Monthly Archives: May 2014

Picking Up the Rhetorical Stave

Why 9-11 Truth is the Only Option (8:08)

Christopher Bollyn, author of Solving 9-11, picks up his media stave and explains why he thinks 9-11 Truth is the most important political issue of our time. As long as the government and mass media suppress and conceal the truth about what happened on 9-11 the American people will suffer under a criminal regime that lurches from crisis to crisis; from conflict to conflict. 

[The video link above was received by e-mail from an unknown source, probably to escape the NSA censors and tinkerers — that’s the world we live in now. I’m posting the video in full knowledge that you the reader may have received your own copy, or that you have seen the video already.

But some of you may not have, and we need an army of rhetorical spear-carriers.

I’m not offended by the apparent but soon clarified anonymity of the e-mail; I’ve been an advocate of close examination of the issues of 9/11 for over a decade now, and that has been regular stated in my blogs for all those years.

Under “medical professionals”, I am signatory here: .

The security state has had me on their radar for 30 years or longer; I was a co-author of the Physicians for Social Responsibility statement about the Civilian-Military Contingency Hospital System (the Pentagon’s plan for how they were going to care for the victims of a limited nuclear war against massed Soviet tanks coming through the Fulda Gap (; some people would erroneously assume that I wanted the Russkies to conquer Europe or that I was otherwise soft on Communism.  I lost two successive jobs as a result.

I had studied military tactics through military war-gaming (see and then ) and was intensely interested in the challenges of doing the most good for the most people in situations of mass casualties.

The Pentagon’s own theoretical profile of victims included people with radiation burns who would be air-lifted  into East Coast medical transportation and intake networks where demands for intensive nursing and blood supplies would overwhelm the civilian system and bring it to its knees.

It — and its accompanying population relocation plans — were a glimpse into a military decision-making system that was deeply flawed, and was eerily similar to the idea of a missile shield enabling our own first strike.

Sometime later, I had talked to someone in the CIA; they called when they discovered that I had read — in an open intelligence manner — about the use of simulation gaming to train for armored warfare in the run-up to Desert Storm; I simply reached to my bookshelf and gave them the author, the chapter and the book to document the fact that it wasn’t I who had broken the secrecy. (Isn’t it ironic that I went to work for the same fellows after they left that project?)  The security state had probably been tracking me ever since I left the Bay State Special Forces, a volunteer ROTC unit in 1967; hell, given what I know now, they were probably tracking me while I was in the unit as a snot-nosed turnip off the farm truck.

The final line in the first video linked above — it kicks over automatically to book-hawking, and perhaps more — predicates action on our part.

It is one answer — and probably a very important answer — to the question I posed here:

It requires that I re-double my efforts, sharpen the tip of my rhetorical bokken, and make an effort to reach out to my Senators, Congresswoman, local officials in the political supply chain, and most importantly to the media. 

And I’ll have to lead with Bollyn’s last point: 

“Either they stand up for 9/11 Truth or they are complicit in the cover-up.” 

{##} {&&&} {##} (8:47) 


They carried only bow staves, or large wooden sticks — the sort used as braces in large casks or handles for hoes — and they marched to musick. (3:18)


{##} {&&&} {##}

Speaking of rhetorical knocks on the head, see


The Gold Medalist


Madsen on Obama and Russian Federation

May 19-20, 2014 — SPECIAL REPORT. Obama’s authorization for breaking up the Russian Federation

The plan by neo-conservative elements embedded in the Obama administration to seek a Yugoslavia-style breakup of the Russian Federation continues to manifest itself by President Obama’s continued commitment to the Captive Nations doctrine first enunciated by Ukrainian right-wing nationalist provocateur Dr. Lev Dobriansky.

Dobriansky provided the impetus behind Public Law 86-90, which was signed in 1959 by President Dwight Eisenhower and designated the third week of July as “Captive Nations Week.” The law also established the National Captive Nations Committee (NCNC), which was run for many years by Dobriansky.  In 1993, the Captive Nations lobby pushed through Congress section 905 of Public Law 103-199. The law authorized the NCNC to establish the “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” top operate the “Victims of Communism” memorial in downtown Washington, DC.

Obama, like all of his predecessors, continues to issue a Captive Nations proclamation every July. Last year, Obama’s proclamation stated, “Different peoples will determine their own paths.” Since Captive Nations Week is based on the original Public Law of 1959, it becomes clear what “different peoples” Obama refers to in his proclamation. Contained on the 1959 list of “captive nations” are Idel-Ural, Cossackia, and Turkestan.  Others on the list are White Ruthenia, Tibet, and Mainland China.

It was Dobriansky’s goal to seek the independence of Idel-Ural, or Volga Urals, as a Tatar republic inclusive of the former Soviet and now Russian autonomous republics of Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Mari-El, Mordovia, Tatarstan, and Udmurtia. In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives on August 25, 1959, Dobriansky saw Moscow and “St. Petersburg,” which was then known as Leningrad, as twin colonizers of the rest of the entire “Communist Bloc.” Dobriansky saw Moscow and St. Petersburg as being responsible for the Cold War and the subjugation of the USSR, eastern Europe (with the exception of Yugoslavia), North Korea, North Vietnam, mainland China, and Tibet. This Ukrainian nationalist’s bizarre ideas continue to be honored by the White House every July.

There are reports that while CIA director John Brennan was engaged in secret negotiations with Ukrainian coup leaders in Kiev, his deputies were meeting clandestinely with leaders of the Crimean Tatars, Muslims who have sworn allegiance to the Kiev leadership rather than the Crimean autonomous republican leaders who were authorized by referendum to unite with the Russian Federation.

It has been established that the CIA, using the same Turkish intelligence networks it uses to coordinate anti-Russian activities with Chechen, Dagestani, and Ingusheti Muslim terrorists, is now planning to carry out Dobriansky’s dream of creating an independent Idel-Ural republic. The neo-conservatives, who financially benefited from the collapse of the Soviet Union, now see a successful toppling of the Russian government in the same manner that they engineered the ouster of the democratically-elected government of Ukraine as paving the way for the achievement of Dobriansky’s grand plan of turning Russia into a patchwork quilt of independent cantons subservient to the West.  This can only be accomplished by the creation of a docile and pro-European Union regime in Moscow.

Another goal of the neo-conservatives in crushing a unified Russian Federation is to permit Georgia to assume control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Moldova to take over the Transnistrian Republic. Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave, will be ripe for the designs of Poland, Lithuania, and possibly even Germany, which once ruled the region as East Prussia.

Dobriansky’s daughter, Paula Dobriansky, who served as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs during the entire Bush administration, is now leading her father’s crusade against Russia as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center (named after Robert Belfer, the Polish-born founder of the Belco Oil and Gas Company, which later became Enron Corporation) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  Paula Dobriansky is now using such outlets as the Voice of America to call for the ending of credits to the Russian government and Russian companies and suspending Russian firms from trading on international bourses.  Dobriansky and her friends, including Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, seek to resurrect Lev Dobriansky’s insane plans for dismemberment of Russia. Today, it is not “anti-Communism” which serves as the rallying cry for the neo-conservatives but a desire to forestall the creation of a Eurasian Union that would compete with the global banker-run European Union.

Obama’s continuing support for the Captive Nations dogma also foresees independence for seven Cossack units in the Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, Ural, Orenberg, and Kalmyk regions. Although many Cossacks support the Russian government and have even sent groups of fighters to Crimea and eastern Ukraine to support Russians in those areas, there remains some support for Cossackia from Cossack emigrés in Western Europe and North America. These diaspora Cossacks always supported the right-wing nationalism of the Captive Nations hierarchy led by Lev Dobriansky.

The third Russian region on the Captive Nations list is Turkestan. The neo-conservative ideological heirs of Dobriansky foresee breaking off Turkic parts of the Russian Federation in Siberia and either forming independent states or joining them to Kazakhstan. Captive Nations plans include an independent Tuva and the assignment of the Altai and Khakass republics and regions like those inhabited by the Shors, also known as “Blacksmithing Tatars,” to Kazakhstan, which is the largest republic within what was envisaged as a future Turkestan by the creators of the Captive Nations concept.

Another country that appears on the Captive Nations list is White Ruthenia or “White Russia.” Today, White Ruthenia is the independent nation of Belarus. It, like Russia, is on the neo-conservative list for conquest by the West and possible fragmentation. In fact, on April 22, the neo-conservative run Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington is, along with USAID, hosting a delegation of Belarusian “civic activists” to brief “Washington-based stakeholders,” code names for CIA operatives and USAID/NED agitators, on the “politics, economy, and civil society of Belarus.” The seminar is being moderated by Kenneth Yalowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Belarus, who, like his co-ideologue, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, adheres to the interventionist policy practiced by neo-conservative U.S. envoys. The neo-conservatives appear to be targeting Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko in the same manner in which Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was targeted.

In what should be a warning to China, both Tibet and “Mainland China” are on the Captive Nations list and Obama continues to proclaim both by inference as “captive nations” in the annual White House proclamation. Obama’s military pivot to Asia, along with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent military-oriented visit to Mongolia, confirms that the Pentagon is, in fact, gearing up for a simultaneous two-front war against Russia and China.

Although Obama considers Idel-Ural, Cossackia, and Turkestan to be “captive nations,” other elements of the U.S. government-George Soros non-governmental organization construct of the National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Open Society Institute have additional targets in mind for potential separation from Russia. These include the Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Adygea and the Abazin Autonomous District; the Finno-Ugric republic of Komi; the Ugric region of Khanty-Mansi; the Sami region of Nenetsia; and the Finnic republic of Karelia and regions of Votia, Vepsia, Ingria, and Izhoria. Considering the assistance that Finland has given exiled Chechen terrorist groups, it only seems normal that it would provide directly, or through Soros and NED fronts, vital assistance to separatists in Finno-Ugric and Finnic regions of Russia.

The Soros and NED/USAID-financed “color” or themed revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, and Ukraine coincided with the appearance of factory-new flags representing past regimes and irredentist and separatist movements. Concerned intelligence agencies need only track the types and number of orders for new “old” flags from flag-making factories to determine where the nation- and government-busters of Soros and the NED/USAID will strike next. Factory orders for the old Belarus white-red-white flag have likely been fast-tracked.

In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, Soros and NED agitators appeared on the scene to push for the declaration of autonomous republics throughout Russia. There were declarations of autonomous republic status by Chelyabinsk, Khabarovsk, Yenissei (Krasnoyarsk), Perm, Samara, Yaroslavl, and Ural.  Just as with the new red and black Ukrainian Insurgent Army flags that appeared on Kiev’s Maidan Square during the Western-financed revolt in Ukraine, arcane and virtually-unknown factory-fresh flags appeared practically overnight from the Primorski Maritime Republic in the Russian Far East to Karelia in northwest Russia.

NED/Soros continue to be active in the regions and autonomous republics, especially in Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, Chechnya, Dagestan, Rostov (not coincidentally, the location of the headquarters of Viktor Yanukovych’s de facto exiled Ukrainian government), North Ossetia, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Krasnodar, Murmansk, the clsoed town of Ozersk in Chelyabinsk, Perm, Tver, St. Petersburg, Stavropol, and the Vyborg District of the Leningrad Oblast (a town that some Finnish nationalists would like to see returned to Finnish control as the town of Viipuri.

NED and Soros’s Open Society Institute (OSI) are working arm-in-arm to agitate Finno-Ugric nationalism in northwestern Russia. The exiled Russian-Israeli oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been identified as working with Finno-Ugric nationalists in agitating among Soros- and NED-supported Ukrainian nationalists on Maidan Square in Kiev. NED, using USAID money, established websites for Finno-Ugric nationalists in Russia. What USAID has done in Russia is similar to the CIA front’s operations in Cuba. USAID contracted with Alan Gross to set up covert Internet networks for use by Cuba’s Jewish minority. Later, USAID used a network of contractors and CIA front companies to establish a bogus Twitter-like service, called ZunZuneo, on the CubaCel mobile phone system. It is no different in Russia.

A group of websites called “7×7 – Horizontal Russia” were established with contributions from OSI and NED in 2010. These web sites span Russia’s north and are targeted at stirring up ethnic nationalism in the Finno-Ugric republics of Komi and Mari-El, as well as the regions of Ryazan, Kirov, Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Oryol, Kaluga, and Voronezh.  7 x 7 – Horizontal Russia activities were extended to other parts of the Russian Federation, including the Center, Povolzhye (the Volga Region), and Ural.

The Kirov oblast is a key part of the Obama Doctrine/Soros strategy to dismember Russia. The oblast sits between Komi, Mari-El, and Udmurtia, centers of Finno-Ugric nationalism, and the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, republics in the Volga region that have significant Muslim Turkic populations.

Khodorkovsky’s hands can be seen in the attempt to stir up tensions in Komi. Soros, fronting for Khodorkovsky and other Russo-Israeli interests, have staged protest meetings in Komi over alleged ecological damage brought about by the Russian oil firm Lukoil’s Komi subsidiary. Of course, Lukoil was the recipient of assets from Khodorkovsky’s former Yukos oil company, nationalized after Khodorkovsky’s conviction and imprisonment on charges of tax evasion. “7 x7” heralded a meeting in Komi by Finno-Ugric nationalists who received messages of support on the website, including those like the following:

“We, Finno-Ugric relatives from Finland and Hungary, love you, Komi people! I hope that Lukoil and Russian colonialists will not harm you! Komi and Finns — brothers!”

Syktyvkar, the Komi capital, has become a center for Soros/NED/Khodorkovsky agitation in the Finno-Ugric region of Russia. Some years ago, a source within the Finnish Security Service, Suojelupoliisi or SUPO, that Finland maintained a network of intelligence agents inside the Finno-Ugric regions even during the Soviet era. While most were assigned to the Karelian region, which was once part of Finland, some were also active in Komi, Mari-El, and Udmurtia.  Komi sends trains Finno-Ugric agaitators for the Volga-Ural republics of Mordovia, Udmurtia, and Mari-El.

Although there are few Finns left in Karelia, that has not stopped NED/Soros from targeting the republic’s Russian youth. Soros and NED operations against Karelia are baed out of Warsaw and the NED-funded Institute of Public Affairs. Polish agitation agents use the Karelian capital of Petrozavodsk as a base of operations to spread Soros propaganda about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights, anti-Semitism, Romaphobia, and the Holocaust, as if Karelia has a historical or social vested interest in any of these subjects. However, it is the largely curious and Internet-savvy Karelian youth who are the target of the MED/Soros information manipulation tactics. The NED/Soros operations in Karelia are focused on wider use by Karelian youth groups of Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, and Vkontakte.

Of the three Finno-Ugric nations, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary, Finland remains outside of NATO. However, there are calls for Finland to join the U.S.-led military alliance. If that occurs, NATO will have three members pushing for more autonomy for their Finno-Ugric kin in “KKMMU” – Komi, Karelia, Mari-El, Mordovia, and Udmurtia. It is obvious what the Obama/Soros/CIA nexus is trying to accomplish in Russia. The appearance of Yugoslavia-like small ethnic independent republics in a dissolved Russian Federation would provide NATO with potential new members and Israel with more compliant votes within the United Nations. 
NED/Soros working with Finland, Estonia, and Poland to pry Finnic-Ugric republics away from Russia and into the hands of NATO.
Nordic flags have been prepared by the Soros team for prospective new Nordic NATO nations of Northern Karelia (not inclusive of Eastern Karelia, which would be ceded to Finland by a Western-controlled rump Muscovy Republic made up of fully-Russian regions) and Komi. In recent years, a number of Nordic organizations linked to Soros operations have been disseminating information on the “Soviet ethnic cleansing” of Kola. Although 89 percent Russian, there are ideas being floated to return Kola or “Northern Karelia” to the original Sami (Finnish and Norwegian) and Karelian (Finnish) inhabitants whose numbers would be supplemented by Ukrainians and Komi currently living in the region. Some plans call for Pskov and the Nenets Autonomous District to be grafted on to a North Karelian/Kola Republic, somewhat increasing the indigenous population over native Russians.
Proposed Nordic flags of post-Russian Federation North Karelia (composed of the Kola Peninsula, Archangel, and Murmansk) and Komi.
The other Finno-Ugric republic in Russia is Mordovia. It was in headlines because it was the site of the female prison that housed Soros’s and the NED’s two most famous Russian agitators, Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina, otherwise known as “Pussy Riot.” The two women were jailed for hooliganism for disrupting Russian Orthodox services by performing lewd sexual acts in public. They became instant celebrities among the Soros-dominated Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International “human rights” organizations.

Pussy Riot and other Soros-funded Russian agitators ran afoul of the Russian government’s law restricting the activities of the hundreds of Soros- and CIA-linked NGOs operating in Russia. The law passed unanimously in the Russian State Duma with a landslide vote of 436-0 in 2013. The law restricts the activities of “non-governmental organizations” that “criminalize public actions” designed to “insult the religious feelings of believers.” The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Germany, and other Western nations have similar “hate crimes” legislation on the books.

The presence of Pussy Riot in the Mordovian prison led to an increase in NED/Soros activities in the republic to agitate regional nationalism. These actions were coordinated by the NED/Soros-funded Mordovian Republican Human Rights Center.

The last time Finland had plans to seize control of all of Karelia was during World War II and Finnish leader Carl Mannerheim [center] had a powerful ally. Current revanchist and irredentist activities in Ukraine and other parts of eastern Europe by George Soros and Mikhail Khodorkovsky point out that the old and mutually-treasured alliance between the Zionists and Nazis remain strong to this day.

There are links between 7×7 and the unregistered “Progress Party” of anti-Vladimir Putin leader Alexei Navalny, a frequent guest of the U.S. embassy and CIA station in Moscow during the ambassadorship of neo-con Michael McFaul.

Khodorkovsky with Komi activist on Maidan Square in Kiev.

Murmansk and Arkhangelsk are sensitive military areas for Russia and USAID/CIA involvement in those areas is akin to the Russian Foreign Ministry and SVR foreign intelligence service backing Native American and Inuit independence movements close to U.S. military bases in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Idaho.

Finland, NATO, and the Obama administration/Soros/NED have the “recovery” of Karelia for Finland in their sights. It is the carrot being dangled for Helsinki in return for Finnish membership in NATO.

To make matters worse, NED/Soros is funding activist groups in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which is totally surrounded by NATO members Poland and Lithuania. Kaliningrad, the former German Konigsberg, capital of East Prussia, is the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet. NED/Soros activism in the enclave in similar to Russian intelligence backing the Hawaiian independence restoration movement with a view toward ejecting the U.S. Pacific Fleet from its headquarters in Pearl Harbor. NED operates through its “Information and Consulting Center” contrivance in the city of Kaliningrad.

The Soros/NED “7×7” website highlighted a parade in support of right-wing Ukrainian government held in Kirov. 7×7 has called for changing the name of Kirov, named for an assassinated Soviet leader in Leningrad, Sergey Kirov. Soros activists want to change the name back to the original “Vyatka.”

In Tatarstan, NED has been working alongside Fethullah Gulen’s Turkish financiers to advance Tatar nationalism. This is especially significant considering recent U.S. propaganda calling for Crimea to be returned to the control of the Tatars, who dominated the peninsula before it fell under Imperial Russian control, then Ukrainian control, and quite recently, Russian Federation control. NED has been agitating in the Chuvash and Tatarstan republics, emphasizing the non-Russian connections of the Tatars and Chuvash to the Bulgars. Of course, this is a gambit to convince the Tatars and Chuvash that they have an ethnic connections to Bulgaria, a NATO member. It is the same operation being carried out among the Finno-Ugrics to move them closer to NATO members Estonia and Hungary, as well as to prospective NATO member Finland.

NED has been very active in the restive Caucasus region. Ingushetia, which borders on violence-ravaged Chechnya, is a favorite target of the Soros manipulators.

Another tactic of the NED/Soros activists is to target the mothers of Russian military servicemen. NED/Soros operations in Astrakhan, Pskov, and the Trans-Baikal region of Siberia.

One neocon blueprint for Russia calls for the establishment of a polyglot of republics, including a Far Eastern Republic that would be lured away from Russia by promises of free trade with Japan, the United States, and Canada in the proposed “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” This republic would be composed of Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krai, Amur Oblast, the Jewish Autonomous Region, part of the Trans-Baikal region. In the past few years, there has been a heavy influx of rabbis from Israel and the United States into the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan (which only has a small percentage of Jews) to proselytize among the largely Asiatic population. There is little doubt that the Far Eastern Republic would be heavily dominated by Zionists, this ensuring another secure vote for Israel in the United Nations.

Other proposed republics are the Magadan Republic, consisting of Magadan, Kamchatka, Chukotka, which would also be heavily reliant on investment and trade with the TPP; Greater Yakutia, which would extend throughout the Trans-Baikal region and to Sakha’s Arctic Ocean coast; a Caucasus Republic comprising the restive Muslim republics of the North Caucasus and Stavropol and Krasnodar; the East Siberian Republic, stretching along the Yenisei River; a Siberian Federation consisting of Altai and the Kusbass; and a Greater Ural Republic, comprising Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan region, and possibly, part of the Orenburg, Kirov (Vyatka), and Perm regions; and a Volga Federation consisting of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as parts of Nizhny Novgorod.

The CIA is coordinating with South Korean intelligence the spreading of Western influence in natural resource-rich Yakutia or Sakha as it is known locally. There are a number of ethnic Koreans scattered throughout Siberia and some have become valued agents for Western economic interests eager to take over and exploit the riches of Siberia.

The CIA has used its old ally the Dalai Lama of Tibet to stir up Buddhist nationalist revivalism among the Buddhist populations of the republics of Tuva and Buryatia in Siberia and Kalmykia on the north coast of the Caspian Sea. NED/Soros have continued to press the Tuvans, a Buddhist Turkic people, to declare independence, reminding them that they were the independent People’s Republic of Tannu Tuva until Joseph Stalin annexed the country in 1944. Similarly, NED/Soros have tried to stir up nationalist feelings among the Mongol Buryats, urging them to redraw the borders of three separate Buryat regions, the Buryat Republic and Ust-Orda Buryat and Aga Buryat, and create a single Buryat Republic. The goal is to make an independent Buryat a puppet state of Mongolia, a center for USAID/NED/Soros activity directed against China and the Russian Far East.

What would be left of Russia would be relatively similar to Serbia after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. A smaller Serb Republic without any control over Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, or Kosovo and facing a restive demand for autonomy among Hungarians in Vojvodina and Muslims in Sandzak. Without Vojvodina and Sandzak, Serbia would essentially be reduced to “Greater Belgrade.” The same future is envisaged by the NED/Soros team for Russia, with a Muscovy Republic being limited to the region around Moscow. It is a future that Russia will never accept and will threaten full use of its nuclear arsenal on Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, and Tel Aviv to avoid.

From their positions in government, academia, the military, and NGOs and international organizations, the neo-conservatives who continue to worship at the altar of Zionist idols such as Lev Dobriansky and Leo Strauss are eagerly leering at ethnic and linguistic maps of the Russian Federation. They all see a future Yugoslavia to be manipulated and subsumed by the hungry jackals of the European Union, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and NATO.

Re-Post: Is The Mainstream Media Dying?

Is The Mainstream Media Dying?

by Michael Snyder


Ratings at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have all been plummeting in recent years, and newspaper ad revenues are about a third of what they were back in the year 2000.  So is the mainstream media dying?  Despite what you may have heard, the mainstream media is certainly not completely dead just yet.  The average American watches approximately 153 hours of television a month, and as I pointed out in a previous article, about 90 percent of the “information” that is endlessly pumped into our heads through our televisions is controlled by just six gigantic media corporations.  However, there are a whole host of signs that things are changing – especially when it comes to news.  More Americans than ever are losing faith in the establishment-controlled media and are seeking out alternative sources of information.  Is this a trend that the big media companies are going to be able to reverse at some point?

For years, the “news business” has been dominated by CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.  But now all three channels are rapidly losing viewers.  According to a recently released Pew Research study, the number of prime time viewers for all three networks combined fell by 11 percent last year…

In 2013, the cable news audience, by nearly all measures, declined. The combined median prime-time viewership of the three major news channels—CNN, Fox News and MSNBC—dropped 11% to about 3 million, the smallest it has been since 2007. The Nielsen Media Research data show that the biggest decline came at MSNBC, which lost nearly a quarter (24%) of its prime-time audience. CNN, under new management, ended its fourth year in third place, with a 13% decline in prime time. Fox, while down 6%, still drew more viewers (1.75 million) than its two competitors combined (619,500 at MSNBC and 543,000 at CNN).

And the decline is far more dramatic when you look at just the key 25 to 54-year-old demographic.

From November 2012 to November 2013, CNN’s ratings for that demographic dropped by a staggering 59 percent, and MSNBC’s ratings for that demographic dropped by a staggering 52 percent.

Is this a sign that Americans are finally getting fed up with the endless propaganda being spewed by those establishment mouthpieces?

A recent survey conducted by a liberal polling firm would indeed seem to indicate that this is the case.  That survey found that only 6 percent of Americans consider MSNBC to be their most trusted source for news…

NBC News and sister cable network MSNBC rank at the bottom of media outlets Americans trust most for news, with Fox News leading the way, according to a new poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

In its fifth trust poll, 35 percent said they trusted Fox news more than any other outlet, followed by PBS at 14 percent, ABC at 11 percent, CNN at 10 percent, CBS at 9 percent, 6 percent for MSNBC and Comedy Central, and just 3 percent for NBC.

And of course it is not just the big mainstream news networks that are in decline.

A recently released Pew Research study discovered that the decline of America’s newspapers continued in 2013 as well…

The Newspaper Association of America has stopped compiling quarterly reports on advertising revenue. According to its annual numbers, which were released in April 2014, overall revenue for newspapers in 2013 was $37.6 billion, a decrease of 2.6% from 2012. Within that total, combined print and digital ad revenue decreased by 7%—to $20.7 billion.

Seven percent may not sound like much, but you have to realize that these declines have been happening year after year.  When you look back over a longer time frame, it really puts the massive decline that we have witnessed in advertising revenues in perspective

It took a half century for annual newspaper print ad revenue to gradually increase from $20 billion in 1950 (adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars) to $65.8 billion in 2000, and then it took only 12 years to go from $65.8 billion in ad revenues back to less than $20 billion in 2012, before falling further to $17.3 billion last year.


Even when revenues from digital advertising and other categories described by the NAA as “niche publications, direct marketing and non-daily publication advertising” are added to print ad revenue (see red line in chart), the combined total revenues for print, digital and other advertising last year was still only $23.56 billion in 2013 dollars, which was the lowest amount of annual ad revenue since 1954, when $23.3 billion was spent on print advertising alone.

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.  As you can see from this chart, newspaper ad revenues are now about a third of what they were back in the year 2000.

That is not just a “shift” – that is a massive tsunami.

Needless to say, the big newspapers are quite distressed by all of this.

For example, “the Grey Lady” herself is essentially in a state of panic at this point.  Just recently, a 96 page internal New York Times report was obtained by BuzzFeed that basically skewers the company’s current strategy when it comes to the Internet…

A 96-page internal New York Times report, sent to top executives last month by a committee led by the publisher’s son and obtained by BuzzFeed, paints a dark picture of a newsroom struggling more dramatically than is immediately visible to adjust to the digital world, a newsroom that is hampered primarily by its own storied culture.

But they still don’t understand the true cause of their decline.

It isn’t the fact that they haven’t adapted to the Internet very well that is the primary reason for their decline.

Rather, it is the fact that the American people are losing faith in the New York Times and other similar establishment mouthpieces.

News magazines are also experiencing a dramatic multi-year decline.  Ad revenues are way down across the entire industry, and any publication that can keep their yearly losses to the single digits is applauded for it

For a third year in a row, news magazines faced a difficult print advertising environment. Combined ad pages (considered a better measure than ad revenue) for the five magazines studied in this report were down 13% in 2013, following a decline of 12.5% in 2012, and about three times the rate of decline in 2011, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Again, hardest hit was The Week, which suffered a 20% drop in ad pages. The Atlantic fell 17%, The Economist 16%, and Time about 11%, while The New Yorker managed to keep its ad pages losses in single digits (7%).

Mainstream media executives appear to be optimistic that they can reverse these declines at some point, but they simply don’t realize that there has been a fundamental paradigm shift when it comes to the news media in the United States.

The general population has lost a tremendous amount of faith in the mainstream media.  They are increasingly becoming aware that it is deeply controlled by the establishment.

At this point, the charade is so out in the open that even reporters are talking about it.  For example, former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson says that the “influence on the media” by political and corporate interests is “unprecedented”

There is unprecedented, I believe, influence on the media, not just the news, but the images you see everywhere. By well-orchestrated and financed campaign of special interests, political interests and corporations. I think all of that comes into play.


Remember, this is not just some outsider that is saying these things.  Attkisson worked in the industry for more than 30 years.

And the American people know that they are getting very little truth from the establishment media these days.  A recent Gallup survey found that only 23 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the mainstream media at this point.  Increasingly, Americans are turning to other sources for news and information.

This is fueling an unprecedented alternative news boom, and more Americans than ever are relying on the Internet as their main source of news.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

30 years ago, you would have never been able to read this article.  It never would have gotten past the gatekeepers that had almost total control over what Americans read, watched and listened to.

But now things have changed.  The Internet has allowed ordinary Americans to communicate with each other on a scale that has never been possible before.  As we share information with each other, we are increasingly becoming aware that we don’t need the mainstream media to define what reality is for us after all.

If the mainstream media really wants to keep from dying, they should at least try to start telling us the truth.

Unfortunately, that simply is not going to happen.  The political and corporate interests that control the big media corporations have way too much to lose.

So we will have to continue to learn to think for ourselves and to share news and information with each other over the Internet.

In the end, we will all be much better off being unplugged from “the matrix” anyway. has been added to my personal blog roll. 

BlackListedNews has been there for some time.

Meaningful Action re: Burgeoning Tyranny

I am curious as to what other people think about a certain issue.  

I am going to turn this entry into an open thread, looking for input and comment.


While it is difficult at times to tell who reads my blogs … 

I guess I have some readers who come by indirectly from other sites, who were told by someone else at Facebook or some other social media site (particularly, I gather, in the Far East, China, Japan and elsewhere), more than a few in Europe (and Europe is a large place with lots of cultures, interests and viewpoints), perhaps some “observers” from large corporations, semi-formal or formal governmental organizations (whom I’d guess would remain silent), most from small online enterprises of one sort or another.  Perhaps I get an occasional glance from people whose own blog entries I’ve included. 


source of image:

Economy | Uncle Dave’s Arsenal of Freedom


The topic is the burgeoning US move towards totalitarianism. [I’m hard-pressed to see an opposing or rosier outlook, but if you can make that case, go for it.]


The questions: How does a household or family act or adopt to burgeoning totalitarianism?  What does an individual or small group of individuals do in a situation in which numerous overt and covert acts that were inimical to the interests of a Republic have been accomplished, in which Congress and the courts and the media act with impertinence or hostility or haughty indifference?

What action or statement is meaningful in the face of an apparently-unstoppable slide into chaos, widespread destruction, and the horrors already witnessed several times in this world in the last century?


You may feel free to respond in a manner suitable to you. Keep your comments as brief as possible; if you wish to write something lengthy, use the contact page and provide a link to another site.

I will try to monitor and approve comments as fast and as often as possible.

I will withhold my responses until some time has passed, and will likely answer them within a blog entry here.


Freedom of Access to the Internet

“The Freedom of the Smorgasbord

to try all things, to prove all things…”

miroslav vitous & stanley clark- freedom jazz dance – YouTube (7:37)


US Government Begins Rollout Of Its ‘Driver’s License For The Internet’ | Techdirt

The ultimate goal is a replacement of many logins and passwords people maintain to access content and participate in comment threads and forums. This “solution,” while somewhat practical, also raises considerable privacy concerns.

[T]he Electronic Frontier Foundation immediately pointed out the red flags, arguing that the right to anonymous speech in the digital realm is protected under the First Amendment. It called the program “radical,” “concerning,” and pointed out that the plan “makes scant mention of the unprecedented threat such a scheme would pose to privacy and free speech online.”

And the keepers of the identity credentials wouldn’t be the government itself, but a third party organization. When the program was introduced in 2011, banks, technology companies or cellphone service providers were suggested for the role, so theoretically Google or Verizon could have access to a comprehensive profile of who you are that’s shared with every site you visit, as mandated by the government.

Beyond the privacy issues (and the hints of government being unduly interested in your online activities), there are the security issues. This collected information would be housed centrally, possibly by corporate third parties. When hackers can find a wealth of information at one location, it presents a very enticing target. The government’s track record on protecting confidential information is hardly encouraging.

The problem is, ultimately, that this is the government rolling this out. Unlike corporations, citizens won’t be allowed the luxury of opting out. This “internet driver’s license” may be the only option the public has to do things like renew actual driver’s licenses or file taxes or complete paperwork that keeps them on the right side of federal law. Whether or not you believe the government’s assurances that it will keep your data safe from hackers, keep it out of the hands of law enforcement (without a warrant), or simply not look at it just because it’s there, matters very little. If the government decides the positives outweigh the negatives, you’ll have no choice but to participate.

Driver’s Licenses for the Internet? –

Maybe on your busy junket to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week you missed the panel where Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and technology officer, offered up the Internet licensing proposal above. Barbara Kiviat of the Curious Capitalist blog was there, and summarizes the idea thusly:

What Mundie is proposing is to impose authentication. He draws an analogy to automobile use. If you want to drive a car, you have to have a license (not to mention an inspection, insurance, etc.). If you do something bad with that car, like break a law, there is the chance that you will lose your license and be prevented from driving in the future. In other words, there is a legal and social process for imposing discipline. Mundie imagines three tiers of Internet I.D.: one for people, one for machines and one for programs (which often act as proxies for the other two).

Now, there are, of course, a number of obstacles to making such a scheme be reality. Even here in the mountains of Switzerland I can hear the worldwide scream go up: “But we’re entitled to anonymity on the Internet!” Really? Are you? Why do you think that?

Mundie [above] pointed out that in the physical world we are implicitly comfortable with the notion that there are certain places we’re not allowed to go without identifying ourselves. Are you allowed to walk down the street with no one knowing who you are? Absolutely. Are you allowed to walk into a bank vault and still not give your name? Hardly.

The Internet was never originally intended as a worldwide system of mass communication, Ms. Kiviat notes, let alone a largely anonymous one. But that is what it grew into, replete with feisty commenters like those reacting to her post. [The Curious Capitalist]

Driver’s Licenses for the Internet? –

Areopagitica is among history’s most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression. It is regarded as one of the most eloquent defences of press freedom ever written because many of its expressed principles form the basis for modern justifications of that right…..

According to George H. Sabine the Areopagitica was based on an engaged public:

Its basic principle was the right and also the duty of every intelligent man as a rational being, to know the grounds and take responsibility for his beliefs and actions.

Its corollary was a society and a state in which decisions are reached by open discussion, in which the sources of information are not contaminated by authority in the interest of party, and in which political unity is secured not by force but by a consensus that respects variety of opinion. [1]


A quotation from Areopagitica – “A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life”[5] – is still prominently displayed over the entrance to the renovated Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library.[6]

The Supreme Court of the United States has, in interpreting the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, referred to Areopagitica to explain the Amendment’s protections. The Court has cited Areopagitica, by name, in four cases…..

Areopagitica – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Open Yale Courses | Milton | Lecture 8 – Areopagitica

46-minute embedded video lecture

Milton’s political tract Areopagitica is discussed at length. The author’s complicated take on state censorship and licensing, both practiced by the English government with respect to printed materials at the time, is examined. His eclectic use of pagan mythology, Christian scripture, and the metaphors of eating and digestion in defense of his position are probed. Lastly, Milton’s insistence that moral truths must be examined and tested in order for goodness to be known is explored as an early manifestation of the rhetoric that will be used to depict the Fall in Paradise Lost.





Milton: Areopagitica (full text via Dartmouth College)

The title of Milton’s Areopagitica alludes to both the Areopagiticus of Isocrates and the story of the apostle Paul in Athens from Acts 17: 18-34. Isocrates’s tract, which outlines a program for political reform, specifically mentions the degradation of the judges of the Court of the Areopagus, the highest court in Greece. Milton may fancy himself a man similar in virtue and sagacity to the old judges of the Areopagus whom Isocrates praises; following this allusion, the morally weakened judges of the Areopagus are symbolic of England’s sitting Parliament. Milton doubly identifies with the voice of reform and the sober-minded leaders of a previous generation. The allusion to Paul in the book of Acts contains a similar parallel: Paul preaches to the pagan Athenians at the Areopagus (the hill where the judges once sat). In his appeal to the Athenians, Paul uses a stock phrase from a poem by Aratus, with whom the Greeks would certainly have been familiar. Paul uses a pagan idea to instruct the Athenians about Christianity.

As always, Milton divides his scholarly affections between the classical and the biblical in Areopagitica. Notice, though, that in this speech classical allusions outweigh biblical, particularly in the first half of the tract. Milton seems to be making an attempt, by way of copious example, to demonstrate just how Greek and Roman learning can reside within the boundaries of Christian morality. At first, one might be inclined to dismiss this as merely Milton’s attempt to reconcile the differences between his two intellectual loves. But a closer examination of Areopagitica will reveal Milton’s more cagey purpose for allowing classical references to dominate. It is a subtle attempt to flatter members of Parliament, by comparing their commonwealth to the enlightened societies of Athens and Rome. By playing off of the vanity of English politicians, who would of course like to think of themselves as the senators of a latter-day Troy, Milton hopes to reverse the opinion of the legislative body. Only an ignorant man would criticize the policies of Athens, and that city, as Milton argues, did not support licensing of books. Milton seems to express a faith that England’s enlightened leaders would never embark on a policy that would demonstrate their country’s inferiority to those ancient societies.

Milton’s tract is a direct response to the the Licensing Order of 1643 which reinstated much the same sort of pre-publication censorship once exercised by the Star Chamber and other earlier censors, royal and ecclesiastical. Milton does not argue here for free and unregulated speech or printing, but simply that books should not be suppressed before publication. Treasonous, slanderous and blasphemous books, he allows, should be tried according to law, then suppressed and their authors punished.

The counter-examples Milton offers to those enlightened societies of Greece and Rome are the tyrannical societies of Catholic Spain and the Papacy. Milton offers the members of Lords and Commons a clear choice: either imitate Popery or institute freedom. By making the counter-example to enlightened policy Catholicism, Milton once again demonstrates an acute understanding of his audience. Parliament during Milton’s time, especially the House of Commons, was largely Puritan. The thought that any of their orders might have an odor of unreformed Catholicism about it was distasteful, especially during the particularly tumultuous days surrounding the civil wars, when accusations of Catholic sympathy flew as regularly as the pigeons of Hyde Park. Areopagitica demonstrates Milton to be not only a great wordsmith and scholar, but also a brilliant political orator.

Milton’s Areopagitica had virtually no political impact in its day: Parliament ignored it. However, as the first major treatise on freedom of the press, it influenced the arguments of many later advocates for the abolition of censorship. Even the United States Bill of Rights can be viewed as a direct descendent of Milton’s Areopagitica. Part of the reason that it was ignored in its day may be that Milton had already challenged Parliament and popular opinion with other unorthodox arguments, such as the one presented in the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce and its defenses (Tetrachordon, Colasterion). Though he attempted to cultivate an image as a gentleman poet, Milton held radical opinions which challenged societal norms and was even accused of heresy by some of his rivals and targets. In Areopagitica we have a prime example of the nature of Milton’s genius: heavily inflected with biblical and classical knowledge, but too unorthodox for mainstream acceptance, at least in his day.

Nathan Chaney and Casey Noga.


Areopagitica. Milton’s title alludes to Isocrates’s seventh oration, often called the Areopagitic Discourse or Areopagiticus (about 355 BCE). There, Isocrates (436-338 BCE) addresses the General Assembly of Athens on a topic of civic safety. See also the Introduction above 


The program, which will conduct pilot testing in Michigan and Pennsylvania starting next month, has continually raised privacy concerns since it was first announced. The online ID proposed for the program has been dubbed the “driver’s license for the Internet.” It seeks to provide people with an easy way to prove who they are online, allowing government agencies to offer faster and more secure services.

“The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace charts a course for the public and private sectors to collaborate to raise the level of trust associated with the identities of individuals, organizations, networks, services, and devices involved in online transactions,” the White House plan reads.

In Michigan, the state’s Department of Human Services will conduct the pilot test in connection with the Bridges program, an eligibility system for online registration of citizens applying for public assistance. With the NSTIC in place, the state will stop requiring all public assistance applicants from appearing in person for identity verification.

In Pennsylvania, the NSTIC will provide residents with new IDs for conducting online transactions with government agencies such as the Public Welfare and Health departments. People would only need to sign up once for the program.

While the pilot tests only involves government agencies, the plan is to expand beyond, with the ID system becoming a requirement for most kinds of online transactions. “The private sector will lead the development of this Identity ecosystem, and it will own and operate the vast majority of the services within it. The Identity Ecosystem should be market-driven, and it should provide a foundation for the development of new and innovative services,” the White House said.

Not surprisingly, such a wide-reaching plan has raised concerns among privacy groups. In response to the release of the program’s first draft, the ACLU said: “While there are certainly many security problems on the Internet, the world is getting along fine without an online identity “ecosystem” and nothing should be considered that threatens these values. Certainly anything that resembles a national identity system or a ‘driver’s license for the Internet’ must be vehemently opposed.

Why this is being pushed now, while people are becoming increasingly wary of NSA surveillance, is anybody’s guess. However, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise since the government continually stumbles when it comes to Internet PR.

Read more:


Freedom Jazz Dance – YouTube (2:24)

As Comcast tries to win over regulators reviewing its controversial merger with Time Warner Cable, its well-honed lobbying campaign often highlights a company program offering Internet to low-income families.

In the Washington area, ads promoting the program, known as Internet Essentials, plaster the Metro and flood radio waves during the morning commute. In a recent video on Comcast’s Web site, NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell [her second husband, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,] touted the benefits of the program, which offers Internet for $10 a month to families whose children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school.

“Whether you’re researching George Washington for a history paper or searching for a job, Internet access is essential,” Mitchell said.

But many low-income consumers say accessing Comcast’s program isn’t so easy.

Comcast says it has enrolled 300,000 families across the country in three years, a figure critics say is low considering that 2.6 million households are eligible. Many consumers say they have been denied access to the service because it’s only available to new Comcast customers. Others were rejected because of old unpaid bills — as little as $53 from a decade ago. And those who do get the program say it’s often too slow. The speed is 5 megabits per second, enough for basic Internet use but often frustrating for those who try to stream videos or download big files.

Shaping how regulators view Internet Essentials is critical for Comcast. As it tries to win over regulators at the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, the cable company is trying to defuse what analysts view as the biggest threat against the deal: a determination by the FCC that a merger would be against “the public interest,” an ill-defined standard that leaves a lot to the judgment of the agency’s commissioners.

Internet Essentials is a way for Comcast to show a more civic-minded side, countering the company’s mixed reputation among consumers.

The proposed merger with Time Warner Cable has alarmed consumer advocates because it would combine the country’s top two cable and Internet service providers, putting Comcast in control of 40 percent of the high-speed Internet market and 30 percent of cable TV. Comcast and Time Warner Cable consistently rank at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys.

Critics say Comcast is using the Internet Essentials program to brighten its public image and paper over deeper problems posed to consumers by the deal. In Philadelphia, where the company is based and where it arguably has the most control over the program’s outcome, participation rates are especially low.

“While Comcast should be applauded for trying to bridge the digital divide, they are clearly benefiting from the promotion of this program,” said Hannah Sassaman, a policy director at a Philadelphia community organizing group, Media Mobilizing Project.

Comcast proudly defends the Internet Essentials program, and executives bristle when opponents say the program is being used to counter negative perceptions of Comcast or Time Warner Cable.

“This makes me sigh,” Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an interview. “You can criticize us for data consumption caps. You can criticize us because cable bills are too high. You can criticize us because the acquisition of Time Warner Cable will make us too big. I can understand that. But every once in a while, even a big company does a good thing for the right reasons.”

Philadelphia story

If any place should be a success story for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, it’s Philadelphia. It has the highest poverty rate of any big city in the nation. Comcast’s corporate headquarters are housed in the city’s tallest skyscraper; the company plans to construct an even taller 59-story office tower in 2017.

Comcast executives have deep ties to the city’s political leaders and community organizations. Cohen served as chief of staff to former mayor Ed Rendell. The firm has been a major contributor to community groups and has in return enjoyed tax breaks and grants for its skyscrapers.

In 2012, Comcast head Brian Roberts went to Constitution High School to promote Internet Essentials, bringing with him a camera crew, the mayor of the city and other top company executives. Located just one mile from Comcast’s corporate headquarters downtown, Constitution High School draws promising students from some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. More than half receive free or reduced-price lunches, making them eligible for Comcast’s program, which also provides $150 used laptops.

But two years later, few students at the school can remember the program. In an informal survey, a teacher recently asked 139 students if their families had enrolled and only two raised their hands.

One student said her family participates in Internet Essentials but complains the connection is slow. She often looks up definitions of words on her smartphone rather than wait for pages to download on her home computer. Many students rely on the school computer lab to do their homework because they still have no Internet access at home.

“I really expected more,” said Ray Yuan, a student who helps run the tech lab and who remembers the Comcast event at his school. “Comcast has so much money and what they are offering to families and even giving to the school is substandard.”

Yuan stacked 10 used notebook computers on a desk, all donated by Comcast after the event. Within months, he said, half the computers stopped working; the others are frustratingly slow to use.

The experience at Constitution High School is mirrored across the city. In Philadelphia, the adoption of Internet Essentials is about 9 percent of eligible families, compared with the national average of 12 percent.At the city’s consumer affairs office, officials say residents often call to complain about the Comcast program, saying they have been rejected because of small past bills. Current customers are also often frustrated they can’t switch to the lower-cost program.

Two years ago, Dawn Hawkins tried to participate so her then-12-year-old son, Kavi, could do his homework online. She was rejected because of a long-forgotten $53 balance on her cable bill from 10 years ago. Hawkins said she had not been a Comcast customer in years and asked to get on a payment program to settle the charges but was denied.

“You say you want to help the community, but how can you punish me for a bill I don’t even remember I had?” said Hawkins, who has become a community organizer with Action United, a group that has staged protests in front of Comcast’s headquarters to complain about the requirements that kept her and others from signing up.

Comcast’s Cohen said that a small but vocal group of people is behind the protests and that the company’s program has been largely praised. He added that the program clearly states it won’t include applicants with past bills or who are current customers.

Bargaining chip

Ads for Internet Essentials are hard to come by in Philadelphia. But in the nation’s capital, Comcast has been widely promoting the program since announcing in February that it wanted to purchase Time Warner Cable for a blockbuster price of $45 billion.

Two months after the merger was announced, Comcast said it would extend the life of the program indefinitely, beyond the initial three-year trial.

In a congressional hearing this week, Cohen told lawmakers that the merger would allow Comcast to offer the Internet Essentials program to Time Warner Cable’s millions of subscribers.

Federal officials have also touted the program, noting that Comcast is the only corporation to offer a discounted service that could help expand the adoption of broadband across the nation.

Internet Essentials was conceived expressly to win goodwill in Washington. It began three years ago as part of an offering to the FCC as the agency considered another big and controversial merger by Comcast — this one to NBC Universal for $31 billion.

While the Justice Department is bound to a fairly strict interpretation of the law in its antitrust reviewal process, the FCC can look at deals with a more subjective eye. The FCC says it weighs “the potential public interest harms of the merger against any potential public interest benefits.” The standard is a carryover of the FCC’s original mandate of doling out licenses for airwaves, which the government says is a public trust.

Comcast argues that the deal should be approved because the company and Time Warner Cable do not compete in the same markets. It also cited Internet Essentials in its FCC application, saying the program would result in the expansion of Internet access to more low-income households.

The company won’t say how much Internet Essentials costs to market and operate.

“Comcast should be applauded for creating this program on the one hand, but you wonder if these kinds of programs should be offered as bargaining chips related to a review of this merger,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Executives acknowledge that they are promoting Internet Essentials in the hope that it will help them win approval for their merger. But they also insist they have good intentions.

“Sure, it helps in the transaction as a public-interest benefit, but we are doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Cohen said.


Univision CEO joins small, mighty group of Comcast merger critics

Cable forces more channels down unwilling viewers’ throats

Comcast sells subscribers to Charter to help clear way for merger with Time Warner Cable

Follow The Post’s tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Comcast is trying to improve its image with a program for low-income consumers – The Washington Post


‘Hymn To Freedom’ – (Oscar Peterson) – jazz/gospel piano lesson – YouTube (2:24)


access to information, Internet driver’s license, Electronic Frontier Foundation, identity credentials, Davos, Microsoft, Areopagitica, Milton, First Amendment, presbyters, precious lifebood of a master spirit, Freedom Jazz Dance, Comcast Essentials


ists and ism


In 1920 the organization United Americans was founded. It was limited to citizens of the United States and planned for five million members, “whose sole purpose would be to combat the teachings of the socialists, communists, I.W.W., Russian organizations and radical farmers societies.”

In other words, United Americans was to fight all those institutions and groups believed to be anticapitalist.

The officer’s of the preliminary organization established to build up United Americans were Allen Walker of the Guaranty Trust Company; Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore 8c Ohio Railroad; H. H. Westinghouse, of Westinghouse Air Brake Company; and Otto H. Kahn, of Kuhn, Loeb 8c Company and American International Corporation. These Wall Streeters were backed up by assorted university presidents arid Newton W. Gilbert (former governor of the Philippines). Obviously, United Americans was, at first glance, exactly the kind of organization that establishment capitalists would be expected to finance and join. Its formation should have brought no great surprise.

On the other hand, as we have already seen, these financiers were also deeply involved in supporting the new Soviet regime in Russia — although this support was behind the scenes, recorded only in government files, and not to be made public for 50 years. As part of United Americans, Walker, Willard, Westinghouse, and Kahn were playing a double game. Otto H. Kahn, a founder of the anti-Communist organization, was reported by the British socialist J. H. Thomas as having his “face towards the light.” Kahn wrote the preface to Thomas’s book. In 1924 Otto Kahn addressed the League for Industrial Democracy and professed common objectives with this activist socialist group (see page 49). The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (Willard’s employer) was active in the development of Russia during the 1920s. Westinghouse in 1920, the year United Americans was founded, was operating a plant in Russia that had been exempted from nationalization. And the role of Guaranty Trust has already been minutely described.


In March 1920 the New York Times headlined an extensive, detailed scare story about Red invasion of the United States within two years, an invasion which was to be financed by $20 million of Soviet funds “obtained by the murder and robbery of the Russian nobility.”2

United Americans had, it was revealed, made a survey of “radical activities” in the United States, and had done so in its role as an organization formed to “preserve the Constitution of the United States with the representative form of government and the right of individual possession which the Constitution provides.”

Further, the survey, it was proclaimed, had the backing of the executive board, “including Otto H. Kahn, Allen Walker of the Guaranty Trust Company, Daniel Willard,” and others. The survey asserted that

the radical leaders are confident of effecting a revolution within two years, that the start is to be made in New York City with a general strike, that Red leaders have predicted much bloodshed and that the Russian Soviet Government has contributed $20,000,000 to the American radical movement.

The Soviet gold shipments to Guaranty Trust in mid-1920 (540 boxes of three poods each) were worth roughly $15,000,000 (at $20 a troy ounce), and other gold shipments through Robert Dollar and Olof Aschberg brought the total very close to $20 million. The information about Soviet gold for the radical movement was called “thoroughly reliable” and was “being turned over to the Government.” The Reds, it was asserted, planned to starve New York into submission within four days:

Meanwhile the Reds count on a financial panic within the next few weeks to help their cause along. A panic would cause distress among the workingmen and thus render them more susceptible to revolution doctrine.

The United Americans’ report grossly overstated the number of radicals in the United States, at first tossing around figures like two or five million and then settling for precisely 3,465,000 members in four radical organizations. The report concluded by emphasizing the possibility of bloodshed and quoted “Skaczewski, President of the International Publishing Association, otherwise the Communist Party,  [who] boasted that.the time was coming soon when the Communists would destroy utterly the present form of society.”

In brief, United Americans published a report without substantiating evidence, designed to scare the man in the street into panic: The significant point of course is that this is the same group that was responsible for protecting and subsidizing, indeed assisting, the Soviets so they could undertake these same plans.


Is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing? Probably not. We are talking about heads of companies, eminently successful companies at that. So United Americans was probably a ruse to divert public — and official — attention from the subterranean efforts being made to gain entry to the Russian market.

United Americans is the only documented example known to this writer of an organization assisting the Soviet regime and also in the forefront of opposition to the Soviets. This is by no means an inconsistent course of action, and further research should at least focus on the following aspects:

(a) Are there other examples of double-dealing by influential groups generally known as the establishment?

(b) Can these examples be extended into other areas? For example, is there evidence that labor troubles have been instigated by these groups?

(c) What is the ultimate purpose of these pincer tactics? Can they be related to the Marxian axiom: thesis versus antithesis yields synthesis? [The Hegelian dialectic which was at the root of the organization founded by Adam Weishaupt and included Marx and Rothschild in its formative enoturage; see Perfectibilists.] It is a puzzle why the Marxist movement would attack capitalism head-on if its objective was a Communist world and if it truly accepted the dialectic. If the objective is a Communist world — that is, if communism is the desired synthesis — and capitalism is the thesis, then something apart from capitalism or communism has to be antithesis. Could therefore capitalism be the thesis and communism the antithesis, with the objective of the revolutionary groups and their backers being a synthesizing of these two systems into some world system yet undescribed?



The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was at 120 Broadway. The vehicle for this pro-Bolshevik activity was American International Corporation — at 120 Broadway. AIC views on the Bolshevik regime were requested by Secretary of State Robert Lansing only a few weeks after the revolution began, and Sands, executive secretary of AIC, could barely restrain his enthusiasm for the Bolshevik cause. Ludwig Martens, the Soviet’s first ambassador, had been vice president of Weinberg & Posner, which was also located at 120-Broadway. Guaranty Trust Company was next door at 140 Broadway but Guaranty Securities Co. was at 120 Broadway. In 1917 Hunt, Hill & Betts was at 120 Broadway, and Charles B. Hill of this firm was the negotiator in the Sun Yat-sen dealings. John MacGregor Grant Co., which was financed by Olof Aschberg in Sweden and Guaranty Trust in the United States, and which was on the Military Intelligence black list, was at 120 Broadway. The Guggenheims and the executive heart of General Electric (also interested in American International) were at 120 Broadway. We find it therefore hardly surprising that the Bankers Club was also at 120 Broadway, on the top floor (the thirty-fourth).

It is significant that support for the Bolsheviks did not cease with consolidation of the revolution; therefore, this support cannot be wholly explained in terms of the war with Germany. The American-Russian syndicate formed in 1918 to obtain concessions in Russia was backed by the White, Guggenheim, and Sinclair interests. Directors of companies controlled by these three financiers included Thomas W. Lamont (Guaranty Trust), William Boyce Thompson (Federal Reserve Bank), and John Reed’s employer Harry Payne Whitney (Guaranty Trust). This strongly suggests that the syndicate was formed to cash in on earlier support for the Bolshevik cause in the revolutionary period. And then we found that Guaranty Trust financially backed the Soviet Bureau in New York in 1919.

The first really concrete signal that previous political and financial support was paying off came in 1923 when the Soviets formed their first international bank, Ruskombank. Morgan associate Olof Aschberg became nominal head of this Soviet bank; Max May, a vice president of Guaranty Trust, became a director of Ruskom-bank, and the Ruskombank promptly appointed Guaranty Trust Company its U.S. agent.


What motive explains this coalition of capitalists and Bolsheviks?

Russia was then — and is today — the largest untapped market in the world. Moreover, Russia, then and now, constituted the greatest potential competitive threat to American industrial and financial supremacy. (A glance at a world map is sufficient to spotlight the geographical difference between the vast land mass of Russia and the smaller United States.) Wall Street must have cold shivers when it visualizes Russia as a second super American industrial giant.

But why allow Russia to become a competitor and a challenge to U.S. supremacy? In the late nineteenth century, Morgan/Rockefeller, and Guggenheim had demonstrated their monopolistic proclivities. In Railroads and Regulation 1877-1916 Gabriel Kolko has demonstrated how the railroad owners, not the farmers, wanted state control of railroads in order to preserve their monopoly and abolish competition. So the simplest explanation of our evidence is that a syndicate of Wall Street financiers enlarged their monopoly ambitions and broadened horizons on a global scale. The gigantic Russian market was to be converted into a captive market and a technical colony to be exploited by a few high-powered American financiers and the corporations under their control. What the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission under the thumb of American industry could achieve for that industry at home, a planned socialist government could achieve for it abroad — given suitable support and inducements from Wall Street and Washington, D.C.

Finally, lest this explanation seem too radical, remember that it was Trotsky who appointed tsarist generals to consolidate the Red Army; that it was Trotsky who appealed for American officers to control revolutionary Russia and intervene in behalf of the Soviets; that it was Trotsky who squashed first the libertarian element in the Russian Revolution and then the workers and peasants; and that recorded history totally ignores the 700,000-man Green Army composed of ex-Bolsheviks, angered at betrayal of the revolution, who fought the Whites and the Reds. In other words, we are suggesting that the Bolshevik Revolution was an alliance of statists: statist revolutionaries and statist financiers aligned against the genuine revolutionary libertarian elements in Russia.3

‘The question now in the readers’ minds must be, were these bankers also secret Bolsheviks? No, of course not. The financiers were without ideology. It would be a gross misinterpretation to assume that assistance for the Bolshevists was ideologically motivated, in any narrow sense. The financiers were power-motivated and therefore assisted any political vehicle that would give them an entree to power: Trotsky, Lenin, the tsar, Kolchak, Denikin — all received aid, more or less. All, that is, but those who wanted a truly free individualist society.

Neither was aid restricted to statist Bolsheviks and statist counter-Bolsheviks. John P. Diggins, in Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America,4 has noted in regard to Thomas Lamont of Guaranty Trust that

Of all American business leaders, the one who most vigorously patronized the cause of Fascism was Thomas W. Lamont. Head of the powerful J.P. Morgan banking network, Lamont served as something of a business consultant for the government of Fascist Italy.

Lamont secured a $100 million loan for Mussolini in 1926 at a particularly crucial time for the Italian dictator. We might remember too that the director of Guaranty Trust was the father of Corliss Lamont, a domestic Communist. This evenhanded approach to the twin totalitarian systems, communism and fascism, was not confined to the Lamont family. For example, Otto Kahn, director of American International Corporation and of Kuhn, Leob & Co., felt sure that “American capital invested in Italy will find safety, encouragement, opportunity and reward.”5 This is the same Otto Kahn who lectured the socialist League of Industrial Democracy in 1924 that its objectives were his objectives.6 They differed only — according to Otto Kahn — over the means of achieving these objectives.

Ivy Lee, Rockefeller’s public relations man, made similar pronouncements, and was responsible for selling the Soviet regime to the gullible American public in the late 1920s. We also have observed that Basil Miles, in charge of the Russian desk at the State Department and a former associate of William Franklin Sands, was decidedly helpful to the businessmen promoting Bolshevik causes; but in 1923 the same Miles authored a profascist article, “Italy’s Black Shirts and Business.”7 “Success of the Fascists is an expression of Italy’s youth,” wrote Miles while glorifying the fascist movement and applauding its esteem for American business.


The Marburg Plan, financed by Andrew Carnegie’s ample heritage, was produced in the early years of the twentieth century. It suggests premeditation for this kind of superficial schizophrenia, which in fact masks an integrated program of power acquisition: “What then if Carnegie and his unlimited wealth, the international financiers and the Socialists could be organized in a movement to compel the formation of a league to enforce peace.”8

The governments of the world, according to the Marburg Plan, were to be socialized while the ultimate power would remain in the hands of the international financiers “to control its councils and enforce peace [and so] provide a specific for all the political ills of mankind.”9

This idea was knit with other elements with similar objectives. Lord Milner in England provides the transatlantic example of banking interests recognizing the virtues and possibilities of Marxism. Milner was a banker, influential in British wartime policy, and pro-Marxist.10 In New York the socialist “X” club was founded in 1903. It counted among its members not only the Communist Lincoln Steffens, the socialist William English Walling, and the Communist banker Morris Hillquit, but also John Dewey, James T. Shotwell, Charles Edward Russell, and Rufus Weeks (vice president of New York Life Insurance Company). The annual meeting of the Economic Club in the Astor Hotel, New York, witnessed socialist speakers. In 1908, when A. Barton Hepburn, president of Chase National Bank, was president of the Economic Club, the main speaker was the aforementioned Morris Hillquit, who “had abundant opportunity to preach socialism to a gathering which represented wealth and financial interests.”11

From these unlikely seeds grew the modern internationalist movement, which included not only the financiers Carnegie, Paul Warburg, Otto Kahn, Bernard Baruch, and Herbert Hoover, but also the Carnegie Foundation and its progeny International Conciliation. [And  Cord and Mary Pinchot Meyer….] The trustees of Carnegie were, as we have seen, prominent on the board of American International Corporation. In 1910 Carnegie donated $10 million to found the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and among those on the board of trustees were Elihu Root (Root Mission to Russia, 1917), Cleveland H. Dodge (a financial backer of President Wilson), George W. Perkins (Morgan partner), G. J. Balch (AIC and Amsinck), R. F. Herrick (AIC), H. W. Pritchett (AIC), and other Wall Street luminaries. Woodrow Wilson came under the powerful influence of — and indeed was financially indebted to — this group of internationalists. As Jennings C. Wise has written, “Historians must never forget that Woodrow Wilson… made it possible for Leon Trotsky to enter Russia with an American passport.”12

But Leon Trotsky also declared himself an internationalist. We have remarked with some interest his high-level internationalist connections, or at least friends, in Canada. Trotsky then was not pro-Russian, or pro-Allied, or pro-German, as many have tried to make him out to be. Trotsky was for world revolution, for world dictatorship; he was, in one word, an internationalist.13 Bolshevists and bankers have then this significant common ground — internationalism. Revolution and international finance are not at all inconsistent if the result of revolution is to establish more centralized authority. International finance prefers to deal with central governments. The last thing the banking community wants is laissez-faire economy and decentralized power because these would disperse power.

This, therefore, is an explanation that fits the evidence. This handful of bankers and promoters was not Bolshevik, or Communist, or socialist, or Democrat, or even American. Above all else these men wanted markets, preferably captive international markets — and a monopoly of the captive world market as the ultimate goal. They wanted markets that could be exploited monopolistically without fear of competition from Russians, Germans, or anyone else — including American businessmen outside the charmed circle. This closed group was apolitical and amoral. In 1917, it had a single-minded objective — a captive market in Russia, all presented under, and intellectually protected by, the shelter of a league to enforce the peace.

Wall Street did indeed achieve its goal. American firms controlled by this syndicate were later to go on and build the Soviet Union, and today are well on their way to bringing the Soviet military-industrial complex into the age of the computer. [The book was published in 1974 and, of course, Russia and its peoples are no longer deficient in information technology.]

Today the objective is still alive and well. John D. Rockefeller expounds it in his book The Second American Revolution — which sports a five-pointed star on the title page.14 The book contains a naked plea for humanism, that is, a plea that our first priority is to work for others. In other words, a plea for collectivism. Humanism is collectivism. It is notable that the Rockefellers, who have promoted this humanistic idea for a century, have not turned their OWN property over to others.. Presumably it is implicit in their recommendation that we all work for the Rockefellers. Rockefeller’s book promotes collectivism under the guises of “cautious conservatism” and “the public good.” It is in effect a plea for the continuation of the earlier Morgan-Rockefeller support of collectivist enterprises and mass subversion of individual rights.

In brief, the public good has been, and is today, used as a device and an excuse for self-aggrandizement by an elitist circle that pleads for world peace and human decency. But so long as the reader looks at world history in terms of an inexorable Marxian conflict between capitalism and communism, the objectives of such an alliance between international finance and international revolution remain elusive. So will the ludicrousness of promotion of the public good by plunderers. If these alliances still elude the reader, then he should ponder the obvious fact that these same international interests and promoters are always willing to determine what other people should do, but are signally unwilling to be first in line to give up their own wealth and power. Their mouths are open, their pockets are closed.

This technique, used by the monopolists to gouge society, was set forth in the early twentieth century by Frederick C. Howe in The Confessions of a Monopolist.15 First, says Howe, politics is a necessary part of business. To control industries it is necessary to control Congress and the regulators and thus make society go to work for you, the monopolist. So, according to Howe, the two principles of a successful monopolist are, “First, let Society work for you; and second, make a business of politics.”16 These, wrote Howe, are the basic “rules of big business.” ….


Excerpts from Chapter Ten and Eleven


by Anthony Sutton

Excerpts: “Surviving Survival”

Excerpts from the book “Surviving Survival”:

An adjunct to “Getting Beyond” at 



“In the brain, the cardinal rule is: future equals past; what has happened before will happen again. In response to trauma, the brain encodes protective memories that force you to behave in the future the way that you behaved in the past. Any sight, sound, or smell, any fragment of the scene in which you were threatened, can set off that automatic behavior.” [Page 3]

“… Feelings of alienation and displacement represent one of the most common responses to trauma. …”

“Survival is one triumph; living through that ordeal delivers us on to the next stage of the journey. Adaptation means adjusting the soft to a particular environment. If the environment changes, as it does the experience of trauma, you are lost and must adapt once more. The bigger the trauma, the more dramatic requirement for change. In many cases, the necessary adaptation is so extreme that entirely new self emerges from the experience. In those cases, there is no easy return to the old environment. Sometimes you can’t go home at all.” [Pages 4-5]  “Your only choice is to go forward.” [Page 6]

“… Some people are innately more resilient than others in the wake of catastrophe. But we can also take steps to help ourselves. It turns out that many of the beliefs about the subject that psychotherapists have long held sacred are simply not true. For example, when the World Trade Center was attacked, the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $155 million to make psychological counseling available to anyone who wanted it. The experts thought that a quarter of a million people would seek help for unmanageable grief over lost loved ones or for debilitating anxiety as a reaction to the horror they had witnessed. Just 300 people showed up. Of course, more people may have been in need of therapy, but new research suggests that if the bad news is that most people who experience trauma, the good news is that the majority are able to go on with their lives. Richard Tedeschi, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, says that most people return to normal within two years after trauma. James Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas, called this fact “one of the best kept secrets in the mental health world.” But the quality of life during those two years can be drastically different if you employ sound strategies for moving forward.” [Page 7]

“… In that deep place of knowing that requires no conscious thought” [page 13]

Extreme survival sets you apart [page 14]

It makes you feel more alive than you have felt in years. [Page 15]

a gut feeling. A  sixth sense.  [page 18]

“An area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex interprets pain, including social pain….  it can also send signals of pleasure from sensing skin-to-skin contact. When emotional pain occurs, our first impulse is to put out the fire with skin-to-skin contact. When the unspeakable happens, people hug one another.”


Researchers turn to virtual reality to treat 9/11 post traumatic stress | UW Today

“…. After conducting a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) on debriefing, Rose et al. (2001) concluded,

There is no current evidence that … psychological debriefing is a useful treatment for the prevention of post traumatic stress disorder after traumatic incidents. Compulsory debriefing of victims of trauma should cease.

Another meta-analysis revealed that individuals exposed to Mitchell’s version of debriefing failed to experience symptomatic relief, whereas individuals who were not exposed to CISD did show improvement (van Emmerik et al., 2002). ….”

Psychological Debriefing Does Not Prevent Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Psychiatric Times


Severe Clear

 “I’ve heard more than one New Yorker report having an anxious feeling on unclear autumn mornings. That’s what the weather was like when 2 airliners burst through the World Trade Center. During that traumatic event, for some people, the amygdala it rationally labeled the weather is a sign of danger. A new trigger was created to bring on an attack of anxiety.… The brain can seem at times like a confounding bureaucracy with different departments arguing with one another. The amygdala is not in the rational department. It doesn’t care that, at times, its responses might make no sense. The emotional system can’t allow you to think about your reactions. That takes too much time. If you stop to think, you’ll be eaten. So it’s tuned for instant reaction.… The system is driven by natural selection. If it gets you survive long enough to reproduce, he gets passed on. It doesn’t care that it might make you more visible in certain circumstances.….Under extreme stress, emotional part of the brain shuts down the frontal lobes, the area of the brain that we use for logic and reason. The frontal lobes have that calm and sensible voice… But to get its work done, the amygdala vetoes those distracting, if reasonable, thoughts.” [Pages 26-27]

The “technique of forcing people to talk after the experienced trauma is known as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing [see sidebar above] and it’s been shown to be ineffective and even harmful. In fact, a lot of the patients commit suicide. This does not mean they keeping trauma secret is the best approach. It means that writing about your experience or talking with friends and family only when you’re ready are often better than being forced unburden yourself in a formal, professional setting.” [Page 31]

“George Vaillant, a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor Harvard Medical School, is the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest-running study of adaptation in humans ever undertaken.” [Page 32]

“… The 1st step in the process of survival: perceive, and believe.” [Page 39]

“Reason and emotion must cooperate for correct decisions to emerge,  for emotion is the realm of intuition and inspiration, essential helpmates in surviving. Survival requires entering what might be called a state of grace.….The survivor also does not stop trying; he always does the next thing. Even resting becomes a task, waiting “an active option.” Sometimes resting, waiting, conserving energy, represents the best strategy.” [Page 41]

[My in-hospital rehabilitation was an intense seminar in the concept of periodization; see Jim Loehr’s books on “toughness training”. I would return from a one-hour session down the hall and immediately fall into bed exhausted, only to be rousted 30-45 minutes later for the next session. Naps are still essential.]

“The survivor faces the requirement of monumental, sometimes superhuman, efforts. Trying to fathom them could arouse strong emotions that could distract thinking. So he breaks those tasks down into manageable steps and completes them one by one. He has the future in mind, but he doesn’t think too far ahead. He concentrates its at his efforts in the moment. In doing the things he must do, he is organized and meticulous.” [This probably explains why I count during physical movement of a strenuous nature.  This is confirmed later on page 47.]  “Get organized or die,” say the survival instructors. It is the struggle that is key; those who ceased to struggle, die.… If you’re working on the problem, then by definition, you’re still alive. Survival does not mean right or nice or heroic or even pretty just that you’re alive. It just means that you’re alive.

The survivor takes comfort in memory, mind games, music, poetry, prior–anything to allow the mind to rest. Joy is a way for the organism to tell itself that it’s all right. That’s essential information in the ongoing conversation between brain and body, between reason and emotion.” [Pages 41-42]

“Hallucination is common during the experience of survival.” [Page 42]

Accepting your new environment instead of grieving for the one you’ve lost is something every survivor must do. [Page 43]

When you’ve finally accepted that no one but yourself could be responsible for your own salvation, when you’re no longer bothered by thoughts of death, you have reached the “stage of the journey” [which] “is known as survival by surrender. This is where you let go of the outcome and trust the process.” Steve Callahan, who drifted in a raft for 76 days at sea, called it a “a view of heaven from his seat in hell.”

“Survivors are willing to do anything to survive. They take a kind of action that is both bold and cautious. Its audacity shocks normal people. and yet survivors retain a level of precision and control that holds them back, if just barely, from death.” [Page 44]

“When survivors talk about the spiritual elements of survival, I believe that they are really talking about a special stage in which we can gain access to those parts of the brain that normally remain unconscious. This is the realm not of actual spirits but of gut feelings and abrupt leaps of the imagination, of sudden inspirations. Those unconscious memories feel like spirits because they make up the multiple selves that we normally perceived as cooperating in a unitary self. Those memories direct our behavior without asking permission.”  [Page 47]

“… Altered state of consciousness is one of the keystones of both surviving and of surviving survival itself once the main event seems to be over.” [Page 48]

“Responses to trauma can seem paradoxical at times. Dissociation during trauma often leads to symptoms of posttraumatic stress later on. But a curious transformation takes place under certain circumstances. If you’re in control during the trauma, it can strengthen you for dealing with the aftermath. Having a task is paramount.” [Page 48]

One survivor “called his ordeal “the most beautifully spiritual experience of my life” and went on to say, “I have no regrets.” [Page 49]

[I emphatically agree.]

“A mantra can focus the mind on the goal and engage the deliberate and logical part of the brain.” [Page 54]

“The multiple cells that make up the unity of normal experience were split apart in scattered [after Eileen’s experience with the crocodile or Micki’s experience with the shark]; one of her first tasks was to admit that even if she could put the pieces back together, the whole would never look quite the same. “Making [the] job harder was the fact that [the victim] doesn’t know anything about the process. No one gives them a roadmap for the journey. They have to trust their feelings, their intuition, and listen carefully on the secret channels that give us our inspirations.” [Page 55]

“In the past, I’ve used the term that the neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux uses, originated by Philip Johnson-Laird: “mental models.” David Eaglemann, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of medicine in Houston Texas, calls them “internal models.” Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel laureate, uses the term “schema.”  Elkhonon Goldberg, a professor of neurology at New York University and the protégé of the famed neurologist Alexander Luria, favors “categorical perceptions”. At the simplest level, mental models are representations of objects that allow you to identify things quickly and to know the rules by which they behave: That’s a bunny. It hops away across the grass when I enter the yard. That’s a bird. It flies away. This system would never allow you to think that the bunny will fly. Neither will let you think, even for a second, that the bunny is a cat. One kind of mental model we can learn allows you to catch the ball because it is an internal model of how Newtonian physics and gravity influence objects.

[Similarly, see the description of how Sadaharu Oh learned to hit a pitched baseball by training with Morihei Ueshiba: ]

The retina sends images to the visual cortex, which makes a prediction about what is being seen and forwards that to the thalamus. The thalamus returns a message telling the difference between the actual visual information and the prediction. The part that’s correctly predicted is ignored. Whatever is new then serves to revise the mental model for future use. Eagleman wrote, “when the world was successfully predicted away, awareness is not needed because the brain is doing its job well.” This is another way of saying that the brain is tuned to detect novelty. But the system, while fasting generally useful for avoiding predators in finding prey, can make all sorts of mistakes in our modern world.

We also use mental models and searching. If you misplaced your phone, one strategy for finding it is to go around the house and examined every single object in every room until you come upon the phone. That might take you a few days. But if you have a target image–a simplified mental model of the phone, then you can rapidly scan a room, and if any portion of the phone is visible, the complete image will instantly jump out at you. [Inserted foot note: “The term “mental model” is shorthand for process that is extremely complex. In actual fact, the brain stores detailed images, but they are broken into fragments and widely dispersed within the brain. But if you perceive any fragment, your brain will officially call up the whole image. I’m using the term “mental models” to refer to the fragments as we as the process that leads you to identify the whole.”]

The emotional system labels are mental models so the you immediately know their value or their danger. When you see something that you’ve never seen before, you have to spend a bit of time figuring out what it is. But once you’ve done so, you’ll identify it instantly from then on and know its use and its significance. Our fearful reactions to loud noises and big looming shapes are innate mental models. Mental models can represent sight, smell, touch, and sound. They can also swap information. When someone puts a key in your hand, you know what it is without having to look at it. When someone shakes a ring of keys, you know what they are by the tinkling sound area because of mental models, you don’t really see within the environment. You take in sensory information and try to match it up to what you expect based on previous experience or on some inmate model. When you see the popular symbol known as a smiley face, you know what it is, not because it looks like a face but because of an organ in the brain called the hippocampus. Gyorgy Buszaki, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University, says that if you think of the neo-cortex as a library, the hippocampus is the librarian. The hippocampus is what’s called an auto-associative. “Give the auto associative network part of the content,” says Buszaki, “and it returns the whole.” This system is the basis of mental models. The hippocampus always tries to bring you into your conscious mind a pattern it has already stored (and not something new), even when what it sees isn’t really a representation of that thing. Caricatures don’t look much like the people they portray, but they work because of the auto-associative. It takes almost no information to make the system work. You have a lot more detailed information in your brain about faces in general and in particular, but the scant marks of a good caricature are enough to call up the appropriate face. The hippocampus is doing this all the time with everything you perceive through the senses. After trauma, emotional labels carried by mental models can be the source of much pain. Extreme trauma can destroy your trust in your mental models. [My emphasis.] This condition is known as hypervigilance and it makes sense. One veteran of the Vietnam War said that he had to look at everything twice to be sure of what it was. Since mental models are the heart of all perception, this cuts you off from the world.

This process of storing mental models can help us understand why young children are afraid of things that may seem odd to adults. They haven’t yet catalogued much of the world, so a pile of clothes in the corner of a dark bedroom might look like the face of a monster. A shadow might be a terrifying bird. Those are perfectly reasonable interpretations to a brain that has few mental models. Children have less experience creating these models, and at night they are instinctively on the lookout for whatever is dangerous. In that sense, post-traumatic stress can make us behave as if we are children again.” [Pages 57-59]

[When I awoke from my coma to discover my new stater and begin to take in the information on what had happened, who was there around my bedside, and how deeply and profoundly I was cared for, not only in a professional sense but also one tied to real live breathing human beings (my family, especially my son and daughter), I became emotionally labile. The receptors in my Stream were raw, on fire. I cried a lot, sometimes for long periods of time, or on and off, not from fear or shame or pain or pity, but from having the renewed ability to “taste the world”.]

“Life is a precious, fragile gift” [page 61]

“… The left hemisphere of the brain is involved in making up stories to explains the things we do and feel.” [Page 63]

“Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, refers to the left brain as a “baloney-generator” that offers up explanations of our behavior. Often those explanations have nothing to do with reality. They’re simply the stories that we tell ourselves to help us get around the world. “The unconscious mind,” Pinker said, “is a spin doctor.”  LeDoux and Pinker confirm a long line of thinkers going back to William James (and probably beyond, to Plato) concerning how well we can know ourselves consciously and how that knowledge or the lack of it influences the decisions we make.….  The system can work either way, thoughts leading to motions or the physical actions of emotions leading to matching thoughts and feelings.” [Page 63]

In a related experiment, Itzhak Fried, a cognitive neuroscientist at UCLA, electrically stimulated a woman’s frontal lobes. When they threw the switch, she was seized by uncontrollable laughter. Nothing funny was happening. The woman was suffering from epilepsy so severe that she was seated in a surgical theater. And yet, not only did the woman laugh hysterically, she felt all the gay merriment consistent with that laughter. Moreover, the surgeons found her laughter so infectious that they fell into fits of laughter along with her. When they turned off the current in question the woman, her left hemisphere had explanations ready: “you guys are just so funny…  standing around.” Again we can see have the physical expression of an emotion without any logical cause behind it can lead to the feelings associated with that emotion, but it can also lead to thoughts that serve to impose a rationale upon it. And although it is a complete confabulation, we can use this mechanism to trick ourselves into feeling better.” [page 64]

“I’m really lucky” [said the woman who’d ‘recovered’ from having been attacked by a shark during a scuba diving experience.] “I don’t regret that this happened to me. What surprises me is how something so horrific has been such a positive experience in my life. I would never wish it on my husband or my parents if I had to do it over, but for me, it was transforming. Is probably the single most positive experience I’ve ever had.” [Page 65]

“At Baylor in Houston, David Eagleman has written about [somatic markers as] this vast area of unconscious knowledge and perception. He uses the example of experts who can tell male and female chickens apart as soon as they hatch. The experts look at the checks and sort them in one box or the other, and they’re mostly right. But no one, including these experts, has any idea how they do it. To teach someone, you have to immerse them in the activity and give him feedback about when he’s right and when he’s wrong. He gradually learns to do it correctly but he never knows what new perceptions he acquires. We all carry out these mysterious perceptual tasks in our daily lives, but for the most part, we go through life unaware of them.”

Richard Feynman could do something similar with equations. Without doing any calculations he could take one look at them and tell if they were right or wrong. He had no idea how he did it.” [Page 70]

“How much more we know than we can never know we know. How deep the well from which we draw our experience and behavior, our choices, are expressions, and even our salvation.” [Page 70]

“The tyranny of reason” [page 73]

See page 81, perhaps, for more on the concept of spiritual surrender.

“…. when the rage pathway runs long enough, it becomes fatigued, and you descend into depression.”  [Page 84]

“She began filling herself up with knowledge…” [Page 84]

“Learning is its own reward as far as the brain is concerned. It deeply activates the dopamine reward pathways.” [Page 85]

Hope is made real by action [page 86]

An important concept in Gonzales’ book is that of “the Stream”.

“While baby is building her emotional system, watching, imitating, exploring the world through her mother, it’s not a one-way process. The child was also building new spaces inside the mother’s brain. Through their interaction, mother and child build these spaces. There are real physical spaces filled with neurons and cell assemblies that are dedicated to the child, that are owned by the child. It isn’t in one particular area of the brain that the child occupies. The child’s colonies in the mother’s brain are like an archipelago of neural networks that involve sight, smell, touch, hearing, and many more subtle and unconscious channels of communication, such as pheromones and the micro-expressions of the face that has to quickly the blossom into consciousness but are registered in the intense subterranean log of memory by the emotional system. This is the law to which the sixth sense refers….. [My emphases, to point out the vital need of face-to-face communication in a world that has gone “virtual”.]  I sometimes call this channel of communication the Stream…..” [Pages 92-93]

“One of the main jobs of the emotional system is to teach us the rules of our world and the best responses to it. In other words it teaches us how to make decisions, whether they are conscious or automatic. We learn the things and the people in our world and how they interact, and we learn the rules of their behavior.” [Pages 92-93]

“The useful illusion of a unified self is restored.” [Page 98]

“The very concept of self is something that most of us take for granted until something (crocodile, war, death) comes along to shock us with the idea that it’s not really what it seems. Indeed, the unified sense of self that most of us feel is a necessary illusion created by an intimate and delicate dance, a trick of neurological timing, that takes place constantly between brain and body, as well as among all the myriad selves that we embody. The brain must constantly and dynamically represent the state of the body and what it is doing, how it is feeling, where its parts are. It must also monitor what is going on in the outside world, even while dreaming up the next right action to keep the trend going. The frontal lobes are home to the networks where information about the inside and outside come together. The brain is an organ of prediction. Since all kinds of information are coming from all over the place at different rates, the brain needs to synchronize this flow into a single thing. That thing is the self. “We know this centralization of prediction is the abstraction we call the “self”,” says Rudolfo Llinas, a neuroscientist at New York University. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to disturb that balance. And the self that is not unified can be profoundly disturbing. Motivation and enjoy wither. Bizarre feelings arise.”

One of those bizarre feelings has the multiple syllable medical name of “apotemnophilia” [ ], a condition in which the map of the body is incomplete. This is recognizable to me because of my direct personal experience with a left-sided hemiplegic motor stroke and its residua in which persistent muscular atrophy, fine-finger-movement loss of dexterity, occasionally suggest that I’d be better off without certain parts of the body. [Thankfully, the thought is fleeting and does not initiate action.] The rehabilitation process and its activities that are ‘physical, patterned, repetitive, organized and directed toward a goal” [page 109] were obviously useful in restoring my ambulatory status, and activities with such characteristics are useful in restoring post-traumatic vitality in any set of circumstances.  Knitting is well-documented in Gonzales’ book as a psychologically-rehabilitative process, interesting because it is also documented by a well-known neuropsychologist in the book Smart Moves. It was suggested by a friend that I conquer my left hand numbness and loss of dexterity by learning to play a musical instrument like a guitar or  piano or upright bass. I’ve bought the synthesizer to go with my iMac/GarageBand, and a number of learning tools, but I remain focused on on writing with the qwerty keyboard.

“Learning by itself promotes dopamine. This is a one of the reasons that it [is] therapeutic.… In terms of the chemistry of the brain, learning is its own reward.… In Panskepp’s words, “It is not really possible to be extremely angry and methodically goal-oriented at the same time.”

Distinct kinds of trauma elicit different strategies for adaptation. [Pages 117-118]

There is no ideal state of being alive, just as there is no ideal of beauty, though we like to imagine both. Our cost and compensation is inherent in being a creature that must move and seek and imitate and learn. And rage at times as well. In an ever-changing environment, we must live within a narrow range of conditions just to stay alive. If we get too cold, too hot, too dry, too wet, we’ll die. Our bodies are constantly chasing those moving targets. The chasing of ideal conditions that we never achieve is what we call life. If we ever achieve the ideal, we would do nothing, want nothing, and have no motivation. From the outside, with my look like a patient with sleeping sickness. To be alive in any functional way, we must strive. Striving means struggle in the endless push-pull of pain and pleasure., raging and seeking.” [Page 118]

Seven attributes combine to give us what we perceive as self, says Ramachandran: unity, continuity, embodiment, privacy, social embedding, free will, and self-awareness. [Various forms of trauma and violence, especially when it comes from someone you love or respect, shatters that continuity.] “It literally interrupts your life and even makes chunks of it disappear into the memory holes caused by the high levels of stress that impair the hippocampus, the cartographer  of memories.” Traumatic dissociation shatters the continuity of life; parts of memory float away and you lose that unity, an attribute of self. [Pages 124-125]

“It has been suggested that free will might be seated in the supramarginal gyrus, a part of the brain that allows you to imagine many things you might do, and in the anterior cingulate cortex, which allows you to choose one course of action based on what you’re thinking with your frontal, rational, brain.” [Page 126]

“In our hypnagogic states we gain special permission to enter the emotional life of memory beyond the realm of conscious thought.” [Page 138]

“In sexual ecstasy, we lose our boundaries, both figuratively and literally.….That’s why it’s possible to feel head over heels in love. The chemistry of love can turn us upside down. … The networks in the brain and body that are involved in mystical in transcendental states are the same ones that are responsible for sexual bliss and orgasm.”] [Pages 142-143]

Like so many survivors, [this victim of nearly-fatal domestic violence] developed a mantra. [In Sanskit, a “mind tool”.]


Echoing Montaigne (Que sais-je?)

[ ],

she asked, “What do you know to be true?


She wrote: “Some woman paint, other so, some run, garden or master a skill. Still others hold the pain inside them, hoping it will not leak all over the carpets and the new furniture in the middle of the Christmas party with all the relatives present. I write.”

If we are to survive beyond their own experience of survival, we must all become artists in some sense, the artists of our own lives, in possession of the keys that allow us to enter that transcended state that will remake us.” [Page 144]

 “The emotional system, which we reached through our hypnagogic states, speaks to us in a foreign language and not in the language of the neocortex. We are multiple selves, and our covert self really does know what’s going on in the body, if only we can listen….

I think of the emotional system as an extension of the immune system, since both are essentially concerned with defining and defending what the self is. The immune system detects foreign invaders. The emotional system detects what would harm the self as well is that which can maintain it….” [Pages 146-147]

“Travel is a time-honored strategy for healing. Then maybe there were reason that ancient people migrated out of Africa: as the human brain grew into the speculative and contemplative organizes is, our capacity for grief grew as well. I doubt that we had to leave Africa because it was full. Travel may have been an early adaptation to profound grief. It forces the unconscious reorganization of a number of areas in the brain, especially those involving the hippocampus, which has the special function of creating spatial maps. Every time you travel to an unfamiliar environment, your brain undergoes an important transformation.” [Page 149]

{For further information grab a copy of the book Surviving Survival and read pages 149 through 153, book a round-the-world cruise, enter the next Peking-to-Paris Motor Challenge or read Prince Borgehese’s Trail by Genevieve Obert and Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon, orbuy the GlobeTrekker DVD series [ ], and/or play Geo Guessr.}

“An infant is born with the ability to produce innate movements. They come from central pattern generators in the spine. These are essentially neuromuscular explosions, small neuronal storms that spell out set off spasms of the muscles. The neuromuscular system is a complex system, and those explosions are emergent phenomena. That means that there is nothing controlling the system. It’s like weather: it organizes itself. And the patterns that emerge are not designed, they just happen – hence the term “emergent.” Thunderstorms are the emerging expression of a complex system known as weather. And like neuromuscular explosions, no two thunderstorms are exactly the same, though they all share general features.

The emerging movements that infants make a chaotic and undirected at first. But through seeing people do things (mirror neurons) and through the Want It-Need It-Have It process, the randomness of those movements is gradually reduced until they become coherent, directed, intentional. You can see this when a baby learns to walk. At first, the central pattern generator is simply producing bursts of jerky motion in the muscles of the legs, giving toddlers their marching gate. But as the baby practices, the cerebellum detects errors and irregularities and begins correcting and smoothing the walk until it becomes fluid. The action gradually develops into a behavioral script, a fixed action patterns, and it can play out with no need for conscious thought or deliberate effort.

Practicing a skill such as playing the piano follows a similar process. Once the action moves out of the conscious, step-by-step parts of the brain and into the unconscious parts, it can give rise to movements with a speed of accuracy you can’t duplicate consciously.….[Performance psychology in a sentence….] Once learned (no mean feat), such action becomes ballistic. That is, like a bullet fired from a gun, once it is set in motion, it requires no sensory feedback or further guidance. It becomes the equivalent of the neuromuscular storm of an explosive serve in tennis. Such an action is truly out of the thinking and even the sensing brain is and is driven one-way by the cerebellum and basal ganglia in a power storm of activity. These types of actions represent the berserkers of skills, literally going naked into battle with out any of the adornments of thought or sensory reflection. [That’s what happens when you let yourself go in the middle of a randori in aikido.] That’s what happens when we learn language. The production of speech itself becomes an explosive and emergent behavioral script. We may think that we deliberately and consciously say whatever comes out of our mouths when we talk, but that’s an illusion.” [Pages 154-155]

“Being in the new place where you’re learning the language makes you doubly lost. And when you wish to rebuild the self, lost is good. When dealing with trauma, the more lost you can be, the better. Being lost in this sense is a kin to the hypnagogic state. It carries the meaning of losing yourself in a good book or in the task of knitting or doing surgery. Your lost with a plan. Or, as my brother Philip says, “learning starts with a willingness to be lost.”… At some point in the process of learning, you have to back off and let the brain do what it knows how to do. This is related to the Zen concept of beginner’s mind.… Practice, practice, practice, yes. But then what go the outcome and trust the process. This is what great ideas often occur in the shower: you’re not trying very hard when you’re taking a shower. You may not even be thinking about your task.….Remember the blind person who can point to the light. Remember the frog and the rat. Remember The Stream.” [Pages 157-158]

“Sometimes people faced with a monumental challenge reinvent themselves by joining a Zen monastery.… Still others find their way in life through a new career, a religious conversion.….Even Mollica,  the psychiatrist at Harvard who works with victims of the killing fields of Cambodia, one man imagined himself jumping out the window to end his own mirror of their suffering. Sapolsky wrote, “take a sufficiently severe stress or and, as studies suggest, virtually all of us will fall into despair. No degree of neurochemical recovery mechanisms can maintain your equilibrium in the face of some of the nightmares that life can produce.” [Page 175]

… “As we’ve seen so many others do, [survivors] were finding people who were worse off than they were and offering them the only hope they could: empathy. The Tao teaching says, “because I am passionate, I can be brave.” [Page 180]

“[Some] post-traumatic stress [is] not unlike the disease known as rabies. Rabies virus enters the temporal lobe and sets off the rage pathway.” [Page 182]

“When I wrote Deep Survival, I was attempting to deal with brief intervals in the lives of people, the times they’ve had to muster all the resources to live through a specific, isolated event. But now, as I look at entire lives spanning many decades, I can see them as a series of journeys through survival, like moving through the swell of waves, some towering, some small. There is no resting place. Things are not settled until death. There’s only the question of whether we will have the depths and poise, the grace, to sail through to the next storm.” [Page 183]

“Walking comes from the ancient central pattern generator deep within  the spinal column and lower brain. Walking is soothing and engenders positive emotional states. It increases cortisol and dopamine in mild amounts. It also facilitates problem-solving. Great scientists, writers, and artists have used walking as a way of organizing their thoughts and stimulating new ideas. Newton and Einstein were both compulsive walkers, as were the scientists that loss almost during the during the Manhattan Project. Wordsworth, Ferraro, Dickens, Whitman, Coleridge, and Henry James all used walking to induce altered states of mind. Remember that walking around and navigating can induce David rhythms in the hippocampus and hypnagogic states that look like sleep.” [Page 184]

“One of the main conclusions [of Harvard’s study of adult development] is that no one gets a break. No one is blessed with a magical set of attributes that leads to immunity from trauma, grief, sadness, and pains. If you read through the distillation of the research [see ], you might come away with this conclusion: “Life is tough. And then you die.” On the other hand, the research shows it is possible to lead a healthy, happy life even in the aftermath of trauma. Perhaps more important, happiness is not a matter of avoiding trouble. It’s a matter of how you deal with it. Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore College and author of many books on social theory, said, “Happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.” And: “Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing.”

When you’re in the midst of a crisis, it can sometimes seem as if your distress will go on forever. It helps to know when that’s true and when that’s not true. For most people in most situations, the pain does not go on forever. Pleasure, laughter, even peace and happiness almost surely await you. And you can speed up the process and make it more complete by taking 3 simple steps: Do something you love. Do something for someone who needs you. And be with people who care about you.

Tolstoy bears repeating: “One can live magnificently in this world, if one knows how to work and how to love, to work for the person one loves and to love one’s work.” And: ‘Ah, if only you might learn, through suffering, to believe that the only possible happiness–true, eternal, elevated–is achieved through these 3 things: work, self-denial, and love.’” [Pages 201-202]

“Many of the strategies for shaping and reshaping life follow the same patterns that emerge in people going through the process of surviving.

Vaillant lists five approaches that were associated with good outcomes:

  1. sublimation, or channeling your energy and anxiety;
  2. altruism, or doing something for someone else;
  3. suppression, or not thinking about your trauma and distracting yourself from it;
  4. anticipation, or seeing the future early in preparing for it;
  5. humor, or being able to laugh at yourself and your misfortune.


Vaillant also identifies 6 strategies that are not effective. He called these immature defenses:

  • projection, or blaming someone else;
  • passive aggression, or responding to your misfortune with anger and then turning your anger against yourself to manipulate it and punish others;
  • dissociation, or being in denial;
  • acting out, or using impulsive behavior that can overwhelm the emotional system and temporarily blot out pain (examples include  drinking, fighting, or gambling compulsively. Sometimes a fine line separates sublimation from acting out, as with workaholics or compulsive runners.;
  • fantasy, or taking leave of reality in an almost schizoid fashion, skipping over reality into a world of make-believe;
  • hypochondriasis,  or  imagining that you are sick all the time, thus freeing yourself from the burden of dealing with life.

“… The people who successfully negotiate their lives in the aftermath of trauma tend to follow well-worn pathways. Those paths run parallel to the central ideas I’ve been developing. The 1st is: want it, need it, have it. You have to desire something and engage in some activity to get it. You can’t give up. You can give in. This, of course, means that you have to get busy and get organized.”

These are the 12 strategies that you can employ to move forward. The are discussed on pages 210-221 in Surviving Survival, and elsewhere on the web, and also include the concepts of the here and now, be patient, be tough, get the small picture, put things in their place, work work work, see one do one teach one, touch someone, be grateful, walk the walk, and laugh.

“We are, all of us, desperately here, desperately trying to be and do here; and if we are not in passionate pursuit of our doing and being, were missing the entire show.”

Excerpts: “Deep Survival”

Excerpts from “Deep Survival”:

An adjunct to “Getting Beyond”,  found at 

“The 1st rule is: Face reality.… To deal with reality must first recognize it as such. We have to use the reins of reason on the horse of emotion. The intellect without the emotions is like the jockey without the horse. The jockey is reason; the horse is emotion, a complex of systems bred over eons of evolution and shaped by experience, which exist for your survival. They are so important: they can make you do things you’d never think to do, and they can allow you to do things you’d never believe yourself capable of doing. The jockey can’t win without the horse, and the horse can’t race alone.… But when they run, they are one, and it’s positively godly.….It’s about juggling the beast, keeping it cool, and when it’s time to run, it’s about letting it flow, about having emotion and reason in perfect balance.”

Emotions are survival mechanisms, but they don’t always work for the individual. They work across a large number of trials to keep the species alive. The individual may live or die, but over a few million years, more mammals lived than died by letting emotion takeover, and so emotion was selected.”

Moods are contagious, and the emotional states involved (such as smiling, humor, and laughter) are among the most contagious of all. Laughter doesn’t take conscious thought. It’s automatic, and one person laughing or smiling induces the same reaction and others. Laughter stimulates the left prefrontal cortex, an area in the brain that helps us to feel good and to be motivated. That stimulation alleviates anxiety and frustration. There is evidence that laughter can send chemical signals to actively inhibit the firing of nerves in the amygdala, thereby dampening fear. Laughter, then, can help us temper negative emotions. And while all this might seem to be a purely academic interest, it could prove helpful when your partner breaks his leg at 19,000 feet in a blizzard on a Peruvian mountain.”

“There’s a common confusion about the words “emotion” and “feeling.” William James, the father of psychology, was the first to point out that we do not run because we’re afraid of bears, we’re afraid of bears because we run. The emotion comes first – it is the bodily response. Then feeling follows. The fear associated with being in an earthquake may produce some chemical reactions that are similar to those produced during sexual arousal. But the two experiences are quite different. “The earth moved” can have different meanings in different circumstances. That’s why risky behavior can be fun. Fear can be fun. It can make you feel more alive, because it is an integral part of saving your own life. And if the context is one that you perceive as safe, that it’s easy to make the decision to take the risk. Your body can make it for you.”

M. Ephimia Morphew, a psychologist and founder of the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments, told me of a series of accidents she’d been studying in which the scuba divers were found dead with air in their tanks and perfectly functional regulators. Only “they had taken the regulators out of their mouths and drowned. It took a long time for researchers to figure out what was going on.” It appears a certain people suffered intense feeling of suffocation when their mouths are covered. That led to an overpowering impulse to uncover the mouth and nose. The answer to the conundrum of the scuba divers is that you don’t need to think. “That’s what emotions and implicit memories are all about. By tradition, reason is regarded as the highest function. People are named after it: Homo sapiens (from the Latin sapere, to taste, as in “to taste the world”). But from the point of view of an organism in desperate trouble, an organism that evolved by relying on emotions as the first line of defense, cognition is irrelevant and gets set aside. It’s slow and clunky.….There’s no time for it.”

[There are several books noted in the Bibliography pdf  that have to do with tasting the world. Eric Booth, as always, is a good place to start. “The Art of Possibility” is worth your time. Diane Ackerman’s “Deep Play” and “A Natural History of the Senses” are essential. ]

“The knowledge involved in [our] risk-reward loop does not involve reasoning. It comes to the child coded in feelings, which represent emotional experiences in a particular environment. If the environment changes, if it has unfamiliar or subtly different hazards, those adaptations may turn out to be inappropriate.

Logical simply takes too long, often impossibly long, and in a child logic is not well developed enough at any rate. Instead, he will rapidly and consciously pages through his atlas of emotional bookmarks (probably an instance of long-term potentiation), numerous neural networks, associations that connect the situation he’s in with similar situations or experiences from the past, flicker with electrochemical energy, illuminating memories and feelings of circumstances and actions that lead to good and bad outcomes, projecting forward to future paths of action and feeling.” [Candace Pert says we are not so much an hunk of meat as a flickering flame.]

“If you could see the brain working, if it gave off light as it worked, then at a decision point, different areas would begin glowing all over like the lights of cities going on at dusk as seen from the space shuttle. The patterns contained in those networks, formed from unique experiences of life, informed decisions at a rate of speed that could never be achieved by logic. And all this takes place in the shadow land just beyond conscious thought.”

“Perceptions from the world around us (sight, for example) reach the thalamus first. In the case of vision, axons from the retina go to the visual thalamus (there are 2, one in each side of the brain, receiving information from each side of the body). From there, the sight signals travel by way of axons from the visual thalamus to the middle layer of the neocortex and from there are sent out to the other 5 layers for for processing. What emerges is a perception site. But before all that can be completed, a rough form of the same sensory information reaches the amygdala by a faster pathway. The amygdala screens that information for signs of danger.… The amygdala is very bright, but if it detects a hazard, or anything remotely resembling one, even for before your conscious of the stimulus, it initiates a series emergency reactions.  The approach is: better safe than sorry. (The amygdala is also capable of ignoring a lot of information as irrelevant.) It is a primitive but effective survival system that causes the rabbit that visits our backyard every morning to freeze and then run when she sees my daughter let the dog out.… The amygdala is wrong a lot of the time: there is no danger. But in the long course of evolution, it has been a successful strategy.”


“While the pathways from the amygdala to the neocortex are stronger and faster than the ones going the other way, some ability may remain for the neocortex to do the following: 1st, to recognize that there is an emotional response underway; 2nd, to read reality and perceived circumstances correctly; 3rd, to override or modulate the automatic reaction if it is an inappropriate one; and 4th, to select a correct course of action.

Since emotions are designed to elicit behaviors in a split second, clearly, that is a tall order, and some people are much better at it than others. In addition there is wide variation in individual reactions. Some people startle easily. Others tend not to react at all.  Some people function better under stress, such as professional golfers, fighter pilots, elite mountain climbers, motorcycle racers, and brain surgeons. And some emotional responses are more easily controlled than others.” (page 66)

Gonzales on page 107 says that we are hijacked by our own experience combined with ignorance of the true nature of what we’re attempting to do. He notes the now famous work of some old importance called Normal Accidents, first published in 1984, by Perrow. [ ]  “In system accidents, unexpected interactions of forces and components arise naturally out of the complexity of the system.”

Al Siebert, a psychologist, writes in The Survivor Personality that the survivor (a category including people who avoid accidents) “does not impose pre-existing patterns on new information, but rather allows new information to reshape [his mental models]. The person who has the best chance of handling a situation well is usually the one with the best… mental pictures or images of what is occurring outside of the body.” [I might add that having mental images and awareness of what is happening inside of the body is contributory, and provides some of “the Stream” that functions in sports performance.] [Page 122]

The National Outdoor Leadership School–“along with other like-minded organizations”–has worked out a methodology for understanding what has happened in individual cases of wilderness survival and for preventing accidents in the future. They discovered predictable patterns which fall into “three general categories: Conditions, Acts, and Judgments, which combine in a dynamic and synergistic sequence to generate accidents.” [Page 123]

The true survivor tunes to subtle cues, the whisper of intuition, what Gonzales refers to as “the Stream”. [Not to be confused with media streaming, or the TV show “The Stream”.]  We need to develop, personally and in families or other small groupings, “what psychologists call meta-knowledge: the ability to assess the quality of our own knowledge.” [Page 124]

Says Gonzales: [page 127] “There is a tendency to make a plan and then to worship the plan, that “memory of the possible future.” But there is also a tendency to think that simply by putting forth more and more effort, we can overcome friction.”

Perhaps there is need, or not, for a diversion into an exploration of what is meant by friction. I suspect Gonzales appreciates three main types of friction, — not those involved in physics and mechanical science — which include the friction of war, psychological friction, and organizational friction.


[Here are two links if you want to go there:

“… Planning a change to an action requires information that a change is required; no information, no change. (This is what makes prospective control a different idea from prediction, which is the more cognitivist hypothesis that planning for the future is based not on information, but on knowledge.) Birds occasionally fly headlong into clear glass windows without making any attempt to slow down because they simply don’t see the window and the frame just specifies a passable gap. Knowledge of windows also doesn’t help: I’ve walked into clear glass sliding doors twice in my life, and I “know” how windows work.

So the perception-action system as a whole exhibits inertia – it will tend to continue doing what it’s currently doing until pulled into doing something else. This pull has to be ‘strong’ enough to overcome the system’s inertia, or, to put it another way, the new affordance must be clearly specified and this information detected in good time (and even this is not necessarily enough, when the cost of persisting is low enough….” 

Carl von Clausewitz published an influential book called On War in 1832.  In this work, he introduced the concept of “friction” as a hindrance to the execution of strategy.  He used this term to describe the “myriad of small, but collectively numerous things that happen that cannot be foreseen or planned for, and which cause leaders to spend time on unforeseen decision making.” Clausewitz noted that no military or organizational unit can be thought of as a single or solitary piece: “each part is composed of individuals, every one of whom retains his potential for friction.”  ]

 “The psychology of oblivion is nothing new,” writes Gonzales. [Pages 133-134] “The classics scholar Carolyn Dewald, writing of Herodotus, notes how the characters in the histories “come to grief because they have not paid attention to facts about the world that would ultimately defeat their plans… Sometimes they commit errors that simple inquiry would have avoided….”

“The exiguous nature of everyday experience creates habits of mind that shape perceptions, so you don’t see the mountain crumbling. Human life is so brief in comparison to the mountains.….But all mountains are in a state of continuous collapse. The disconnect between that reality in our perception leads to many accidents that… In that deepest place of belief, it’s easy to persist in thinking that the mountain is solid. For the most part, experience reinforces that mistaken impression.….Some people don’t catch on even after repeated experiences…..”

“Knowledge of the sort you need does not begin with information, it begins with experience and perception. But there is a dark and twisty road from experience and perception to correct action.” [Pages 142-143]

“Scientists who study human spatial cognition defined being lost as being unable to relate your position in space to known locations. But being lost includes a whole range of emotional and behavioral consequences as well.… Joseph Ledoux calls the hippocampus “a spatial cognition machine.”  John O’Keefe at McGill University, among others, provided the first neurophysiological evidence in the 1970s that the hippocampus creates “a spatial reference map” in the brain. “… There are cells that fire depending on the position of the head and others that track the position of the whole body or its parts. Still other cells fire only when traveling in one direction.….So there is an elaborate system involving the hippocampus and other areas of the brain for creating an analog of the world and your motion, position, and direction of travel within it.”

Faith is a very important thing in your will to survive. “Whether a deity is actually listening or not, there is value in formally announcing your needs, desires, worries, sins, and goals in a focused, prayerful attitude. Only when you are aware can you take action.”

“Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of your own self. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now your rescuer, not a victim.” [Page 180]

Purpose is a big part of survival, but it must be accompanied by work.”

wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world

Survival at some point is about learning about and finding “a path to seeing and knowing the world as well as [one’s] self. To find the materials to know which ones would work and which wouldn’t; to be on intimate terms with that new world.” We cannot change the world; we can only change ourselves. “To see and know that world, then, was the key to surviving in it.” [Page 187]

“When the personality is ripped away, there has to be a core remaining to carry the person through…. If a person can carry all his support within him, then it matters little what the external environment comprises.” [Pages 194-195]

Survival involves taking bold action while exercising great caution, to saving one’s life by risking it. [Pages 196-197]

“A survival situation brings out the true, underlying personality. Our survival kit is inside us. But unless it’s there before the accident, it is not going to appear magically at the moment it’s needed. When you consolidate your personality as a survivor, what you get is the essence of what you always had. A survival situation simply concentrates who you are. It drives the natural system you’ve developed over a lifetime, and it drives it harder. Whether or not it becomes chaotic at the boundaries depends on what you put into it over a lifetime. Your experiences, education, family, and way of viewing the world all shape what you would be as a survivor.” [Page 223]

“Survival is just not for yourself. “Survivors are always connected to loved ones, friends, society. They survive because they’re rescuing the species, not just themselves. It’s another paradox of survival: the individual doesn’t matter. But the survival instinct of the individual must matter if the species is to survive.” [Page 224]

▶ And I Alone Survived (TV 1978) Based on a True Story – YouTube

Lauren Elder, in her book “And I Alone Survived” [ ], as recounted by Gonzales on pages 231ff, the act of survival enhances appreciation and promotes joy.

[When I woke up from my postoperative coma, having been fed through a tube in the vein of my arm for days, having been on Lasix therapy, and having to spend several days “NPO”, my Christmas Eve treat was  permission to suck on ice chips and my Christmas Day communion was a glass of orange juice which to me was ambrosia.]

“Survival is a celebration of choosing life over death. We know were going to die. We all die. But survival is saying: perhaps not today. In that sense, survivors don’t defeat death, they come to terms with it.”

“Extraordinary effort in human work has always taken rhythmic play along as its helpmate.” [Page 233]

“Don’t feed your amygdala any scary raw data.” [Page 241]