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Volume 1-2016

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Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.

NEWS FEEDS

The RCJ provides RSS feeds from well-respected news organizations, giving our readers a convenient portal through which to stay abreast of world events and issues. Use the links provided. The following are on the RCJ Front Page Report homepage (scroll both columns to the right).

The New York Times

The Huffington Post

The Economist

 

These are provided on other pages within this site:

Politico

Politics Daily

Wall Street Journal

Ezra Klein's WonkBlog - Washington Post

Nuclear Threat Initiative

cnet

Wired

Variety

Rolling Stone

 

Other sites worth visiting:

Cracked.com
Political Punch (ABC News Blog)
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LIBRARY OF ARTICLES

9-11 Liberals and Salman Rushdie

Police Force "Bombing" in Iraq

Anatomy of a Screwing

Fix America Now

Iceberg Economy: How the Supply Siders are Sinking the Ship of State

Bloomberg Illustrates Dodd-Frank Regulations for Investors

DAVOS WEF Points Out Single Points of Failure in the New Global Economy

Soulless Possession of Santo Niño

What Keeps NBC's Chuck Todd Up at Night?

"King of Bain" - Documentary on Mitt Romney's Private Equity Firm Bain Capital

Robert Smigel's Lost Ode to the Evil of General Electric

Riddle This: Do Our Governmental Systems Hinder Mitigation of Harmful Influences to Our System of Government?

The Achievement Metric - Time for a New Way of Determining Public Policy and Positioning Revenue Spending

Hide Your Brains! Matthews from the Left! Gingrich from the Right! Blowhard Attack! Or, more to the point...book reviews of "JFK Elusive Hero" and "Valley Forge"

Art Sampler - An RCJ Review of Art in the Modern Period

Benicia, California Case Study in Traffic Engineering and Growth Management

Everyday Heroism - The Penn State Debacle

How to Keep Things Lousy in the USA

How Being a Socialist Became a Negative

Are You A Slave? A Brief History of the Subject Suggests "Probably"

Moses, Wall Street, Human Nature and Grover Norquist

Concepts of Resistance - The RCJ Provides a Road Map for the OWS Movement

Lance Henriksen - World's Greatest Actor in Reflective Mode

Conspiracy - A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the New World Order

Elections 2012

What Does it Take to be President?

Rating the U.S. News Readers

The Antidote to Michelle Bachman

Ship of Fools - Why Won't We Save Ourselves?

White House Solar Bomb

What Is Happening to Us?

The Cloud - What It Is

Background on Afghanistan

Economics 101

Global Economic Risks

Islamic Definition

Middle East

Second Amendment Remedies

Sam Broussard - Republicans

Treason

Why All the Zombies?

Gun Rights

Leadership Chronicles

 

Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.

 

 

 

Archives

 

Bungler Games

Just Kill Yourselves Already!

These bubble-ized fools illustrated below have next to nothing to do with most of our lives, and yet they have an out-sized influence on the tweaking of the worlds in which we live. They screw things up, where that sort of help is not needed. Each is certain that the others are more than wrong; that the others are, in fact, evil! That being the case, and assuming the sincerity of their beliefs, the RCJ wishes that this holiday season they would all put their weapons where their hearts are and just kill each other off so the rest of us could have pleasant end-of-2012 get togethers with our loved ones sans the perturbations of this particular collection of clowns. Imagine a world free of these influencers below. Far from crafting solutions so that we may all figure out some way to do the thing that we all eventually are going to have to do - live together - these half-wits believe the only answer is to eliminate the forces countervailing to their limited world views. And what do they represent of the population: 10 percent? 20 percent? They do disservice to the majority of the people on the planet, though enclosed in their bubbles of self satisfaction they are convinced of their righteousness. So let the games begin, if each is so vested with special insight. Will they not be protected by the power of their truths? This chaos that they have made of the modern world is their chaos, not that of most of the rest of us. Let them fight their wars of ultimate ignorance on some field of dishonor far from the majority of us, who work just fine with one another and who collectively have far better ideas for our shared global futures.- RAR

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Litmus Wisconsin

Limits of Union Strength Doom Walker Recall

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been at the cutting edge, when it comes to cutting the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin's public workers. Given the historic connection between collective bargaining (union representation) and the well-being of America's wage earners, one might think it would be a no brainer for the electorate to protect worker rights. One might think it, but Tuesday's Wisconsin results prove that one would be thinking wrong.

 

 

Weird Reports

SCOTUS Decision's Fallout Begins

By RAR

Michigan Attorney and former State Representative Matt Davis believes it may be time to take up arms against tyranny, just as old Ben Franklin said this day would come. This day is the Supreme Court's 5-4 health care decision that upheld most of "Obamacare" and, in Davis' words, completed a "100-year progressive trek to tyranny", liberal style. It is the purchase mandate that he hates. "If government can mandate that I pay for something I don't want, then what is beyond its power? If the Supreme Court's decision Thursday paves the way for unprecedented intrusion into personal decisions, then has the Republic all but ceased to exist? If so, then is armed rebellion today justified?"

Davis' way of looking at the decision, which was basically a Chief Justice John Roberts tie breaker, which is to say an abrogation of responsibility from a Bush-era appointee in the minds of hard-right Republicans, is as good as any in an environment in which all the tie-downs have come loose and the big tents are flapping in odd directions.

There is no odder direction at present than the Democrats' insistence that this SCOTUS decision confirms that the Obama healthcare program - which is a Republican-originated model - is the greatest achievement in progressive politics in the last 50 years. That is, of course, pure poppycock even from the point of view of progressives, who place universal health care as the penultimate indicator of a society doing well by its people but do not believe in achieving it through the existing private insurance system. Obamacare is the plan that Hilary Clinton fought against in 1994, when it was championed by Sen. Bob Dole, who went on to capture the Republican nomination for President in the 1996 cycle.

The winners and losers of this decision are not exactly made clear through the reporting in the U.S. media, typified by the AP scorecard above, which could hardly be less useful, demonstrating the American media's fixation on individuals (Verrilli, Roberts, Scalia), as if the entire debate is a personal grudge match between Washington D.C. lawyers.

BIGGEST LOSER: The better way to report the story would be to say that Obamacare forces some needed corrections to the system, such as the elimination of exclusion of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (Isn't that all of us?), but essentially leaves the status quo in place, with insurance companies remaining in power and calling the shots regarding the nation's healthcare. Who is the loser there? We all are, because we are still paying a huge share of our health costs to middlemen who have nothing to do with provision of healthcare services. That beast remains unchallenged because the Democrats failed to show that the jobs of the insurance companies could be done much more cost effectively through a single payer system, as most of the rest of the developed world has already recognized.

That the Obamacare Plan essentially places an exclusive tax on low income people who cannot afford healthcare plans, and that the SCOTUS decision found that to be Constitutional, though that was not really a focus of the case, was a semi-slick workaround by Roberts, a wink to Republicans who want to shift responsibility for the nation's ills to the poor.

And, a wink to Republicans like Matt Davis who just need a little more fire in the belly to elect Mitt Romney in November and begin the task of dismantling the Obama Health Care program, which of course will be one of the crowing achievements in absurdity as Romney will attempt to dismantle a SCOTUS-approved plan, however narrowly, that is really his own.

What a country!

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Neat Trick of History

Supreme Court Completes Health Care Slight of Hand

By RAR

Supreme Court Chief Justice  John Roberts, a Republican appointee, essentially made the decision on what some consider to be the principal domestic policy achievement of the Obama Administration, his Romney-style Health Care Plan. Roberts had to redefine the argument, turning an inclination to say no to the purchase mandate - the principle point of contention regarding "Obamacare" - into an approval to raise taxes on people who otherwise refuse to participate in the purchase mandate.

Yes, Virginia, that is convoluted, but then the entire Obama Health Care debate has been a sham, complete to the end with the Supreme Court decision upholding the program that Republicans have been touting as their alternative to European-style "universal health care" since at least 1994, during the Hilary Clinton health care debates. Barack Obama passed Republican reform of health care that does force insurers to address some major issues involving pre-existing conditions and exclusivity, but leaves private insurance companies - whose only function in the delivery of health is to take a huge slice of the money exchanged for services - completely in charge of the U.S. health care system. Obama had earlier protected the profits of U.S. pharmaceutical companies, making certain that health care in the U.S. would never become a cost effective enterprise, at least not for the consumer. Our present return on investment in health insurance sucks, meaning we pay way too much for what we get in return.

The Republican resistance to the Obama plan has always rung false, like Brer Rabbit arguing that he didn't want to be tossed into the briar patch. The Republicans were getting what they wanted, and squealing in feigned alarm the whole way because of the big bad mandate. The Roberts decision to uphold the plan guarantees that the worst health care providers in the world, in terms of fleecing their clients, will continue to reign supreme in the U.S. That he got around the attitudes of his fellow conservatives on the court with a tax increase argument is novel for a Republican, or so it seems until you realize that all he has really done is approved a tax increase exclusively for the poor. Now that is Republican.                                                             (062812)

 

Global Community in the Digital Age

Horizontal Knowledge Integration

Our vertical quest for knowledge has yielded some popular pseudo-sciences useful for the light they shine on our inability to advance our socioeconomic and cultural lives, and maybe not much else.

 

 

By RAR

 

When next you feel chagrined at learning that some undeserving soul has received some gaudy reward for doing something that no one will appreciate 20 years from now - think Carl Sagan's 1977 Pulitzer Prize for The Dragons of Eden, expounding on a theory of evolution that just a handful of years later was found to be "baseless" (word wink to the Reptilian Complex) - just remember that your greater personal reward is being a member of the dominant species, regardless of the petty recognitions of given individuals. Because while we humans may not have everything figured out correctly or completely, which tends to put all of the other aspects of self-congratulatory excess into perspective, we are at least still alive to keep getting things wrong, and that is something of a victory in itself given human kind's capacity for making things otherwise.

Here at the RCJ the belief is that there are only a few real metrics for determining the quality and sustainability of our lives, and all of that theoretical stuff (think Broca's Brain) is hardly more than an anatomical media mystery we non-technicals get to actively watch and engage in. But the fun of kicking it around doesn't change anything, unless you happen to be a neurosurgeon or the patient of one.

For most of us mortals, knowing that our brother-in-law is a right-wing fanatic based on some deeply engrained, primal fear of falling out of his tree and being eaten by lower-level predators may be insightful, but it won't keep his vote in this November's election from neutralizing yours. This might encourage one seeking order in things to ask, what's the point?

New Worlds: These days we seem a little lost in the why of things, rather than in dealing with the what of it all, because searching, investigating and wondering is probably easier than deciding and doing. The unvoiced working assumption in American democracy seems to be that one day the other side - the side denouncing the way that we imagine the world to work - will finally give in and all of our lives will then proceed in the manner that we imagine they should. That is the magic of democracy at work, putting us all in a state of suspended animation, during which we go about our days in anxious accord, focused on our end of week retreat back into our cocoons of personal security, where we'll replenish our spirits and prep for the next whack at a work week when we'll repeat the whole nervous cycle all over again.

But life is not getting better. In fact, the concentration on largely irrelevant data that now defines our days guarantees that we can't address the angst that characterizes most of our souls. The cascading style sheets of our days have plowed us under and destroyed our orientation to the top of the page and to true north.

It has left us with an angst born of playing along with a game you can only hope to survive, measured by a wave of metrics designed to calibrate your performance in a world that was once your only choice and option. Here is what you must do, you are told by every orientation and reinforcement mechanism in our multi-faceted society, and here is what must come of it for you to be considered a success. But of course the curse of modern economics is that one can never feel the satisfaction and happiness of success without taking more of the available material rewards of life than can your jungle competitors. Your worth and capital are in contacts, associations, special privileges, and advantage in whatever form it comes, for these are the tools needed here and now in this violent and extreme world we have perpetuated, for this is the world of wild and primitive beasts. It is a jungle survival competition in which one can't really get ahead without having the reference of someone who is falling behind.

The devil's victory is that arena itself, the paddock in which we are chattel to our shallow desires, our striving for individual return, and our numbers, our information.

It is a distraction, particularly in our present age of technological development, when we have the capacity to rearrange our world into natural tribal associations in which groups function through shared norms.

Nations are obsolete in the digital (and corporate) age, when communities are defined not by ethnic or national associations but by common interests.

Likewise, if your brother-in-law feels that he can't be happy unless he commands some target set of resources, and accepting the world on his terms means that you must accept less of same, there is now the possibility of largely opting out of your brother-in-law's world altogether.

Imagine life lived by your own set of values. And furthermore, imagine that your only involvements with communities with values unlike yours are through negotiation for resources that you control and in which you are an empowered participant.

This is where our new world of metric measurement and digital information should be taking us: into new paradigms that maximize what we know to be our fundamental requirements as human beings, e.g., sustainability in food, water, shelter, energy, healthcare, security, and purpose.

Through the Internet and the World Wide Web we have the ability to align ourselves with those groups that meet our individual notions of what it takes to meet those needs and requirements.

Our worlds will be made up of global exchanges and cooperatives comprised of millions of people from every race and culture whose shared characteristics are agreement on the things that matter as each sub-group defines them to be.

This will be revolution on a worldwide scale built around higher aspirations rather than around any hope to be gained by chipping away at government institutions and autocratic structures so that one day they will look like yours. In the United States, we have had a modern political model to study through 236 years of implementation and compromise, and the results are in: this experiment is too imperfect to continue at the ongoing loss of generation after generation of creative energies that should be used to improve peoples' lives.

Our biggest fight in the 21st Century will be to compile the world's intellectual and technological resources into self-sustaining global pods that can guarantee that the Internet and the flow of information stays open, not to sustain the status quo but to perpetuate a vibrant and robust new world focused on stuff that really matters.

I would be willing to bet that values producing sustainable outcomes will attract more useful innovators than will be attracted to the ethos of those groups whose focuses are on short-term rewards and ultimately decreasing resources.

 

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Is TED Anything?

 

The "Technology, Entertainment and Design" program known as TED has been getting a great deal of attention of late - and by "of late" I mean since 2005, when TED started awarding $100,000 prizes to people who the judges for the awards felt were moving things forward in some way connecting and contributing to those three TED disciplines.

TED's mission statement begins with "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other."

So, it's like Facebook for a fee, with a convention and door prizes.

After 5 years of handing out prizes to three folks each year, who were expected to come back to the annual TED conference with information about how they had used the money to achieve a purpose, the TED program has only awarded prizes to one person for each of the last two years.

At the same time, the TED conference has experienced an explosion in growth, eventuating its move from tony Monterey, California to a somewhat grittier Long Beach conference center.

This has been driven by a guy named Chris Anderson, whose non-profit, The Sapling Foundation, took over the organization in 2002. Founded in 1984, TED had been conceived as an intellectual grow chamber and had plugged along for years with an invitation-only conference that cost $4,400 to attend.

The Sapling Foundation changed the TED model, brought in the prize awarding idea, and in 2007 transitioned involvement in the organization to an annual membership fee of $6,000. TED is a country club for well-healed intellectuals, who besides the conference enjoy "club mailings, networking tools and conference DVDs".

Not terribly unlike the far older Bohemian Grove group, up in Northern California, TED attracts a presenters such as Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and a variety of Nobel Prize winners.

Whether or not TED actually is anything, other than a well-off person's annual excuse to go hang out with the swells, would be a hard thing to discern. Chris Anderson, the master of ceremonies of The Sapling Foundation, is a former computer magazine publisher, and he is most certainly an inventive and motivated promoter. He has come up with a catalog of offerings for TED, including books, DVDs, specialty conferences on Women's issues and Health, and TED offers licensing arrangements, so for a fee you can host a TED event anywhere in the world.

This would seem to give a wider group of well-off folks this same opportunity to throw a party in which all their smart friends can get together and offer up ideas to change the world.

There is, of course, no clear output from these group meets, which should be expected. A tremendous program to provide single-home solar panels in Angola may well change lives for village people there without anyone in the rest of the world being aware that anything happened.

Results of greater magnitude may come through any impact TED contributors may have on the decision-making processes of governmental bodies worldwide, though big initiatives seem antithetical to a world focused on austerity to solve our global economic meltdown.

So is TED anything that, given its membership, i.e., rich and well connected folk, wouldn't likely be anyway? Or is it just a social organization? - RAR

(030212)

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Losing Our Religion:

Incorporation of Entitlement

No business enterprise has interests of such vital importance to the global economy that their goals and objectives would trump any risks their enterprise might pose to our shared system of universal support: the environment.

And yet, we are constantly forced to go to "war" against entities, such as those championing the Keystone XL pipeline, who want to take the gamble that puts us all at risk: their gamble, everyone's risk.

One is moved to ask, when did we cross over this threshold of basic common sense, the transition of which is not different from any individual's slide into insanity? When did humankind, and specifically the masters of humankind, become so short-sighted in their thinking?

I suspect the answer is outside of the question, as is the case with so many of mankind's problems. And I further suspect that it lies in something as innocuous as business process. In this case, risk analysis.

Business strategies are built around the probability of certain things occurring along the critical path of operations and scheduling. These are expressed through entries on a spreadsheet that yield a mathematical probability.

It has only been relatively recently that risk management has become a routine analytical practice producing probability and impact analyses and contingency plans for countering the effects of plausible events.

In business practices, these are all myopic views of the world that are only as large as the project under consideration.

Due to economic influence - the power of big business - it has become the default condition in the U.S., at the macro level, to accept the activities of large business enterprises as if the generation of profits are more sacred than the survival of the human race.

Business leaders don't think of it in those terms, of course, because that has not been their training. In their behaviors, they are rather like train engineers on a track defined by the business they are in and the market forces that create its dynamics, and they are headed in the one direction their tracks have been laid for, guided by whatever gold they seek.

That we allow energy companies to produce products that deteriorate the quality of the environment, and produce waste materials that will require centuries of stewardship (the Federal Government just approved the first new nuclear power plant in 30 years), is something advocates and protesters can argue about, but it is insane that environmentally irresponsible actions seem acceptable to anyone in the first place. Such should be above debate, simply unfathomable to a thinking person.

That we argue over environmental issues like climate change (used to be called "global warming") misses the point, in many ways, while all too often having little effect on outcomes. (The Keystone XL pipeline has been the rare exception, but this debate is not really over. Besides, every rejection of one harmful energy company initiative seems to be balanced by approval of some equally destructive activity, such as the Georgia nuclear power plant, or the further approval of deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.)

The more potent question is, who in the first place gave powerful corporations the right to take risks that impact us all? Why would that ever be acceptable?

Here again, the counter is to focus the argument on the science of climate study, hiding the debate well within the larger issue, the business initiative sparking the debate, and even deeper within the larger issue of whether or not environmentally risky enterprises should ever be allowed in the first place.

Whatever the argument over safe engineering practices and quality controls, business leaders think too small to be the captains of our planetary vessel. We, the passengers and crew, had better expose these myopic maniacs and mutiny as appropriate until finally we, as a human family, start making sense along the lines of ensuring our continuing survival.

Fossil fuels, after all, are not keeping us alive, but instead are just allowing us to continue down an ultimately destructive path. - RAR                   21012

 

 

 

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