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Throughout our history, we humans have gazed upward and considered the night sky. We have noted the passage of celestial bodies and marked their changes, especially those changes that appear to be predictable and regular. We have paid special attention to the phases of the moon and to the moving stars we now call planets, for those lights, when understood, can be used to signal plantings and migrations, storm seasons and calm.

Sometimes we go too far, though. Calamity is sometimes called "disaster," literally "ill-starred event." The acceptance or rejection of burned offerings such as those found referenced in the Old Testament tales, was simple: if the smoke from your offering rose into the sky, God had accepted it; if the smoke hung low, your toasty goat or lamb was rejected, and you are probably toast in His eyes. (Lesson: Don't make offerings to the gods during an atmospheric inversion.)

As we became more technologically advanced as a people, we developed the ability to predict the motions of the heavenly spheres and to translate those movements mechanically. All it took was centuries of direct celestial observations, occasionally corrected to allow for more precise measurements, and the mathematics sufficiently complex to model those observations . . . right?

Well, no. Not at all. We also needed to fit those observations into a paradigm that matched what we were actually seeing. For example, the first devise I pictured to the left is an armillary, a devise that plots the path of the planets and sun. The second devise to the right is an orrery, a devise that plots the path of planets and sun. The difference is more than merely the sum of the more than two hundred years of observations separating the construction of these two devices.

You see, the armillary shows the universe surrounding us as it would move from a geocentric origin, with the sun and everything else spinning around the Earth. The orrery shows the planets and moons — including Earth — spinning as they do, around the sun.

The difference is one of myth. )
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. . . that you haven't heard on the evening news. It turns out one cannot understand Afghanistan's recent history without considering the role the "illicit" poppy crop and heroin labs have played in the last 30 years:

Opium first emerged as a key force in Afghan politics during the CIA covert war against the Soviets. . . .

Seeing an opportunity to wound its Cold War enemy, the Reagan administration worked closely with Pakistan's military dictatorship in a ten-year CIA campaign to expel the Soviets.

This was, however, a covert operation unlike any other in the Cold War years. First, the collision of CIA secret operations and Soviet conventional warfare led to the devastation of Afghanistan's fragile highland ecology, damaging its traditional agriculture beyond immediate recovery, and fostering a growing dependence on the international drug trade. Of equal import, instead of conducting this covert warfare on its own as it had in Laos in the Vietnam War years, the CIA outsourced much of the operation to Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which soon became a powerful and ever more problematic ally. . . .

Over the next 10 years, the CIA supplied some $2 billion to Afghanistan's mujahedeen through the ISI, half to Hekmatyar, a violent fundamentalist infamous for throwing acid at unveiled women at Kabul University and, later, murdering rival resistance leaders. As the CIA operation was winding down in May 1990, the Washington Post published a front-page article charging that its key ally, Hekmatyar, was operating a chain of heroin laboratories inside Pakistan under the protection of the ISI.

Although this area had zero heroin production in the mid-1970s, the CIA's covert war served as the catalyst that transformed the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands into the world's largest heroin producing region. As mujahedeen guerrillas captured prime agricultural areas inside Afghanistan in the early 1980s, they began collecting a revolutionary poppy tax from their peasant supporters.*

(Emphasis mine.)

That was then, what about now? It's worse:

Afghanistan had a record harvest of 8,200 tons of opium in 2007, a 34 per cent increase in production over 2006. The total opium export is valued at US dollars 4 billion in Afghanistan, an increase of 29 per cent over 2006. The opium economy is now equivalent to more than half (53 per cent) of the country's licit gross domestic product (GDP). (Again, emphasis mine.)

So, why don't "we" do anything? Sadly, we -- through our covert intelligence agency the CIA -- started this, and intend to keep it going. After all, President Hamid Karzai's brother is on the payroll:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. . . .

The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

And even if we wanted to "develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw", there's the little matter of cash. Remember, that white powder is right now probably helping our banking system a great deal:

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

We has a country are now hooked on heroin not literally but economically. That is not an infusion one kicks cold turkey, especially since so many of our more traditional assets are tanking in value.

Expect the war in Afghanistan to continue.

*Those doubtful of the allegations raised in that excerpt should look into the author's work. The CIA tried to quash his first book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, but it was too well researched to be simply swept under the rug. I tried to get a copy from our city library system, but, alas, it is kept as a research text, meaning it cannot be checked out. That was probably done to prevent the spooks from "losing" the library's copies. You can hear an interview with the author here.
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I hope this to be the penultimate Saga entry. I've covered just about everything I consider salient to outlining my understanding of What Seems To Be Happening. There's just a bit of detail that most of the folks actively pursuing this alternate story miss so very, very much. Essentially, the "truther" crowd has been flumoxed and bamoozled by the too-easy story. That's understandable. There are elements of the 9/11 Commission's report that just scream for clarification.

Why, then, is everyone so obsessed about building demolition and cruise missiles?!? )
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Some time has passed since my last entry simply because new information came available. Some of it was surprising in its newness (to me, at least); some of it surprised me because I had never considered it myself (for personal reasons I hope to outline).

First, the new information. )

Next, information I had to reconsider. )
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There's one Arab terrorist with a sense of humor, and he said, "I bet I can get them all to take their shoes off at airports." If the next one is called, because of his M.O., The Underwear Bomber, we'll know I'm on to something.

Calvin Trillin on The Daily Show, June 16, 2006

Sometimes I feel I am absolutely alone in wondering why professed failures in intelligence gathering has led to rewarding those intelligence services with greater and greater resources and authority. Shouldn't failures be rewarded with punishments? That's how it works in most of the real world around me. Yet again and again, this attack or that was just barely detected before it could be stopped. Part of this is undoubtedly sampling error; no thwarted attack should be discussed publicly for a raft of reasons, therefore only the missed attacks get discussed, creating a seemingly overweighted sample of failure. I recognize this. Without knowing the success rate relative to the failure, one cannot really speculate on the nature of the actual threat.

Still, all of these very public failures have a few things in common. They serve to give the US intelligence community in general an air of incompetence, something which has to demoralize the low-level analysts poring over raw data looking for patterns and clues. At the same time, these failures are painted as reasons not to bolster our intelligence resources, but to expand the increasing intrusion of many other branches of government into our and the world's affairs. )
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In the last Saga, I noted the suspicious circumstances behind the current H1N1 virus (swine flu), how it seems to be artificial. This led to some very sobering reflection on demographics and, somewhat tangentally, the economy. This entry should reassure everyone that our economy is probably not what it seems, as smoking crater of ruin. In fact, it is probably quite a bit worse, having been propped up as a sham for perhaps decades. )
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I once heard from one author speculating on the subject that the anthrax letters were mailed by the 9/11 hijackers themselves as a kind of farewell and fuck you to the system they were attacking. That seemed reasonable. Without thinking too much about the recipients and circumstances under which they were received (as I discussed in the last Saga), I thought nothing of them. Case closed. When it was revealed that the powder was definitely, without question, weaponized by the US, that in fact no other country even got close to packing as many spores into a gram as we in the Yew Ess of Aye . . . and when this undisputed piece of information was greeted with a resounding leaden silence, a deafening thud by, well, just about everyone, things in my brain started to change. I was faced with more and more unresolved information. Unresolved, that is, under the official cover story, the dominant paradigm, the sanctioned mythos, the one I had embraced for so many years.

Once this process of transformation starts, it's all but impossible to stop even with other theoretical bioweapons, some far more frightening to consider. )
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I've just about had it with the countless whining progressives that are bemoaning the Democratic Party's lack of action in this last year. Why? I'm no knee-jerk Republican (well, not any more). I do, though, recognize that every Democratic member of Congress -- not to mention the President -- has very good reason to tread carefully. Whoever is behind many of the questionable machinations and shenanigans this country has suffered in recent years seems to favor policies championed by the right side of the congressional aisle.

I'm not talking about the right-wing noise machine that passes for our mainstream mass media, either (well, not this time). I'm talking about far more serious shenanigans. )
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History is the version of past events
that people have decided to agree upon.

– Napoleon Bonaparte

This should be the shortest of the Sucker's Saga, though it covers just about all you readers need to know about the attacks of September 11, 2001. I'm not going to dredge up "proof" about demolition techniques based on videos of exploding windows. I'm not going to take an NPR reporter's extemporaneous on-the-scene observation literally and try to spin a case from that. Heck, I'm not even going to recap what happened that day, simply because it's not necessary.

That's right, folks, all the proof that something was amiss in the months leading up to those attacks would have -- not should have -- been obvious to any intelligence agency worth its salt . . . and likely was. )
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In Part III of this saga, I ended with a mention of Michael C. Ruppert and the CIA's connection to drugs. His story began December of 1975 when (as many stories begin) he met a woman:

"(I)t's not too often you meet a woman who is beautiful, intelligent, literate and witty siting in a bar with a bunch of police officers," Ruppert said. "She was definitely somebody I wanted to see more of."

Ruppert got Teddy's phone number at breakfast. They went to dinner the next weekend then spent most of the next 15 months together.

As their relationship grew, Ruppert grew suspicious of this woman, and not in the usual way, the story notes. She had unusual skills, like being able to field strip a gun in seconds, being as good a shot as him (an LAPD cop), being "vastly more versed in the vernacular of law enforcement than any police groupie Ruppert had ever encountered," and, perhaps most important, having no visible means of financial support.

Needless to say, the relationship did not last. )
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Whenever the people are well-informed,
they can be trusted with their own government;
whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice,
they may be relied on to set them to rights.

-- Thomas Jefferson, 1789

In this installment of my saga, I'd like to suggest a corollary to Mr. Jefferson's observation: "Whenever the people are ill-informed, their government can trust them to do nothing to correct wrongs, no matter how much those wrongs attract their notice."

There are many ways to prevent information from spreading. One can create a cover story. One can use mouthpieces to tear down the reputations of those who dare investigate the story buried beneath the cover version, or to disseminate conflicting versions of the story, thereby sowing confusion. One can simply bury the story itself, quashing attempts to bring the story to light. Provided one has enough resources and accomplices, there is just about no length one can reach to affect the official version of What Happened.

Long-time readers know I've been pointing out examples of such manipulations for years. Some topics so threaten a group vested in maintaining the status quo that they will hire operatives to troll LJ groups and plant seeds of doubt in a given topic, publish articles referencing research that completely misrepresent the research itself (and then deny the original researcher a chance to correct the record), report widely and often on salacious details but fail to correct the record with nearly as much fanfare -- these are just a few examples from just one controversy, examples that barely scratch the surface of what has happened. All one needs, as I've said, is some cash to throw around to "research" groups and foundations and ideologically like-minded newspapers and magazines. The juggernaut will follow, one that may crush hard scientific findings or at least dissuade further research.

When it comes to the truth about certain topics, you see, very few people care. I know, that sounds harsh; but it's pretty accurate. )
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Read enough of these peristaltic entries and you should get a sense that I subscribe to the Peak Oil theory. Essentially, this Shell geologist named M. King Hubbert gave a speech to his oil industry peers in 1956 showing his calculations. In that speech, he predicted oil production in the United States -- at that time the most productive region in the world -- would peak in 1971. He was laughed at. He was scoffed.

But he was right. In fact, his prediction was only off by six months, not to shabby for someone working without computers.

So what is peak? It refers to peak production, not peak supply. That is, Hubbert realized that any worthy business seeks, finds and extracts the easiest supply of oil to seek, find and extract before moving on to the less easy supplies to seek, find and extract. At each increase in extraction difficulty, the company needs to invest more technology and more energy to bring the oil to the surface. As technology increases in efficacy, however, the ability to supply petroleum rises with the demand for the petroleum . . . up to a point.

That point Hubbert called the Peak. Once the Peak is reached, the market demand will outstrip the available production, no matter how much technology -- and energy -- is applied.

That's exactly what happened in 1970. No matter how many new wells the US oil companies drilled, no matter how much fancy (and expensive) technology in their toolkit they applied to the existing wells, they could not increase their rate of crude extraction. From that point on, for the US energy economy to grow, it had to import foreign crude.

Hubbert made other predictions. He predicted the world peak production would be reached in 2000. He could not have predicted, however, the OPEC embargo, a political decision that lowered production rates below market demand. This temporary decrease in production delayed Hubbert's world-wide peak arrival.

With knowledge of Hubbert's Peak coming, one would think policy makers would have been on the ball, making preparations for its arrival. The trouble might be that they did prepare, but in different ways. )
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Where were you on January 19, 1981? I can tell you where I was for at least part of the day, easily.

In that year, I was a high school junior. I was a pretty naive kid with good grades, growing up in a rural area near two major military installations. Most everyone around me was politically where I was; tending toward conservative. My own brand of conservatism, however, was probably born of some rebellion. My folks tended toward liberal politics. Heck, they were teachers, very active in the union. For that reason, I suspect, I latched onto the growing conservative movement's disdain toward organized labor, either because of or in ignorant spite held toward my dad's role as the district's contract negotiator for the teachers.

Had I been a month older, I would have been eligible to vote in the 1980 presidential election that seated Ronald Reagan. I would have voted for him. Four years later, I did.

Frankly, folks, as much as I appreciated President Carter's environmental perspective, I lapped up the press's disdain for our 39th president. I, too, was tired of doing without. I, too, was sick of the negative image our country had sprouted, seemingly, during his tenure. And I, too, was amazed the Iran hostage situation had dragged on as long as it had.

So when our high school's principal made a special intercom announcement on January 19, 1981 sharing that the Iranians had agreed to release the hostages, I felt patriotism. I sat in band class and felt that Reagan, with his tough, no-nonsense talk devoid of compromise and full of potential, had cowed those dirty, cowardly Iranians. They released the Embassy hostages on the day of his inauguration rather than face the wrath Ronnie would undoubtedly mete. And it would be no chopper attack failed because of sand. It would surely be a show of force that would shake those bastards in their sandy shoes.

America was rising again, and I was totally on board.

What a fucking moron I was. )
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I'm currently plowing through Michael C. Ruppert's Crossing the Rubicon, a book compiled from his decades of research over at From The Wilderness. This stuff is fascinating, but I vowed to myself not to take it too seriously until I could verify at least a fraction of his copious references.

One bit of trivia piqued my interest, though. Remember when I accused security holes in Microsoft architecture of ruining lives? Ruppert notes that these back doors may not have been gates installed by Gates.

In this lengthy article (partially reprinted in Rubicon), Ruppert runs down the history of a fabled piece of software called PROMIS, one that proves critical to understanding current events. In gathering information, he notes something he heard from a source named McCoy:

It was also not by coincidence then that, in the same winter of 94-95, McCoy revealed to me that he was using former Green Berets to conduct physical surveillance of the Washington, D.C. offices of Microsoft in connection with the Promis case. (From The Wilderness) has, within the last month, received information indicating that piracy of Microsoft products at the GE Aerospace Herndon facility were likely tied to larger objectives, possibly the total compromise of any Windows based product. It is not by chance that most of the military and all of the intelligence agencies in the U.S. now operate on Macintosh systems. (Emphasis mine.)

That paragraph also appears in hard copies of Rubicon, New Society Publishers, 2006, p. 159, for those too fearful of reprisals to visit his site. I don't blame you.
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This might be the biggest political scandal, beating Watergate even in its depth.

Political postings aren't my forte, but this is just a damned good read that many fear to touch.


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