January 2006

Croatia: CIA Allegedly Behind ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Operation:

‘The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) masterminded a military operation carried out near the end of the Balkan wars, in which over 200,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia and hundreds killed, the Zagreb weekly Globus reported on Thursday.

The CIA secretly planned operation ‘Storm’, which took place in August 1995, at the Sepurine military base, near Adriatic port of Zadar,with the knowledge of then-US president Bill Clinton and top Croation leaders.

‘After the mass exodus of Serbs, their property in Krajina was subject to mass destruction and at least 150 civilians were killed. ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte has charged Gotovina, along with late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, of a "joint criminal undertaking" aimed at ethnically cleansing the Serbs from Croatia.’ (Adnkronos article).

Serbs have been claiming this for years.

Slowly but surely the Clinton administration’s shameful anti-Serb activities are coming to light.

Eventually the truth about Kosovo and Bosnia will emerge: The massacres and ethnic cleansing of Serbs. How NATO was duped into creating a Greater Albania and base for Europe’s sex slave and drug trafficking center in Kosovo.

One day…

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Little known masterpiece: Ivan's XTC

by Limbic on January 15, 2006

I had the pleasure of meeting Danny Huston here in Belgrade during the summer where he was filming an “Fade to Black” about Orson Wells.

For some reason his best film to date popped in to my head tonight:

Bernard Rose’s “Ivans xtc”

Based on Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, it is a contemporary masterpiece. Shot Dogme style on a digital camera, it is one of my favourite films.

Highly recommended.

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Structural defects of the free press

by Limbic on January 12, 2006

From a 2003 UPI story titled Media new boogeyman of Iraq

“I understand that breaking news is largely driven by bad news. That’s a structural defect of a free press,” said L. Paul Bremer, former American administrator in Iraq, at a House Armed Services Committee Hearing .

This was what I was grasping for recently in my post on Lawfare & Unrestricted Warfare , the concept of “structural” weakness in institutions which define liberal democracy and freedom e.g. Open dissent, a free press that focuses on bad news, Mark Humphrys’ Paradox of the Fisks, capitalist mediation, responsible government and an independent judiciary.

The very mainstays of democracy are possibly its greatest weakness as they are now. At least it seems that it is the combination of these factors that leads to the danger.

For example, a feedback loop can and was created where otherwise politically disinterested masses with a degraded sense of history were organised to march in opposition to war for trite and morally snug “principles” which self-reinforced (reached a tipping point) as these politically ignorant but well intentioned people imagined populism was democracy, that they were being “authentic”, that they were being emotionally and morally correct and that their identikit anti-war activism was a real, useful and just contribution to the world.

I would love to see someone do a comprehensive analysis of these “structural defects” , their interrelation and amplification.

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Gnosticism Primer

by Limbic on January 11, 2006

Gnosticism is a pre-Christian syncretic religious tradition that stresses mysticism, personal responsibilty, revelation, and practical philosophy. We are saved from Ignorance and Deception through Knowledge (gnosis) of our own Divine origin and nature. – from the AJC

What Is a Gnostic? by Stephan A. Hoeller

Gnosticism on Wikipedia

Gnosticism from a Catholic perspective

The Gnostic Center

Gnostic Light and Life Weblog

Wikipedia notes that…

“Some think Gnosticism is fundamentally pagan in origin, but has adopted a Christian veneer; others trace its origin to Judaism; yet others think it derives from Jesus, and is a development of his teaching that is arguably as valid as the orthodox one. Others still regard Gnosticism as a religious tradition in itself, the manifestation in related “systems” of a perennial philosophy of which, in some sense, more orthodox religious traditions are the recurring contraries. Most historians, however, agree that a significant influence in the mystical interpretations were influenced by Buddhism…It seems clear that Gnosticism, at least in some of its theologically more developed formulations, was influenced by Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Stoicism, old Semitic religions, Buddhism, Christianity (and/or influenced the development of more orthodoxMonoimus) Pythagoreanism.”

I find this fascinating as the idea of the Perennial Philisophy is one of my intllectual mainstays. Wikipedia continues:

Some historians accept that there is a significant amount of Buddhist/Hindu
influence in Gnostic interpretations of the Bible. The standard tactic
of Gnostic texts is to radically reinterpret a well-known text (usually
Genesis and its related Biblical books) through the addition of an
original prologue.

Does this mean that Herman Hess’s “Damian” is a Gnostic text?

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Scans of Popular Science covers from the 50s

by Limbic on January 11, 2006


Popular Science

I love these old popular science and engineering magazines.

Here is the whole set.

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After the suicide of the West by Roger Kimball

by Limbic on January 11, 2006

From The New Criterion:

Today, I believe, there is a widely shared understanding that our culture—not just the political system of democracy but our entire western way of life—is at a crossroads. That perception is not always on the surface. Absent the unignorable importunity of attack, absorption in the tasks of everyday life tends to blunt the perception of the threats facing us. But we all know that the future of the West, seemingly so assured even a decade ago, is suddenly negotiable in the most fundamental way. The essays that follow highlight some of the principle features of those negotiations. In this introduction, I want simply to review some of the moral terrain over which we are traveling.

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[This is my 4000th post!]

From Jason over at CanOworms:

“My Girlfriend received a book called “Centered Riding” this Christmas… a gift from yours truly of course!

It’s an approach that teaches a complex physical (or mental) skill by providing visualisations and exercises that overrule a beginners ‘incorrect’ common sense, instinctive approach, and lead them to acting in the ways which are consistent to being a good rider. <Stop and consider this… I think that it’s BIG!>

Don’t give people specific behavioral instructions… lead them to visualize a reality in which they would automatically act in the right way.

  • Would they have to imagine jets of water shooting along and out of their arms? (Aikido)
  • Would they have to imagine that they are suspended by a single hair from the crown of their head? (Tai Chi) 
  • Would they have to imagine that they had really stubby legs (Centered Riding)
  • Would they have to imagine that the golf club is a piece of rope as they swing a golf club?

Each of these visualizations is a subtle shorthand, that leads people naturally to a subtle change in how people are using their bodies.

I’ve been in Psychology classes that teach students to imagine that they and the people they are coaching are contained within a golden bubble of energy… does that exist… I don’t believe so, but in seeing the bubble around the two of us – how do you think that my body and mind responds in ways that may help our communication?

So, before I get sent a membership card for New Age Anonymous… let’s get back to business.

An angry customer comes in … rather than giving people instructions as to how to behave… what about:

A lion with a thorn in it’s paw is standing in front of you

Is there a metaphorical situation that leads your staff to act in ways consistent with great performance?

Is there a reason that the ancient martial arts seem to be full of these imaginative methods?”

If this post is an indication of what we can expect from CanOworms and the team over at Brief Consulting, then 2006 is going to be a fantastic year for them.  

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Superb "Wake Me Up" stickers

by Limbic on January 11, 2006

From the brilliant PopGadget weblog:

wake_me_up_at.jpg

“If you are a late night subway train user, or an early morning commuter, you might find these Wake Me Up At stickers quite handy. Fall safely asleep on the subway and just pray for someone to wake you up on time. Right now the Wake Me Up At stickers are available only for the major stops on the London tube, but the pack also contains some empty stickers on which you can write your own stop. If these stickers prove to be successful, I am sure it won’t be too long before a New York version is offered.

Wake Me Up At stickers can be ordered directly from www.wakemeupat.com

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The Most Dangerous Idea (Apparently)

by Limbic on January 10, 2006

From Neurodudes:

So, Edge has a new question for 2006 for its All-Stars of Academia to answer: What is your dangerous idea? (Suggested to Edge by Steven Pinker, who perhaps got the idea from a colloquium series at his old haunting grounds.)

Offhand, one might expect a broad range of perceived dangerous ideas, varying by research interests and such. What’s surprising is that many of the luminaries think that the “most dangerous idea” is this particular, same idea: As neuroscience progresses, popular realization that the “astonishing hypothesis” — that mind is brain — will create a potentially cataclysmic upheaval of society as we know and have profound (negative) moral implications as people claim less responsibility for their actions.

Of course, this just isn’t true. But, would you believe that
Paul Bloom,
VS Ramachandran,
John Horgan,
Andy Clark,
Marc Hauser,
Clay Shirky,
Eric Kandel,
John Allen Paulos,
and, in a more genetic context, Jerry Coyne and Craig Venter
are all very worried about this issue? (And I didn’t even read 50% of the Edge dangerous ideas… there might be even more… ) Is this really the most dangerous idea out there to all of these talented thinkers?

MORE

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Hilarious video

by Limbic on January 9, 2006

Check out this skinny geek break the aquarium with his weights bar.

Putfile – Overcompensating

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