. But you must see that any apparent psychological pressures arising from influences apparently "out there" -- your boss, your mother, your mate -- have to enter in through the five senses. Always stop and remind yourself of that even if you can't do anything else. If one or all of your senses were knocked out, you would not be suffering this "psychological pressure." You have to face up to that. Whatever is going on in you is chemical. There are really no such things as drunks; it is people with an alcohol deficiency. Absolutely religious people have a chemical deficiency. The same with people who have phobias, as they are called. It is a chemical imbalance outside the normal bell curve of the populace at their time and place. Jan Cox
From that earlier article I stated that "For decades it has been known that these neurons and the dopamine they release play a critical role in brain mechanisms of reinforcement. Many of the drugs currently abused in our society mimic the actions of dopamine in the brain. This led many researchers to believe that dopamine neurons directly encoded the rewarding value of events in the outside world."

Today's post is one of those hidden in plain sight elaborations on that theme, this time addressing the rewarding value of events in the INSIDE WORLD, the world comprised of the neurons making up your brain. Think about it. That's all I ever ask you to do, and in the process, you will inevitably be led to draw your own validating conclusions. Here's Dennett;
brain cells — I now think — must compete vigorously in a marketplace. For what?

What could a neuron "want"? The energy and raw materials it needs to thrive–just like its unicellular eukaryote ancestors and more distant cousins, the bacteria and archaea. Neurons are robots; they are certainly not conscious in any rich sense–remember, they are eukaryotic cells, akin to yeast cells or fungi. If individual neurons are conscious then so is athlete’s foot. But neurons are, like these mindless but intentional cousins, highly competent agents in a life-or-death struggle, not in the environment between your toes, but in the demanding environment of the brain, where the victories go to those cells that can network more effectively, contribute to more influential trends at the virtual machine levels where large-scale human purposes and urges are discernible.

I now think, then, that the opponent-process dynamics of emotions, and the roles they play in controlling our minds, is underpinned by an "economy" of neurochemistry that harnesses the competitive talents of individual neurons. (Note that the idea is that neurons are still good team players within the larger economy, unlike the more radically selfish cancer cells. Recalling Francois Jacob’s dictum that the dream of every cell is to become two cells, neurons vie to stay active and to be influential, but do not dream of multiplying.)

Intelligent control of an animal’s behavior is still a computational process, but the neurons are "selfish neurons," as Sebastian Seung has said, striving to maximize their intake of the different currencies of reward we have found in the brain. And what do neurons "buy" with their dopamine, their serotonin or oxytocin, etc.? Greater influence in the networks in which they participate.
So simple, elegant, and obvious. Selective governance via the natural tendency of the brain's neuronal circuits to Do What They Do..., what could be easier, more powerful, and more durable than that. The lengths to which some folks will go to furnish elaborate post hoc rationalizations of What It Do - and how that basic fact is exploited by those with the wherewithal to "engineer" values in the outside world - just crack me up.

Neuroeconomics - Dopamine Hegemony (REDUX Originally Posted 12/02/07)

For decades it has been known that these neurons and the dopamine they release play a critical role in brain mechanisms of reinforcement. Many of the drugs currently abused in our society mimic the actions of dopamine in the brain. This led many researchers to believe that dopamine neurons directly encoded the rewarding value of events in the outside world.

That last one is a gem. Even though the discipline is barely aborning, it's already become value-laden and placed in the service of a political agenda.

Neuroeconomics has been described as:

  • "an emerging transdisciplinary field that uses neuroscientific measurement techniques to identify the neural substrates associated with economic decisions” (Zak, 2004, p. 1737)
  • “Economics, psychology and neuroscience are converging today in to a single unified discipline with the ultimate aim of providing a single, general theory of human behavior. (…) The goal of this discipline is thus to understand the processes that connect sensation and action by revealing the neurobiological mechanisms by which decisions are made". (Glimcher & Rustichini, 2004, p. 447)
  • “the program for understanding the neural basis of the behavioral response to scarcity” (Ross, 2005, p. 330)
Money's effect on the brain is faster than language processing or face recognition. Money is ancient tricknology and not the human cultural artifact we commonly take it for granted as being..., when you study money, you're studying biology - not culture.