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Month: May 2015

Number 384

Tell me straight out, I call on you — answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears — would you agree to be the architect on such conditions? Tell me the truth. A Draconian Sentence Raises Unintended Questions If you are unaware of the Ulbricht case, do inform yourself: this article from the New York Times explains part of the story. Tor, a contrivance intended to make websites and correspondence utterly private, was used to hide the fact that visitors to Ulbricht’s website were buying and selling prohibited items, principally drugs. (Alex Winter’s film, Deep Web, tells some of Ulbricht’s story, but it is not available yet.) Ross Ulbricht did create a marketplace for illicit drugs and other illegal transactions — that is beyond doubt. He took his cut of the profits, and he laundered money. Under existing laws, he deserves punishment. But life in prison with no possibility of parole? This newsletter suspects the severity of the sentence was partially inspired by the judge’s view that Ulbricht had very...

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Number 383

The notion that fascism was a tool of big business is one of the most persistent and enduring myths of the past century. … But as Chesterton said, fallacies do not cease to be fallacies simply because they become fashions. The Unease The fighting in The Middle East is going badly. ISIS is learning quickly, evading US air attacks and using abandoned US vehicles in devastating suicide bombings. Iran, confident and venturesome, is entering the fighting in Iraq. Libya has faded from the public consciousness as the implications of Hillary’s blunders render that nation unmentionable in the US press. Meanwhile self-appointed prophets bleat that the US dollar is in grave danger. The standard options for investment and savings are increasingly perceived as vulnerable, survivalists are preparing for an Armageddon of imponderable duration, and “wingnuts” are howling that Jade Helm 15 means Obama is about to declare martial law. As levels of pure aluminum in the environment skyrocket, many frustrated US citizens are cursing their national government as a secretive polluter — the power behind “chemtrails” — who refuses to admit to or halt his toxic activities. Events domestic and foreign suggest that rational voices have lost significant influence, and the perception of the absence of wise governance is increasing. This newsletter has its concerns, as well. The tendency of Obama to exceed his authority is alarming, and there has...

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Number 382

…what courts do is substitute labels for principles and then decide cases based on whatever label seems to apply. And while it certainly makes life easier for judges, the result is that government gets to do some pretty awful things to people without much of a reason. The USA Needs Another Revolution Richard Dreyfuss provides a summary of the facts. Are his ideas needed? The nation’s coinage and monetary system, which bears no resemblance to what the constitution calls for, is so bizarre that it mocks common sense. Many local police agencies are (or are becoming) more like occupying military forces and less like protective services. The federal government seems utterly intent on conducting wholesale surveillance of the populace, using all manner of sophisticated technology. The Internal Revenue Service conducts its affairs as if it were a partisan political enforcer, not a tax collector — and, when questioned about its illegal persecution of voters’ organizations, it defies Congress with pugnacious intensity. It knows what The One Leader wants. The misbehavior of the government has inspired paranoia in many “wingnut” groups. Obama and “progressives” in general have convinced some of their opponents that society itself is under attack from a position to the left of Lenin. Militias are preparing for battle, survivalists are finding more reasons to stockpile freeze-dried oatmeal, and Jade Helm is widely regarded as the imposition of...

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Number 381

To explain consciousness, a physical evolutionary history would have to show why it was likely that organisms of the kind that would have consciousness would arise. Editorial Introduction Turkey is unarguably one of the most significant nations in the Middle East. Because not nearly enough Westerners know much at all about this powerful republic and its predominantly Islamic population, this newsletter has welcomed an expansion of its coverage of Turkey. As part of that effort, the essay below deals candidly with one of the problems that Turks everywhere face: impassioned accusations that they irrationally reject allegations of historical genocide. The Armenian Genocide: The Alternative Narrative And The Way Forward By Eden Tunbach ( For those of my friends who are curious about the Turkish view regarding the Armenian genocide, I have written a four thousand word piece with which I merely convey the Turkish narrative before adding my own thoughts. I hope that you will find this information useful as you develop a more balanced opinion. My intention is neither to provoke nor to offend, but rather to generate a constructive and intellectual debate. April 24th was the centennial of the tragic events that occurred to the Armenians in the Ottoman lands in the midst of WWI, so I will naturally start by expressing my deepest sorrow and regret that such a disaster ever took place — regardless of...

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Number 380

…if it is difficult (although not in principle impossible) to see how living creatures emerged out of the operation of the laws of physics on lifeless matter, it is even less clear how consciousness emerged or why it should be of benefit to those creatures that have it. News Is Not News Unless It Is Distributed Tragically, this — “the process is the punishment” — is how partisan politics corrupted law enforcement and justice in the US state of Wisconsin. The scenario is pure horror. Imagine: the cops break in and tear your home apart, carrying off what they want, and furiously warning you not to discuss the outrages with anyone (especially a lawyer!). Stunned, you eventually realize you have offended The Ruling Class, and that there is no escape from the wrath of misbegotten power. This nightmarish abuse of the citizenry is one of the defining characteristics of a genuinely fascist regime. Yes, the abuses have been halted for now, but the victims are emotionally scarred: they are terrified of all cops, and distrustful of the hypersensitive Elite. It appears that the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, was on the right side in the effort to end the depredations imposed on the political enemies of powerful “Progressives”. Some say that gives Walker an advantage in his effort to become the nation’s president. It seems to this newsletter that...

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