Sunday, June 04, 2006

Entropy

Entropy

I'm going to flounder about on this theme; however, it seems fruitful to wrestle with. Having listened to and read about how others are feeling these days, there is a need to understand the confusion at this time in the nation’s history. If BushCo were to wondrously disappear in a flash of violence, where would we be? Would the cancer be blessedly absent from human affairs? Or would the vacuum simply be filled with other possibly more egregious beings working against the melioration of our species? And just as important, would there be any group of individuals available and capable of providing the impetus and direction for improvement? And if they were on hand to fill the void, would there be enough followers to enable them to accomplish their vision, goals and objectives? I'm not optimistic.

For many years, I've had more than a passing interest in entropy but not enough to really come to understand it fully. I guess defining the terms is always a good place to start. This explanation will serve as well as any:

"Many people will have heard of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That's the one that states that the Universe is forever running down towards a 'Heat Death'. It is based on the concept of Entropy. This has several definitions - the inability of a system to do work; a measure of the disorder in a system and the one most often used nowadays - the tendency of a system to enter a more probable state, usually described as being to create chaos from order."

The opposite of entropy is extropy, which the same source defines as the ability to create order out of chaos. To put it in human terms :

"The health of any system – be it an individual or a society – depends upon the production of those values necessary for that system’s survival. The production and distribution of goods and services, technology, the sciences, medicine, the arts, and agriculture, are just a few of the more prominent examples of the values upon which Western societies have depended.”

Of course, the rest of my time could be spent in the morass of one man's entropy being another man's extropy. For example. in the film Lord of War, Nicholas Cage, the arms dealer, says the one word arms dealers never want to hear is "peace". But to abbreviate the discussion, we can say, I hope, that a collective of reasonable, educated people have a certain optimism when the swim in which they find themselves is going well, overall. In other words there is a sense of more good being done than harm -- a state a reasonable, educated person would not determine to be the norm today. The litmus test appears to be to do no harm while in the process of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

At two very different times in my life, I was introduced to the team building exercise,"Win As Much As You Can". My first exposure was a farce, when as a participant, I didn't take it seriously and reverted to the class clown I played with some success in high school. The second was as a facilitator in a corporate environment where my actions were more in keeping with my age. Without reviewing the structure of the exercise in detail, the main feature was to enable the participants to experience the results of competition versus collaboration. In the training sessions I was involved in there were four teams with the instruction to win as much as you can.
It was a simple game involving simple choices made over ten rounds. Certain rounds had multipliers built in. There are rules about decision making and communication with other teams. The primary instruction given by the facilitator is, "Remember, the name of the game is 'Win and much as you can'." Inherent in the instruction is the mindset that this is a competition. Long story short, it usually is clear at the end that the groups relying upon collaboration scored higher than those relying upon competition, and win-win is better than win-lose. Non zero sum is better than zero sum.

Why do I refer to this training exercise? I feel we're in a society (pseudo democracy) where the power brokers are competitively playing Win As Much As You Can while the majority are merely bystanders and, by default, losers. Out of chaos, the minority are making the pie higher at the expense of life itself. Entropy is in play, so make the most of it. The life games the power brokers are playing are referenced by Robert DeRopp in The Master Game:

Hog in Trough -- "The aim is to get one's nose in the trough as deeply as possible, guzzle as much as possible, elbow the other hogs aside as forcefully as possible." Tom De Lay, Ken Lay, GOP

Cock on Dunghill -- "It is designed primarily to inflate the false ego and to keep it inflated. Players of Cock on Dunghill are hungry to be known and talked about." Ann Coulter

Moloch Game -- "The deadliest of all games, played for 'glory' of for 'victory,' by various grades of professional mankillers trained to regard such killing as creditable provided those they kill favor a different religion or political system and can thus be effectively referred to as 'the enemy.'" Bush, Cheney, von Rumsfeld, et al.

The mass of society, according to De Ropp, plays the neutral game, the Householder Game. "The aim of which is to simply raise a family and provide it with the necessities of life." People just trying to live and let live, believing, for example, their vote will count, if they vote. People playing the low games mentioned above rely on the householders to sleepwalk, to go along and do nothing.

Al Gore was on This Week with George (Stephanopolous) and Joe Biden was on Meet the Press this morning. Common to both interviews was the idea that problems can be solved if there is the political will to do so. With entropy comes apathy, however, and I have no sense of a public will to tackle the massive problems facing the species. There are pinpoints of light here and there but little in the way of a common vision galvanizing the masses to act on a worthwhile future existence.

The times are calling for change in many areas of our lives, but the response is apathy. As one recently quoted source said, and I paraphrase: we’re clown people, eating clown food, driving clown cars, and, although he didn’t say it but it seemed implied, we lead clown lives. Actually, it would be more comforting to put on the oversized shoes, apply the makeup, don a garish costume and head out the door. To be an acknowledged clown among clowns would make sense . . . in a clownish way. At least laughing at oneself and others would put things in perspective. Better than being a serious fool.

Picks of the Week

Harper's Weekly Review

A state of emergency: Bush is a danger to the constitution in his wartime capacity as commander in chief

"Within the Bush administration something that senior officials call the 'war paradigm' is the central organising principle. They do not use the phrase publicly, but they bend policy to serve it. After September 11 the war paradigm was instantly adopted. George Bush, who proclaimed 'I'm a war president', assumed the paradigm as his natural state and right. According to its imperatives, the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances. Some of the paradigm's expressions include Bush's fiats on the treatment of detainees, domestic surveillance and international law, and his more than 750 'signing statements' - interpretations of laws that he claims he can implement as he chooses."

Examples of the president's signing statements

"Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution. The federal government is instructed to follow the statements when it enforces the laws. Here are 10 examples and the dates Bush signed them:"

Global Eye

"For it is not the small-scale Haditha atrocity that should be compared to My Lai. It is the entire Iraq War itself. The whole operation -- from its inception in high-level mendacity to its execution in blood-soaked arrogance, folly and greed -- is a war crime of almost unfathomable proportions, a My Lai writ large, a My Lai every single day, year after year after year."

Haditha is not an aberration: More, lots more

"Keep in mind also, that the following acts are criminal violations of the law not just because they are really horrid inhumanities, but because Congress, the U.S. Constitution, and international law (yes, there are international laws binding on the U.S.) explicitly prohibit the very kinds of atrocities now rotting at the feet of George W. Bush. Each section below begins with the relevant law or treaty violated in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every one of them, and more, are documented at the Veterans For Peace website"

Looks like it would legally be easy to Nuremberg these moral cretins. Where will the trials be held, China, Russia, Germany, Japan?

Iraqi assails US for strikes on civilians

"Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians."

Time for regime change in Iraq says BushCo.

George Bush and the Haditha massacre

"Bush’s remarks evinced his contempt and indifference not only for the Iraqi victims of his administration’s aggression, but also for the American soldiers who have been pitched into the nightmare of a colonial-style military occupation. For all his politically expedient invocations of 'America’s finest' fighting on the 'front lines in the war against terrorism,' he has no problems laying the entire blame for war crimes in Iraq on individual soldiers, so as to divert attention from the authors of the war, including himself, whose policies make such atrocities inevitable."

Press accounts suggest military 'cover-up' in Ishagi killings

"The Iraqi police charge that American forces executed the civilians, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old baby. The BBC has been airing video of the dead civilians, mainly children, who appeared to be shot, possibly at close range. Photographs taken just after the raid for the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, and reports at the time by Reuters and Knight Ridder, also appear to back up the charge of an atrocity."

New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges

"The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians."

Nobel laureate [Gunter Grass] flays Bush

"'Armed force is used by this superpower to defeat the terrorism it is itself responsible for," Grass says, citing Osama bin Laden, the by-product of American support for Afghan jihadists in the 1980s. "The war (on Iraq), deliberately started in blatant disdain of the laws of civilized societies, produces still more terror.'" . . . .

"'Dictatorships, and there are plenty to choose from, are referred to as rogue states and threatened vociferously with military strikes, including the deployment of nuclear weapons. But it only further stabilizes the fundamentalist power systems in those countries.'"

Iraqi survivor wants US troops executed

"A 9-year-old survivor of an alleged massacre by U.S. forces in the western city of Haditha, meanwhile, demanded that those responsible be executed, as anger mounted over accusations that Iraqi civilians have been killed by Americans without provocation."

Wouldn't the responsibility start with "I'm the Decider"?

Troops respect Iraqis' rights, Rumsfeld says

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today defended the training of American troops and insisted that the overwhelming majority respect the rights of Iraqi civilians."

It would've been better if US policy makers respected Iraqis' rights. A good start would've been to avoid invading their country without just cause.

Who will teach the White House some core values?

"George W. Bush, the borderline-elected President, has professed that his inspiration is found in Christianity, and yet, his actions appear to reflect the exact opposite of the dogma that Jesus Christ extolled for three years. If Jesus Christ were a decision maker in the present Government, would he have sent his army of angels across the world to chastise a whole country for crimes he knew they did not commit? If George W. Bush is truly imbued with the Christian spirit, and therefore, believes in the after life, should he not worry as to the location of his final destination, where it appears presently that he is very unlikely to find his professed savior?"

Cheney starts new cold war over oil

"The rat [the one smelled by the author] of course was the insane hypocrisy of a foaming fascist like Dick Cheney suddenly getting all Amnesty International righteous over a bad regime that does bad things. The fact that Cheney flew straight to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan right after squirting over Russia's human rights problems turned the rank hypocrisy into a bad black comedy routine, barely fit for even a Tom Green. Kazakhstan is a country where opposition politicians and media aren't merely jailed, exiled or cowed as they are in Russia, but are shot and dumped in forests, Miller's Crossing-style, on behalf of a despot whose family runs the country like its own fiefdom."

The US has chosen the wrong path . . . and doggedly presses on.

Blix says US impedes efforts to curb arms

"Saying it was essential that Washington act to end the stagnation of arms limitation, Mr. Blix said: 'If it takes the lead, the world is likely to follow. If it does not take the lead, there could be more nuclear tests and new nuclear arms races.'"

Military leaders mutinying

"Following the lead of the neo-conservatives, who are viewed as fanatics but still dominate the Bush administration and key GOP policy groups, many GOP loyalists are declaring war on the battle-tested generals, admirals and other military heroes who are saying, 'Enough is enough.'"Although none of the military men have yet said 'No more wars for Israel,' their rhetoric in writings and public utterances says essentially that."

The swift boating of America (scroll down)

"An illegal war, torture rooms, warrantless wiretapping, manipulated intelligence, secret prisons, disinformation planted in the press, graft, and billions of reconstruction dollars gone missing: just when it seemed that the Bush administration had reached its corruption quota comes a new scandal. This one is a bribery case involving defense contractors, Republican congressmen, prostitutes, secret Hawaiian getaways, Scottish castles, and -- wait for it -- the Watergate Hotel. At its center is the just ex-Executive Director of the CIA, Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo, whose sole qualification for being appointed to that post by just ex-Director Porter Goss seems to have been his ability, while head of the Agency's Frankfurt post, to hand out bottled-water contracts to friends and show junketing politicians a good time."

How they stole Ohio and the GOP 4-step recipe to 'Blackwell' 2008 -- Abracadabra: Three million votes vanish

"What's wrong with the new ID laws? This: in the 2004 election, 300,000 voters were turned away from the polls for "wrong" ID. For example, in the 'Little Texas' counties in New Mexico, if your voter registration included a middle initial but your driver's license had none, you were kicked out of the polling station. Funny, but they only seemed to ask Hispanic voters. We should see the number of voters rejected for ID to quintuple by 2008 based on the new 'voting reform' laws recently passed in several states."

Was the 2004 election stolen?

"The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)"

GOP jams democracy: How high did the Republicans' New Hampshire phone scheme reach?

"Drawing on his experience as a helicopter crew chief in the Marines, he hit on the elemental strategy of jamming the enemy’s communications. '[I]n the military, it’s common sense that if you can’t communicate, you can’t organize,' McGee would later testify. The enemy here, of course, was the Democratic Party. McGee’s idea was to make it impossible for Democrats to organize on Election Day by flooding their phone banks with calls."

Block the vote

"In a country that spends so much time extolling the glories of democracy, it's amazing how many elected officials go out of their way to discourage voting. States are adopting rules that make it hard, and financially perilous, for nonpartisan groups to register new voters. They have adopted new rules for maintaining voter rolls that are likely to throw off many eligible voters, and they are imposing unnecessarily tough ID requirements."

Bush links energized Enron

"Until he hooked up with the Bushes, Lay was just another mid-level energy trader complaining endlessly about being hemmed in by onerous government regulations and those terrible consumer lawyers who prevent free market hustlers from doing their thing. But after he and his company became top supporters of the Bushes — eventually giving $3 million in total to various Bush electoral campaigns and the Republican Party — doors opened for them in a big way. In particular, once Bush the father got rid of key energy industry regulations, Lay was a made man and Enron’s fortunes soared."

Bush energy plan whacks conservation

"So, with energy prices spiking and President Bush pushing for more energy research, the ITP would seem a natural candidate for more funding. In fact, its budget is set to get chopped by a third from its 2005 level. It's one of more than a dozen energy-efficiency efforts that the Energy Department plans to trim or eliminate in a $115 million cost-saving move."

Junketing judges: A case of bad science

"Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation."

Entropy can probably be controlled, contained or even reversed via self correction, depending upon how far off course the system has strayed. To me it seems the US is in a steep nosedive fueled by corruption and is just a few feet from impact. Only a cataclysm will change things. And who knows what will emerge from the destruction? It could be anything, but we won't be in Kansas anymore.

College Republicans call for beach parties to mock global warming

"Whatever happened to the Republican Party of Teddy Roosevelt, a political party distinguished by its forward-looking environmental policy? Today, we have the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) urging its 200,000 student members on 1500 campuses to hold beach parties to mock the threat of global warming. If this is representative of the generation that is going to inherit the earth, the earth is in trouble big-time."

I can hear it, "We're number one! Beer bongs rule!"

US job growth falls in May, mid signs of slowing economy

"Both the jobs growth and the earnings data fell far below the expectations of economic analysts. The median estimate of two dozen economists questioned by Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC had been for an increase of employment in May of 180,000 and a gain in hourly earnings of 0.2 percent. Seventy-nine experts surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a jump in last month’s payrolls ranging from 125,000 to 200,000."

Pulte Homes slashes 2006 forecast as orders fall 29%

"Pulte Homes Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder, cut its 2006 earnings forecast after orders in April and May fell 29 percent from a year earlier."

Quotes from http://www.bartcop.com/:

"Democracy assassinated the family that was here." --Graffiti on a house in Haditha, Link

"...maybe I should go. What if Bush were to give me an opening line like, 'I share your pain,' and I got to reply, 'You want to share my pain? Send your daughters there. See how they like getting bitten by sand fleas and asking you to stand in line at the post office with boxes of itch cream and hand wipes and Gatorade for the 106-degree heat? And have them tell you they can't do their job properly because they're itching all the time...'" -- Elizabeth Irene Sullivan, whose lost a son to Bush's greed, on being invited to meet him, Link

"A few nights ago, I listened as a writer for one big city newspaper dripped derision for the soldier's life, squealed about the awfulness of Bush abandoning U.N. babysitting of Saddam, and sniggered with a TV reporter at attempts to inspire 'awe' through a bombing campaign. I almost wished there would be a very loud explosion very nearby just to shut up their rattling." -- Karl Zinsmeister, Bush's new domestic adviser in 2003, Link

"While we watch what is arguably the worst president ever shit all over our Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and everything it means to be an American, the only thing you have to say is to call us Bush haters. Well, no shit. We've been 'misled' into war, participated in the slaughter of countless civilians, sent 2500 hundred of our soldiers to the Great Beyond, practically crippled our armed forces, discovered that our president considers himself above any act of Congress, and are now being spied upon in our own country while all too many people shrug and say 'so what?.' What's to hate?'" -- Mythsaje, democraticunderground.com

"If we, the journalists, are sitting in hot water, the troops are hopping around on Hell's coals. It's even worse for the Iraqi army and police. And then you've got the Iraqi people, who are not restricted to tours of duty and have no ticket out. So yes, absolutely, journalists face awful, dangerous risks in Iraq. But it's nothing compared to the people we cover." -- Kimberly Dozier, critically injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, last January, Link

"The enemy cannot defeat us on the battlefield, but what they can do is put horrible images on our TV screens." -- Dubya, admitting the obvious, Link

"Why go see propaganda? You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't go see Al Gore's films to see the truth about global warming." -- Sterling Burnett, paid to say global warming is a myth, Link

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