Saturday, March 31, 2007

Optimising Your Desktop Using Dual Monitors And Enhancements

After finally abandoned my ageing 17" CRT monitor I went out and treated myself to a relatively inexpensive 19" TFT as a replacement. The resolution wasn't great (1280 x 1024) but the refresh rate was fast (5 ms) and the quality excellent so I was happy. Soon after, a friend of mine offered me his 20" TFT for less than the price of my new one. A bigger monitor with a better screen resolution (1600 x 1200) seemed extravagant so soon after my first purchase but I'd always wanted to have a dual monitor setup and the price tag made the offer hard to refuse. My mid-range PC has a graphics card with both VGA and DVi outputs so there were no further hardware changes required and the space needed in my home office (aka games room) wasn't a problem because TFT's occupy so little space. I was good to go (and so off I went).

The larger monitor was the obvious choice to use as the primary screen, not only because of the extra size but also the higher resolution. A screenshot follows:

So that I could easily access my regularly used programs directly from the desktop I installed Stardock ObjectDock which can be seen on the left, top and right edges of the screenshot. I'm not into icons cluttering up my screen but the ObjectDock icons are unobtrusive and I could still use the standard Start or Quicklaunch menus to access everything else.

The 19" TFT is wall-mounted and sits to the left of the primary monitor and looks like this:

This desktop has Desktop Sidebar installed on the left - very useful for monitoring RSS feeds, PC statistics, email checking, a calendar, monitoring bittorrent downloads and instant messenger contacts, etc - and the Virtual Dimension multi-desktop application sits towards the bottom right corner (under my configuration this allows me to swap between 4 sets of virtual desktops on both monitors but you can have pretty much as many as you want). For visual continuity across the theme I used Stardock WindowBlinds running the black Longhorn 5203 skin in tandem with the MyVista skin available for Desktop Sidebar.

Not only is this dual monitor setup way cooler to look at, it means that I can have several programs visible on-screen simultaneously. For example, I can be writing a text document in one while having a webpage open for reference in the other, or I can watch the TV on one while checking my email on the other. Factor in the virtual desktops and I can have both of those combinations (or more) running at the same time and flick between them.

All of this was a breeze to get up and running and the applications used were either free or reasonably priced. Stability has never been a problem, although I'd recommend a fresh install of your graphics card drivers initially just to be safe.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Could We Be On The Eve Of Another 9/11?

With US forces poised to attack Iran, the talk is of a Good Friday (April 6th) assault involving massive air power and quite possibly nuclear weapons. Israel is hovering in the wings and would willingly step up to volunteer its services, having already publicly stated that it considers Iran a threat to its national security.

The US has had an assault plan in place for over a year now and has envisaged the concept of an attack for even longer, but the leadership is aware that their public won't go along with their plan just like that. A massive terrorist attack, on the other hand, would almost certainly turn them and support for retaliation on a colossal scale would then be widespread.

Former CIA Officer Philip Giraldi chillingly noted that the Pentagon's plans to attack Iran were drawn up "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States." Writing in The American Conservative in August 2005, Giraldi added, "The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites ... As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States."

Just this week Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson warned of the dangers of a nuclear terror attack on the US (source article), which some feel is simply a way of lending plausibility to such an event. The US has already stated that should such an attack occur it would attack Iran whether the 'axis of evil' state was implicated or not.

General Tommy Franks said back in 2003 that this would lead to the US introducing martial law within its borders. He talked of "a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution."

It seems that there would be a domino effect immediately following any 'attack' which would change the US, and the rest of the world, dramatically. You may see this as just another 'conspiracy' theory, but the stakes are far too high to risk complacency. Iran is totally foolish in the game that it is playing with the 15 UK sailors, but isn't about to harm them or nuke the US mainland. There is no threat, just like there was none 4 years ago when Iraq was invaded. This will be another contrived war and it will be one that isn't turned on and then off again as the US would wish. Russia and China won't stand by and idly watch. Nuclear powers Pakistan and India will surely be dragged into the affair. And what of the estimated 450,000 Iranian troops and the missiles capable of reaching Europe? I'm sure that they'll have a part to play in reply. Israel will have its hands full with Hezbollah (remember them from last year?).

This is World War III we are talking about. Next week may well be the last week of peace that we'll experience for a very, very long time.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Iran Crisis: Defending The Government In The Face Of Hypocracy And Ignorance

Speaking as an ex- serviceman who served in the Persian Gulf while in the Royal Navy, it really knots my stomach to see pussies such as the chattering suits over at The Business, idiots who seem to be unaware of the saying 'pride comes before a fall', declare how the 15 service personnel arrested by Iranian Revolutionary Guards should have resisted arrest by opening fire on their would-be captors:

"British – not American – forces were probably targeted by the Iranians because American rules of engagement, rightly, place an obligation on their military to defend themselves while Britain’s politically-correct, European-style rules are designed to avoid escalation."

What total bullshit. What do these 'commentators think they know about 'rules of engagement'? How do they think they'd fair at fighting off half a dozen patrol boats armed with rocket launchers and sub-machine guns, using just side-arms and SA-80 assault rifles? Having the wrong opinion is sometimes worse than having no opinion at all. If these idiots had their way we'd be in a full-blown war now - easy to encourage if you're not the ones fighting it.

Almost as dumb is the shameless Daily Mail. It expresses similar testosterone sentiments but for reasons it apparently doesn't understand itself:

"Of course, Britain should respond in the most vigorous way possible. Sanctions against Iran should be beefed up and more support from the EU and UN enlisted.

But the bitter fact remains, as Stephen Glover points out on this page, that the Iranians know they will get away with it because there is little that Britain can effectively do."

So we should respond vigorously even though we cannot effectively do anything. Why? Just to make us feel a little better by stepping out from behind the US and shaking our fist? Is that how sad we have become?

The diplomatic approach, while not particularly macho and not necessarily justified, is the only way at this time. Yes the Iranian leadership are playing games and yes we have every justification at being angry, but war or a hostage situation is not what we need. We need to punch smart and know our limits. Yes, the US would have simply attacked Iran over this had the personnel been American, but look at the mess they've already made in Iraq. We need to get our people home and then work to diffuse the situation in the Middle East. If any of you want war, please sign up for the Army and get your sorry asses out to Iraq. This is not a game, it is real. Nobody wins in the next war.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Old Habits Die Hard

Just when I thought I was a changed person - actively concerned for the environment, worried about waste, prepared to give up unnecessary decadence for the good of planet earth - I unexpectedly found myself transported back to an era that I had assumed was consigned to my past, a time when greed was good, more was never enough and 'Me' was central to everything I did. I'm talking the 80's, here. It was scary.

It all started innocently enough. I read about a new design in teabag by beverage company Ineeka. Available with the usual varieties of tea, the new bag offers greater circulation when brewing in the cup by opening the enclosure and thereby acting as a filter but at the same time allowing the contents adequate room to move freely around.

What a great idea, I thought! Ancient drink meets an innovative but simple design. Genius. I must look on the internet and source a box of these things straight away. That was when I realised I had reverted to my former Thatcher-era self, instinctively hooked on the vision of the perfect Darjeeling, not considering the consequences.

For a start, just look at all the material that's involved - filter paper, bag stiffeners, cup grips, and thats not including the packaging that these things are supplied in. You'd assume that it simply must be recycled, but even if it is surely this is excessive for something that will be consigned to the rubbish bin within minutes of its use. It still takes energy to manufacture these things and the less energy used the better.

And the cost? £5.08 ($9.99) for 14 bags. Thats £0.36 ($0.71) a cup. The world cannot support such 'twee' luxuries as this. I'm sure the drink it produces is fine but its just a cup of tea. It shouldn't matter so much that we would be prepared to sacrifice the health of our planet to possess it. And don't let your former self tell you otherwise.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

US Closing In As H-Hour For War Approaches

As tensions mount over the fate of the 15 UK marines and navy personnel held by Iran, an increasingly impatient US conducts provocative war games 'aimed at blocking smuggling of nuclear weapons' (according to Bush mouthpiece Fox News) and leans on its British allies to take events to the next level. Prime Minister Blair obliges, warning of a 'different phase' if the situation isn't resolved soon. The Americans accuse the Brits of being too soft and indecisive with their reaction to the detention of its people, although what the UK can do, apart from complain to the UN, has yet to be explained.

What needs to be remembered is that this development is rooted in an argument over who was overstepping a long-disputed border (remember that? OK, it was nearly a week ago....). Either side could be right or wrong and until that is established, or until both sides agree to disagree and settle up, no move should be made by anyone. We are in a mindset where if Iran is found to be in the wrong concerning just about anything, thats good enough to send in the cruise missiles and stealth bombers. It is not. The UN resolution is not a enough; the US accusations of Iranian meddling in Iraq is not enough; the arrest and detention of the 15 British service personnel isn't either. As with Iraq, there is no immediate threat and no legitimate reason.

The PNAC followers may want to stick to the timeline and gameplan decided upon when this new foreign policy fiasco was first introduced early in the Bush presidency, but in case they haven't noticed, the plan is not working. Its been a disaster and trying to distract from one disaster by creating another isn't the answer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The UK/Iran Stand-Off - False Flag, Iranian Aggression Or Simple Dispute?

The war drums have been beating slowly but steadily ever since the second US carrier task force arrived in the Gulf earlier in the year. The American force required for a massive air attack on Iran appear to be in place. Keeping them there, on a high state of readiness, can only be sustained for a short period of time, so an attack must happen soon. The arguments for a pre-emptive strike against the Iranian (yet to be developed) nuclear threat are being made but after the lies and deceptions of Iraq WMD, terrorist sponsorship, etc. the Bush administration needs something more convincing.

The recent capture of 15 British Navy personnel somewhere along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a stretch of water straddling a portion of the much-disputed border between Iraq and Iran, couldn't have come at a better time for the US. Border skirmishes are nothing new and up until now incidents have gone largely unreported by the mainstream media. But an incident such as this, whether contrived or otherwise, is different simply because of the timing.

It couldn't have come at a worse time for Iran. Hot on the heels of a modest but widely-backed UN resolution, some countries usually allied to Iran have distanced themselves, publicly at least. So why risk a diplomatic incident with Americas biggest ally, the UK, right now? Surely to do such a thing makes you at least a greater international pariah than before, and at worst creates an ideal opportunity for the US to encourage a chain of events that eventually justify all-out military action.

Many have been suggesting that some kind of false-flag incident is imminent and maybe this is it, or the start of several, but whether this is it or not is so far unclear. Its certainly not in Irans interest to capture the British personnel and threaten to put them on trial for spying unless they're damn sure that they have their facts right. Unlawful abduction would bring memories of the 1979 hostage crisis flooding back to the world community and even the most ardent supporter would find it difficult to defend the Tehran government. The longer this crisis continues the worse it'll get for Iran. We all know (except the Bush administration, it seems) that war with Iran would result in a far worse situation than what we are witnessing currently in Iraq. My guess is that in two months time much of Iran won't exist. I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Science Of Getting Rich - Or Shallow And Materialistic?

I recently began reading a book entitled The Science Of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, a book that was to later become (nearly one hundred years later!) the inspiration for the latest self-help hit The Secret. In a nutshell, by harnessing the pseudo-spiritual powers suggested by Wattles the reader is able to progress to a state of financial wealth beyond their wildest dreams. In doing so, that person can then (and only then) lead a 'really complete or successful life'. By not aspiring to this wealth, that person is not only abnormal but also sinful - guilty of dereliction of duty to God. For the uninitiated out there, you can read or download a free copy of the book (as a pdf document) here (right-click the link and either open it in a new tab or select 'save link as...' so you don't leave this page accidentally - I've not finished with you yet!).

So far I have only reached as far as Chapter 2 so what I state here is merely an 'opinion in progress', but I somehow find myself hoping that my reaction so far remains as it is. After trawling the internet, I have not found any negative comments by others, which is a worry - either a worry for myself or a worry for the rest of the world, since one or the other is missing something here.

Reading the book as far as I have, the whole premise of thought so far appears to be based around the assumption that materialism is the sole route to fulfilment (quote: A person develops in mind, soul and body by making use of things and society is so organised that we must have money in order to become the possessors of things. Therefore, the basis of all advancement must be the science of getting rich'.). Yes, we must have money in order to have 'things' in the material sense, but to make the leap from this statement to the assumption that advancement (presumably in every sense of the word - not just standard of living but also moral, spiritual, etc) is totally bound to great financial gain seems, on the face of it, a little shallow. Does this mean that no person who has been relatively poor (or rather, un-rich) has ever advanced their state of fulfilment of happiness or development?

Does this mean that Buddhists for example, individuals who purposefully shun material gain, have never 'advanced' in a way that gives them greater happiness? I keep thinking that the word 'rich' or 'richness' is being used figuratively but in Chapter 1 it specifically states that it is not. In fact, it is also said that to not want this richness to the fullest extent is actually sinful and 'the person who does not desire to have money enough to buy all he wants is abnormal'. Am I missing something? Is someone who looks beyond the trappings of wealth, maybe through spiritual enlightenment via meditation or deeper knowledge through contemplation (both of which are independent of wealth) really sinful and abnormal?

I agree that having an abundance of money provides opportunities which otherwise may not available, but it's limited and I don't believe that the richness is anything more than a vehicle. Only someone who has the ability to then look beyond it once they have it is likely to truly benefit, unless they are somehow content with just the richness in itself. According to the book, a person cannot live fully in body without freedom from excessive toil. Many find the challenges of excessive toil, whether physical or mental, to be much of what life is all about. Without such challenges, what would such people do to replace such intense and rich activities? Excessive toil is only a burden to those who do not want to do it, or have no reason within themselves to do it. And many people, particularly philosophers, would take issue with the statement 'love is denied fullest expression by poverty'.

'The individual who has nothing to give cannot fill his place as a spouse or a human being. It is in the use of material things that a person finds full life for his body, develops his mind and unfolds his soul.' - true if a person cannot relate to giving in any form other than a material one. Again, we go back to families who have nothing - are they lacking in some kind of deeper meaning because they do not possess material things? I'm not so sure.

Please do not assume from all of this that I am dismissing the concept I am simply questioning it, since the message so far appears to be that the means is the end itself, ie. the richness itself will be the ultimate reward, rather than the additional opportunities which it may offer (despite the fact that similar opportunities exist without richness). The reader/listener is told not to question and to just accept, with the promise that further down the line it will all become clear and make sense. I'm prepared to give it that chance, since i'm sure that I'm missing the essence of the philosophy behind it, but so far I'm surprised by the lack of a spiritual dimension, something which flies in the face of much of what I believe in at a fundamental level.

Also, I'm not religious but the reference to neglecting the study of getting rich as being a dereliction of duty to God (I'm paraphrasing) seems to be somewhat contradictory in theological terms.

So much for Chapter 1. You may have guessed that I am having problems with this book. Methinks this is to be continued.......

Please leave comments. I need the reassurance.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blair is on a mission from God?

Extracts taken from a report posted on the Information Liberation website:

When Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's former ambassador to Washington, published his memoirs DC Confidential 18 months ago, Tony Blair reportedly called him "a complete prick".

A turnaround: in 1997, No 10 sent Meyer to the US with instructions to "get up the arse of the White House and stay there". And for the most part, the ex-diplomat's book protected Blair's reputation: although the PM had little appetite for detail, he said, and a penchant for "ball-crushingly tight trousers", criticisms were saved for other ministers.

So Downing Street residents are unlikely to be tossing ticker tape over an interview that Sir Christopher's wife, Lady Catherine Meyer has granted Whitehall and Westminster World magazine, in which she mentions the famously testy subject of Blair and George Bush's shared Christianity.

"They are both very religious and I believe that they both feel that what they are doing - especially Blair - is what God wants them to do and that God has chosen their way," says Lady Meyer, a Conservative who (regardless of the Meyers' pillow talk) had opportunity to observe both leaders closely. "This is why they bonded immediately."

She adds: "Blair started talking about getting rid of Saddam Hussein way before September 11 ... in 1998. So I think that on Iraq he was more ready than Bush, who only really came into this conversation after 9/11."

Lady Meyer goes on to accuse Blair's government of "astounding hypocrisy". One senses the end of a special relationship.

So Blair wanted Iraq invaded because of divine inspiration? Is the former British colony of Zimbabwe, currently dying a death of a thousand cuts thanks to Robert Mugabe, any less worthy? These religious leaders, bearing in mind they are apparently in direct daily contact with God, sure are inconsistent.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Global Warming - A Swindle Or An Unknown?

The debate about Global Warming continues to rage as fiercely as the extreme weather many of us appear to be experiencing nowadays. Now a hurricaine-strength storm has been whipped up, taking me (and I suspect many others) by total surprise.

UK TV's Channel 4 aired a documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle (available now on YouTube) recently which temporarily muddied the already-murky waters. Writer and director Martin Durkin put forward the 'truth' about global warming, that we have been deliberately deceived by a variety of all-powerful people (ranging from Margaret Thatcher to extreme-left fanatics bent on seeing the demise of capitalism and preventing third world development) and that the current warming trend is nothing more than part of a natural cycle encouraged by the activities of our Sun.

The arguments in the programme, if taken at face value, seemed to blow a hole right through the heart of the generally accepted climate change theory - the one that states that greenhouse gas emissions, primarily CO2, produced by humans (and partially contributed to by nature) is causing global temperatures to rise at a dangerous and uncontrollable rate. That's the theory I'd always accepted, not because I am an expert in climatology, but because the overwhelming majority of scientists all seemed to say it. Who am I to doubt so many 'experts'?

The Channel 4 documentary thrust a torrent of doubts into my overloaded brain, producing several top members of the science community (from MIT, various universities and professional bodies), all of whom said that my favoured theory was inside-out, upside-down and plain wrong. For example, apparently Al Gore, in his movie An Inconvenient Truth, had lied to us, using misleading statistics that should have shown global temperatures leading CO2 emissions and not the other way round. The whole 'environmental industry' is about 'jobs for the boys' and getting funding for pointless research under the guise of global warming research, they said.

I finished watching it as a semi-convert, actually toying with the idea that the worlds climate was ok, it was all supposed to be this way, it was the work of the Sun. I've always been open to the idea that fluctuations in solar activity may effect our weather and climate, and to an extent I still am, but all we have so far is data from a very narrow snapshot of our Suns existence. If its cyclic, we need to capture the whole cycle. If its random, we need to learn the cause and effect of these random changes and see if they match any of the data we have on our planets climate record. Durkin nearly had me convinced, but not quite.

The Independent has investigated the claims made in the TV programme and has managed to cast sufficient doubt to take me back to my place of origin, back to the 'man-made CO2' camp. Why? Here are extracts from the Independent article:

  • Mr Durkin has already been criticised by one scientist who took part in the programme over alleged misrepresentation of his views on the climate.
  • Mr Durkin's film argued that most global warming over the past century occurred between 1900 and 1940 and that there was a period of cooling between 1940 and 1975 when the post-war economic boom was under way. This showed, he said, that global warming had little to do with industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

    The programme-makers labelled the source of the world temperature data as "Nasa" but when we inquired about where we could find this information, we received an email through Wag TV's PR consultant saying that the graph was drawn from a 1998 diagram published in an obscure journal called Medical Sentinel. The authors of the paper are well-known climate sceptics who were funded by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and the George C Marshall Institute, a right-wing Washington think-tank.

    However, there are no diagrams in the paper that accurately compare with the C4 graph. The nearest comparison is a diagram of "terrestrial northern hemisphere" temperatures - which refers only to data gathered by weather stations in the top one third of the globe.

    However, further inquiries revealed that the C4 graph was based on a diagram in another paper produced as part of a "petition project" by the same group of climate sceptics. This diagram was itself based on long out-of-date information on terrestrial temperatures compiled by Nasa scientists.

    However, crucially, the axis along the bottom of the graph has been distorted in the C4 version of the graph, which made it look like the information was up-to-date when in fact the data ended in the early 1980s.

    Mr Durkin admitted that his graphics team had extended the time axis along the bottom of the graph to the year 2000. "There was a fluff there," he said.

  • If Mr Durkin had gone directly to the Nasa website he could have got the most up-to-date data. This would have demonstrated that the amount of global warming since 1975, as monitored by terrestrial weather stations around the world, has been greater than that between 1900 and 1940 - although that would have undermined his argument.

    "The original Nasa data was very wiggly-lined and we wanted the simplest line we could find," Mr Durkin said.

  • The programme failed to point out that scientists had now explained the period of "global cooling" between 1940 and 1970. It was caused by industrial emissions of sulphate pollutants, which tend to reflect sunlight. Subsequent clean-air laws have cleared up some of this pollution, revealing the true scale of global warming - a point that the film failed to mention.

    Other graphs used in the film contained known errors, notably the graph of sunspot activity. Mr Durkin used data on solar cycle lengths which were first published in 1991 despite a corrected version being available - but again the corrected version would not have supported his argument. Mr Durkin also used a schematic graph of temperatures over the past 1,000 years that was at least 16 years old, which gave the impression that today's temperatures are cooler than during the medieval warm period. If he had used a more recent, and widely available, composite graph it would have shown average temperatures far exceed the past 1,000 years.

While I'm sure the burden of proof is not necessarily there yet, its only a matter of time before our suspicions are confirmed. Co2 emissions are a smoking gun and without anything better to go on we have to assume that these theories are correct since time seems to be against us. People with vested interests (of which there are far more on the corporate industry side than the environmental side) will try anything to breed complacency among us. They want us to continue our rabid consumerism, to promote the throw-away culture, for this is what shapes their world. Even if we're wrong and the climate eventually returns to 'normal' (if there is such a thing), think of the new world we'll be inhabiting, one with little pollution, minimal waste, virtually-free energy and no dependence on fossil fuels (one less reason to invade Middle Eastern nations). If they're wrong, its too late. The world might continue on, but the short era of the human race will be be over.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Take the Mighty Boosh quiz

So you really think you know the Boosh? Take the quiz here!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Neocon Dream Uncovered

One of the most informative accounts about what's going on regarding US domestic and foreign policy, from an insider who knows the real deal. This should be read with alarm by everyone outside of the powerful neocon elite, so get in the foxhole and be enlightened......

Read the full story here.

Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran

James Harris: There you go, we're in a foxhole, so we're on the same team.

powered by clipmarks

Legitimising The Conspiracy Theory And Reviving the Concept of Independent Thought

Just before his death, James Jesus Angleton, the legendary chief of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, was a bitter man. He felt betrayed by the people he had worked for all his life. In the end, he had come to realize that they were never really interested in American ideals of “freedom” and “democracy.“ They really only wanted “absolute power.”

Angleton told author Joseph Trento that the reason he had gotten the counterintelligence job in the first place was by agreeing not to submit “sixty of Allen Dulles’ closest friends” to a polygraph test concerning their business deals with the Nazis. In his end-of-life despair, Angleton assumed that he would see all his old companions again “in hell.”

The transformation of James Jesus Angleton from an enthusiastic, Ivy League cold warrior, to a bitter old man, is an extreme example of a phenomenon I call a “paranoid shift.” I recognize the phenomenon, because something similar happened to me.

Although I don’t remember ever meeting James Jesus Angleton, I worked at the CIA myself as a low-level clerk as a teenager in the ‘60s. This was at the same time I was beginning to question the government’s actions in Vietnam. In fact, my personal “paranoid shift” probably began with the disillusionment I felt when I realized that the story of American foreign policy was, at the very least, more complicated and darker than I had hitherto been led to believe.

But for most of the next 30 years, even though I was a radical, I nevertheless held faith in the basic integrity of a system where power ultimately resided in the people, and whereby if enough people got together and voted, real and fundamental change could happen.

What constitutes my personal paranoid shift is that I no longer believe this to be necessarily true.

In his book, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” William Blum warns of how the media will make anything that smacks of “conspiracy theory” an immediate “object of ridicule.” This prevents the media from ever having to investigate the many strange interconnections among the ruling class -- for example, the relationship between the boards of directors of media giants, and the energy, banking and defense industries. These unmentionable topics are usually treated with what Blum calls “the media’s most effective tool -- silence.” But in case somebody’s asking questions, all you have to do is say, “conspiracy theory,” and any allegation instantly becomes too frivolous to merit serious attention.

On the other hand, since my paranoid shift, whenever I hear the words “conspiracy theory” (which seems more often, lately) it usually means someone is getting too close to the truth.

Take September 11 -- which I identify as the date my paranoia actually shifted, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Unless I’m paranoid, it doesn’t make any sense at all that George W. Bush, commander-in-chief, sat in a second-grade classroom for 20 minutes after he was informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, listening to children read a story about a goat. Nor does it make sense that the Number 2 man, Dick Cheney -- even knowing that “the commander” was on a mission in Florida -- nevertheless sat at his desk in the White House, watching TV, until the Secret Service dragged him out by the armpits.

Unless I’m paranoid, it makes no sense that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sat at his desk until Flight 77 hit the Pentagon -- well over an hour after the military had learned about the multiple hijacking in progress. It also makes no sense that the brand-new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sat in a Senate office for two hours while the 9/11 attacks took place, after leaving explicit instructions that he not be disturbed -- which he wasn‘t.

In other words, while the 9/11 attacks were occurring, the entire top of the chain of command of the most powerful military in the world sat at various desks, inert. Why weren’t they in the “Situation Room?” Don’t any of them ever watch “West Wing?”

In a sane world, this would be an object of major scandal. But here on this side of the paranoid shift, it’s business as usual.

Years, even decades before 9/11, plans had been drawn up for American forces to take control of the oil interests of the Middle East, for various imperialist reasons. And these plans were only contingent upon “a catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor,” to gain the majority support of the American public to set the plans into motion. When the opportunity presented itself, the guards looked the other way . . . and presto, the path to global domination was open.

Simple, as long as the media played along. And there is voluminous evidence that the media play along. Number one on Project Censored’s annual list of underreported stories in 2002 was the Project for a New American Century (now the infrastructure of the Bush Regime), whose report, published in 2000, contains the above “Pearl Harbor” quote.

Why is it so hard to believe serious people who have repeatedly warned us that powerful ruling elites are out to dominate “the masses?” Did we think Dwight Eisenhower was exaggerating when he warned of the extreme “danger” to democracy of “the military industrial complex?” Was Barry Goldwater just being a quaint old-fashioned John Bircher when he said that the Trilateral Commission was “David Rockefeller’s latest scheme to take over the world, by taking over the government of the United States?” Were Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt or Joseph Kennedy just being class traitors when they talked about a small group of wealthy elites who operate as a hidden government behind the government? Especially after he died so mysteriously, why shouldn’t we believe the late CIA Director William Colby, who bragged about how the CIA “owns everyone of any major significance in the major media?”

Why can’t we believe James Jesus Angleton -- a man staring eternal judgment in the face -- when he says that the founders of the Cold War national security state were only interested in “absolute power?” Especially when the descendant of a very good friend of Allen Dulles now holds power in the White House.

Prescott Bush, the late, aristocratic senator from Connecticut, and grandfather of George W Bush, was not only a good friend of Allen Dulles, CIA director, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and international business lawyer. He was also a client of Dulles’ law firm. As such, he was the beneficiary of Dulles’ miraculous ability to scrub the story of Bush’s treasonous investments in the Third Reich out of the news media, where it might have interfered with Bush’s political career . . . not to mention the presidential careers of his son and grandson.

Recently declassified US government documents, unearthed last October by investigative journalist John Buchanan at the New Hampshire Gazette, reveal that Prescott Bush’s involvement in financing and arming the Nazis was more extensive than previously known. Not only was Bush managing director of the Union Banking Corporation, the American branch of Hitler’s chief financier’s banking network; but among the other companies where Bush was a director -- and which were seized by the American government in 1942, under the Trading With the Enemy Act -- were a shipping line which imported German spies; an energy company that supplied the Luftwaffe with high-ethyl fuel; and a steel company that employed Jewish slave labor from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Like all the other Bush scandals that have been swept under the rug in the privatized censorship of the corporate media, these revelations have been largely ignored, with the exception of a single article in the Associated Press. And there are those, even on the left, who question the current relevance of this information.

But Prescott Bush’s dealings with the Nazis do more than illustrate a family pattern of genteel treason and war profiteering -- from George Senior’s sale of TOW missiles to Iran at the same time he was selling biological and chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein, to Junior’s zany misadventures in crony capitalism in present-day Iraq.

More disturbing by far are the many eerie parallels between Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush:

A conservative, authoritarian style, with public appearances in military uniform (which no previous American president has ever done while in office). Government by secrecy, propaganda and deception. Open assaults on labor unions and workers’ rights. Preemptive war and militant nationalism. Contempt for international law and treaties. Suspiciously convenient “terrorist” attacks, to justify a police state and the suspension of liberties. A carefully manufactured image of “The Leader,” who’s still just a “regular guy” and a “moderate.” “Freedom” as the rationale for every action. Fantasy economic growth, based on unprecedented budget deficits and massive military spending.

And a cold, pragmatic ideology of fascism -- including the violent suppression of dissent and other human rights; the use of torture, assassination and concentration camps; and most important, Benito Mussolini’s preferred definition of “fascism” as “corporatism, because it binds together the interests of corporations and the state.”

By their fruits, you shall know them.

What perplexes me most is probably the same question that plagues most paranoiacs: why don’t other people see these connections?

Oh, sure, there may be millions of us, lurking at websites like Online Journal, From the Wilderness, Center for Cooperative Research, and the Center for Research on Globalization, checking out right-wing conspiracists and the galaxy of 9/11 sites, and reading columnists like Chris Floyd at the Moscow Times, and Maureen Farrell at Buzzflash. But we know we are only a furtive minority, the human remnant among the pod people in the live-action, 21st-century version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

And being paranoid, we have to figure out, with an answer that fits into our system, why more people don’t see the connections we do. Fortunately, there are a number of possible explanations.

First on the list would have to be what Marshal McLuhan called the “cave art of the electronic age:” advertising. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Karl Rove, gave credit for most of his ideas on how to manipulate mass opinion to American commercial advertising, and to the then-new science of “public relations.” But the public relations universe available to the corporate empire that rules the world today makes the Goebbels operation look primitive. The precision of communications technology and graphics; the century of research on human psychology and emotion; and the uniquely centralized control of triumphant post-Cold War monopoly capitalism, have combined to the point where “the manufacture of consent” can be set on automatic pilot.

A second major reason people won’t make the paranoid shift is that they are too fundamentally decent. They can’t believe that the elected leaders of our country, the people they’ve been taught through 12 years of public school to admire and trust, are capable of sending young American soldiers to their deaths and slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent civilians, just to satisfy their greed -- especially when they’re so rich in the first place. Besides, America is good, and the media are liberal and overly critical.

Third, people don’t want to look like fools. Being a “conspiracy theorist” is like being a creationist. The educated opinion of eminent experts on every TV and radio network is that any discussion of “oil” being a motivation for the US invasion of Iraq is just out of bounds, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a “conspiracy theorist.” We can trust the integrity of our ‘no-bid” contracting in Iraq, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a “conspiracy theorist.” Of course, people sometimes make mistakes, but our military and intelligence community did the best they could on and before September 11, and anybody who thinks otherwise is a “conspiracy theorist.”

Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of JFK, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a “conspiracy theorist.”

Perhaps the biggest hidden reason people don’t make the paranoid shift is that knowledge brings responsibility. If we acknowledge that an inner circle of ruling elites controls the world’s most powerful military and intelligence system; controls the international banking system; controls the most effective and far-reaching propaganda network in history; controls all three branches of government in the world’s only superpower; and controls the technology that counts the people’s votes, we might be then forced to conclude that we don’t live in a particularly democratic system. And then voting and making contributions and trying to stay informed wouldn’t be enough. Because then the duty of citizenship would go beyond serving as a loyal opposition, to serving as a “loyal resistance” -- like the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, except that in this case the resistance to fascism would be on the side of the national ideals, rather than the government; and a violent insurgency would not only play into the empire’s hands, it would be doomed from the start.

Forming a nonviolent resistance movement, on the other hand, might mean forsaking some middle class comfort, and it would doubtless require a lot of work. It would mean educating ourselves and others about the nature of the truly apocalyptic beast we face. It would mean organizing at the most basic neighborhood level, face to face. (We cannot put our trust in the empire’s technology.) It would mean reaching across turf lines and transcending single-issue politics, forming coalitions and sharing data and names and strategies, and applying energy at every level of government, local to global. It would also probably mean civil disobedience, at a time when the Bush regime is starting to classify that action as “terrorism.” In the end, it may mean organizing a progressive confederacy to govern ourselves, just as our revolutionary founders formed the Continental Congress. It would mean being wise as serpents, and gentle as doves.

It would be a lot of work. It would also require critical mass. A paradigm shift.

But as a paranoid, I’m ready to join the resistance. And the main reason is I no longer think that the “conspiracy” is much of a “theory.”

That the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was “probably” the result of “a conspiracy,” and that 70 percent of Americans agree with this conclusion, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That the Bay of Pigs fiasco, “Operation Zapata,” was organized by members of Skull and Bones, the ghoulish and powerful secret society at Yale University whose membership also included Prescott, George Herbert Walker and George W Bush; that two of the ships that carried the Cuban counterrevolutionaries to their appointment with absurdity were named the “Barbara” and the “Houston” -- George HW Bush’s city of residence at the time -- and that the oil company Bush owned, then operating in the Caribbean area, was named “Zapata,” is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That George Bush was the CIA director who kept the names of what were estimated to be hundreds of American journalists, considered to be CIA “assets,” from the Church Committee, the US Senate Intelligence Committe chaired by Senator Frank Church that investigated the CIA in the 1970s; that a 1971 University of Michigan study concluded that, in America, the more TV you watched, the less you knew; and that a recent survey by international scholars found that Americans were the most “ignorant” of world affairs out of all the populations they studied, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That the Council on Foreign Relations has a history of influence on official US government foreign policy; that the protection of US supplies of Middle East oil has been a central element of American foreign policy since the Second World War; and that global oil production has been in decline since its peak year, 2000, is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That, in the early 1970s, the newly-formed Trilateral Commission published a report which recommended that, in order for “globalization” to succeed, American manufacturing jobs had to be exported, and American wages had to decline, which is exactly what happened over the next three decades; and that, during that same period, the richest one percent of Americans doubled their share of the national wealth, is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That, beyond their quasi-public role as agents of the US Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Banks are profit-making corporations, whose beneficiaries include some of America’s wealthiest families; and that the United States has a virtual controlling interest in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, the three dominant global financial institutions, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That -- whether it’s heroin from Southeast Asia in the ‘60s and ‘70s, or cocaine from Central America and heroin from Afghanistan in the ‘80s, or cocaine from Colombia in the ‘90s, or heroin from Afghanistan today -- no major CIA covert operation has ever lacked a drug smuggling component, and that the CIA has hired Nazis, fascists, drug dealers, arms smugglers, mass murderers, perverts, sadists, terrorists and the Mafia, is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That the international oil industry is the dominant player in the global economy; that the Bush family has a decades-long business relationship with the Saudi royal family, Saudi oil money, and the family of Osama bin Laden; that, as president, both George Bushes have favored the interests of oil companies over the public interest; that both George Bushes have personally profited financially from Middle East oil; and that American oil companies doubled their records for quarterly profits in the months just preceding the invasion of Iraq, is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That the 2000 presidential election was deliberately stolen; that the pro-Bush/anti-Gore bias in the corporate media had spiked markedly in the last three weeks of the campaign; that corporate media were then virtually silent about the Florida recount; and that the Bush 2000 team had planned to challenge the legitimacy of the election if George W had won the popular, but lost the electoral vote -- exactly what happened to Gore -- is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That the intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was deceptively “cooked” by the Bush administration; that anybody paying attention to people like former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, knew before the invasion that the weapons were a hoax; and that American forces in Iraq today are applying the same brutal counterinsurgency tactics pioneered in Central America in the 1980s, under the direct supervision of then-Vice President George HW Bush, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” the Project for a New American Century’s 2000 report, and “The Grand Chessboard,” a book published a few years earlier by Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, both recommended a more robust and imperial US military presence in the oil basin of the Middle East and the Caspian region; and that both also suggested that American public support for this energy crusade would depend on public response to a new “Pearl Harbor,” is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That, in the 1960s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously approved a plan called “Operation Northwoods,” to stage terrorist attacks on American soil that could be used to justify an invasion of Cuba; and that there is currently an office in the Pentagon whose function is to instigate terrorist attacks that could be used to justify future strategically-desired military responses, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That neither the accusation by former British Environmental Minister Michael Meacham, Tony Blair’s longest-serving cabinet minister, that George W Bush allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen to justify an oil war in the Middle East; nor the RICO lawsuit filed by 9/11 widow Ellen Mariani against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Council on Foreign Relations (among others), on the grounds that they conspired to let the attacks happen to cash in on the ensuing war profiteering, has captured the slightest attention from American corporate media is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That the FBI has completely exonerated -- though never identified -- the speculators who purchased, a few days before the attacks (through a bank whose previous director is now the CIA executive director), an unusual number of “put” options, and who made millions betting that the stocks in American and United Airlines would crash, is not a “theory.” It’s fact.

That the US intelligence community received numerous warnings, from multiple sources, throughout the summer of 2001, that a major terrorist attack on American interests was imminent; that, according to the chair of the “independent” 9/11 commission, the attacks “could have and should have been prevented,” and according to a Senate Intelligence Committee member, “All the dots were connected;” that the White House has verified George W Bush’s personal knowledge, as of August 6, 2001, that these terrorist attacks might be domestic and might involve hijacked airliners; that, in the summer of 2001, at the insistence of the American Secret Service, anti-aircraft ordnance was installed around the city of Genoa, Italy, to defend against a possible terrorist suicide attack, by aircraft, against George W Bush, who was attending the economic summit there; and that George W Bush has nevertheless regaled audiences with his first thought upon seeing the “first” plane hit the World Trade Center, which was: “What a terrible pilot,” is not “theory.” It’s fact.

That, on the morning of September 11, 2001: standard procedures and policies at the nation’s air defense and aviation bureaucracies were ignored, and communications were delayed; the black boxes of the planes that hit the WTC were destroyed, but hijacker Mohammed Atta’s passport was found in pristine condition; high-ranking Pentagon officers had cancelled their commercial flight plans for that morning; George H.W. Bush was meeting in Washington with representatives of Osama bin Laden’s family, and other investors in the world’s largest private equity firm, the Carlyle Group; the CIA was conducting a previously-scheduled mock exercise of an airliner hitting the Pentagon; the chairs of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were having breakfast with the chief of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, who resigned a week later on suspicion of involvement in the 9/11 attacks; and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States sat in a second grade classroom for 20 minutes after hearing that a second plane had struck the towers, listening to children read a story about a goat, is not “theoretical.” These are facts.

That the Bush administration has desperately fought every attempt to independently investigate the events of 9/11, is not a “theory.”

Nor, finally, is it in any way a “theory” that the one, single name that can be directly linked to the Third Reich, the US military industrial complex, Skull and Bones, Eastern Establishment good ol’ boys, the Illuminati, Big Texas Oil, the Bay of Pigs, the Miami Cubans, the Mafia, the FBI, the JFK assassination, the New World Order, Watergate, the Republican National Committee, Eastern European fascists, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the United Nations, CIA headquarters, the October Surprise, the Iran/Contra scandal, Inslaw, the Christic Institute, Manuel Noriega, drug-running “freedom fighters” and death squads, Iraqgate, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, the blood of innocents, the savings and loan crash, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the “Octopus,” the “Enterprise,” the Afghan mujaheddin, the War on Drugs, Mena (Arkansas), Whitewater, Sun Myung Moon, the Carlyle Group, Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family, David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States, is: George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Theory?” To the contrary.

It is a well-documented, tragic and -- especially if you’re paranoid -- terrifying fact.

Michael Hasty is a writer, activist, musician, carpenter and farmer. His award-winning column, “Thinking Locally,” appeared for seven years in the Hampshire Review, West Virginia’s oldest newspaper. His writing has also appeared in the Highlands Voice, the Washington Peace Letter, the Takoma Park Newsletter, the German magazine Generational Justice, and the Washington Post; and at the websites Common Dreams and In January 1989, he was the media spokesperson for the counter-inaugural coalition at George Bush’s Counter-Inaugural Banquet, which fed hundreds of DC’s homeless in front of Union Station, where the official inaugural dinner was being held.

Permission to reprint is granted, provided it includes this autobiographical note, and credit for first publication to Online Journal.

Copyright © Online Journal