Monday, January 31, 2005

Polemics, Polycentric Globe, Abe my Man

Posted some new correspondence received as Comments here about polemics and polarization.

And C.B. sent me a Slate article in which a new CIA report confirms that they've been reading my blog. Well, perhaps this is overstating. But at least they do agree "that American global dominance could end in 15 years." Instead they see Asia rising to contest American neo-imperialism. We already live in a polycentric global structure, but the frayed remnants of "The American Century" are quickly unraveling (for those of you who slept though it, that was the 20th century -- goodmorning!). Welcome to the post-contemporary globe. If you don't move to Italy like Seymour Hersh and Gore Vidal recommend, then at least it's time to think about what it means to live in a normal country instead of a superpower.

Strange times, when both the CIA and the neo-marxist Wallerstein, of World Systems fame, agree on the near future. The only exception seems to be that Wallerstein predicts a slower process with Asia rising at a slower pace than the relatively rapid U.S. economic decline.

Finally, some guy named Abe said:
" I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country … corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."
—Abraham Lincoln

Imagine the email flames that guy must be getting!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

DobSon SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants?
Is this cartoon character a danger to your soul? As he holds hands with his friend, doesn't that persuade impressionable young minds that homosexuality is both fun and good? Aren't they seduced by the sexual implications of these little friends? After all, everyone knows that when the Beatles sang "I wanna hold your hand!" on AM radio, they weren't just singing about helping someone to cross a street.

Believe it or not! This is the position of a far-right Christian, James Dobson, one of the major opinion makers of faith-based truths in America. His fundamentalism is terrified of sexuality to the point where it is projecting its own peculiar obsession onto the Rorschach inkblot test of an asexual cartoon character. Homosexuality is everywhere! Watch out, there it is now! Help me Lord, I might do something... I might wanna hold his..., aauuugghhh!

Oh dear God, will no one rid us of these paranoid bullies?

Holding hands. In the new radical view of fundamentalist christianity, the act of holding hands is to be condemned as religiously incorrect. Yet it shouldn't surprise anyone that you can find some damnable hand-holding going on in the Bible too:

2 Samuel 15

"And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.
In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel."

Notice that, like with SpongeBob, there are a lot of males in that sentence. A lot of holding and even kissing going on there, with hearts stolen too. Yet even Dobson himself wouldn't see Absalom as a gay Jew would he? Maybe I shouldn't ask that.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

P.S. Mac sent along another hilarious blog about Dobson & Squarepants:

Schizoid Taiwan & Dollar Diplomacy

Grenada is the latest in a steady stream of tiny nations to abandon formal ties with Taiwan over the past few years. Here they call it "Dollar Diplomacy". If Taiwan shells out more $$$ in aid, these generally 3rd World countries will agree to recognize Taiwan's bid to enter the UN as independent; however, if China outbids this aid and offers more $$$, then like Grenada, they switch formal recognition away from Taiwan and toward China. It is a zero-sum game since the UN decided that only one place can stand up and be counted as the Real China.
China's post WWII civil war split the Chinese into two zones under two opposed governments, and the world had to decide which of these two to officially recognize since both insisted that they represented "China" legally. At 1st, it was the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan that was officially recognized by the UN. But a funny thing happened since then, as now the People's Republic of China (PRC) on mainland China is instead recognized. This leaves Taiwan itself out in some non-place of limbo, some oddly indefinite undefined pre-national, proto-national, post-national, hole in official space. This leads to very interesting revelations about the ideological illusions of nationalism in general, and about the kind of mental problems that result.

Since the mid-70s after Kissinger & Nixon went pro-China in order to contain the Soviet Union, that official place of the Real China suddenly switched from Taiwan's "Republic of China" over to Mao's China, "People's Republic of China." This makes mainland China the real nation, de jure in legalese. Taiwan thus lost its seat in the UN. It also lost a little window of opportunity then to reapply for recognition as independent "Taiwan" rather than as the "R.O.C.". However the ruling party then under Chiang Kai-shek, the KMT, absolutely forbid anyone to move in that direction. The ruling idea was to "take back the Mainland" and leave Taiwan as a province -- a ridiculous fantasy in the '70s. So. . . all of those many people in Taiwan who wanted an independent democracy, nowadays polled as the majority of Taiwanese people (don't buy the propaganda otherwise), were silenced -- and silenced in the old Machiavellian ways: assassination, prison, exile, intimidation, propaganda, bribery. Some of the current politicos in Taiwan, viz., James Soong and Lien Chan, were active bureaucrats of that Machiavellian period in the '70s, a kind of gentler version of the earlier "White Terror" period conducted by the KMT.

Fast forward 30 years to today. The current Vice President of Taiwan, Annette Lu, was back then in the '70s imprisoned under harsh conditions for years because of her activism against the KMT and for independence. She was last year slightly wounded by a bullet fragment in an assassination attempt that is still unsolved, although the would-be assassin is obviously someone who hates the idea of Taiwanese independence.

Now, in general the macro-conflict of international recognition leads to a schizoid public discourse, where Taiwan is a nation de facto but isn't a nation de jure. It has its own elected government, foreign affairs, military, constitution, media, economic structure, currency, recognized borders, passports, military aid from the US, etc. Yet it isn't recognized as a legal entity officially. Unofficially, most countries do have "economic" embassies here, as long as they don't officially call themselves embassies. For instance, the US "embassy" is called the AIT: American Institute in Taiwan. It too is a de facto embassy, but not de jure so as not to piss off the Mainland too much. (It still chaps their hide.)
The schizoid effect is revealed in a new documentary film of college students talking to the camera about this very issue: not only is there no agreement among this generation about their national identity or the various positions one could take, the key moments are when they shrug and laugh, realizing that they're utterly confused. This small film was made on a very low budget and is titled, 《薛西佛斯之福爾摩莎》Sisyphus: Formosa.
It shows the identity issues raised by such a macro-situation of post-pre-proto nationalism off the official map.

So, if you too are a bit confused by the news reports about Taiwan, don't feel bad. You're not alone. Most Taiwanese college students will shrug and laugh about the endless paradoxes of this schizoid discourse.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Chinese Police Bloody Memorial

Police in mainland China beat this man yesterday because he wore a white flower to commemorate the recent death of Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽). Zhao was one of the few Party leaders to object to the smashing of student protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. The man in the photo is not the only person beaten by the police.

Rest assured that justice will be served, and the police will be rewarded for their couragous acts of humanitarian service.

See link for more...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Iraqi Blogs

There isn't an objective God's-eye-view of the combat zone that is Iraq. But here are 3 blogs straight out of that nightmare that offer a personal perspective from people who care more than the average media pundit sitting thousands of miles away.

A Family in Baghdad

Baghdad Burning

Raed in the Middle

Moving to Italy

GORE VIDAL: I don't see much future for the United States, and I put it on economic grounds. Forget moral grounds. We're far beyond any known morality, and we are embarked upon a kind of war against the rest of the world. I think that the thing that will save us, and it will probably come pretty fast, is when they start monkeying around with Social Security: that will cause unrest. Meanwhile . . . the costs of the wars, the cost of rebuilding the cities immediately after we knock them down -- if we didn't knock them down, we wouldn't have to put them back up again, but that would mean that there was no work for Bechtel and for Halliburton. We are going to go broke. The dollar loses value every day.

Gore VidalPortrait copyright by Stathis Orphanos.
I live part of the year in Europe, which is always held against me. What a vicious thing to do, to have a house in Italy; but I also have one in Southern California. We are a declining power economically in the world, and the future now clearly belongs to China, Japan, and India. They have the population, they have the educational systems. They have the will. And they will win. And we only survive now by borrowing money from them in the form of treasury bonds which very soon we won't have enough revenue to redeem, much less service. So, I put it down to economic collapse may save the United States from its rulers. [radio interview with Democracy Now!]

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Seymour Hersh: I'm trying to be optimistic. We're going to see a bottom swelling from inside the [army] ranks. You're beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I'm not suggesting we're going to have mutinies, but I'm going to suggest you're going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will do it.

Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. . . . there's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit, our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But Bush could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous. We’re going to have some very bad months ahead.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Aspiration of Poetry

by Li Min-yong, c 1990
translated by Denis Mar
[I dedicate this to Condoleeza Rice, see previous log ]

Our search is for words that have not been ruined
To pursue the genuine in a false land

Power is a ringleader who compels
The wraiths of politics to twist our language

With deliberate care
We clear a place for each injured word
And let the words join into a force of resistance

Let language come to life again
So we may have sufficient strength
To capture the doers of harm.

[P.S. Today, sadly and predictably, Rice was confirmed by the Senate for the next 4 years as Secretary of State. Senator Boxer objected strongly and with good reasons. Senator Robert C. Byrd also spoke eloquently about the neglected founding principles of the US Constitution. Meanwhile we watch in dismay as the Bush administration and its cheerleaders continue to violate those principles, leading the whole nation downward into unpayable debts -- debts economical, ecological, moral, and diplomatic. Condoleeza Rice doesn't have the respect of other nations the way Colin Powell did, therefore the US has now lost even this diplomatic face.

Senator Byrd intoned that, "To confirm Dr. Rice to be the next Secretary of State is to say to the American people, and the world, that the answers to those questions are no longer important. Her confirmation will most certainly be viewed as another endorsement of the Administration’s unconstitutional doctrine of preemptive war, its bullying policies of unilateralism, and its callous rejection of our long-standing allies."

The Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld-Cheney doctrine of launching offensive wars is a violation of the US Constitution and of international laws. Add to this grave and unAmerican error of the promotion of torture and imprisonment without due process, without the traditional legality of habeas corpus, and then next initiating death squads. The sum result is a cancelled Constitution. Gonzales is up next for confirmation into the Bush cabinet. Expect the same horrifying results. Boxer, Byrd, and a few others will stand up for American ideals, while the rest of the cynical and self-serving creeps will snicker while they vote for the lawyer who advised that torture is right, and that our agreements against torture were merely "quaint".

One wonders that if these are the new rules of the game, the new laws of the land, then the opposition should consider likewise the use of lying, cheating, stealing, and torture. It's probably _not_ a good idea, but still doesn't it cross your mind? This is what is meant by the Law educating and cultivating a public morality. ]

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Economy that Dare Not Speak Its Name: Condi on Capitalism

Condi Rice is the archetypal rightwing thinktank wonk. The main substance lurking behind her worldview is the spread of Capitalism, which of course is the economy that dare not speak its name. But she cannot say that out loud in a public debate. E.g., during the public spectacle of her confirmation hearings, she was critically called to account for "hypocrisy" and "inconsistency" about US foreign policy in criticizing other governments. Ironically it was a Republican Senator, not a Democrat, who pressed this issue. See the link above for a transcript of what was actually said during this critical exchange.

But the Republican Senator, Lincoln Chafee, was a bit disingenous or perhaps thick-skulled about the neo-conservative rules. In the end, one wonders if Chafee is just playing around or just playing dumb. Perhaps he's a pre-neoconservative who favors isolationism? Again, I'm astounded at the political ignorance of our
political bosses.

In other words, Condi Rice's neocon foreign policy only _appears_ to be inconsistent unless you decode it to see that this is because it is about spreading capitalism. Once you decode that master signifier, her whole lexicon and worldview becomes consistent. Such "debates" between two conservatives are frustrating because they operate as if the terms used by the neocons are in plain English out of the dictionary. But they aren't. Since the key cannot be spoken out loud, the whole thing is in "other words" a code, but a code that distorts and damages the original meanings.

As a public service, here is how to decode the code. Whenever Condi Rice says:

"democracy" = neoliberal free market policy
"illiberal" = anti - neoliberal market
"cooperation" = allowing US corporate interests.
"Civil society" = business class like us
"tyranny" = no cooperation with the Empire

This is a systematic code that is like some parallel dictionary off the books. These "debates" are frustrating because the Chafees of the world try to discuss it as if the code wasn't operating, as if Condi was speaking plain English out of the dictionary. But when you decode her remarks, the consistency is clear. Condi Rice comes closest to having to decode herself for Chafee in a didactic manner when she patiently explained to him that,

" we hope that the government
of Venezuela will continue to recognize what has been
a mutually beneficial relationship on energy and that
we can continue to pursue that. We certainly hope
that we can continue to pursue counter-drug activities
in the Andean region, and Venezuela participates in

She comes close there. We still need to decode:

"energy" = oil exports through private business and
"counter-drug activities" = military aid to the counterrevolution in Columbia.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Frat Boy Head of Smirking Class.

Once a stupid frat boy, always a stupid frat boy. The Head of the Smirking Class, "G.W." His inaugural speech used the term "freedom" about 43 times. "Freedom begins at home" is a cliche he's never heard yet.

But seriously, at a deeper level than this spectacle, the news behind the news is that Bush is not really as stupid as he looks. Yes, he smirks and can't get through a sentence in English. Yes, the collection of darkly funny "Bushisms" is surprisingly large. Yes, his version of theocracy is right out of puritan cartoons. But go deeper behind layers of disinformation and you find that Bush has a strategy that belies the publicity. Sure it's about as coherent as was "Mein Kampf", but look how successfully that dictator was able to follow through on it step by step. Bush is kicking our asses, and all we can do is wave a few insulting signs at a protest.

Do not underestimate the malice of this psychopath. He is a True Believer in his own Special Grace, and he intends to deploy this divine mandate in remaking the world in his own image.

P.S. See this great jeremiad that contrasts the tragic reality with the detached fantasy of our oligarchic imperial rulers: "The Inaugural Ball: Dancing With Wolves" at

Panda Bears Doing Better

Good news from the mountains of Sichuan province in China --
Panda bears are making a comeback after dwindling to the point of being endangered.

In zoos under the protection of lock & key and watchful eyes, pandas refuse to mate. I probably would too. But the solution is just to leave them alone to do their own wild thing. The key factoid here is that the wilderness allowed for the pandas increased by 65%, and the numbers of pandas then increased by 40%.

As they say in Chinese, "fey hua!" -- or loosely translated, "No shit Sherlock!"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Linking Left(s)

Liberation ran a piece about a new proposal from the First Secretary of the French Socialist Party to create a year-long process of formal dialogue with any and all leftist groups. While I don't wish to join a socialist party, this proposal is interesting because it recognizes how the fragmentation of the left into protestant cliques has allowed the Right to kick ass and take over the world. Second it is interesting also because it shows that someone in Paris has the sense to read my blog, unlike the deaf blowhards in Washington D.C. (see "Modest Proposals from the G.I.A.T. in my November archive)

Here's what the French party said about inviting,

«faire participer le plus grand nombre de personnes possible» à l'élaboration du projet de son parti pour les élections présidentielles et législatives de 2007. On aurait donc «pour une période transitoire au moins, des novices intéressés par le débat... Toute personne intéressée, voire toute association, pourra se manifester pour adhérer le temps de l'élaboration du projet, qui doit durer toute l'année 2005. Ils recevront à cette occasion une carte spéciale d'adhérent (...), pourront donner leur avis, participer à des réunions et même voter sur des "questions intermédiaires". La seule limite qui leur est fixée, à moins de changer les statuts du parti, réside dans l'impossibilité de voter le projet lui-même».

In English:
"the greatest number of people possible may participate" in the elaboration of his party's plans for the presidential and legislative elections of 2007. Consequently, there would be "for a transition period, at least, novices interested in the debate... Any person, or any association, interested in participating will be able to show up and join in on the elaboration of the plan - which should last all this year. They will receive a special membership card for this occasion. . . , will be able to give their opinion, participate in meetings, and even vote on "intermediate questions." The only limitation that applies to them, unless the party's statutes are changed, is that they will not be allowed to vote on the plan itself."

Liberation opines that this is "unheard of". TruthOut ran it as a promising model for the Democratic party in the U.S. Finally, our bloggence is getting somewhere.

Click on link above for the whole article in English.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds

So, therefore you may ask, "What do you want?"
To reply with another quotation:
"We want the world, and we want it now."
--Jim Morrison of The Doors

We are faced with a choice between two doors
into alternative futures:

1. Behind Door Number One is the "war without end" and global warming and genetically modified food for genetically modified people, and 500 billionaires facing off against 5 billion residents of slums.

2. Behind Door Number Two is a network of communities run by their own inhabitants. Participation at all levels in local production of social values. An environment of cooperation between individuals, between societies, and with nature.

The open secret of our era is that both doors are opening at this moment in history. No one "knows" this, yet everyone knows it. To see through door one is easier if you watch TV and read newspapers. It is, however, equally easy to see through door two if you happen to know where to look. Such environments exist here and there all over the world. That they don't even appear in the media is yet another reason to distrust status quo ideology.

Since both doors are open, perhaps I should frame this by asking which door should we choose to close.
Next you may ask, "How are we supposed to get from here to there?"

A: The process was already started with the "Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds" (see link above).
It has been 40 years in the making, and it remains true to the original inspiration -- a revolution of conscious values in appropriating the world, not in the old fashioned taking over of the state and setting up the new boss, getting fooled again.

B: We hope you will join us there. The next step taken was the creation of autonomous zones. But these are beleaguered by offensive attacks from the world behind door number one. Some few survive, straggling along, despite the attacks. They exist in tiny pockets in the USA, in Europe, in Asia, in Mexico, in South America, and probably in other places I don't know about. A few autonomous zones failed to revolutionize their own consciousness, and thus fell into the trap of psychopathic hells. North Korea is the largest example.
Others succeeded to various degrees, but face intolerable pressure from the world of door number one.

C: The next step is to network not merely the million minds (the 1960's tactic) but also these zones.
In the new times of global deterritorialization and time-space compression, where geography has been virtualized, such zones can be networked more readily. We are no longer restricted to local enclaves.
This step is what I call "The Virtual Insurrection of a Million Zones".

D: The step beyond this virtual insurrection of networked zones remains to be seen. Its direction will emerge from the network itself. For the present, I can barely discern its vague outlines rising out of the fog of information.

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."
--William Blake 1757 - 1827.

This "world" of Blakean perception now has new implications given global alternatives.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

361 more killed; 39% didn't vote

Since my post of 12/10/2004 a month ago, another 361 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq.
Meanwhile, 39% of eligible Americans did not even bother to vote in the national election.
Still these same people wonder why the world looks at them as uneducated, misinformed, and self-centered.
Will wonders never cease?

Citizenship is a right, but claiming that right is something that must be earned.
Nearly half of Americans have yet to earn this claim. They exist instead as what the ancient Greeks termed "idiots" -- which in Greek meant a person who chooses to remain outside of public decision making.

I'm finishing up this series of posts about the election fiasco. To sum up the mind-boggling facts beneath the reports, see this list of "20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA". But don't read it before bedtime.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Discipline & Punish

Workers in China marched to work by police in 2001. China's state capitalism is starting to defeat American neoliberal capitalism.

News reports today that the U.S. lost nearly 1.5 million jobs between 1989 and 2003 because of increased trade with China, (according to the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission). I think we all know of somebody who is unemployed or re-employed for lower pay. Other news this week reported that the sheer numbers of people who have stayed unemployed until their benefits ran out is now at the highest level in history. New jobs are not being created. When people run out of the maximum benefit period and/or finally give up actively looking for work, they are no longer counted as "unemployed" in official statistics cited by newspapers! The real numbers are always much higher.

The report blames currency exchange rates. This is no doubt yet another example of the "science" of economics gone reductive. The field of economists is one of the easiest to ridicule from without, yet it remains seemingly impervious to criticism from within-- especially its avoidance of issues regarding class conflict, ironically.

Not much analysis is needed to see that the flight of capitalist production from the U.S. and its corresponding rise in China is because of the degraded labor rights there, along with low taxes and virtually no enforcement of environmental protection. It's a capitalist haven: you can produce commodities without paying the workers much, with low overhead costs for land and buildings, while safety precautions and pollution controls are freely disregarded. The bottom line adds up to increased short term profit. Again, this is the dominant face of corporate globalization.

And as the photo above suggests, a capitalist can count on the State to police and discipline the workers, which is in fact what generally happens in China today. Union organizations are illegal -- since the Party represents the workers officially. Worker protests are violently put down. Organizers do hard time in prison. This is routine.

Workers are driven to the point of protest often enough due to hazardous and unsafe working conditions, low pay and sometimes even no pay for long periods, and corrupt mismanagement.

See further references below for details about lack of labor rights and environmental protection under China's state capitalism.

Zhi, Su, and others. "Occupational Health Hazards Facing China's Workers and Possible Remedies." World Bank Transition Newsletter (July-September 2002).
Available online at

"China's Growing Pains" from an issue of _National Geographic Magazine_.

That site contains a comment from a reporter:
" The peasants were visibly nervous when we arrived at their dusty village in the central China Plain. They feared at any moment that the police would enter the house and catch us discussing their case against the local bigwigs who were getting rich from running dozens of zinc-plating factories.
The factories were pumping their wastewater underground, polluting the water hundreds of thousands of farmers needed to drink and irrigate their crops. The villagers had been waging a long battle against the authorities to stop the pollution and to win some compensation. They were warned that if they spoke out, things would get much worse. Since so few foreigners ever go to such places, you have to move quickly before somebody spots you and informs the police. After much debate among themselves, they brought in people who told us horrifying stories of children who died and of miscarried pregnancies.
As we talked, Bob Sacha hurriedly took photographs of individuals with rashes and skin diseases. At this critical moment, a man wearing a green police uniform walked in. I froze, thinking we were caught. Instead, he just smiled. He was a security guard, not a policeman, and he solemnly asked us to help the villagers."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Electoral Democracy Thwarted Again

These three college students were viciously murdered by racists outside of a little old country town in Mississippi in 1964. They were killed for their courageous political activism. Remember, in the 1960s many minorities were prevented from voting in America. These three young men were among thousands of students who were campaigning for voting rights in the South during the Freedom Summer of '64. Their names: Michael Schwerner, left, James Chaney, center, and Andrew Goodman.

The men were arrested for "speeding" and spent hours in jail until the nice policemen were sure that the KKK had raised a posse of violent reactionaries. Only then were they released and the chase was on. They were run down by carloads of ugly bigots out on a lonely back road in the middle of the night. The two white guys were simply shot in the chest point blank. The black guy wasn't so lucky -- they beat him until he died.

Murder charges were never brought against the killers. Some of them did serve up to 6 years for lesser charges. But the leader was never even convicted of anything. Justice moves slowly, like a slug. This week, the leader of this gang of racist anti-democrats was finally arrested -- 40 years too late. (His last name is "Killen" by the way, I kid you not.)

It is now 2005, and many minorities are still prevented from voting in a national election. We can rest assured that the right wing has new and improved methods. Violence was rejected by America after those '64 killings. So instead today the far right resorts to technology and tricks.

Today was a sad day for democracy in America, as we stood by utterly powerless while Congress officially approved the electoral votes for Bush and Cheney. A single senator objected eloquently (see link). A few Representatives, viz., Conyers and Kucinich, also spoke out and tried to draw attention to the serious problems in the election system in Ohio. Voting rights in the U.S. have improved significantly since 1964. But if you believe that this election was fair and square, then I would ask you to respond point for point to Senator Boxer and to John Conyers and to the overwhelming and multiple sources of evidence to the contrary. It is not enough to simply shrug your shoulders and say "That's ridiculous" as the Senate did. Nor is it enough to get mad and say "That's anti-American." Come again? Hello? Can't understand you. Are you still there? Anyone home?

Today we watched our officials avoid the issue, since they are the embodiment of the Status Quo. If they will not take this matter seriously, then we should not take them seriously. I would propose that they be voted out of office, except of course this would assume that our votes actually counted. Therefore I do not recommend voting them out. I recommend that we search for other means. I propose that we launch a Freedom Summer of 2005 (or perhaps of 2008).

Meanwhile, check out Senator Boxer's singular cry from the wilderness that went unheard today:

See also this thorough summary of the evidence of election fraud:

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

After New York City!

Yes I'm back from NYC. Predictably, I didn't get to see 1/3 as much as I wanted to. Some of this was my usual daily bad luck -- museums closing early for the holidays, having to search hours for a new hotel because my room cost went up over 300% the next day for the holiday, taking the subway uptown instead of downtown, jet lag, cold dismal weather for someone flying in from the subtropics, ferry tickets sold out, 3 hour waiting lines, etc. Never go to NYC during the new year celebrations! In fact, the newspaper said, hyperbolically, that most locals left town and all of the people crowding the street were from out of town.

Still Sho-ching and I did get to run quickly through the Met and the MOMA before they closed early. More art than your eyes can register in a week, and yet we couldn't reach the Old Masters' gallery before closing time. We visited Ground Zero, shivering in a bitterly cold wind. We explored the gothic cathedral of St. John's near Columbia University. We ate bad pizza in Little Italy and good dumplings in Chinatown. We saw Washington Square and the arch atop which Duchamp and a couple of drunk ladies announced, in the wee hours of the morning back in 1911, that Greenwich Village would henceforth be known as "The Republic of Dreams". But we didn't get to see much else there. The day after I left for Taiwan, Sho-ching stayed another day to go on a "cool" group tour of Brooklyn, led by some hipster out of her hostel.

Still I got a taste for what it's like to live in Manhattan:
1. No matter what, you need more $.
2. If you study it diligently, the subway only takes 3 months to learn.
3. New Yorkers are not indifferent and are nicer than their stereotype.
4. Macy's is not a "department store"; it is women's fashion.
5. NYC is far more multicultural than Taipei.
6. The "City that never sleeps" is due to the mice that climb on the steam radiators, waking you up.
Or maybe it's due to the pigeons cooing like lewd toddlers all night.

What is the universe made of?

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
--Muriel Rukeyser

The newest science of complexity is finding that this is true. Atoms are not independent stuff, but are instead nodes of energy patterns in relationship to everything, literally everything else. A further twist: everything else is also not stuff, but always already just this relationship.

Nothing comes first; nothing is fundamental. Everything is always already interactive. A decent paraphrase of Bell's Theorem in quantum physics is "Reality is non-local." Complexity science reaffirms this in a new sense: self-organizing co-adaptive systems that emerge in conditions that are near chaos are constituted only in cooperation with an "environment" that consists of other such systems. Systems nesting inside systems all the way down and all the way up. Networks of probability waves instead of atoms. At a higher level, networks of molecules manage genes in complex interactive systems. Networks of biological communication allow the immune system to learn new tricks, to adapt. Cognitive networks such as immunity that become recursive eventually create symbolic capacities. Neural networks. This allows the emergence of a new complex system called consciousness. Consciousness allows for social symbol systems (languages) to elaborate a new emergence called culture. The story continues, as history.

History reveals its own chronology of "strange attractors" just as with the smallest phenomena. A decent paraphrase of complexity science is "More is different". New qualities, new rules, new values emerge out of such new relationships, new stories.

Patterns are a kind of information. Information is a kind of pattern. Information in dynamic process over time is narrative. Reality is a story.

In short, this is why we must study interpretation. Inside every story, the agents or "characters" so to speak see the meaning of their story differently. Enlightenment is to realize this: there is no transcendental signifier, no fundamental self, no guarantees. Reality is dynamic process, interactive systems, layers of networks in which "you" are a node. Significant, yes! But you are non-local too. To keep your story going is to engage in dialogue with the entire universe of relationships.

This has been a wake up call from my node to yours.