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      A couple days ago I was thinking about the problem of surveillance states and I realized “this problem is likely to become less of one because of climate change.” And I started thinking about all the opportunities and good things climate change makes possible. My grieving was done. My pre-grieving, I suppose. I see grieving […]
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Calling all medicinal chemists, time to contact Virtually Speaking

I was mulching my flower beds, listening to the latest Virtually Speaking with Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd when I heard the same moronic bullshit about how drugs are REALLY all discovered in academic labs using government money and the drug companies just put the finishing touches on them, develop them and charge a small fortune.

I’ll give you the fortune bit, for sure.  There’s no doubt that the marketers and finance guys are charging what the market will bear and then some.  They’re greedy, ruthless and cruel.  The whole drug industry has pivoted to serve the owners and the owners want money.  That affects what gets researched, promoted and sold and at what cost.

BUT

There is absolutely no truth to the idea that academia passes on almost fully formed drugs to industry where we researchers add our special sauce flourishes and then cash in big.

I repeat.

There is absolutely no truth to the idea that academia passes on almost fully formed drugs to industry where we researchers add our special sauce flourishes and then cash in big.

If Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd and Yves Smith want to propagate this myth, they can knock themselves out.  But it’s no more true that the idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton did something nefarious with a land deal in the Ozarks.

Maybe it’s what they want to be true, maybe it fits their worldview, maybe it’s wishful thinking but it not true.  And I should know because I’ve worked in both industrial and academic settings and I actually DO the kind of drug discovery that Jay and Dean talk about so confidently but have no clue about.

The truth is that academia rarely submits a fully realized drug entity to industry for development.  What it submits is frequently just an idea.  Sometimes, that is just a target (a protein, receptor, gene, etc) and sometimes, it consists of some very basic building blocks.  Those building blocks will not resemble the final drug product until industrial medicinal chemists spend years and years rescaffolding it, making new appendages for it, and developing whole libraries of potential drug compounds that may not resemble the initial compound in the least when they are finished.

So, yes, the NIH funds a lot of research but, no, that research does not result in anywhere near effective or consumable drugs until industrial chemists get their hands on it and bend it to their wills.  By the way, those industrial chemists used to be academic chemists.  It’s not supposed to be an adversarial relationship.

Anyway, for all you pharma researchers out there who are pissed off by the “everybody knows” truthiness and yet more dissing of your shrinking profession and want to set the record straight, let Jay Ackroyd at Virtually Speaking know.  God only knows why Jay won’t simply invite someone like Derek Lowe on his show to tell it like it really is.  It’s almost like they don’t want to hear the truth, that somehow by sticking their fingers in their ears and singing “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you”, that that’s going to make the poor graduate students working for peanuts into unsung heroes and pump lots of righteous indignation into the put upon American people.  Well, those graduate students ARE unsung heroes, but so are many of my former industrial colleagues in medicinal chemistry and drug design who have slaved tirelessly for years wrestling some academic’s decidedly un-druglike molecule into a real drug that can be developed.

I’m really insulted by this poor performance by Ackroyd and Baker.  The left deserves people who are not lazy and who will actually go out of their way to get to the truth.  Otherwise, the drug industry will continue to fail, drugs will continue to skyrocket in price and no one will be able to do anything about it because they’ll all be off chasing wild geese or red herrings or whatever it is you call it that is just a waste of time and energy.

Jay and Dean aren’t even seeing through a glass darkly at this point.  If they would only come and actually, you know, talk to us, we could tell them what’s really going on so they could talk more intelligently about a subject they clearly know nothing about at the present time.  I’m not sure what is holding them back.  Is it the absurd notion that those of us who work(ed) for industry  are as greedy, ruthless and conservative as the guys who laid us all off?  Even if that were true, (it’s not, not by a long shot) is that a good reason for ignoring what we have to say?

You can’t fix a problem if you are totally ignorant.

Here’s Jay’s links if you want to set the record straight.

Jay on Facebook

Jay on Twitter

VS Guests on Twitter

VS in Second Life

VS Ning

VS on BlogTalkRadio

VS on Facebook

VS on Itunes

And here is Dean Baker’s twitter feed.

 

 

 

 

Monday: Meanderings

Republican voters: Crazy or The Craziest?

Some thoughts I’ve been having…

First up, last night’s Virtually Speaking featured Joan McCarter from the big orange satan.  Jay and Joan discussed the Republican primary in the first part of the show.  Jay seemed rather incredulous about the way this whole circus is playing out.  I would have to disagree on a couple of points though.

First, it’s not the candidates or the process that is crazy.  It’s the party’s voters that are batshit insane.  I think years of Glenn and Rush have taken their toll.  The dark archetypes of our collective unconscious have been given permission to run amok and the Republican voter’s unconscious, softened by years of angry white male rage and religion, is particularly vulnerable.  I don’t think some of these people are even recognizable to their former selves.  My relatives have gone through a personality transformation.  Towards the end of the Bush years, they were briefly getting better but with the noise machine pulling out all of the stops lately, plus the rotten economy, they’re just not the same people.  So, there’s that.

But more than that is the process itself is starting to take on its own internal logic.  There is definitely method to the madness of letting the Republican primary stretch on indefinitely, or at least until the convention in the summer.  If you don’t believe it, consider that the Republican primaries have driven almost everything else off the front page.  Each day, we’re confronted by candidates trying to outdo each other in pandering to their crazy base.  The Sunday shows are chock full of Republicans trying to make their case.  We’re going to get austerity/deficit reduction messaging continuously until they pick a nominee.  I’d say that was extraordinarily successful strategy and not at all crazy.

Secondly, there’s definitely a note of hypocrisy and paradox on our side of the aisle.  Jay and Joan toyed with the idea that the Republicans would have a brokered convention, and if I were the Republicans, I’d definitely go for this option.  Keep everyone guessing until the last moment.  Make sure your arguments and worldview get the most airtime before the public.  But the hypocrisy is that this is precisely what we denied ourselves in 2008 when the number of delegates separating the two candidates was about as wide as a gnat’s wing.   And not only did we not get a floor fight, we denied the first woman candidate who had ever come that far from even getting a legitimate roll call vote.  (And why was that?  Well, if we had let a real roll call proceed, everyone would have been immediately aware that they were virtually tied.  We couldn’t have that.  It would ruin the narrative.)  I have yet to hear Jay or anyone on Virtually Speaking explain why we should have found that acceptable.  In fact, many Democrats and women, in particular, do not accept it.

Which brings me to another point.  I could have sworn that I heard Jay refer to the Hillary holdouts as crazy and compared them rather unfavorably to Republican nutcases.  Now, I admit that I might have misheard this and I will be probably force myself to relisten to the podcast but I think Jay has been in the echo chamber too long.  While she may not be popular among the Democrats who gave us four years of Obama (thanks for nuthin’ guys), she is very popular among the rest of the country’s voters for good reasons.  She has proven herself to be a capable, competent, well-respected politician and administrator, both domestically and abroad.  She beats every candidate of both parties in polls, which Democrats do not mention.  The people who are crazy are not the holdouts.  It is the segment of the Democratic party who insist on clinging to their pre-conceived notions about her.  But whatever.  What’s really crazy is to go into this fluid, unpredictable election year in the fourth year of a dismal economic crisis without a Plan B.  No, Howard Dean is not an option.  Remember, you have to appeal to all of the voters.

And as Craig Crawford mentioned on Saturday night, the deadline for getting on the ballot on some of the biggest states has not expired yet.  Many of the big Democratic states like California, NJ and Pennsylvania have their primaries late.  In NJ, we don’t get to vote until June.  A lot could happen between now and then.  That lot could consist of endless pounding on Obama’s poor performance in Republican primary debates coupled with a lot of sturm and drang on the deficit.  Obama did not use his bully pulpit well in the past three years.  He squandered a lot of it with trivial photo-ops in the first year to the point that his appearances on TV are now just background noise.  And he’s never been a passionate defender of Democratic values anyway.  Plus, there are a lot of people in the Republican party who cannot wait to vote him out of office.  They are motivated.  What has motivated the Democrats lately?

Let’s not understate the importance of motivation.  There isn’t a lot that people can do about the economy, mostly because their elected representatives are not responsive to their concerns or listening to sound economic advice.  But there is one thing that people can do that will give them a great deal of satisfaction.  They can vote Obama out.  I don’t intend to do this because I’m not voting for either major party candidate.  I’m sure there’s a third party candidate who will get my vote.  But there are millions of people out there who will get a feeling of exultation out of booting him out of the White House and replacing him with a Republican.  They don’t even care what comes next.  He is the Emmanuel Goldstein who is the cause of so much misery to them.  What we’re seeing is the beginning of a three minute hate on steroids.  It’s not pretty.

In other words, the Democrats are going to have a real problem come November and throwing a bone like contraceptive coverage to the wimmins ain’t going to cut it for the millions of women who are out of work.  To think Obama can just skate to the finish line again because the Republican base is f%^&ing nutz is just crazy.

******************************

Lambert has a full report of our trip to Washington with a lot more pictures of the places we visited.  Check it out.  I still have 40 minutes of video, including an “incident” at the National Portrait Gallery, that are trapped on my Flip camera.  Apparently, when Steve Jobs joined the choir invisible, he had not reversed his (untimely) decision to stop supporting PC based apps on the Mac OS.  I have Lion.  Flip won’t download.  Kid has Snow Leopard.  *Might* be able to download to her mac if I can find the fricking rosetta disk.  If anyone out there has a workaround, detail it in the comments.  I mean, a workaround that doesn’t require me to buy or borrow a PC.

Occupy Congress Continued

Thanks to all of you who contacted your Congresspersons and Senators about SOPA and PIPA.  What these bills seem to be attempting to do is two things: promote private ownership of internet content and to sharply censor the non-conformists under the pretense of protecting property. SOPA looks quiescent for now but it’s going to take constant vigilance to make sure it stays that way.  PIPA is still in play, as far as I can tell.

One thing I learned when I was on the board of ed is that politicians will back down and even do a 180 if opposition is noisy and persistent.  This is probably why our political class is quite content to cast the Occupations in a negative light.  They’re noisy and persistent but if they can be made to look dirty and violent, their message doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

I had some connection problems in our room in Washington and on the train on the way back so I wasn’t able to upload my pics or process my video yet.  Then I found out from the insurance claims adjuster that all of the siding on one side of my house needs to be replaced including vapor barrier, weather stripping around the windows and the shutters as well.  The claims adjuster said her own house had suffered some structural damage from the wind storm as well, although nothing this extensive.  We both think the wind came from a different direction since neither of us had ever seen anything like it before.  Anyway, it’s been an interesting week in a Chinese proverb way.  So, I am uploading a few pics tonight to try to catch up.

Some interesting tidbits: we met a ragtag triplet with the letters “SD” on their shirts.  They reminded me of the stereotypical fife and drums trio from the Revolutionary War.  It turned out that they were three of the contingent from San Diego who were thrown off the Greyhound bus in Amarillo, Texas.  That’s not quite accurate.  What *really* happened is that the bus driver pulled over, got out of the bus – and locked them in.  Then he unloaded their baggage and forced them off the bus leaving them stranded in Amarillo.  But here’s the great thing about the Occupation.  The deserted in the desert contacted Occupy Amarillo and Amarillo came to their rescue, picked them up, gave them a place to stay, fed them and sent them on their way to Washington.  That’s a heart tugging story with a happy ending.

Then there was a contingent from Walla Walla, Washington.  They were senior citizens who had become very active in the Occupy movement and had canvassed their neighborhood advocating the protection of Medicare.  They struck some kind of deal with their city officials so that their site remained intact and free of harrassment from the local constabulary.  They say they are getting an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone they have talked to about Medicare.  Another success story of people sticking up for each other.

Then there was the not-so-good stories.  One woman from Portland told horror stories about the Portland police.  It sounds like the whole Portland police force is made up of sadistic automatons.  Their attitude seems to be “crack heads first, ask questions later if they’re conscious”.  She said that she had a concussion from one of her unfortunate encounters and she hadn’t done anything to provoke it except be present.  The police attack without warning and in as brutal a fashion as they can get away with.

We spent much of the afternoon in conversation between the four of us, Lambert, Marsha (CoyoteCreek), DCBlogger and me, and went back to the Capitol lawn at about 6:00pm.  There was a festive mood and music playing.  It was hard to tell how many people were there because there was no lighting except flashlights.  We sat on the muddy ground on plastic rain ponchos and took it all in.  It’s a different mood in Washington than it is in Manhattan.  The police are a lot less menacing and they don’t seem to outnumber protestors.  They ride around the city on bikes in colorful jackets and blue helmets.  They’re, dare I say it?  Friendly.  Really weird.  And also a nice change.  You would have really had to get up into their grill to get your ass hauled away.  In fact, early in the day, one occupier got righteously indignant about all of the fencing around the lawn so he started to tear it all down.  They let him.  The occupiers either rolled up the fencing neatly and moved it out of the way or used it as ground cover over the muddy ground so they could erect their makeshift structures.  There was a staging area, a kitchen and a medic area.  The kitchen served oatmeal, bottled water and fresh fruit for breakfast.

The GA took awhile to get started.  I blame the location.  It’s a wide open space with no natural acoustical advantages.  The voice dissipates quickly.  We tried a double mic and it took several attempts to get it to propagate.  The GA read the agenda and the plan to visit representatives.  Each congressional office building was assigned a color.  To visit your rep, all you needed to do was find the color of his/her building.  We decided to go have lunch at this point since Marsha hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we didn’t participate.  Later, we heard that the occupiers found the offices deserted for the most part.  Maybe they were busy, I don’t know.  But the vast majority of occupiers are old enough to vote.  They are constituents.  They deserve some respect.  I can only imagine what those nice elderly gentlemen from Walla Squared are going to tell their neighbors about their visit to their congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rogers.  From what they told me about her, they were not impressed with her or the fact that she always seems to be standing behind John Boehner when it’s picture time at the Capitol.

Here are some pictures from our day.  Be sure to check out updates from Lambert, CoyoteCreek and DCBlogger at Corrente.  Also, Lambert hosted Virtually Speaking during the pajama party in our room last night.  Check it out.

Setting up:

Occupy Applique:

The GA tries the double mic:

{Ok, I started to video this with my iPhone and thought I stopped recording when I put my phone in my pocket.  Ha-Ha.  Always double check.  Yes, that is my voice.  I couldn’t always hear what was being said and mostly just caught the tail end of each statement.  Still, this gives you an idea of the challenges of doing a GA on the lawn.  If I were the occupiers, I’d walk down the mall and look for a circular concrete plaza on the right side a couple blocks up.  I think it’s the Naval Heritage Center. It’s a much better space for a GA.  Don’t know what the rules are for occupying it for that purpose but it didn’t look like anyone was using it.  hint-hint}

The Agenda:

Night on the Capitol lawn:

#J17- Happy Birthday OWS. Let’s Occupy Congress!

In Chaplin’s speech, he quoted the Gospel of Luke, which I think is so much better than John 3:16.

“The kingdom of God is in your midst”

I’ve got a ticket to ride.  Gettin’ up at 4:00am to be there when Congress opens tomorrow.  I’ll be meeting with Marsha, Lambert and some of the other Correntians.  If I’m not mistaken, Lambert is also planning a Virtually Speaking broadcast with Avedon Carol tomorrow night at 9:00 EST so be sure to check that out.

If you would like to help defray the cost of the trip, please see the donate button to the upper left side of the screen.  We should have just enough in the PayPal account to cover it but it never hurts to plan for unexpected incarcerations and bail.  Recommended donation is $10.17.  I’d like to say thank you to all of you who have contributed.  It means a lot to me.

So, I will be packing my chargers tonight and turning in early to get up even earlier.

For those of you who want to hear more Charlie Chaplin, here is the entirety of his speech from The Dictator.  He wrote this himself.  Enjoy!

Thursday: Jim DeMint makes my ears bleed

Last night, Jon Stewart took apart Jim Demint’s worldview piece by piece.  It’s a thing of beauty.  Unfortunately, you have to listen to Jim Demint’s irritatingly folksy South Carolina drawl speaking nonsense right wing talking points during the segment.  By the way, why is it that Stephen Colbert, a South Carolina native, does not speak in the same drawl?  I lived in SC as a kid, in Charleston, and EVERYONE down there had a southern accent.  So, what gives, Stephen?  And is it possible that Fox type viewers respond to the drawl in a hypnotic sense? My natural speech pattern is more like Stewart’s.  It’s rapid, a bit throaty, punctuated.  Demint’s is slower, more musical, even a bit soothing and against it, Stewart sounds harsh, like a splash of uncomfortably cold water on the upper arms.  When you listen to these two go at it, you can’t help but pick a side.  I’m on Stewart’s side but I imagine that Demint’s southern siren call is hard to resist.

***********************************

I love Craig Crawford.  He’s one of the more honest pundits on TV (that I don’t watch anymore).  Check out his blog Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix for interesting observations on the campaign.

However, I did find his recent post on the effect Ron Paul will have on the Republican primary and nomination to be a little weird.  It’s a short post, here’s a lengthy excerpt:

GOP bosses talking about winnowing the field so that Mitt Romney doesn’t face a lengthy nomination battle against multiple foes ought to consider the alternative: Ron Paul goes to the convention with 40 percent of the delegates. That could happen if he’s the last rival standing sooner, rather than later.

With fewer winner-take-all primaries and caucuses, and Paul already proving an ability to garner up to 25 percent of the votes in a crowded field, it’s not a tough mathematical challenge to conclude that he would capture even more of the anti-Romney vote and roll into Tampa next summer as a trouble maker.

It’s not that Paul could threaten Romney’s nomination, but he could steal the coverage, much as Jesse Jackson did to Michael Dukakis, and Pat Buchanan to George H.W. Bush. (Reminder: Both nominees lost the election).

At the very least Paul would want a prime-time speech, and probably a whole lot more. Chairman of the Federal Reserve, perhaps? Just kidding, but …

Ok, here’s the weird part.  Obama and Hillary Clinton went to the convention in Denver in 2008 in a dead heat.  Actually, if the DNC hadn’t busted Florida and Michigan to half votes and reapportioned Michigan votes by giving 4 delegates from Hillary and all uncommitted delegates to Obama, Hillary would have been ahead.  According to Crawford, Ron Paul would deserve a lot more than a prime time speech if he only had 40% of the vote, not even a dead heat.  So, why is it that Hillary only got a prime time speech, no floor debate, and not even a legitimate roll call?  How come Jesse Jackson and every other candidate from the Democratic primary system prior to 2008 got treated as legitimate politicians and their delegates accorded a voice but not Hillary’s?  How do we explain a discrepancy like this?  We should all be asking ourselves this question until we get an answer that makes sense. Oh, sure, the superdelegates all moved like osmosis to Obama’s column, pulled no doubt by a hypertonic money solution.  But the elected delegates should have counted for something.  And they didn’t.

So, either the Republicans are going to be a lot more honest about their convention than the Democrats or they will adopt the Democrats’ model from 2008 and negate the primaries altogether so that they don’t have to accommodate Ron Paul’s constituency.  And if that’s the way the parties are going to go, why go through this expensive and painful process every 4 years?  If the money guys are going to pick the male party nominee anyway, why bother with the façade of electoral legitimacy?  We all know what our preisdential campaigns have boiled down to in the past 12 years.  The preferred candidates get the nod.  It will either be a money wing candidate with social conservative tendencies or a money wing candidate with socially moderate tendencies.  Them’s the choices.  Pick one.

If you don’t like your choices, and that’s all you’re going to get, you HAVE to go outside the parties and pick a different flavor of politician.  Yes, it takes effort to find them on a ballot.  No, there’s no guarantee your candidate is going to win, although it will be easier if as many people as possible show up to vote for the same person.  That’s usually how it’s done.  But at some point in time, enough of us have to decide that we have no other alternative and decide to pick someone else.  It can be done.  Just say no to both parties this year unless they give you a choice you can live with.

******************

For a different take on the 2-party system, check out Virtually Speaking Susie’s interview with Mike Patterson from Occupy DC.  Mike spells it out for the occupy doubters: the Occupy movement is not interested in becoming an arm of the Obama campaign.  It doesn’t like Democrats any more than it likes Republicans right now.  Both parties have let the American people down.  What Occupy will turn into is a different question but it’s not there to support Obama, that’s for damn sure.

By the way, tune your bat channels for Virtually Speaking tonight when one of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy of FreeRangeKids is on to talk about what happened to American childhood.  I’m convinced that there is a connection between fearmongering and strict behavioral controls of both parents and children and the goals of the right wing.  I hope Jay Ackroyd and Lenore explore this connection.  The one thing you can count on is that Lenore will bring her horror stories from modern day parenting.  The fact that she is not exaggerating makes it all the more frightening.  That’s tonight at 8:00pm EST.  Virtually Speaking A-Z with Stuart Zechman and Virtually Speaking with Lenore Skenazy.

Here’s a little taste of Lenore:

**************************************

This headline says it all: “SOPA Sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith to SOPA opponents: You don’t matter.

Ok, good to know.  I hope he’s not doing anything important when the internet giants decide to pull the plug temporarily for system maintenance.

*************************************

For those of you who have made a resolution to be less of a slob this year (moi!), check out ApartmentTherapy’s homekeeping tips.  Think of it as housecleaning for people who have better things to do with their time and less “impeccably fresh” Martha Stewart-esque attention to obsessive detail.  Like, is it ok to clean your jeans in the freezer.  Or, if your house is really messy, where do you start?  It’s so overwhelming.  Start with the bedroom.  Here’s the list for deep cleaning your bedroom, step-by-step.  You can do this.  Er, *I* can do this.

Just do it.

*************************************

Another one bites the dust: Sanofi closes its Bridgewater, NJ site.  This happened faster than my former colleagues anticipated.  I’m very sorry to hear this and hope that they’ve all been preparing for their Plan B’s.  I’ve been getting a recent flood of LinkedIn invitations in the last week.  It’s nervewracking, guys.  All I can say is get out of NJ if you can.  The money has dried up.  You need to decide to not to live a precarious existence.  Pack up the family and head west or at least mid-west.  Scale down, regroup, renew and reclaim your dignity.  To those of you who didn’t get an invitation to Cambridge, don’t beat yourselves up.  I know how good you are.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s mostly politics and, unfortunately for Cambridge, it will *not* be getting all of the “best of the best”.  One final thing, you will feel so much better once the shoe drops.  I sleep a lot better these days.  Good luck to all.

***********************************

And now, a thing of beauty to relieve you of combat fatigue.  This is a ballet of the seasons from a new version of Cinderella.  The company is Belle Etudes in Arizona and the dancers are pretty young.  The choreography is exquisite:

Categories

For those of you following along at home, I’m going through Jehovah’s Witnesses apostate internet postings because if anyone is an expert on how thought reform and cult indoctrination works, it’s an ex-JW.  You don’t even need to have been baptized as one (I wasn’t), just growing up with that stuff and getting away from it makes you permanently sensitized to new bullshit techniques.  And given that we are coming up on an election year, it’s really important that we guard ourselves and learn to recognize when we’re being manipulated so we can avoid making another 2 to 4 year mistake.

Today I’m going to talk about something everyone does because it’s necessary component of human nature.  We categorize.  But because those of us who came of age or worked most of our lives in the internet age tend to broadcast our categories to the public, we make ourselves vulnerable to unscrupulous people who use blogs such as this one and places like DailyKos to data mine and focus group concepts that are later used to persuade us to do one thing or another.

To understand how categorization and trigger words work, check out this video by Cult Free Radio on Social Categorization Theory Part1:

and Part 2:

So, how has categorization been used by politicians in the recent past?  I have one personal example that I’ve shared before but it fits into this topic pretty well so I’m going to tell it again.

When I went to YearlyKos 2 in Chicago in 2007, all but one of the Democratic Party candidates for president attended a Candidates Forum, followed by individual breakout sessions.  Hillary’s breakout session was before the forum because the YearlyKos organizers had screwed with her schedule, “inadvertently”, I’m sure.  I had signed up for Hillary’s session because, even though I went to Chicago as an Edwards supporter, I felt that I should try to evaluate her fairly and she was the only female candidate and her session was open where Barack Obama’s was full and I had already decided to take a look at Obama in 2012 because he wasn’t seasoned enough to run for president.

Ok, so Hillary was pretty good in her breakout session.  She was prepared, overprepared, thorough, and had a command of policy that was impressive.  I am forced to sit through a lot of scientific presentations every year and you get the hang of knowing when someone has done their homework and understands what they are talking about and when they are baffling with bullshit.  I can say that based on my experience, Hillary knew her shit.  She was able to mentally walk around a concept and tell you everything about it.  Not only that but you could ask her any question and she had a policy for it organized in her head like an outline with topic, subtopic, points, codicils, subparagraphs, exceptions, and funding mechanisms.  She was that good, which is one of the reasons I am so pissed off that we got stuck with someone who was at best a beginner compared to her.  But I digress.

ANYWAY, after her breakout session, the Candidates Forum was held in the ballroom.  And that’s when the category shit hit the fan.  It became very clear to me, because I spent a lot of time on DailyKos, that some candidates had figured out how to push a Kossack’s buttons.  Much to my dismay, the worst offender was John Edwards.  I sat there stunned as he played that crowd like PT Barnum.  He knew every category and word that would trigger an emotional response from his audience and he used those words shamelessly.  But it wasn’t just that he used those words that made me realize what a phony he was.  It was the rest of this rhetoric was completely devoid of anything else.  At least Hillary tried to explain herself before she was booed.  Edwards didn’t have to do that.  All he needed to do was say the magic words and the Kossacks leapt to their feet cheering and screaming.  It was disgusting.  I decided right there I could never vote for the man.  What he was reminded me more of one of those charismatic sociopaths than a politician.  Ok, some of you are thinking that they’re mostly the same thing, right?  No, I think that a real politician has substance behind the words and Edwards, um, didn’t.

I’m sure that those of you who read the left blogosphere know what he concentrated on.  He used the words “corporate” and “lobbyist” a lot.  But there were others that I can’t remember right at the moment.  He could have used “nuclear”, “genetically modified {fill in the blank}”, “green”, “organic”, “standardized testing”, you know the drill.  You’ve been there.  You probably respond to that too.  We all do to some extent or another.  The problem is they are mental shortcuts and can be used to associate a person to that concept.  Edwards knew (and I’ll tell you how he knew in a sec based on another phenomenon) that if he said the magic words, the crowd would automatically identify him as one of them.  And they did.

Now, how did he know what words to use?  So here’s the other thing I observed.  The Forum happened in August 2007.  By that fall, Edwards was on the ropes.  I think rumors of his messy private life must have become common knowledge among the Democratic operatives.  So, his funding was drying up.  On DailyKos, his followers had been the first to commit the thing I call “The Rec List Hostage Crisis”.  That’s where a pro-Edwards diarist would immediately get a gazillion recommends and shoot to the top of the rec list.  I think Edwards had some regular folks who did an evening summary kinda thing that always made the rec list but more importantly, there were a shitload of conversion diaries.  They were all written the same way.  “Why I’ve decided to vote for Edwards” and then the body of the text was extolling his virtues {{cough, cough}} and a bunch of trigger words.  He doesn’t take corporate money, he’s pure when it comes to lobbyists, blah, blah, blah.  The more I read them, the more I realized that his campaign staff was checking out DailyKos for some time now and had probably used survey information to figure out what makes Kossacks tick and then applied that to the diaries.

But then, Edwards started to fade away.  His campaign was tanking and even Kos said it was a lost cause.  When he finally threw in the towel, the Rec List Hostage Crisis was taken over by Obama people. Same tactics, same fricking buzzwords and trigger words.  The change was so obvious to those of us who were paying attention that there were only a couple of possibilities: A different set of operatives were using the same Edwards’ campaign’s focus group/data mining tools and applying them to the Obama campaign,  or they were the same people.  Actually, I’m betting that it was both.  The Edwards team (and by this I mean a “paid internet campaign staff”) moved over to Obama without missing a beat.  Up went the conversion diaries and all of the love bombing, and the categories and buzzwords and trigger words were beaten to a pulp.  Oddly enough, Hillary’s people didn’t do this.  Maybe we were just not as politically ruthless or we were not interested in platitiudes and categories or Hillary’s campaign wasn’t as active on DailyKos and wasn’t into button pushing or Kos himself had already been bought and paid for by the anti-Hillary elements of the DNC, whoever those people were, and he wasn’t going to let Hillary supporters gain too much of a foothold at DailyKos. Since many Hillary people started to lose TU status at about that time and our diaries didn’t make the rec list in spite of them reaching the recommendation threshold that put diaries on that list, I suspect Kos and his frontpagers made a conscious decision to put the thumb on the scales for Obama and decremented Hillary diaries.  Hope that baby grand piano was worth all of the suffering the country has gone through by defeating Clinton, Markos.

But let’s not be bitter.  DailyKos will not be playing the role it did in 2008.  It shot its wad on the historic election of Barack Obama and you can’t do that one twice.  Besides, the damage has already been done.  The rest of the blogosphere has been analyzed carefully and you can bet your sweet ass that whoever the campaign operatives are this election season have already categorized all of us and have in turn figured out what categories and words we respond to.  They know that Creative Class ninnies respond to Whole Foods and West Elm and financial products and the value of their 401ks and tenure and stuff like that.  They like the idea of social and economic justice but try not to get too cold at a rally.  They like green as long as it can be bought in a store that features renewable bamboo sheets and towels and flooring.  They know lefties hate the words corporation but fail to distinguish between financial service corporations and other corporations, executives and rank and file.

There is some light in all of this.  I’ve noticed that during Virtually Speaking’s A-Z with Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman, there is a genuine attempt to avoid using buzzwords.  (Anything Virtually Speaking with Dahlia Lithwick is worth listening to as well.  She’s very articulate and tends to avoid buzzwords) Jay and Stuart make a conscious effort to break down words, concept by concept, so that we all know exactly what we’re talking about and the mental shortcuts we use to categorize ourselves are minimized.  Stuart still has some problems with centrists and the DLC which I tend to tune out because he’s still thinking that those organizations are important and I don’t think he’s breaking that down carefully enough or has looked longitudinally to see how the original goals of those entities have changed over time.  Besides, the Democrats don’t need the DLC anymore.  They can tap their funding sources more directly these days without having to pretend they have an ideology.  But I have hope for Stuart.  I feel like a light has clicked on for him and he has a clearer picture of the political landscape than he did even a year ago.  He realizes now that the party is in the grip of a high control group of bad actors.  Whether those actors are just political opportunists or sent in from the finance industry’s central casting, they have turned the party into something unrecognizable to the voter who votes based on core Democratic principles.  And those people have to be opposed and not rewarded or we will not get our party back and that could be a serious blow to our democracy as we know it.

Am I right, Stuart?  Yep. You finally reached the point where we were almost 4 years ago.  Welcome to the club.

Bottom line: there are operatives watching every site.  Wave “Hi!” to them.  They are both Republicans and Democrats.  They are trying to sort through the categories and words that they can use to short circuit your thinking  process.  They know that you will make very quick judgements about what you hear because you have categorized a word and either chosen to add it to your identity or assign that word to another identity.  And they know that you do this unconsciously at a super fast speed and don’t even know you’re doing it.

So, make sure that you use your words carefully.  Avoid jargon as much as possible.  When someone uses the words “green” or “energy” or “pro-choice” or “nuclear” or “triangulate” or “corporation” or “capitalism” or “socialism” or “communism” or “muslim” or “fascist” that you stop and ask yourself, what does this word actually mean in this context?  Is someone trying to bamboozle and hoodwink me?  Can the person who is using this word explain what it means to me in a way that makes sense?

The right is good at using categories.  One recent, particularly egregious example of the use of categories and words was from our good buddy, Glenn Beck, who warned his audience to avoid churches who use the words “social justice”.  It’s hard to understand how anyone could oppose social justice.  It would be like trying to make STDs sound cool.  How do you do that??  If we break down what social justice actually means, it’s equal access to the court system, unbiased treatment in employment, starting life on a level playing field (see Finnish baby boxes), access to a good education regardless of your race, gender, national origin, etc and stuff like that.  And who in their right mind, even in the Fox News audience, has a problem with any of that?  Well, Glenn and his backers do and they wanted to put “social justice” in a category where Glenn Beck viewers will fear to tread.  So, if an Occupier holds up a sign that says “Social Justice for all”, the Glenn Beck viewer now knows to avoid OWS and stop any good thoughts about them.  Maybe Occupiers should try to be more specific on their signs but there’s only so much cardboard you can carry around.

While I’m not going to insist that you should restrict your access to any source of information, consider that radio and television have the advantage of sound, which is very fast.  It is much harder to shortcut the brain using the written word.  Yes, you can back up radio and TV now and replay what you’ve heard but one of the reasons we use radio and audible and TV is so that we can multitask.  So the words go in without careful scrutiny.  When you read, you have to slow down and figure out the word in context.  That’s why I don’t watch or listen to TV and radio news programs anymore.  During the 2008 election year, I had become so sensitized to listening for the trigger words that I found the messaging was driving me crazy.  I felt like I had propaganda autism.  You can’t get away from it in a sound format.  So, I just shut it off.  Maybe you’re stronger people than I am and if you are, load up on as much broadcast information as possible.  You should never cut yourself off from information sources.  Just question EVERYTHING.

The other thing I avoid is too much of the social networking tools.  I have a facebook account but I rarely use it.  I get facebook invitations from people I don’t know and I don’t accept them.  If I don’t know who these people are, why should I invite them into my house?  There is no question that political campaigns are going to use social networking tools like twitter and facebook to promote propaganda and shape election narratives in 2012.  That’s how the vast, unwashed masses are going to get the information that will affect their election decisions in the future.  They will get messages from their friends  who were targetted with a well designed, data mined youtube ad campaign that went viral on Facebook.  You know it’s going to happen.  Again, be very careful and question everything.

So, you think, no where is safe, how am I going to get the information I need to make a decision?  Well, I can’t emphasize this enough but there is no better way to evaluate a candidate than to see that person in person.  (The same thing applies to movements.  Don’t take anyone’s word for it.  Go and check it out yourself) If you have a chance to see a candidate in person, and not in the atmosphere of a debate where they need to more carefully construct their sentences, then go.  Your impression of that candidate will be clearer when there is less of a filter between you and that candidate.  You will be able to tell whether they are comfortable with the material, how often they are pinging you with trigger words to get an emotional response, whether they can field questions on any subject to your satisfaction and whether they project confidence on a physical and mental level.  I can tell you that Obama did not project comfort or confidence at the candidates forum, in my humble opinion.  He looked out of place in a physical sense, as if he was wondering, “what the hell am I doing here up on stage??”   I really felt he needed more seasoning.  But you would only know that if you saw him in person.  Why were the other Kossacks not sensitive to this?  I think they were overwhelmed with carefully constructed messaging from Edwards and they were whipped into a mob frenzy and were drunk with their own power.  A year before, they were just dirty, hippy bloggers.  A year later, presidential candidates were kissing their asses.  That kind of thing tends to go to your head.  And candidates know that and the more ruthless ones will play you like a two bit fiddle.

Ok, I’m going to get some coffee now.  Categorize away.

OccupyTogether: October 15- Global Day of Action

Update 6:54.  Will have to leave momentarily to take a kid to a dance.  Tell me if anything happens.

Here’s the best live feed so far: http://www.earthcam.com/usa/newyork/timessquare/

Update 6:35: At 6:37, Dwayne reports, they are all going to sing a song.  They are singing, “This little light of mine”

All together now!

Update 6:24:  Dwayne’s feed is very chaotic but he’s right there watching the horse mounted police coming into the crowd.  Voice commentary is good. http://www.livestream.com/occupywallstnyc.

6:16 The earthcam let’s you see it all.  In brutal detail.  http://www.earthcam.com/usa/newyork/timessquare/

It is very, very crowded down there.  Think New Year’s Eve crowded.  I can only see part of Times Square but the crowd is chanting “The whole world is watching”, which can’t be good.  Now, massive Booing.  That’s not a good sign.   I hope things calm down before curtain time.  It would suck to have just spent a small fortune on Broadway tickets and not be able to get to the theatre.  That would be seriously uncool.

Update 5:59:  Ok, this is ridiculous.  There are thousands of people jammed on the sidewalk who can’t cross the street.  They are bound to spill into the street.  It would be impossible to keep them confined for much longer. Ruh-roh, here come the police on Vespas.  One of the earthcam webcams is overwhelmed.

From the livestream chatroom moderator:

 the revolution is experiencing technical difficulties.
piscaa: expect interference from

Update 5:57pm: The square is really filling up now and making some noise.  The problem with Times Square is that there is a main thoroughfare right through the middle of it so the protestors have to stay on the sidewalks.  On a normal Saturday evening, the sidewalks of Times Square are crowded.  I don’t know how the police are going to keep people from spilling into the street.  I just hope everyone stays calm.  It looks from the webcam that the police are preventing people on the sidewalk from crossing over into the area beneath the big marquee.  That’s not a good plan, IMHO.  There’s still plenty of room over there.   In the meantime, Occupy Berlin is having interactions with police.

Update 5:19pm:  If you are following along on the Earthcam, you can hear the occupiers coming into the square.  It sounds like they are singing “We ARE the 99%!”  They’ve got a band!  Did the Musicians Union join them?  

Update: Here is what Times Square looks like from the Earthcam live cam at http://www.earthcam.com/usa/newyork/timessquare/

You can hear the Occupiers chanting on the earthcam as they enter the square but the crowd is still small at this point.  Watch it grow.

Marchers should be entering the square from the bottom of your screen if you are watching the Earthcam.

Update 4:45pm: Dwayne and the media team are in a cab headed up to Times Square.  Broadcasting live from the back of the cab.  I found a live cam broadcast from Times Square.  check it out here: Times Square Cam.  There are a couple different angles to choose from.  Hit the “See more Times Square Cams” in the upper left hand corner.

Update 4:25:  The police have shut down Times Square.  (unconfirmed)  WTF?  There are people who have shows to do up there.  Musicians, actors, singers, restaurant people, Sephora salespeople…  Curtains go up at 8:00pm.

There are two streams of marchers headed for Times Square.  One stream is headed up Broadway, the other is headed up 7th avenue.  The Mic Check just said that the police will be searching backpacks at the train station on the way to Times Square “SO DON’T BE STUPID!”  This is OK by me.  Security is notoriously tight around Times Square when they expect crowds.

Update 4:07pm: Dwayne is MCing the live feed from Zuccotti park.  He is headed to Times Square in a cab so that they don’t lose air in the subway.  He says crowd estimates in Times Square are supposed to be 50,000 people.  There are rumors in the chat room that police are getting antzy at Times Square, which is too bad.  Because if there was ever an ideal place to party, it would be Times Square.  Why ruin it with riot police?  For that matter, why ruin it with riots?  If you’re there, stay on the sidewalk, follow traffic rules, keep an eye on your fellow occupiers.  Keep safe and cooperative.

HAVE FUN!!

Update 4:11:  There are arrests right now at Broadway and 16th street.  Times Square is at 42nd street so they still have quite a way to walk.  No indication of what is setting off the arrests.

Today, OccupyTogether has events all around the world for the first Global Day of Action.  There’s probably one near you.  Go, and say hi.  I guarantee that there will be someone there your age.  Maybe you’ll be the first but if you do it, others will join you and that’s what this movement is all about.  Stand together in solidarity with the other 99% and demand that your hard work and playing by the rules are rewarded.

In Manhattan today, there are several events planned today for OccupyWallStreet.  There is an OccupytheBoardroom,  and Take Times Square Convergence and Occupation Party at 5:00pm.  The Times Square occupation could be an amazing event.  Times Square is generally packed on Saturdays anyway.  There are people from out of town to see plays and there are three hours to kill before curtain time.  This could be a really inspiring community event.  When the lights come on in Times Square, I hope people have their cameras at the ready.

Alas, I won’t be one of them.  Brook is going to a Homecoming Dance tonight and I will be acting as stylist and limo driver.  I wouldn’t miss that for the world.  But I will be checking in through the various livestreams.  If you have similar pre-engagements, you can still participate by joining the conversation on the livestreams or through twitter at #occupyWallStreet

Here are some livestreams to follow:

GlobalRevolution Livestream (this one is the busiest and will cut in with events from around the world)

OccupyWallStNYC – This is mainly from Zuccotti park but features other occupations as well

Avaazwallstreet – A Euro-Middle East collaboration activist organisation.   Their livestream was pretty good yesterday.

I don’t know if OccupyWallStreet will be able to do what the left on its own has not since 2008 but what the heck, why not try to promote each other?  It couldn’t hurt.  So, in the spirit of re-engagement, check out the livestream from Firedoglake.  They will be covering events live.  Check out their live coverage post here.  I expect quality work from Jane Hamsher’s crew.

Also doing a bang up job covering a number of OccupyTogether sites are our friends at Corrente.  Indignés is covering OccupyParis from Corrente.  And while you’re there, make sure to tip your host.  I keep thinking that Lambert is on the verge of a great idea about collaborating in the blogosphere.  Let’s help him over the critical threshhold of creativity.  If you have any ideas for how to do this, see this post: Readers, how do we publish ourselves to the occupiers and indignants?

I don’t know but what if we could put together an application like The Daily app for the iPad?  Just a suggestion.

Finally, for those of you who are still confused about how OccupyWallStreet works, check out this episode of Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, Stuart Zechman and Alison Kilkenny.  They discuss the Open Source model, which is quite unlike what many people are used to as an organizing philosophy.  If you hit your stride in your career at the beginning of the internet age, you will probably grok this idea pretty easily.  Here’s a brief wiki summary of open source philosophy:

The open-source model includes the concept of concurrent yet different agendas and differing approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of developmentsuch as those typically used in commercial software companies.[2] A main principle and practice of open-source software development is peer production by bartering and collaboration, with the end-product, source-material, “blueprints,” and documentation available at no cost to the public. This is increasingly being applied in other fields of endeavor, such as biotechnology.[3]

The internet made this collaborative organizing model possible.  If you’re not familiar with Open Source, Allison, Jay and Stuart will walk you through it and tell you why it’s so powerful even if it’s leaderless.

In addition, Stuart explains why the parties are probably dead.  They’re too badly compromised.  He has a field report from an independent Democrats (the “good” guys) meeting he attended in Manhattan recently.  They also talk about why they don’t think either party or MoveOn type organization is going to have an easy time co-opting the Occupation.  In short, the 99% are disgusted by the parties and orgs and want something new.  If Obama was planning to turn the Occupation into a new version of OFA, he and the other Democratic leadership should shelve that idea pronto.  I don’t think the Occupation even wants endorsements from them.  They’re going to do things their way from now on.

So, livestream and learn and get out there.  I plan to go to Zuccotti Park tomorrow after all of the excitement is over in hopes that the party carried on through the night and I haven’t missed a thing.