Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guide * Windows 7 Ultimate Tweaks & Utilities *

Guide * Windows 7 Ultimate Tweaks & Utilities *: Windows 7 Ultimate Tweaks & Utilities *

- Sent using Google Toolbar

General Windows 7 Performance Tweaks
Make your Windows 7 Faster
  • Change the Power Plan To Maximum Performance
  • Speed Up the Windows 7 Bootup Time
  • Change the Number of Processors Used at Boot Up
  • How to See What Your Windows 7 Restart Time is
  • Disable the Aero Theme on Windows 7
  • Disable the Unwanted Visual Effects
  • Disable Unwanted Startup Programs
  • Disable the Unwanted Services
  • Services to Disable
  • Disable the User account control (UAC) Feature
  • Turn off Unused Windows 7 Features
  • Disable the Aero Snap features in Windows 7
  • Speed up the Menu Show Delay Time
  • Change the Mouse Hover Time before Pop-up Displays
  • Speed Up the Shut Down Time
  • Change from IDE to AHCI Mode after Installation
  • Change from AHCI to IDE Mode after Installation
  • Enable RAID Mode after Installation

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Organic Farmer Wins $1 Million Suit Over Pesticide Contamination - Organic Food News Today - News Media Monitoring

Organic Farmer Wins $1 Million Suit Over Pesticide Contamination - Organic Food News Today - News Media Monitoring: Organic Farmer Wins $1 Million Suit Over Pesticide Contamination

December 27, 2010

EINNEWS, December 27---A California court has upheld a $1 million award to a farmer who claimed his organic crop was contaminated by pesticides from a neighboring farm.

Larry Jacobs, president of Jacobs Farm/Del Cobo, fought a four year battle to win compensation for organic dill that tested positive for pesticides and was turned down by Whole Foods.

Jacobs has a 120-acre herb farm north of Santa Cruz. Pesticides applied in liquid form to a nearby Brussels sprouts crop apparently migrated to Jacobs' dill.

California's Sixth Appellate District Court upheld Jacobs' right to sue the pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service and the court let stand the $1 awarded him by a jury two years ago.

The decision is significant, say agriculture and law experts, because it strengthens the case for organic farmers or anyone else harmed by pesticides to seek legal recourse — even if the pesticide, as it was here, is legally applied.

While state law restricts pesticides from being sprayed on neighboring properties, which is known as pesticide drift, the law doesn't deal specifically with pesticides that disperse into the air after application and end up someplace else.

- Sent using Google Toolbar

Monday, August 29, 2011

Root Simple: Our Rocket Stove

Root Simple: Our Rocket Stove: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Our Rocket Stove Video: http://www.aprovecho.org/web-content/media/rocket/rocket.htm

- Sent using Google Toolbar

Staring at the bricks we had scavenged to build the base of cob oven, we realized that we could re-purpose them for a permanent backyard rocket stove that we would actually use. Furthermore we realized that our rocket stove could burn some of the palm fronds that regularly tumble down from the iconic palm trees that line our old L.A. street.

Here's the materials we used:

36 bricks
4-inch aluminum stove pipe elbow
4-inch stove pipe
ash (scavenged from park BBQs)
1 tin can
50 pound bag of premixed concrete for the base
mortar mix
grill (scavenged)

The first step was to make a small foundation for the rocket stove. We fashioned a 18 by 18-inch by 4-inch slab with 2 x 4 lumber and a bag of premixed cement. Folks in cold places will need to make a deeper foundation to avoid frost heave.

Next we built a brick cube, leaving a small hole for the bottom of the stovepipe. For advice on how to build with brick we recommend taking a look at this. As you can see our masonry could use some more practice, but the results are not too bad--we like to think of our stove as being a bit "rustic". You can avoid the hassle of brickwork by making a simpler rocket stove--check out these two instructional videos, one for a metal model, and another version using bricks. We chose brick largely for aesthetic reasons and we're satisfied with the results.

Drawing from Capturing Heat

The next step is to put the pipe together fitting the elbow up into the longer pipe, and sized so that the top of the pipe is just below the bottom of the grill. Check out our earlier post for a video that can help with this part of the assembly. Serendipitously, on a bike ride, we found a grill in the middle of Sunset Boulevard that fit the opening in our brick rocket stove exactly.

You pour the ash into the completed brick cube to fill the space between the pipe and the inside wall. The ash acts as insulation to increase the efficiency of the stove. You could also use vermiculite but note that sand or soil will not work. Insulation works because of small pockets of air between particles, hence the need for ash or vermiculite, which are also non-combustible. We used a piece of scrap sheet metal with a 4-inch circular hole cut in it to keep the ash from spilling out the gap between the pipe and the squarish opening at the bottom.

Lastly you use a tin can sliced down the side and flattened out to form a shelf which you insert into the elbow at the bottom of the stove. Note the drawing above for the shape of the shelf. You put your twigs and kindling on this shelf and start the stove up with newspaper underneath the shelf. As the twigs burn you push them in over the edge to keep the fire going.

Our first test run of the stove was very successful--we boiled a pot of water and cooked some eggs in a a pan. The fire burned cleanly with
little smoke except during start up. For more info on rocket stoves check out the Aprovecho Research Center.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How do I publish my web page for a class?

How do I publish my web page for a class?: It is my understanding that USF students have webspace where they can upload personal webpages. How do I access this webspace and upload my website to it?

In order to upload your webpage you will first need to download and install a secure file transfer client. You can find and download suggested software such as WinSCP for PCs or FUGU for Macs at https://security.usf.edu/software/suggest.php.

After you have installed the secure file transfer software, you will need to open a connection to the web server:

The server name you are connecting to is: ssh.myweb.usf.edu

Use your NetID as the username

Leave the port number and profile settings as they are

Click Connect.

A box will come up asking you for your password, enter the password you use with your NetID

Before uploading files for a webpage, you must first open the "public_html" folder in the myusf.usf.edu pane by double-clicking the folder. Any file not inside of the "public_html" folder will not be accessible for your webpage.

The web server expects your main page to be named index.html and the index.html file must be located in the "public_html" folder.

Once your files are copied to the "public_html" folder using the secure file transfer client, your website can be accessed by using your web browser to go to http:// yournetid.myweb.usf.edu. The contents of index.html will be automatically displayed.

If you are having trouble uploading your website please contact the Help Desk at (813) 974-1222.

- Sent using Google Toolbar

Liberal Education | Current Issue

Liberal Education | Current Issue: President’s Message
Civic Learning in College: Our Best Investment in the Future of Our Democracy
By Carol Geary Schneider
General education has long been regarded as part of American higher education’s responsibility to the success of our democracy. Throughout the twentieth century, the rationale for general education was that higher education educates citizens, and educated citizens need a rich understanding of the larger context in which they live, work, and contribute. Unhappily, many college students get no such thing.

- Sent using Google Toolbar

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Van Jones/MoveOn 'Rebuilding the Dream' coalition

The Icebergs Cometh: Retaking the USA Titanic Before the 2012 Elections: "

he Icebergs Cometh: Retaking the USA Titanic Before the 2012 Elections

  • By Victoria Collier and Ronnie Cummins
    August 8, 2011

In the wake of a super-nova of exploded hope in President Obama, a power vacuum is now spinning in our political universe. A desperate need to fill the void (lest it someday be filled with the unthinkable; a babbling Bachmann or weeping Boehner) has led to a frenzy of organizing among mainstream Democrats and Progressives.

Some, like the Van Jones/MoveOn "Rebuilding the Dream" coalition, are attempting to rekindle that obliterated Obama flame before the 2012 elections. To accomplish this they are strategically pointing the blame finger at "evil corporations," while carefully avoiding drawing a direct line from corporate headquarters (like those of Goldman Sachs, GE, and Monsanto) to the White House. Others, like the New Progressive Alliance (NPA), led by activists such as Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and David Swanson, are taking a more honest and radical position, boldly calling out the Democratic Party leadership as sold-out corporate shills, incapable of reform and unworthy of further support. In other words, the power vacuum of the Left has a deeper split within - a true black hole that threatens to pull all of us into oblivion between now and November, 2012.

Free-floating in the void are record numbers of left-leaning Americans who lost all hope after what they perceive as Obama's Great Betrayal, followed by the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, unleashing an unfettered free market for the rich to buy our candidates. (We may now envision them as a far less cool version of NASCAR drivers, slathered with the logos of their corporate sponsors). Many activists have likewise despairingly turned their efforts away from the grim spectre of national politics toward non-electoral campaigning, movement building, and direct action.

Yet we all realize that the 2012 elections will have major consequences for every aspect of our accelerating Crisis: global warming, permanent war, redlining economic and ecological collapse, and the growing power of the National Security State.

We cannot, in the end, afford to drift into personal oblivion, no matter how the Pharmaceutical Industry offers help in doing so. Too much is at stake.

The NPA and a large number of organizations such as RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America have been hard at work on developing a body of comprehensive new Progressive platforms. This, ostensibly to galvanize Americans to rally again for the values that once defined the Democratic Party. All well and good, but we've got to have inspiring candidates to rally around, don't we? The lesson learned from Obama is that pretty words do not action make - and the Establishment Democrats and their Wall Street backers tell us what we want to hear in order to keep themselves in power. We also know that our two-party system is walled like a fortress against a third party uprising.

The NPA, for its part, is undaunted by this Corporate citadel that was once our government. They are planning the long-needed coup - an electoral insurgency of true Progressive candidates to challenge the compromised Democrats, and if that doesn't work, redoubling strength and charging forward as a new party.

Do they have the right positions?

Definitely!

Do they have the support numbers?

Yes!

Can they win?

No.

Not yet, anyway. The problem is that some of the changes the NPA - or any true Progressive coalition - will make once in power, need to be made before they can take power.

The reason we now suffer a ruthless Corporatocracy is because we no longer control our own democratic system. Puppet candidates have rigged themselves into office and manipulated our government to hand corporations the keys to the kingdom. We the People are now the rabble outside the gates, reduced to begging the rulers within to please be just a little less ruthless. Funny how they don't listen.

Our elections have been bought or stolen for decades, but the People are only now waking up. Most of the public (including Al Gore) knows that George W. Bush stole the Presidency in 2000, and many are aware (including John Kerry) that he stole it again in 2004. Republican operatives apparently decided not to steal the White House in 2008 once it became clear that Obama was headed for a landslide. But whether elections - or politicians - are literally stolen, or simply bought (including Barack Obama), the outcome is the same.

The democratic system itself is rigged against us - and this rigging is not just another Progressive issue, like ending the Wars on Terror and Drugs, or securing universal healthcare, or getting the 100,000 toxic chemicals out of our bodies, or preventing Monsanto from taking over our food and seed supply. To offer a descriptive metaphor; these issues and many more are where our ship of state is heading. The democratic process is who is controlling the ship.

Until not only Progressives, but also Radicals and Populists, unite and organize strategically, en masse, to take control of our ship of state, we are unlikely to ever wrest power from the super-wealthy elite and their global military-industrial complex.

So, how is the system rigged against us?

* Corporate campaign finance. Unless you are willing to be sponsored by the mega-corporations, you will never get out of the political gate. That's why it actually makes no sense to say Obama "betrayed" his constituency, or that he's a naive political player (from Chicago? Are you kidding?) Like the rest at the top, Obama is beholden to his powerful corporate backers. Reports from the Center for Responsive Politics indicate he's raising more money than ever from Wall Street in preparation for 2012 - as he must! You pay to play. Is Obama a good guy? Is he naive? Is he a Manchurian Candidate? It doesn't really matter. It's not about him. It's about the System.

* Corporate media control of elections. Unless you're saying what the small cadre of uber-powerful corporate media controllers want to hear, you'll be relegated to late-night Public Access and online blogs. And if you are a serious contender, you may not make it within a stone's throw of top-level televised debates (Ralph Nader wasn't even allowed in the audience of the 2000 Presidential Debates, blocked by three state troopers). The corporate media actively maintain the status quo with unrivaled power. Until there is free, fair and equal coverage of every candidate, there will be no real freedom of information within the sphere of elections - and no real democracy.

* Corporate control of computerized voting machines. If the good guys and gals manage to make it far enough to pose a real threat to the corporate Establishment, the voting booth is where they'll get the knife in the back - though most of them won't even know it. Over 40 years of citizen investigation has proven that our votes are regularly stolen within secretly programmed "black box" computerized voting machines. These Trojan Horses are owned by a handful of incestuous corporations with long criminal histories and strong ties to extremist, right-wing groups. Their machines now count about 99% of American ballots. Many of the Touchscreens don't even produce a paper audit trail to check the veracity of the totals (though even this audit is not sufficient - every ballot must be counted by hand, at the precinct on election day, not days or weeks later).

Combine the above with a laundry list of now-standard dirty tricks, from purging the voter lists and voter intimidation to phony robo-calls giving voters the wrong information on how to cast a ballot.

See our list of resources below for more information on how our elections are undermined.

The hour is more than late. We can now say with very little hyperbole that Fascist boots can be heard in the hall, and if we don't want them on the back of our necks, we have to think strategically. It's not enough that we are right - we have to win. This extremist corporatist junta is ruthless, and if you think things are bad now, just wait and do nothing. Only two things will stop them: a violent revolution, or a non-violent revolution. We prefer the latter.

Currently a number of Progressive leaders are issuing calls for major gatherings, conferences, protests and uprisings in the coming year. So far, these efforts are unaligned, and not focused on a strategic recapture of our democratic process before November, 2012. Many of the leadership say they believe it's impossible to achieve.

It is not impossible.

We - the Progressives, Radicals, and Populists, who constitute the majority in America - must focus on aligning strategically to win by stunning landslides in 2012, running candidates on the newly revised Platforms that truly represent the Will of the People. We must first outlaw the use of riggable computerized voting machines and institute a public paper ballot count with appropriate procedure and oversight. We must demand full media access for candidates. And we must threaten a full-blown Egypt-style revolution if Citizen's United is not immediately overturned.

It is not impossible.

Now is the time for fierce honesty and foresight, a recognition that business as usual is no longer acceptable. We've got to abandon the "my issue is more important than your issue" mentality that has so long divided and crippled the Movement.

If we begin now, immediately - today! - we just might be able to turn the USA Titanic around before the madmen at the helm slam us all into the icebergs ahead.

* To discuss and plan strategy for overthrowing the Corporatocracy and reclaiming democracy for the People before 2012, please join the discussion at the People's Congress.

* To support the powerful, vibrant movement for clean recall elections in Wisconsin, visit WI Citizens for Election Protection and Election Integrity on Facebook.

* Register to attend the upcoming Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin on August 24-28.


Victoria Collier is Editor of www.votescam.org
Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association


Further Resources on election fraud and citizen movements:

www.votescam.org
www.bradblog.org
www.blackboxvoting.org
www.handcountedpaperballots.org
www.voterescue.org
www.electionintegrity.org
www.voteraction.org
www.reclaimdemocracy.org
www.thealliancefordemocracy.org
www.poclad.org

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

so-called leaders

Alt_News : Message: Fw: Elites "Shocked" at Violent UK Riots: "No one expected this. The so-called leaders . . . thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it aint Twitter.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

What I see here is the end of the corporation... the elite have all incorporated themselves into LLC's to control more with less liabilities and less responsibilities. Governments across the Globe are now all Corporate Cartels to exploit resources and avoid further responsibilities at the expense of citizens and the environment. We will see the end of this during this next generation. The next British revolution is coming. The ruling class that has destroyed all hope and education to create soldiers for continued exploitation and imperialism will soon find these troops are more inclined to "string them up."

Serves them right. . .

Why We Can Thank Republicans for a Double-dip Recession

Republicans repeatedly assured the nation that once the debt-limit deal was done, the economy would bounce back. Just the opposite seems to be happening.
John Boehner said Tuesday the Republicans got "90 percent of what we wanted" from the budget deal. So presumably he and his colleagues are willing to take responsibility for some 450 points of today's mammoth 513-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

I'm being a bit facetious – but only a bit. It's always dangerous to read too much into one day's move in the stock market.

Yet the stock sell-off -- not just today's, but that of the last days -- cannot be easily dismissed. It marks Wall Street's largest losing streak since 2008.

Republicans repeatedly assured the nation that once the debt-limit deal was done -- capping spending, cutting the budget deficit, and getting "90 percent" of what they wanted -- the economy would bounce back.

Just the opposite seems to be happening.

Call it the Republican's double-dip recession.

Wall Street investors aren't ideologues. They don't obsess about budget deficits ten years from now, or the size of the government. One day doesn't make a trend, but a giant sell-off like this is motivated by hard, cold realities.

Here are the two hard, cold realities investors are most worried about:

First, the economy looks like it's dead in the water. The Commerce Department reports almost no growth in the first half of the year. And job growth is just about at a standstill. Far fewer jobs were generated in May and June than necessary just to keep up with the growth in the potential labor force -- meaning the employment picture is actually worsening.

Secondly, investors now know the federal government's hands are tied. The original stimulus is over; the Fed's "quantitative easing" is over.

This week's deal over the debt ceiling cinches it. The market is now on its own -- without enough rocket power get out of the continuing gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Now that the deal is done, Obama and the Democrats will have a much harder time passing anything close to the stimulus necessary to breach the gap between what consumers (who are 70 percent of the economy) are willing to spend and what the economy can produce at or near full-employment.

Not incidentally, the Commerce Department's revised data for what happened to the economy in 2008 and 2009 shows the drop to have been far greater than had been supposed. The economy plunged 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 -- the steepest quarterly decline in more than half a century. And in 2009 household buying declined almost 2 percent (compared with a previous estimate of 1.2 percent). That's the biggest contraction in almost sixty years.

This means the original stimulus should have been much larger in order to offset the drop. With cash-starved state and local governments simultaneously scaling back their own spending, the federal stimulus needed to be even bigger.

So much for Republican claims that the original stimulus "didn't work." Of course it didn't, given the size of the slide.

It was never a debt crisis. The debt crisis was manufactured. It's been a jobs, wages, and growth crisis all along. And that reality has finally caught up with us.

Now that we're slouching toward a double-dip recession, the only hope is voters will tell their members of Congress -- who are now on recess back home -- to stop obsessing about future budget deficits and get to work on the real crisis of unemployment, falling wages, and no growth.

We need a bold jobs bill to restart the economy. Eliminate payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income for two years. Recreate the WPA and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The federal government should lend money to cash-strapped states and local governments. Give employers tax credits for net new jobs. Amend the bankruptcy laws to allow distressed homeowners to declare bankruptcy on their primary residence. Extend unemployment insurance. Provide partial unemployment benefits to people who have lost part-time jobs. Start an infrastructure bank.

And more.

The jobs bill should be number one on the nation's agenda. It should have been all along.

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Obama's transition advisory board. His latest book is Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

America In Decline -- In These Times

America In Decline -- In These Times: "America In Decline
By Noam Chomsky

ws » August 5, 2011 » Web Only

America In Decline

By Noam Chomsky

The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.

“It is a common theme” that the United States, which “only a few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power and unmatched appeal is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final decay,” Giacomo Chiozza writes in the current Political Science Quarterly.

The theme is indeed widely believed. And with some reason, though a number of qualifications are in order. To start with, the decline has proceeded since the high point of U.S. power after World War II, and the remarkable triumphalism of the post-Gulf War ’90s was mostly self-delusion.

Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society—by now mostly financial—has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.

For the public, the primary domestic concern is unemployment. Under current circumstances, that crisis can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending—though even that limited initiative probably saved millions of jobs.

For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72 percent, 27 percent opposed), reports a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69 percent Medicaid, 78 percent Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes surveyed how the public would eliminate the deficit. PIPA director Steven Kull writes, “Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House (of Representatives) are out of step with the public’s values and priorities in regard to the budget.”

The survey illustrates the deep divide: “The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases. The public also favored more spending on job training, education and pollution control than did either the administration or the House.”

The final “compromise”—more accurately, capitulation to the far right—is the opposite throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and the corporations, which are enjoying record profits.

Not even discussed is that the deficit would be eliminated if, as economist Dean Baker has shown, the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the U.S. were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies’, which have half the per capita costs and health outcomes that are comparable or better.

The financial institutions and Big Pharma are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.

Meanwhile new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact.

Congress wields other weapons in its battle against future generations. Faced with Republican opposition to environmental protection, American Electric Power, a major utility, shelved “the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming,” The New York Times reported.

The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, ending what is commonly called “the Golden Age” of (state) capitalism.

Two major elements were financialization (the shift of investor preference from industrial production to so-called FIRE: finance, insurance, real estate) and the offshoring of production. The ideological triumph of “free market doctrines,” highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions.

The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a fraction of 1 percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.

In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions, as political economist Thomas Ferguson outlines in the Financial Times.

“The major political parties borrowed a practice from big box retailers like Walmart, Best Buy or Target,” Ferguson writes. “Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the lawmaking process.” The legislators who contribute the most funds to the party get the posts.

The result, according to Ferguson, is that debates “rely heavily on the endless repetition of a handful of slogans that have been battle-tested for their appeal to national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources.” The country be damned.

Before the 2007 crash for which they were largely responsible, the new post-Golden Age financial institutions had gained startling economic power, more than tripling their share of corporate profits. After the crash, a number of economists began to inquire into their function in purely economic terms. Nobel laureate Robert Solow concludes that their general impact may be negative: “The successes probably add little or nothing to the efficiency of the real economy, while the disasters transfer wealth from taxpayers to financiers.”

By shredding the remnants of political democracy, the financial institutions lay the basis for carrying the lethal process forward—as long as their victims are willing to suffer in silence.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy. He writes a monthly column for The New York Times News Service/Syndicate.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Chomsky: Public Education Under Massive Corporate Assault — What's Next? | | AlterNet

Chomsky: Public Education Under Massive Corporate Assault "Converting schools and universities into facilities that produce commodities for the job market, privatizing them, slashing their budgets — do we really want this future?
Chomsky: Public Education Under Massive Corporate Assault — What's Next?

Converting schools and universities into facilities that produce commodities for the job market, privatizing them, slashing their budgets — do we really want this future?

The following is a partial transcript of a recent speech delivered by Noam Chomsky at the University of Toronto at Scarborough on the rapid privatization process of public higher education in the United States.
A couple of months ago, I went to Mexico to give talks at the National University in Mexico, UNAM. It's quite an impressive university — hundreds of thousands of students, high-quality and engaged students, excellent faculty. It's free. And the city — Mexico City — actually, the government ten years ago did try to add a little tuition, but there was a national student strike, and the government backed off. And, in fact, there's still an administrative building on campus that is still occupied by students and used as a center for activism throughout the city. There's also, in the city itself, another university, which is not only free but has open admissions. It has compensatory options for those who need them. I was there, too; it's also quite an impressive level, students, faculty, and so on. That's Mexico, a poor country.
Right after that I happened to go to California, maybe the richest place in the world. I was giving talks at the universities there. In California, the main universities — Berkeley and UCLA — they're essentially Ivy League private universities — colossal tuition, tens of thousands of dollars, huge endowment. General assumption is they are pretty soon going to be privatized, and the rest of the system will be, which was a very good system — best public system in the world — that's probably going to be reduced to technical training or something like that. The privatization, of course, means privatization for the rich [and a] lower level of mostly technical training for the rest. And that is happening across the country. Next year, for the first time ever, the California system, which was a really great system, best anywhere, is getting more funding from tuition than from the state of California. And that is happening across the country. In most states, tuition covers more than half of the college budget. It's also most of the public research universities. Pretty soon only the community colleges — you know, the lowest level of the system — will be state-financed in any serious sense. And even they're under attack. And analysts generally agree, I'm quoting, "The era of affordable four-year public universities heavily subsidized by the state may be over."
Now that's one important way to implement the policy of indoctrination of the young. People who are in a debt trap have very few options. Now that is true of social control generally; that is also a regular feature of international policy — those of you who study the IMF and the World Bank and others are well aware. As the Mexico-California example illustrates, the reasons for conscious destruction of the greatest public education system in the world are not economic. Economist Doug Henwood points out that it would be quite easy to make higher education completely free. In the U.S., it accounts for less than 2 percent of gross domestic product. The personal share of about 1 percent of gross domestic product is a third of the income of the richest 10,000 households. That's the same as three months of Pentagon spending. It's less than four months of wasted administrative costs of the privatized healthcare system, which is an international scandal.
It's about twice the per capita cost of comparable countries, has some of the worst outcomes, and in fact it's the basis for the famous deficit. If the U.S. had the same kind of healthcare system as other industrial countries, not only would there be no deficit, but there would be a surplus. However, to introduce these facts into an electoral campaign would be suicidally insane, Henwood points out. Now he's correct. In a democracy where elections are essentially bought by concentrations of private capital, it doesn't matter what the public wants. The public has actually been in favor of that for a long of time, but they are irrelevant in a properly run democracy.
We should recall that the great growth period in the economy -- the U.S. economy -- was in the several decades after WWII, commonly called the "Golden Age" by economists. It was substantially fueled by affordable public education and by university research. Affordable public education includes the GI Bill, which provided free education for veterans — and remember, that was a much poorer country than today. Extremely low tuition was found even at private colleges. Actually, I went to an Ivy League college, and it cost $100 a year; that's more now, but it's not that high, it's not 30 or 40,000, you know?
What about university-based research? Well, as I mentioned, that is the core of the modern high-tech economy. That includes computers, the Internet — in fact, the whole IT revolution — and a whole lot more. The dismantling of this system since the 1970s is among the many moves toward a very sharply two-tiered society, a very narrow concentration of wealth and stagnation for most everyone else. It also has direct economic consequences. Take, say, California. What they are doing to the public education system is going to undermine the economy that relies on a skilled work force and creative innovation, Silicon Valley and so on. Well, apart from the enormous human cost of depriving most people of decent educational opportunities, these policies undermine the U.S. competitive capacity. That's very harmful to the mass of the population, but it doesn't matter to the tiny percent of concentrated wealth and power. In fact, in the years since the Pell Memorandum, we've entered into a new stage in state capitalism in which the future just doesn't amount to much. Profit comes increasingly from financial manipulations. The corporate policies are geared toward the short-term profit, and that reduces the concern for loyalty to a firm over a longer stretch. We'll talk about this more tomorrow, but right now let me talk about the consequences for education, which are quite significant.
Suppose, as is increasingly happening not only in the United States, incidentally, that universities are not funded by the state, meaning the general community. So how are the universities going to survive? Universities are parasitic institutions; they don't produce commodities for profit, thankfully. They may one of these days. The funding issue raises many troubling questions, which would not arise if fostering independent thought and inquiry were regarded as a public good, having intrinsic value. That's the traditional ideal of the universities, although there are major efforts to change that. Take Britain. According to the British press, the Arts and Humanities Research Council was just ordered to spend a significant amount of funding on the prime minister's vision for the country. His so-called "Big Society," which means big corporate profits, and the rest look out for themselves. The government produced what they call a clarification of the famous Haldane Principle. That's the century-old principle that barred such government intrusion into academic research. If this stands, which I think is kind of hard to believe, but if it stands, the hand of Big Brother will rest quite heavily on inquiry and innovation in the arts and humanities as the masters of mankind follow the advice of the Pell Memorandum. Of course, defending academic freedom in ways that would receive nods of approval from Those-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, borrowing my grandchildren's rhetoric. Cameron's Britain is seeking to take the lead on the assault on public education. The rest of the Western world is not very far behind. In some ways the U.S. is ahead.
More generally, in a corporate-run culture, the traditional ideal of free and independent thought may be given lip service, but other values tend to rank higher. Defending authentic institutional freedom is no small task. However, it is not hopeless by any means. I'll talk about the case I know best, at my own university. It is a very striking case, because of the nature of its funding. Technically, it's a private university, but it has vast state funding, overwhelming, particularly since the Second World War. When I adjoined the faculty over 55 years ago, there were military labs. Since then, they've been technically severed. The academic programs, too, at that time, the 1950s, were almost entirely funded by the Pentagon. Under student pressure in the time of troubles, the 1960s, there were protests about this and calls for investigation. A faculty-student commission was formed in 1969 to investigate the matter. I was a member, thanks to student pressure. The commission was interesting. It found that despite the funding source, the Pentagon, almost the entire academic program, there was no military-related work on campus, except in the sense that virtually anything can have some military application. Actually, there was an exception to this, the political science department, [which] was deeply engaged in the Vietnam War under the guise of peace research. Since that time, Pentagon funding has been declining, and funding from health-related state institutions — National Institute of Health and so on — that's been increasing. There's a reason for that. It's reflecting changes in the economy.
In the 1950s and 1960s the cutting edge of the economy was electronics-based. The Pentagon was a natural way to steal money from the taxpayers, making them think they're being protected from the Russians or somebody, and to direct it to eventual corporate profits. That was done very effectively. It includes computers, the Internet, the IT revolution. In fact most of the modern economy comes from that. In more recent years, the economy is becoming more biology based. Therefore state funding is shifting. Fifty years ago, if you looked around MIT, you found small electronics startups from the faculty. They were drawing on Pentagon funding for research, and if they were successful, they were bought up by major corporations. Those of you who know something about the high-tech economy will know that that's the famous Route 128. That was 50 years ago. Now, if you go around the campus, the startups are biology based, and the same process continues. The genetic engineering, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and the big buildings going up are Novartis and so on. That's the way the so-called free enterprise economy works. There's also been a shift to more short-term applied work. The Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health are concerned with the long-term future of the advanced economy. In contrast to a business firm, it typically wants something that it can use — it can use and not its competitors, and tomorrow. I don't actually know of a careful study, but it seems pretty clear that the shift toward corporate funding is leading towards more short-term applied research and less exploration of what might turn out to be interesting and important down the road.
Another consequence of corporate funding is more secrecy. This surprises a lot of people, but during the period of Pentagon funding, there was no secrecy. There was also no security on campus. You may remember this. You walk into the Pentagon-funded labs 24 hours a day, and no cards to stick into things and so on. No secrecy; it was all entirely open. There is secrecy today. A corporation can't compel secrecy, but they can make it very clear that you're not going to get your contract renewed if your work leaks to others. That has happened. In fact, it's lead to some scandals, some big enough to appear on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Outside funding has other effects on the university, unless it's free and unconstrained, observing the Haldane Principle. Indeed, it has been true to a significant degree by funding from the Pentagon and the other national institutions. However, any kind of outside funding [has effects], even keeping to the Haldane Principle, supposing it establishes a teaching or research facility. That kind of automatically shifts the balance of academic activity, and that can threaten the independence and integrity of the institution. And in the case of corporate funding, quite severely.
Corporatization can have considerable influence in other ways. Corporate managers have a duty. They have to focus on profit making and seeking to convert as much of life as possible into commodities. It's not because they're bad people; it's their task. Under Anglo-American law, it's their legal obligation as well. There's a lot to say about this topic, but one element of it concerns the universities and much else. One particular consequence is the focus on what's called efficiency. It's an interesting concept. It's not strictly an economic concept. It has crucial ideological dimensions. If a business reduces personnel, it might become more efficient by standard measures with lower costs. Typically, that shifts the burden to the public, a very familiar phenomenon we see all the time. Costs to the public are not counted, and they're colossal. That's a choice that's not based on economic theory. That's based on an ideological decision, which applies directly to the "business models," as they're called, of the universities. Increasing class-size or employing cheap temporary labor, say graduate students instead of full-time faculty, may look good on a university budget, but there are significant costs. They're transferred and not measured. They're transferred to students and to the society generally as the quality of education, the quality of instruction is lowered.
There's, furthermore, no way to measure the human and social costs of converting schools and universities into facilities that produce commodities for the job market, abandoning the traditional ideal of the universities. Creating creative and independent thought and inquiry, challenging perceived beliefs, exploring new horizons and forgetting external constraints. That's an ideal that's no doubt been flawed in practice, but to the extent that it's realized is a good measure of the level of civilization achieved.
That idea is being challenged very openly by Adam Smith's Principal Architects of Policy in the State Corporate Complex, the direct attack on the Haldane Principle in Britain. That's an extreme case; in fact so extreme I assume it may be beaten back. There are less blatant examples. Many of them are just inherent in the reliance on outside funding, state or private. These are two sources that are not easy to distinguish given the control of the state by private interest. So what's the right reaction to outside funding that threatens the ideal of a free university? Well one choice is just to reject it in principle, in which case the university would go down the tubes. It's a parasitic institution. Another choice is just to recognize it as a fact of life that when I'm at work, I have to walk past the Lockheed Martin Lecture Hall, and I have to look out my office window at the Koch building, which is named after the multibillionaires who are the major funders of the Tea Party and a leading force in ongoing campaigns to wipe out the remnants of the labor movement and to institute a kind-of corporate tyranny.
Now, if that outside funding seeks to [influence] teaching, research and other activities, then there's a strong argument that it should simply be resisted or rejected outright no matter what the costs. Such influences are not inevitable, and that's worth bearing in mind.
Read more of Noam Chomsky's work at Chomsky.info.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Pc FIX: Asus EEE: How the CapsLock Gets Stuck

Gizmos Grabowski: Asus EEE: How the CapsLock Gets Stuck: "Asus EEE: How the CapsLock Gets Stuck

How: CapsLock gets stuck when the lid of the netbook is closed while the computer is still running. This puts the netbook into sleep mode, but also forces on CapsLock.

Solution: As I noted in an earlier posting, the solution is to press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace, which reboots the X Windows managers, and resets the CapsLock to normal. So, don't close the lid; or else shut down the computer before closing the lid.

Why: I don't know why the problem occurs happens. Now that we know the how, maybe Asus can find the why.

Monday, August 01, 2011

8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance | | AlterNet

8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance | | AlterNet: "

8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance.
Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination.

Young Americans—even more so than older Americans—appear to have acquiesced to the idea that the corporatocracy can completely screw them and that they are helpless to do anything about it. A 2010 Gallup poll asked Americans “Do you think the Social Security system will be able to pay you a benefit when you retire?” Among 18- to 34-years-olds, 76 percent of them said no. Yet despite their lack of confidence in the availability of Social Security for them, few have demanded it be shored up by more fairly payroll-taxing the wealthy; most appear resigned to having more money deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, even though they don’t believe it will be around to benefit them.

How exactly has American society subdued young Americans?

1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. There was no tuition at the City University of New York when I attended one of its colleges in the 1970s, a time when tuition at many U.S. public universities was so affordable that it was easy to get a B.A. and even a graduate degree without accruing any student-loan debt. While those days are gone in the United States, public universities continue to be free in the Arab world and are either free or with very low fees in many countries throughout the world. The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt.

Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000, I increasingly talk to college graduates with closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt. During the time in one’s life when it should be easiest to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities, many young people worry about the cost of bucking authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt. In a vicious cycle, student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely that students will accept such debt as a natural part of life.

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance. In 1955, Erich Fromm, the then widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”

Many of America’s greatest activists including Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would today certainly be diagnosed with ODD and other disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010); a major reason for this, according to theJournal of the American Medical Association in 2010, is that many children receiving antipsychotic drugs have nonpsychotic diagnoses such as ODD or some other disruptive disorder (this especially true of Medicaid-covered pediatric patients).

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. Upon accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990, John Taylor Gatto upset many in attendance by stating: “The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.” A generation ago, the problem of compulsory schooling as a vehicle for an authoritarian society was widely discussed, but as this problem has gotten worse, it is seldom discussed.

The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation. A teacher can lecture about democracy, but schools are essentially undemocratic places, and so democracy is not what is instilled in students. Jonathan Kozol in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home focused on how school breaks us from courageous actions. Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.

4.No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities.

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously. In a 2006 survey in the United States, it was found that 40 percent of children between first and third grade read every day, but by fourth grade, that rate declined to 29 percent. Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning. That was not always the case in the United States. Mark Twain famously said, “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” Toward the end of Twain’s life in 1900, only 6 percent of Americans graduated high school. Today, approximately 85 percent of Americans graduate high school, but this is good enough for Barack Obama who told us in 2009, “And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country.”

The more schooling Americans get, however, the more politically ignorant they are of America’s ongoing class war, and the more incapable they are of challenging the ruling class. In the 1880s and 1890s, American farmers with little or no schooling created a Populist movement that organized America’s largest-scale working people’s cooperative, formed a People’s Party that received 8 percent of the vote in 1892 presidential election, designed a “subtreasury” plan (that had it been implemented would have allowed easier credit for farmers and broke the power of large banks) and sent 40,000 lecturers across America to articulate it, and evidenced all kinds of sophisticated political ideas, strategies and tactics absent today from America’s well-schooled population. Today, Americans who lack college degrees are increasingly shamed as “losers”; however, Gore Vidal and George Carlin, two of America’s most astute and articulate critics of the corporatocracy, never went to college, and Carlin dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

6. The Normalization of Surveillance. The fear of being surveilled makes a population easier to control. While the National Security Agency (NSA) has received publicity for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, and while employer surveillance has become increasingly common in the United States, young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance because, beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives. Parents routinely check Web sites for their kid’s latest test grades and completed assignments, and just like employers, are monitoring their children’s computers and Facebook pages. Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other parents have video cameras in their homes. Increasingly, I talk with young people who lack the confidence that they can even pull off a party when their parents are out of town, and so how much confidence are they going to have about pulling off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities?

7. Television. In 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that TV viewing in the United States is at an all-time high if one includes the following “three screens”: a television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone. American children average eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other technologies (not including school-related use). Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards).

Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see; fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy; TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming, TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically. While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite.

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism. American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism. Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see. A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.

These are not the only aspects of our culture that are subduing young Americans and crushing their resistance to domination. The food-industrial complex has helped create an epidemic of childhood obesity, depression, and passivity. The prison-industrial complex keeps young anti-authoritarians “in line” (now by the fear that they may come before judges such as the two Pennsylvania ones who took $2.6 million from private-industry prisons to ensure that juveniles were incarcerated). As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike.”

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist. His Web site is www.brucelevine.net.



Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination

- Sent using Google Toolbar"