Q: What Makes Burma, Liberia, and the USA Unique Among Countries?

A: These are the three countries which have not yet formally adopted the metric system, also known as the International System of Units (SI).

Yes, every other country in the world but these has formally adopted the metric system as its official system of weights and measurements. Please see the graphic below for a visual representation:

Prior to the invention of the metric system, more than two centuries ago, one could find thousands of different measurement units in use within a single country and probably millions worldwide. In the pre-scientific era, such approximations — based on how long it took the average villager to cook a pot of rice, for instance, or the highly variable size of a man’s body part — might have sufficed, but for several hundred years now, humankind’s command of scientific knowledge has brought the possibility of a much higher degree of control over the material world and demanded an according level of precision in our measurements.

While the US/British Imperial system is now precise, with its units fixed and internally uniform, it has glaring functional drawbacks relative to the metric system such as the ease with which the decimal-based metric units can be shifted between scales from the extremely tiny (pico-) to the cosmic (tera-). Additionally, almost all other countries have adopted the metric system ages ago, making extensive conversion calculations necessary if one wishes to go back and forth between systems.

IMHO, there are few reasons at all for the USA to hold out on metrication, yet anti-metric advocates have been quite fierce in their resistance, a resistance which seems to me to be seated in a belligerent laziness with a vague air of entitled nationalism and traditionalism thrown in for good measure (an imperial system truly). However, this could become, with just a bit more effort on the part of forward-thinking people in the US’, one area fewer in which the USA would have to be introduced as “The only advanced, industrial country which does not…”

I daresay that achieving such a goal would be even more exciting (and certainly more historically relevant, ho ho) than watching a long ton of clowns trying to bucket-brigade ninety-nine hogsheads of water four furlongs (and not a hand shorter) without spilling a single gill of it, all while trying to maintain their balance atop a square rod — maybe even a square chain — of lubricated ball bearings.

Please visit Metric.org, the on-line home of the US Metric Association (USMA), to read more about the many advantages of metrication. [END] Permalink: Q: What Makes Burma, Liberia, and the USA Unique Among Countries?

Hardware Editors for Roland JX-8P and Yamaha RM50 Synthesizers

I’ve recently published SysEx files that will make hardware-based voice editors for two vintage synthesizers, the Roland JX-8P and the Yamaha RM50, on the new music page of EvanLong.net.

The Roland JX-8P editor, which I call the PC-8P, is currently in version 1.1, and I believe that this will be its final release. It’s designed to work with the Peavey PC1600X MIDI controller and replace the original PG-800 controller which is specific to the JX-8P and twice the price of a PC1600X on the used market. The program will only take up a tenth of the PC1600X’s memory, so users will still have forty-five presets left over for controlling other gear.
The Yamaha RM50 editor, which I call the BCRM50, is currently also in version 1.1, and there will be extended and improved versions of it at some point in the future. It’s designed to work with the Behringer BCR2000 MIDI controller to produce several sixteen-note drum kits which are almost 100% editable. The RM50 has a powerful synth engine for a percussion synth, and the BCRM50 system is intended to make it as accessible as possible. [END] Permalink: Hardware Editors for Roland JX-8P and Yamaha RM50 Synthesizers

Reflections on “The Columbine Cause” Just Published

After wanting to do it for several years, I’ve finally recorded and published a follow-up commentary to “The Columbine Cause” that I think is going to put it to bed for me for good. (Though life is full of surprises.) Publishing TCC was a big achievement for me at the time, but I have since found what I feel to be more productive uses of my time and energy that satisfy more or less the same impulses that led me to put the presentation together, and there probably are not going to be any more major evidential revelations in the case.

TCC was a product of its time, when on-line conspiracy documentaries were flourishing and 9/11 Truth activists were breaking into mainstream news headlines — but before the bailout, Tea Party, and Occupy took the national conversation in a somewhat different direction. This week will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Columbine shootings, and as always, there is ongoing discussion at the Echoes of Columbine forum. You can hear my recent comments on “The Columbine Cause” and related topics here. [END] Permalink: Reflections on “The Columbine Cause” Just Published

Obama Tries to Defend Himself from Bill O’Reilly by Comparing Himself to Richard Nixon

As much as I hate to link to capitalist news, this one is worth its weight in facepalms:

http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/02/03/22560607-obama-says-fox-newss-oreilly-absolutely-unfair-in-extended-interview?lite

It is truly a dark day in the USA when a supposedly “SOCIALIST OMG!!!!!” POTUS (and a Democrat, no less/of course) tries to defend himself from the likes of FUX’s Bill “I Have Lower Credibility Than the Weekly World News to Anyone Whose Critical Thinking Hasn’t Been Collapsed from Fear Induced by My Abusive, Authoritarian Patriarch Shtick” O’Reilly by pointing out, regretfully compellingly, that current White House policies, and indeed the entire tenor of his presidency, have been more right-wing than those of Richard Nixon — to say nothing of the new standard he just set for stating the obvious in complaining that O’Reilly was “unfair” during the interview. (Side note: no offense to the WWN; I loved your story about the Bat Boy!)

While Bush II set the bar infinitely lower — hopefully there will never be a more aggressively jingoistic, anti-worker, pro-1% presidency in this country than what we saw between 2001 and 2009 — holding yourself up to Nixon, one of the definitive symbols to anyone who lived through the New Left era of all the treachery and backwardness that right had to offer (and looking worse for the comparison!) is tantamount to — I don’t know what, but I found myself checking Obama’s eyes in the accompanying photos for lingering evidence of the icepick wounds. No, of course Obama is no lobotomy victim, nor even a fool, just a clever wolf-in-sheep’s clothing playing his part like a good little millionaire to perpetuate the 1%’s monumental mind-game that is the good-cop/bad-cop routine which passes, woefully persistently, for electoral politics in this country.

Speaking of Bush II, do you remember all the hopeful progressives in 2006-2008 with their “Bush’s Last Day” stickers, t-shirts, and other schwag? (OK, well, maybe it was just a regional thing, or maybe you lived in an area dominated by “patriots” so hostile to dissent that other people avoid putting stickers on their cars for fear of having their windows smashed.) Well, none of them seemed to like it when I approached them and pointed out that Bush’s last day was also someone else’s first day, and that we had no real reason to believe that the next president would be significantly better, would clean up Bush’s (and preceding presidents’) disaster area of trampled civil liberties, workers’ rights, etc. I mean, sure, the law of averages tells us that whoever it would be would probably not be stunningly, shockingly worse in such an precedented and catastrophically dangerous way necessarily, unless there is some sort of exponential curve of politics playing itself out which has yet to be identified (political scientists take note!), but clearly there had been a trend for some time already of the neoliberal agenda/Washington Consensus in the halls of power (i. e. mostly what Alex Jones refers to as GLOBALISM! SLOBBER DROOL! BUY MY VIDEO!”). In that sense, all Bush and his people did was to tear down some of the last remaining illusions and make up for lost time.

So here’s to Obama, the sacrifical pseudo-liberal lamb who symbolically slaughtered himself on FUX’s altar for all the world to see for the purpose of what, exactly? (Listen closely, ye 99%ers who are still genuinely clinging to the Dems.) Was it to appease his ABSOLUTELY 100% IMPLACABLE right wing detractors (indeed, “critics” is too good a label for this uninformed, bigoted, out-of-touch mass of foaming-at-the-mouth crackpots) who want, pardon the, at this stage, millimeter-thin yet still apt metaphor, to reduce the US to some sort of high-tech, Robber Baron/Mad Max dystopia? (“Libertarians are not utopians,” they say, and truer words have never been spoken.) Probably not. Was it to attain a greater degree of sportsmanlike “compromise” with their 1% overlords for class peace on US workers’ behalf, after the 1% has already won the last hundred battles? No, that high ground turns out not to seem so high after all when you look down to see it is actually a mountain of poisoned plants and animals, foreclosed-upon families, and permanently debt-saddled working class college grads that you are standing on. The real reason was simply to drive the knife a little bit deeper into the backs of those who continue, pathetically and against all evidence, to throw themselves after the Democrat-in-Chief in support, and to make their self-respect turn soiled just a little bit (or maybe a lot) more completely. Meanwhile, those of us who know the score on class struggle know that it’s time to build our ranks and organize for a counterattack, not to cower. And we all knew that Obama was never going to be the leader of that fight, right? Right?

So how do things get better? You can start by remembering this simple formula: politics follows economics. Building (small-d) democratic power in the community to balance out moneyed interests like landlords, yuppies, developers, and banks; and especially building democratic power in the workplace to balance out bosses, stockholders, and other captains and controllers of industry, leads to the kind of leverage that can eventually storm and transform the halls of power. But it has to start at ground level; otherwise you are jumping the gun, and those who do have society by the short hairs will still have absolutely no reason to stop writing all the laws to give themselves policy advantages and other institutionalized forms of special treatment and privilege. Got it yet? It’s time for a song…

EPILOGUE:

Little did I realize it while writing the above post, but there actually is a FUX News/Weekly World News cross-over out there. Feast your eyes:

[END] Permalink: Obama Tries to Defend Himself from Bill O’Reilly by Comparing Himself to Richard Nixon

Richard Wolff – Capitalism Hits the Fan

Above, Richard Wolff discusses the crash of 2008 and the attempts by the ruling class to shore up the economy in the following year and tells a story about the economics that led to the crisis.

Do you think such a crash can never happen again? It will happen. How prepared will you be when it comes, and I’m not talking about your water filter or K-rations. I’m asking, how prepared are you and yours to organize to take over and operate industry not to serve our would-be masters’ insatiable hunger for profit and power, but to meet human need?

Chances are, the answer is “not very.” However, we working people must organize now, not just to survive, but for a future free of wage slavery. There’s no need for a return — ever again — to the industrial dark ages in which we are cut off from the fruits of our own labor, if we organize right.

Our labor has built the world we know today, but because we followed the 1%’s blueprint, we, under their direction, and under the duress of the threat of termination — exclusion from access to the commodified essentials of life — created a monster, their monster, a social structure of massive injustice and inequality. We must change directions, and it will require mass action. It’s a tricky proposition to be sure, but a very necessary way to go. [END] Permalink: Richard Wolff – Capitalism Hits the Fan

The US Government Shutdown of 2013: That Giant Scraping Sound…

…is the GOP digging its own political grave as they lead the US back into a hugely unpopular “Atlas Shrugged” scenario. A few thoughts:

1) The Two-Party System Isn’t Working
If a democracy’s health can be measured in part by the number of ideologically coherent and socially relevant political parties it contains (i. e. if its parties more or less accurately represent the diverse views and interests of the of larger society), the USA is not doing so well. That’s something to remember here as the branches of the US government teeter between being controlled by the center-right Democrats, who mostly don’t do what the working people of the US want, and the extreme-right Republicans, who are now strongly influenced by a faction willing to plunge the country into chaos, possibly for its own sake, but especially for the purpose of preventing the “undeserving poor” (especially, continuing a centuries-old tradition of highly institutionalized racism in the US, the non-white “undeserving poor”) from receiving social benefits. With more parties from which to choose (including, hopefully, some representing views outside of the neoliberal consensus), all parties would be further away from controlling enough seats on their own to be able to dictate legislative outcomes unilaterally unless those parties and their ideas happened to be (for at least one election cycle, anyway) overwhelmingly popular.

2) There Should Be No Doubt About Blame
Polls are now showing that people in the US “mostly” blame Republicans for the shutdown. We could call that a start, but since there is absolutely no one else who could conceivably be blamed for it, we could also give it an “F.” The shutdown originated in the House of Representatives, which is populated by a majority of Republicans, over an established law that they (some, literally) consider to be the work of the “Antichrist,” but which has already been upheld as Constitutional by the (right-leaning!) Supreme Court. The GOP’s demand is that the President “negotiate” over this law, which again, has already been passed and tested via established processes, or else the government, excepting “essential services,” will remain at a standstill.*

3) The GOP Is Extremely Concerned that US Voters Will Like More Than Dislike Obamacare
Why is the GOP making such a stand on the ACA, a. k. a. Obamacare? A look back to the last Federal shutdown may provide answers. As you may recall, the previous shutdown (in the 1990s) also had to do with a GOP/Dem dispute over health/medical reform, and, if neocon William Kristol’s now infamous memo on the subject was any indication, it’s because Republicans view the success of such a reform effort as a probable death knell for their party. Conservatives believe that if the Dems’ plan works, it will fatally impact the Republicans’ image by casting extreme doubt on their most basic principles in voters’ minds. Personally, although I would strongly prefer a public option to compulsory private insurance (with nearly uselessly high deductibles in many cases), I think they’re basically right about that, but there is a time when you just have to let go and not try to bring everyone else down with you. Taking the working people of the US hostage is not a solution and can only hurt the GOP in the long run, possibly even more than the US citizenry’s hypothetical love of the benefits of the ACA itself. (Complicating this situation is that the ACA as enacted is much more akin to the GOP’s compromise plan from the 90s than, say, a single-payer system, so possibly this entire spectacle is a charade intended to camouflage both parties’ march to the right, but that is a discussion for another time.)

4) The Tea Party Is a Monstrosity
For additional background, below is a video of Senate proceedings from May 2013 in which you can see some of the dynamics of the current impasse forming. Rand Paul, who has all the presence and charm of a wind-up toy, gives speeches that seem more appropriate to a Tea Party rally (or a GOP Presidential primary campaign), as they appear to address his ignorant, class-confused base directly (rather than the other Senators). Meanwhile, Ted Cruz repeatedly refuses to submit to established process because he rightfully fears that if the Senate considers a vote based on a simple majority, his side will lose out. (Note to Cruz: that is how voting works. If your party had won more seats, maybe you wouldn’t have to worry about it, but they didn’t, so stop obstructing.) Some other Republican Senators offer nominal opposition, but in the end, their actions will speak louder than their words.

*A note on striking and shutdowns: there are times when it can be considered acceptable to act out strategies that defy established processes. For instance, when workers want more from their relatively wealthy and powerful employers, their only recourse may be a work stoppage (which is still a risky proposition, as employers tend to have far greater economic reserves on which to draw to survive such a standoff). The key element differentiating such a scenario from the GOP-led shutdown, however, is social justice. In other words, does the established process have an inherent bias toward one party or another, and if so, does such a bias have a socially equalizing effect, balancing out some other power imbalance, or does it actually exacerbate existing imbalances? If it’s the latter, it may be time to shut it down and recalibrate the process to prevent the compounding of injustices. In no way can the current shutdown, which is led by representatives of the wealthy elite for their own class interests, be considered to be a fight for social justice, but for the preservation of privilege and inequality. [END] Permalink: The US Government Shutdown of 2013: That Giant Scraping Sound…

9/11 Was Still an Inside Job (and Social Conditions Are Still Getting Worse Partly as a Result of It)

(Footage compiled by BuildingWhat.org, music by Slothy (“Professor Jones and Building Seven”))

In case you’re entirely new to the information behind the now twelve-year-old slogan, “9/11 was an inside job,” you might begin by noting that not just two but three World Trade Center buildings (out of seven) fell on the day of the September 11th attacks. You should remember this always, because if the emphasis of the capitalist media is any indication, you are not supposed to know this.

World Trade Center 7, a part of the World Trade Center complex, was a roughly fifty-story skyscraper, fifty stories being about five times the height of the largest building in most counties of the United States. At about 5:30 PM on September 11th, 2001, this giant high-rise, having never been hit by a plane, imploded at nearly free-fall speed almost straight down, accompanied by large clouds of finely pulverized concrete. The building had sustained damage from falling debris earlier in the day, but the sudden and catastrophic nature of its collapse as well as characteristics such as sequenced puffs of smoke running down the sides of it as it fell strongly suggest the detonation of explosives inside the building just prior to and during its final moments. Please see numerous other 9/11-related videos on this site for more information about the technical details of this and others of the events of 9/11, or view the full lecture by physicist Steven Jones* which was sampled in the music track above further down in this post. Below are some questions to get you started from someone who has looked at this information critically for a number of years (me).

First, if the collapse of World Trade Center 7 was the work of Osama bin Laden, why, despite the saturation of all capitalist news media for months with inordinate amounts of other footage of the attacks on New York City, was the first time that you ever heard about Building Seven probably on a quote-unquote “conspiracy” video like this one? Similarly, why did the 9/11 Commission, which was tasked with providing a full explanation of the events of 9/11, not mention a major event like the collapse of Building Seven even one time in their final report? Why has the “official” hypothesis that fire caused its collapse continued to be upheld by government officials in the face of glaringly contradictory data, and even after a majority of Federal experts who had been tasked with studying it concluded that fire was unlikely to be an accurate explanation of its collapse? Are there somethings that the rulers of the U. S. are trying to hide about this event, and is the collapse of Building Seven a window into those secrets?

Furthermore, Building Seven was a highly secure facility which housed the offices of top-level businesses as well as Federal agencies such as the CIA and IRS. If the collapse of Building Seven was due to a controlled demolition, who would have had the means, motive, and opportunity to pull it off? If not Osama bin Laden and his ragtag band of accomplices, who, in contravention of the basic principles of terrorism, denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks, then who?

Cui bono? (Who benefits?)

*Steven Jones, like not an insignificant number of others in the 9/11 Truth movement (or more than one might expect, anyway), is (or at least was at the time of the above conference) a Reaganite conservative. This goes to show, in my opinion, that people at all levels of socio-political consciousness, including the very naive, can be attracted to the radicalizing inquiry that is the 9/11 Skeptics or 9/11 Truth movement (which, in my opinion, should be understood not as the movement that has the truth about 9/11, but the one that is searching for it after having rejected the official version). This is primarily because, like a layoff that just doesn’t let you pay the bills anymore, physics is physics, and data are data. Where you go with that information, how you interpret it and incorporate that interpretation into your understanding of the socio-political world, whatever that might be when you first encounter it, is another story.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be preparing a lengthier statement on my observations of the successes and failures of what could be called contemporary “conspiracy” research and related social movements and theories as time allows, but I anticipate that it won’t be too far away. For the time being, I will write that although I can’t help but feel disappointed that the more than five years of fairly intense “underground” 9/11 Truth activism from tens of thousands of participants who helped to spread questions and data about 9/11 between 2001 and about 2006, which is when it started getting onto the radar of the capitalist media, despite the general socio-political wake-up call that it gave to millions of individual citizens, did not more quickly give rise to a sustained movement for social justice, I also can’t help but feel encouraged that it contributed to some measure of positive social upheavals. In any case, the lessons of the post-Tea Party, post-Occupy era speak to numerous obstacles which must still be overcome by those of us who are concerned with developing and putting into practice an effective and sustained response to the overwhelming class defeat, mounting austerity policies, and general social counter-revolution which have been burying U. S. workers since the 1970s.

More on these and related topics soon… [END] Permalink: 9/11 Was Still an Inside Job (and Social Conditions Are Still Getting Worse Partly as a Result of It)

Three Year Anniversary of EvanLong.net

Welcome (or welcome again) to EvanLong.net. This site went live three years ago today, and this summer, I’m planning to update it and make some changes to it. By fall, I’m also planning to release a follow-up of sorts to 2007′s “The Columbine Cause.” Unfortunately, there have not been major recent advances with the Columbine mystery. Rather, the follow-up will serve primarily as a commentary on the history and current state of alternative politics and social movements in the US, where I believe various camps of the “conspiracy” movement have made positive contributions to people’s struggles, and where I believe some not-so-positive groups have used “conspiracy” arguments to advance socially oppressive agendas, among other topics. [END] Permalink: Three Year Anniversary of EvanLong.net

The Wobblies

In 1905, industrial unionists met in Chicago to found a labor union aimed at organizing all workers, and the Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, was the result. Aiming for the creation of a directly democratic, worker-owned economy within the shell of the old, hierarchical capitalist system, they succeeded in mobilizing workers from all walks of life into some of the most successful labor actions in U. S. history. Bypass the broken political system, say the Wobblies, and organize on the job — where you are robbed! [END] Permalink: The Wobblies

Derrick Jensen: The Principles of Endgame

Derrick Jensen’s web site is here. How are you fighting back? [END] Permalink: Derrick Jensen: The Principles of Endgame