Sunday, December 21, 2014

England, 1802 -- William Wordsworth

John Milton (1608-1674)


MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour: 
  England hath need of thee: she is a fen 
  Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, 
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
 
 
Have forfeited their ancient English dower         5
  Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; 
  O raise us up, return to us again, 
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power!
 
 
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; 
  Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:  10
  Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
 
 
  So didst thou travel on life's common way, 
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart 
  The lowliest duties on herself did lay





.




 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ooh Child -- The Five Stairsteps (1970)





Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter
Some day, yeah
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get be brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get be brighter
Some day, yeah
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Some day, yeah
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things'll get brighter
Right now, right now


Friday, December 19, 2014

Psychologists in the CIA torture report



RCP
"In a secret CIA prison in Thailand, codenamed Detention Site Green, Abu Zubaydah sat shackled to a chair, naked except for a hood over his head. The windowless cell was painted white and illuminated by four halogen lights.
The terrorist said to have ranked third in al-Qaeda had been captured in Pakistan five months earlier, in March 2002. He had endured relentless questioning, but this day would be different: an American former military psychologist working as a CIA contractor and identified last week by the pseudonym Grayson Swigert would run the interrogation.
For the first time, Swigert had been authorised to use up to 11 “enhanced interrogation techniques”. According to critics of the Orwellian-sounding “EIT programme”, the US was entering the torture business.
The CIA officers interrogating Abu Zubaydah were directed by Swigert and a fellow PhD in psychology, given the name Hammond Dunbar, to place a rolled towel around his neck. They removed his hood, grabbed his face and forced him to watch a coffin being brought into the cell. He was slapped and slammed against a wall.
Six hours later, Swigert decreed that “waterboarding” would begin. Abu Zubaydah was held down as water was poured on to a cloth over his face, simulating drowning.
According to CIA records, Abu Zubaydah vomited and had “involuntary spasms of the torso and extremities”. He was to be waterboarded at least 83 times over the next 17 days. On one occasion, he “became completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”.
An incendiary 525-page report summary released by Democrats on the Senate select committee on intelligence last week portrayed Swigert as the architect of a regime of torture. It depicted Swigert and Dunbar as profiteers who had duped the CIA into paying their company $81m (£51m).
Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of al-Qaeda, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise,” the report stated.
Speaking at his home outside Tampa, Florida, James Mitchell, 62, a veteran of US air force special forces and a former instructor at its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school, acknowledged that he was Swigert. He blasted the report, which has been bitterly criticised by the CIA and branded by Republicans as a partisan “hit job”. Dunbar was identified as a one-time Mormon bishop from Idaho called Bruce Jessen.
...
From 2002 to 2009, Feinstein said, 119 terrorist suspects — 26 of whom were innocent — were subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques, in some cases amounting to torture” at CIA “black sites” in Thailand, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Afghanistan."

Just a few points:

1. The fact that one of these guys is a former Mormon bishop should not be surprising. The War on Terror has been in many ways a battle of Our Fundamentalists versus Their Fundamentalists.

2. I tend not to make much out of the fact that both of these guys had Ph.D.s in psychology. They weren't exactly using sophisticated psychological techniques to extract information.

3. A lot of people have made a lot of money off of the War on Terror. That includes psychologists Martin Seligman and Paul Ekman.

4. As I always say, if you condone torture, you must be prepared to torture innocent people. In fact, torturing the innocent child of a suspected terrorist in front of said suspect is one of the most effective means of eliciting information. (Just ask Saddam Hussein.) What? Don't like it? Then don't open that door.

5. People need to remember that the CIA exists to do illegal and immoral things. You don't need a secret intelligence organization to do legal and moral things. In my view, their greatest crime is that anyone found out about these activities -- some secret keepers.








Thursday, December 18, 2014

North Korea's Kim Jong Un behind the Sony hack?

"I don't think Seth Rogen is funny. And James Franco? C'mon."
SF GATE
"In "The Interview," Rogen and Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country's angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film's release would be an "act of war that we will never tolerate." It said the U.S. will face "merciless" retaliation.
The film was slated to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. It premiered in Los Angeles last week.
But on Tuesday, Rogen and Franco pulled out of all media appearances, canceling a Buzzfeed Q&A and Rogen's planned guest spot Thursday on "Late Night With Seth Meyers." A representative for Rogen said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for Franco didn't respond to queries Tuesday.
The FBI said it is aware of the GOP's threats and "continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate this matter." FBI director James Comey last week said that investigators are still trying to determine who is responsible for the hack.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department takes the hackers' threats "very seriously" and will be taking extra precautions during the holidays at theaters. The National Association of Theatre Owners had no comment on the developing situation. Neither Sony nor representatives from individual theater chains, including Carmike, responded to requests for comment."

Well, I'll watch the movie when it comes out on Showtime. If it's half as funny as "This is the End," it's probably pretty good. But I don't think I'd be able to enjoy it fully in the theater, watching my back for North Korean hit teams .




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Would-be cop-killer, Larry "Loco" Davis

Apparently, some people think that he's some kind of folk hero.

Michelle Malkin, on RCP
"Larry Davis, known as "Loco Larry" on the streets of the Bronx, had racked up a mile-long rap sheet by age 20. The black rapper-turned-drug dealer boasted arrests or convictions for petty larceny, resisting arrest, violating probation, possession of stolen property and burglary. He led violent turf wars against other crack kingpins. In the fall of 1986, police suspected him in the execution of four rivals.
When an NYPD unit descended on Davis's flat for questioning, the hoodlum came out with guns blazing. "I'll shoot them first. I want to die," he reportedly bragged to family members.
Davis shot six officers; two sustained grave injuries. Contrary to popular legend (echoed by the Union Square sign displayed last week), the officers all survived. Officer John O'Hara lost an eye. Emergency Service Unit cop Mary Buckley, 40, took shotgun blasts to the face. "Mary was a mess," her doctor recounted at the time. "Her face was mutilated. The pellets had knocked out her front teeth; her upper jaw was shot away. Your heart went out to her." After reconstructive surgery, she returned to duty as a police sniper.
Davis escaped out an unguarded window. He led police on a 17-day, five-city manhunt. Desperate, he sought refuge in a Bronx housing project, where he took a mother and her two young children hostage as he conducted marathon negotiations with law enforcement. When he finally surrendered, many residents cheered him as the ultimate "symbol of resistance." His radical left-wing lawyers William Kunstler and convicted terror helper Lynne Stewart played a minority-dominated jury like a fiddle - stoking racial resentment and asserting police corruption without evidence.
The panel acquitted Davis on attempted murder of the officers, but he was convicted on weapons charges. He was ultimately imprisoned on separate murder charges involving another drug crime. In 2008, after reinventing himself as "Adam Abdul Hakeem," he was stabbed to death by another inmate at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
Larry Davis used children as human shields. He talked a big game about martyring himself for The Cause, but turned yellow when push came to shove. Revered by the post-Ferguson generation's wanna-be revolutionary hipsters, this gutless wonder shot a female officer in the face.
Former Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch minced no words: "Those people are fools and they are giving heroic status to a criminal." This was no righteous crusader. "He was a killer, and he shot six cops," Koch said after Davis's death. "You shouldn't take pride in the execution of anybody illegally, but I believe that there is a special oil pot in hell for him.""

In addition to Detective Donald O’Sullivan, five officers were shot and wounded by Davis. They were: Capt. John J. Ridge, 57; Det. Thomas J. McCarren, 43; Officer John G. O’Hara, 26; Officer Mary E. Buckley, 40; and Sgt. Edward J. Coulter, 44.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Genie: Secret of the Wild Child" video

"Genie: Secret of the Wild Child" video is a 55 minute video (originally a NOVA episode) that details the suffering of a horribly maltreated young girl. She was abused and neglected by her parents, and then used as a grant-earning/publication tool by the psychologists who studied her, and then discarded by them (i.e., thrown into California's foster care system).



I think that you're supposed to take away some lessons about the impact of early environment on cognitive development. But all that is overshadowed by the horror of how human beings treat each other, and especially the casually malevolent way in which they treat children. It puts one's mind in accord with Freud's conclusion that "most human beings are trash."

"I do not break my head very much about good and evil, but I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think, though your experiences of life can hardly have been different from mine. If we are to talk of ethics, I subscribe to a high ideal from which most of the human beings I have come across depart most lamentably."

-- Letter to Oskar Pfister, a Christian minister, c. 1922
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Borderline Personality Disorder: "Back From the Edge" video

"Back From the Edge" is a 48 minute video on Borderline Personality Disorder and its treatment. Marsha Linehan was involved in its production, so it's first rate stuff.




See also my Lexicon of Madness post on Borderline Personality Disorder.