DEEP  [CORPORATE]  STATE : : book review

 

Photo by √Ąnhliche Bilder, Getty Images (FAIR USE)

YOU’RE BUSTED !!!¬† ¬†SO SORRY to do this to you, dear Reader, but the click which brought you here has now been added to your suspicious behavior file, stored in Utah, by Uncle Sam. ¬†It’s been 1984¬†for a long time, but it¬†didn’t have to be this way. ¬†You see, Congress made a deal with the devil, mostly outlawing internet encryption, after the towers fell in 2001, so that every detail of our digital lives could be collected and stored, forever > > smile for the camera above your monitor > > Why did they do that? ¬†Glad you asked. ¬†

Here to tell us is a masterful storyteller, and a great American hero, who sacrificed his career and his personal comfort to blow the whistle on this corporate power grab :  Ed Snowden. (Yes, it looks like the intelligence community did it, but who might that be?)  Follow the money.  It mostly leads to the monetization of our every click, so we have no more privacy, and corporate America knows us better than we know ourselves.  Elected officials on both sides of the aisle are struggling to put the genie back in the bottle, sorta.  But corporate democrats are resisting, while progressives and many republicans want government surveillance to end, or at least to be restrained.  

 

PERMANENT RECORD, by Edward Snowden

Rarely have I encountered an autobiography of a more principled person. ¬†Mr Snowden calls to mind that powerful statement¬†No greater love has anyone than this: that a person lay down their life for their friends. ~Jesus.¬† ¬†Yet the intelligence community has hounded this man, threatening to imprison him for life; if they ever get their hands on him they will virtually crucify him. ¬†Those who argue that he should face a trial have no clue what they are talking about, as, by law, he cannot get a fair trial for divulging state secrets to the American public, as he explains carefully in the book. ¬†And the big, big secret which he risked his life to share is that the state has utterly violated and cancelled our right to privacy, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, by harvesting and storing every single communication and detail of our lives. ¬†Yes, every selfie, every sly cheat or dark secret you (or any elected official) has ever done, every rant, every phone call. ¬† No, “they” didn’t ask our permission. ¬†Nor was any attempt made to amend the Constitution. ¬†“They” just did it as ¬†“a matter of national security”. ¬†Case closed. ¬†

Snowden tells us how different things are for citizens of the European Union. ¬†How they are treated as citizens, as ¬†‚Äúdata subjects ‚Äďthat is, people who generate personally identifiable data. ¬†In the US, data is usually regarded as the property of whoever collects it.‚ÄĚ ¬† The intelligence community has perpetrated a coup on our nation, seizing our data and our Constitutional right to privacy, without our permission ‚ÄĒ without even a national discussion. ¬†Congress has allowed this, without protest, when they could have allowed for encryption of the internet, instead. ¬†My iPhone is encrypted, as are most smartphones today. ¬†But the google’s and apple’s and amazon’s and facebook’s are laughing all the way to the bank, as they are able to resell our every detail. ¬†And that’s why I¬†¬†inserted that word “[corporate]” in my headline.

Recently I attempted to become a digital subscriber to The Washington Post,¬†owned by Jeff Bezos, of Amazon. ¬†Upon learning of the terms ‚Äď WaPo claiming the right to sell all my clicks ‚Äď I cancelled the very next day. ¬†Same with¬†The Atlantic,¬†owned by the widow of Steve Jobs. ¬†Unless I agreed to allow their profiling of me, it was no sale, as neither of them would even allow an opportunity to opt out. ¬†I even went by VPN to Switzerland which has very protective regulations and attempted to subscribe from there. ¬†No deal. ¬†Both publications insisted that I surrender to the corporate state-of-things in USA. ¬†Wake up America! ¬†We’re being auctioned to the highest bidders.

This book is the most gripping spy thriller I’ve ever read. ¬†And it’s nonfiction. The one thing I wish the publishers had done was provide an index, as there is so much good information here. ¬†It is my sincere hope that Donald Trump, who detests the deep state so much, might pardon Edward Snowden, and restore his US passport. ¬†(Trump’s stock would go up with me, as my view of his leadership couldn’t go much lower.) ¬†Maybe he could even give Snowden The Medal of Honor (or Medal of Freedow, as he’s no longer military). ¬†Snowden truly is a national hero. ¬†Read his story. ¬†You might agree. ¬†

In signing off, I will type these letters XKEYSCORE, while asking you to smile into the camera above your monitor, at the technologist who is tucking our names into that gigantic bunker of vaults in Utah.  <RASPBERRY>.  

 

Breathing the same air as Socrates and Jesus

Photo from Marquette Magazine (fair use)

. . . and while we’re at it, take another breath which also includes air exhaled by da Vinci and Edison (the story is told well in YOUR ATOMIC SELF).¬†

Equilibrium. ¬†Right now this principle is at work helping inoculate us with tiny aerosol particles of cv-19 which hang in the air in still spaces for hours, in varying concentrations. ¬†Our immune system is continually sampling and fortifying our defenses against such invaders, so we are presently developing skill at defeating this unwelcome visitor. ¬†We might even individually become immune before a vaccine arrives. ¬†A key is to avoid inhaling too many such aerosols at once. (Handling fear helps, too.) ¬†So, wear a good mask¬†(not just a bandana); don’t touch nasty stuff, and then put fingers in eyes, nose, mouth. ¬†(Hint: use a knuckle at the ATM, instead of a finger.) And learn to recognize risk, from this tragic choir rehearsal.¬†

Practice safe breathing. ¬†Keep the community healthy. ¬†Avoid ignorant people who won’t wear a mask, while we all work at developing immunity.. ¬†(There is a scientific report that suggests mask wearers may develop natural immunity quicker than non-wearers.) The human race will survive. ¬†We can all participate.

 

 

 

 

LEY SECA // PROHIBITION ALWAYS FAILS

Destroying illegal liquor.  Reuters photo, via HindustanTimes (fair use)

Churchmen and politicians seem to be slow learners. ¬†When they attempt to modify human behavior the result is : full prisons, underworld vendors replacing taxpaying businesses, and blood on their hands for those who consumed toxic homemade booze. ¬†Prohibiting transactions which people want is simply not effective. ¬†Yet the beer can gets kicked down the road, and the problems grow. ¬†‚ÄúForbidden fruit‚ÄĚ has not been successfully removed since ‚Äúthe beginning‚ÄĚ. ¬†And yet authorities still think they can do so by writing laws and arresting people? Yes, slow learners.

Jesus knew better.  He advised that the weeds and the wheat should be allowed to grow together, rather than attempting to uproot them prematurely.  (English version.)

Ten countries around the globe have decriminalized drugs. (Alcohol is a drug.)  Those ten have enjoyed significant social improvements, and savings, by recognizing that desire for contraban is never removed by legislation.  And yet prohibitions of many vices still continue to fail in many ways, in many places, because authorities think they are wiser and more powerful than Jesus.

 : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :

 

   : 42 :   APPREHENDING SATAN   : 42 :

~ some thoughts about prophecy ~

Device to Root Out Evil installation by Dennis Oppenheimer 1997  ~ photo from WikiArt~

 (I wonder if a patent has been granted?)

Many decades ago I studied in a graduate program at a nondenominational divinity school, but left before finishing. ¬†Back then, I thought that what America needed was a better sense of business ethics. ¬†After dropping out, I began a business career, and eventually partnered to start a business, from which I later retired. ¬†Along the way, I made over 500 visits behind bars on Saturdays, volunteering as a nondenominational prison minister at two prisons (one, of maximum security) conducting what I term a ‚Äúbiblically-based stealth-ethics ministry‚ÄĚ. ¬†None of this has made me ethical, but it was a good workout, both commercially and, especially, with the prisoners. ¬†They taught me much. ¬†I was able to look into their eyes, their souls, and (I hope) help them understand their stories. ¬†Perhaps I’ve learned something about temptation, bad choices, and criminal behavior.

Looking back, what perplexes me today is the leadership choices Americans have made lately. Why has a diverse community of ¬†“believers” elected such self-dealing, selfish, leaders? ¬†How can¬†values voters¬†be so easily duped? ¬†(Yes, our federal and state election systems have been severely gamed and gerrymandered to suppress honest results.) ¬†Yet I want to believe that the wisdom of crowds should be able to surmount such deception. Nevertheless, “he who snoozes, loses.” ¬†By electing many of our current leaders, has America swallowed the “prosperity gospel” which suggests that ‚Äúsuccess‚ÄĚ is proof of God’s favor? ¬†(Was Jesus initially seen to be successful, on the cross?) ¬†Even Malcolm Forbes poked fun at himself saying¬†he who dies with the most toys wins.¬†

Well, I went looking for a history of the oldest deceiver ever, and may have learned something useful. ¬†(My sense is that many believers don’t want to know anything about this topic, preferring rather to whistle past the graveyard, and the hoodlums hanging out there.) ¬†

The flipside of¬†Know thyself ¬†is ¬†Know thine enemy. ¬†My gleanings from the book below persuade me that satan (which I refuse to capitalize) is not so much an entity or force, as a story told to explain “the other” in human communities. (We could call it tribalism, or fear of otherness: xenophobia.)

Yet Jesus himself ministered to whores and debt collectors, all the while skewering the preacher boys who ran the national temple/ government/ treasury. ¬†What don’t we get about his example? ¬†He didn’t flinch at criticizing high-end thievery and power-politics, even while knowing the cost, bluntly telling us that the tree is known by its fruit. ¬†And yet we’ve elected a brash-talking, “pussy-grabbing”, casino-owning liar as our leader. ¬†What’s wrong with this picture? ¬†What’s wrong with “the church” in its many iterations, that it would support such allegiance? ¬†What don’t we get about recognizing satanic behavior? ¬†Have we allowed ourselves to be charmed by an entertainer, a false talker?

Author, historian, and scholar, Elaine Pagels, is a superb storyteller who is very accessible for the reading public. ¬†If you’re troubled about the condition of spiritual studies today, especially on this topic, you will be gently introduced to how we got where we are regarding satan, in this excellent volume. ¬†(Another author, M.Scott Peck, wrote¬†People of the Lie, which might be helpful at detecting our dark side).

The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, predicts war in heaven and on earth in a final contest between God and His angels of light, and the angels of darkness, led by God’s adversary,¬†ha satan,¬†(Hebrew: ‚Äúthe accuser‚ÄĚ). ¬†Does God have an opposite? ¬†Have you ever found it necessary to push darkness out of a room after turning on the light? ¬†

We become what we love ‚Äď or, what we love to hate. ¬†Choose carefully.

Jesus told of false christs and false prophets that would be arising (see v.24). But when?  He told followers that neither he nor the angels knew when (see especially v.32, here).  Yet the visions and predictions of John of Patmos were canonized into that final book of the New Testament, after much controversy (see Pagels);  meanwhile moderns continue to speculate.

When? ¬†Well,¬†don’t expect me to tell you! ¬† People love to read ahead, peering into the final chapters, especially when tribulation arrives on the world stage. ¬†End times¬†can be a tail chase, as anyone might notice. ¬†Why would we want to know what even Jesus says he could not know?

    : 42 :    Prediction    : 42 :

But If you believe in literalism and its approach to prophecy, you might want to take a look at this prediction from Revelation 13:5, which involves the number 42.  Come July or August, roughly 42 months from January 21, 2016 (inauguration day) we might learn something about prophecy.  Mark your calendar!  (No, I do not believe that Donald Trump is the anti-Christ.)  But history repeats itself, as encountered in this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:15 : That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

The accuser says we’re a mess. ¬†What can we do about this?¬†The challenge of understanding prophecy is vexing. ¬†The empirical mind has long wanted to reject the very idea of prophecy. ¬†Yet, as moderns, we’ve all had premonitions that surprised us when they came to pass. ¬†Even physicists are today recognizing this skillset as worthy of scientific research. ¬†We’ve spent much of human history trying to guess what is in the other guy’s head. ¬†Have we acquired some skill to see into the future?

‚ÄúAm I ok for the next ten minutes?‚ÄĚ (Seriously, ask yourself that powerful question, in the first person, often; it can help quiet the mind.) ¬†¬†¬ŅDoes¬†tomorrow¬†even exist?¬†~Jesus.

‚ÄúBut‚ÄĚ you say, ‚Äúaren’t we supposed to be alert?‚ÄĚ ¬†Good question, as alertness might commonly seem to require thought. ¬†Yet,¬†believers seem¬†wary of rigorous thought, preferring stories and¬†dogma over research.¬†Well, curb your dogma, maybe! ¬†Awareness of now¬†can displace regret for yesterday and stress about tomorrow, (which doesn’t exist).¬†

Good detectives notice patterns ‚Äď ‚Äúm.o.’s‚ÄĚ [modi operandi] ‚Äď modes of operations, thru studied attention. ¬†Behavior is but an extension of thought put into action, by choosing, some say. ¬†While others, the “determinists,” like Richard Dawkins, insist that we have no choice, no free will at all ‚Äď everything is genetic brain-chemistry, and is pre-determined.

Careful readers should recognize the importance of reading between the lines, rather than taking every word literally.  Indeed, literalism can be a curse which interferes with disciplined observation. (I had an epiphany in early 2003 which persuades me that literalism is the great red dragon of Revelation.)

Of course, satan is a famous Biblical character. ¬†But this character is a late import into the text, not arriving in the Bible or Hebrew theology until well after the exodus from Egypt. ¬†‚ÄúNah‚ÄĚ you say, ‚Äúmy pastor told me satan was present in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent.‚ÄĚ ¬†Well then, I guess God created the devil, and we’re all utterly jammed. ¬†Literalism! ¬†Writing 2+2=5 on the chalkboard does not make it so.

If you swallowed that bait, serpent = satan,¬†you’ve clearly attended a literalist Bible study, declining to do your own thinking, preferring pastor-priest-rabbi-or-immam ‘s ‘‚Äúvoice of authority‚ÄĚ rather than showing up for a one-on-one tutorial with the Holy Spirit. ¬†(Arguments from authority are notoriously weak, which we noticed as children, answering back at our parents, why should I? ‚ÄĒ¬†because I said so.) ¬†

God is the Teacher! ¬†Literalism and authoritarianism are tools of mind control, famous even in early¬†Christianity. ‚ÄúDon’t think; don’t question;¬†just¬†have faith.‚ÄĚ ¬†¬ŅPerhaps you’ve been thumped on the head with a Bible by a cleric, professor, or fellow student, more than once? ¬†(The Divine Teacher never does that, but is patient with those who show up for their tutorial with honest questions, yearning to listen, inquire, and learn.) ¬†

The serpent,¬†nachash in Hebrew, whispers¬†: psst, ¬†hacking¬†its voice into our think-er, in the first person ¬†: ¬† “I’m ignorant” ¬† “I’m insecure” ¬† “I’m lonely // s-he’s cute”, while satan is a brash talker, a blasphemer, a bully, a liar: the accuser. ¬†Notice that this hacker steals God’s name: I AM !!! ¬†‚ÄĒ the very first instance of identity theft!

Pastors and priests are taught that literalism is an electrified “third rail”, potentially causing the loss of jobs or even careers. ¬†Questioning the text is risky, like a politician proposing to modify social security > > ¬†X¬†CHURCH ¬†FIGHT AHEAD¬†X ! ¬† Some Bible students don’t want to fight, but want to contemplate at the feet of the Teacher. Thus we have the social movement toward “spirituality” and away from “religion”. ¬†¬†Dare to listen for that still small voice! ¬†Our ability to recognize voices is sublime. ¬†Read John 10, if you distrust your abilities ‚ÄĒ also considering that satan’s voice is always accusatory, gruff, rude, angry. ¬†Tone is telling. ¬†Yes, this path may seem lonely and rugged. ¬†But we are assured of God-with-us ! ¬†Immanuel.

God has faith in us, in our ability to discern divine love, divine guidance, divine government.   Got appetite?