Bach arranged various Vivaldi concertos for organ and harpsichord. The Concerto in A minor, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society for All of Bach, is largely based on Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for four violins and orchestra. But of course, he gave it an exciting twist, as in Bach’s version the soloists play harpsichords and B minor changed to A minor.

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day events, but let’s not forget the quietly ticking bomb of a nuclear *oops* that could end us all.

The Black Swan We Can Never See

Let us turn to the other (and traditional) concern of the atomic scientists who adjust the Doomsday Clock: nuclear weapons. The current threat of nuclear war amply justifies their January 2015 decision to advance the clock two minutes toward midnight. What has happened since reveals the growing threat even more clearly, a matter that elicits insufficient concern, in my opinion.

The last time the Doomsday Clock reached three minutes before midnight was in 1983, at the time of the Able Archer exercises of the Reagan administration; these exercises simulated attacks on the Soviet Union to test their defense systems. Recently released Russian archives reveal that the Russians were deeply concerned by the operations and were preparing to respond, which would have meant, simply: The End.

We have learned more about these rash and reckless exercises, and about how close the world was to disaster, from U.S. military and intelligence analyst Melvin Goodman, who was CIA division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs at the time. “In addition to the Able Archer mobilization exercise that alarmed the Kremlin,” Goodman writes, “the Reagan administration authorized unusually aggressive military exercises near the Soviet border that, in some cases, violated Soviet territorial sovereignty. The Pentagon’s risky measures included sending U.S. strategic bombers over the North Pole to test Soviet radar, and naval exercises in wartime approaches to the USSR where U.S. warships had previously not entered. Additional secret operations simulated surprise naval attacks on Soviet targets.”

We now know that the world was saved from likely nuclear destruction in those frightening days by the decision of a Russian officer, Stanislav Petrov, not to transmit to higher authorities the report of automated detection systems that the USSR was under missile attack. Accordingly, Petrov takes his place alongside Russian submarine commander Vasili Arkhipov, who, at a dangerous moment of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, refused to authorize the launching of nuclear torpedoes when the subs were under attack by U.S. destroyers enforcing a quarantine.

Other recently revealed examples enrich the already frightening record. Nuclear security expert Bruce Blair reports that “the closest the U.S. came to an inadvertent strategic launch decision by the President happened in 1979, when a NORAD early warning training tape depicting a full-scale Soviet strategic strike inadvertently coursed through the actual early warning network. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was called twice in the night and told the U.S. was under attack, and he was just picking up the phone to persuade President Carter that a full-scale response needed to be authorized right away, when a third call told him it was a false alarm.”

This newly revealed example brings to mind a critical incident of 1995, when the trajectory of a U.S.-Norwegian rocket carrying scientific equipment resembled the path of a nuclear missile. This elicited Russian concerns that quickly reached President Boris Yeltsin, who had to decide whether to launch a nuclear strike.

Blair adds other examples from his own experience. In one case, at the time of the 1967 Middle East war, “a carrier nuclear-aircraft crew was sent an actual attack order instead of an exercise/training nuclear order.” A few years later, in the early 1970s, the Strategic Air Command in Omaha “retransmitted an exercise… launch order as an actual real-world launch order.” In both cases code checks had failed; human intervention prevented the launch. “But you get the drift here,” Blair adds. “It just wasn’t that rare for these kinds of snafus to occur.”

Blair made these comments in reaction to a report by airman John Bordne that has only recently been cleared by the U.S. Air Force. Bordne was serving on the U.S. military base in Okinawa in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and a moment of serious tensions in Asia as well. The U.S. nuclear alert system had been raised to DEFCON 2, one level below DEFCON 1, when nuclear missiles can be launched immediately. At the peak of the crisis, on October 28th, a missile crew received authorization to launch its nuclear missiles, in error. They decided not to, averting likely nuclear war and joining Petrov and Arkhipov in the pantheon of men who decided to disobey protocol and thereby saved the world.

As Blair observed, such incidents are not uncommon. One recent expert study found dozens of false alarms every year during the period reviewed, 1977 to 1983; the study concluded that the range is 43 to 255 per year. The author of the study, Seth Baum, summarizes with appropriate words: “Nuclear war is the black swan we can never see, except in that brief moment when it is killing us. We delay eliminating the risk at our own peril. Now is the time to address the threat, because now we are still alive.”

These reports, like those in Eric Schlosser’s book Command and Control, keep mostly to U.S. systems. The Russian ones are doubtless much more error-prone. That is not to mention the extreme danger posed by the systems of others, notably Pakistan.

 

 –Noam Chomsky The Doomsday Clock quoted from Tom’s Dispatch

  Whelp…

 

“+ Over the last 20 years, we’ve heard dozens of rationales, justifications and excuses for the US occupation of Afghanistan, all of them now exposed as hollow (or worse). There’s been no “nation-building,” the status of women has not been elevated or protected, the army and security forces have not been “trained” and “modernized,” opium poppy production has not been eradicated, militant groups have not been eliminated, sectarian strife has not lessened, the influence of Pakistan’s ISI has not been blunted. But American contractors and weapons makers have made tens of billions, year after year, for two decades, on long-term, no-bid contracts, many of the companies run by retired officials from the Pentagon and CIA, with little to no oversight or accountability. The Afghan war and occupation was one of history’s longest gravy trains, feeding govt. guaranteed profits to some of the most unsavory operators in the country, as 1000s of Afghans perished, and every time someone tried to stop it, they were shouted down with one word: “terrorism.”

9/11 and the resulting concurrent military debacle and ascendancy of the American Military Industrial Complex continues to haunt us to this day.  Americans and the rest of the free world suffered severe setbacks to their individual liberties and privacy, and perhaps most importantly, the rule of law.  Not that America was super good at following the rule of law when it’s own interests came into play, but perhaps the facade of us being the ‘good guys’ is an illusion that can never be restored.

Many military leaders in the US still parrot the GWB line trying to defend the indefensible War On Terror, nothing particularly surprising there.  The military, institutionally speaking, will always prioritize its interests first.  Looking further down the line though, we can see that people of conscience are coming forward with their stories about the horrors of the WoT and how they simply cannot continue business as usual.

Of course, these people will be punished by the state apparatus for violating the secrecy surrounding the acts of terror and bloodshed that the US is responsible for yet these individuals persisted.  The two individuals both ended up losing their freedom because they were compelled by their conscience to do the right thing.

I’m not a big fan of the military industrial complex in the USA and their imperial spread across the globe – too many people in America and across the world are blind to the actions perpetrated in their name.  In a democratic nation the truth must be known to the citizenry so they can be informed and equipped to make the best choice possible with regards to who will represent and lead them.

If I was an American and either of the following individuals ran for office, they would garner my vote.  They spoke their mind to did what was right demonstrating an ethical and moral backbone that seems so rare in our body politic.

“Recently, some more minor players in the post-9/11 era have apologized in unique ways for the roles they played. For instance, Terry Albury, an FBI agent, would be convicted under the Espionage Act for leaking documents to the media, exposing the bureau’s policies of racial and religious profiling, as well as the staggering range of surveillance measures it conducted in the name of the war on terror. Sent to prison for four years, Albury recently completed his sentence. As Janet Reitman reported in the New York Times Magazine, feelings of guilt over the “human cost” of what he was involved in led to his act of revelation. It was, in other words, an apology in action.

As was the similar act of Daniel Hale, a former National Security Agency analyst who had worked at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan helping to identify human targets for drone attacks. He would receive a 45-month sentence under the Espionage Act for hisleaks— documents he had obtained on such strikes while working as a private contractor after his government service.

As Hale would explain, he acted out of a feeling of intense remorse. In his sentencing statement, he described watching “through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of Hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts.” His version of an apology-in-action came from his regret that he had continued on at his post even after witnessing the horrors of those endless killings, often of civilians. “Nevertheless, in spite of my better instinct, I continued to follow orders.” Eventually, a drone attack on a woman and her two daughters led him over the brink. “How could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness” was the way he put it and so he leaked his apology and is now serving his time.”

The cost of a clear conscience shouldn’t have to be your freedom, but kudos to Terry Albury and Daniel Hale for being true to themselves and their country.

[Source: Counterpunch]

 

Arguing with gender ideologues can be a very disparaging and fruitless task.  Many of the argumentative styles they adopt are purely reflexive and will be based in goading or shaming the person they disagree with into silence or compliance.  The ‘social pressure’ dodge will be part three of this series.  However, the topic today is the ill considered use of the term “intersex” and intersexed people in general when used as rhetorical ammunition in a gender identity debate.

The Intersex ploy goes something like this:

There are several deformed ideas going on in this fine slice of twitter, so let’s parse them out.

1. The notion that intersex individuals are somehow outside of the sex binary.

2.  That self identification somehow trumps the biological reality of sex (i.e non binary and trans men).

3.  The notion that this third sex or sex spectrum is somehow supported by credible scientific sources.

 

Firstly, people with intersex conditions are genetically unambiguously male or female.

 

No third sex to be seen here.  Also, from the Endocrine Society this definitive assertion:

“Sex is an important biological variable that must be considered in the design and analysis of human and animal research. The terms sex and gender should not be used interchangeably. Sex is dichotomous, with sex determination in the fertilized zygote stemming from unequal expression of sex chromosomal genes. By contrast, gender includes perception of the individual as male, female, or other, both by the individual and by society; both humans and animals have sex, but only humans have gender.”

Secondly, gender beliefs mirror religious beliefs.  They have no root in the material reality we all share.  Illustrated here.

A big hat tip to Logic vs Pseudoscience for accurately framing the belief in ‘gender identity’.  We should not be expected to play a pivotal role in someone else’s self perception.  Not ignoring the data our senses accurately report is not a crime, nor is it violence against a person with gender identity claims.

Just like we don’t have to accept the religious claim that is our jesus saviour, we can also show the same skepticism for a male that claims to be woman because he self-identifies or feels like it.  Not going along with risibly outlandish claims about reality is a reasonable stance to take.

Thirdly, the bullshit that is mentioned most often in the intersex ploy is a piece by by Anne Fausto – Sterling.   Claiming there are 5 sexes and the percentage of intersex people in the population is 1.7%.  Fausto-Stirling’s claims have been debunked.

AFS ‘walks-back’ her claims –

Yeah, so I’m thinking ‘tongue-in-cheek’ assertions are not quite the rigorous science based arguments gender ideologists would like us to think they are.  As for the second mistake, her figures are based on a category error and corrected in this paper here.

“Anne Fausto-Sterling s suggestion that the prevalence of intersex might be as high as 1.7% has attracted wide attention in both the scholarly press and the popular media. Many reviewers are not aware that this figure includes conditions which most clinicians do not recognize as intersex, such as Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, and late-onset adrenal hyperplasia. If the term intersex is to retain any meaning, the term should be restricted to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female. Applying this more precise definition, the true prevalence of intersex is seen to be about 0.018%, almost 100 times lower than Fausto-Sterling s estimate of 1.7%.”

Oops…  So be wary of individuals quoting Fausto-Sterling’s ‘facts’ when it comes to the intersex ploy in particular and gender identity arguments in general.

So much ink has been spilled in the quixotic attempt to placate gender confused males.  It would be sadly funny, but because trans ideology centres itself on the destruction of female boundaries and rights leaving little room for jocularity .

The very definition of women is under attack.  Women = adult human female is now a controversial stance to uphold because it may injure the self perception of males who think they are women.  It is a travesty that we would allow male gender feelings to take precedence over the very material realty of being actually female in today’s society.

 

 

 

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