Monthly Archives: June 2011

San Luis Obispo

Standard

Mildly obsessing about this but I am going to live here some day. (Seriously) Small town on the coast, nestled in the mountains, surrounded by vineyards, miles and miles of trails to bike/hike, best farmer’s market in Cali, pedestrian friendly, exactly half-way between LA and San Francisco, everyone knows their neighbors (most of them aren’t from California) and people are intelligent but actually have a sense of humor.

This is a cool experimental tilt-shift video of the place:

I like the lyrics.

 

You know I’d wait forever, If I had time to.

But I dont have forever, to wait for you yeah.

So when I say I want, us to be together, just say you want me to and I’ll be yours forever.

I could show you a place, you’ve never been there before.

I could show you the way, you just can’t go back no more.

Yeah I could make you excited, Yeah I could make you excited.

You know I’d wait forever, If I had time to.

But I dont have forever, to wait for you yeah.

chopcow.com

Standard

Fallacies: Incorrect or misleading beliefs or opinions based on inaccurate facts or invalid reasoning.


When someone attacks the person instead of the argument.

Example:
“Jenny’s just a stupid blonde on unemployment. Why would you ever consider her strategy for getting a job.”
“Mike cheated on his final exam. You can’t trust him to know the answers to any of your questions.”


When a statement is considered true because it’s made by someone who is considered an “authority” on the topic.

Structure:
Source A says that “Q” is true.
Source A is authoritative.
Therefore, “Q” is true.

Example:
“My doctor says taking St John’s Wart everyday will make me less depressed. He should know, he’s a doctor!”
“The policeman said it’s legal for him to search my car. He’s a policeman, so he must be telling the truth.”


When a claim is considered true because it hasn’t been disproven (or vice versa).

Examples:
“Since you cannot prove that Aliens do not exist, then they must exist.”
“John said he saw a UFO last night, but he didn’t get a photo. He must be lying.”


When a concept is considered true because lots of people believe it’s true.

Examples:
“9 out of 10 doctors agree that Medicine X is the best. So then Medicine X must be the best.”
“This TV show is the best show on TV right now. Everyone is watching it!”


When the statement is assumed true based on the statement itself.

Examples:
“The Bible is the word of God, because it says so in the Bible.”
“How do I know he’s stupid? Because he doesn’t know anything about anything.”
“Marijuana wouldn’t be illegal if it wasn’t seriously harmful to your health.”


When a question contains the presumption of guilt.

Examples:
“So when exactly did you stop hitting your wife?” (Assumes the person WAS hitting his wife).
“Being that spanking children is a good parenting technique, should it be allowed in the United States?”


When a statement’s conclusion does not follow from its premise.

Examples:
“If you don’t buy this type of food, then you are neglecting your children’s health.”
“I hear loud shouting and rustling noises through the wall. The man next door must be hitting his wife.”


When someone diverts the attention away from the topic to a NEW topic to throw you off and win the argument.

Structure:
Topic A is being debated.
Topic B is introduced as being related to Topic A.
Topic A is abandoned.
Now Topic B is being used to discredit you.

Examples:
“So you think abortion results in lower crime rates. Well, we’ve all see what happened in Nevada with that abortion doctor who killed his patients with dirty equipment. You want that? You want to see patients killed in dirty clinics? Then go ahead and support abortion.”


When it’s assumed that a small step leads to a larger chain reaction of events resulting in a greater impact.

Examples:
“Once the government has passed this gun law, they’ll pass other gun laws resulting in total confiscation.”
“If we legalize abortion, then next thing you know we’ll be killing new born babies.”


When someone ignores the argument and replaces it with a distorted or exaggerated version of that argument.

Examples:
Person A: “Evolution states that humans developed over a long time from the same common ancestor as the gorilla.”
Person B: “Everyone listen to Person A. He’s saying that we decended from baboons!!!”

The Gift of Insults

Standard

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him. One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move. Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he felt shamed. Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?” “If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

Obsession

Standard

Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!” “Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.”

Oil Spills & Money Laundering: An Ethical Dilemma

Standard
Posted by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall at 2:50 pm
May 1, 2010

Oil Spills and Money Laundering: An Ethical Dilemma

I have been following, with interest, an announcement by Antonia Maria Costa in the December 13th Guardian regarding the role of illicit drug money in saving the world from total financial meltdown in 2008. Costa, the head of the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes, reported that an infusion of $352 billion into a number of world banks solved a dire “liquidity” crisis (i.e. banks had no cash on-hand – only loan credit not easily convertible to cash). The crisis arose when the banks made the sudden discovery in October 2008 that they held $1 trillion of “toxic” assets that were utterly worthless. The banks then used this illicit drug money to restart interbank lending, which had virtually ceased. The interbank lending, in turn, greased the wheels of (limited) new lending to businesses and consumers – and the economy started up again.

I know it’s a quantum leap to find a connection between money laundering and the recent oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – but I have. Both events have provoked major outrage (less in the case of Costa’s announcement, as mainstream media coverage has been extremely limited) – and finger pointing at corporate managers and government regulators who fail to prevent such abominations from occurring. However in my mind, both raise the question of what, if any, responsibility the public at large might play in putting an end to money laundering and oil spills. My point is that real reform in either area will have far reaching consequences for all Americans. Which means asking ourselves if we are willing to make the personal and economic sacrifices that would be required.

Looking Back at the Exxon Valdez

For obvious reasons the Louisiana oil disaster calls to mind the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Besides calls for Congress and the courts to punish Exxon, the tanker crew and the government regulators who failed to prevent Alaska’s worst environmental disaster, there were also calls for motorists to help reduce the demand for oil – by giving up or reducing their car usage in favour of more sustainable forms of transport. This moral/ethical viewpoint got some attention initially from the mainstream media and then virtually vanished from public view. Obviously the corporate media has deep ties to the oil lobby, which has a clear incentive to increase, rather than decrease, demand for their product. And as far as I can tell, a few farsighted environmentalists reduced their car usage. However the driving habits of most Americans continued unchanged.

Money Laundering: Wall Street’s Sordid History

The moral and ethical implications of Costa’s announcement are harder to unpack. My personal view is that European and US banks who support illicit narcotics trafficking by money laundering are guilty of an absolute violation of all standards of morality (as well as criminal behavior). However finding a workable solution to this particular problem is more complex than simply banning new offshore oil drilling.

Costa states he obtained his information from intelligence operatives and prosecutors in Italy, Switzerland, the UK and the US. However he wisely chose not to identify the specific banks involved. Bank laundering of drug profits is a problem that goes back at least 25 years, to the extent that most of Wall Street has come to rely on this lucrative source of cash, especially during economic downturns. I can’t think of one major bank or brokerage firm that hasn’t been investigated for violating money laundering laws – resulting in an impressive number of indictments and civil fines (though no one has gone to jail yet).

As Costa explains in his report, drug traffickers typically keep their earnings in offshore bank accounts to conceal them from law enforcement. However they also look for every possibility to “legitimatize” this money (so they can spend it) by establishing bank accounts within legitimate US and EU banks. American political and financial analysts, including Michael Ruppert, Peter Dale Scott and Webster Tarpley have been carefully documenting the extent of the problem since the mid-nineties.

Are We Willing to Pay the Price?

There is absolutely no question the time has come to vigorously prosecute bank involvement in drug money laundering. Bank CEOS and board members who become aware of employees and managers who violate drug laundering laws need to cooperate with law enforcement in locking these people up – instead of looking the other way or covering it up – or face jail time themselves. However I am fully aware that in making this demand, there may be serious economic consequences of depriving Wall Street of a ready cash source that has become deeply integrated into the world financial system. I have to ask myself if I am prepared to face an even more severe credit squeeze that will likely result – and possibly the loss of my job and my home.

I believe that I am. (more with good links at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com)

More ethics stuff…

Standard

In the United States, The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (OBWC) is the largest exclusive state-operated and second largest provider of workers compensation insurance. They provide compensation and medical benefits for work-related diseases, injuries and deaths for roughly two-thirds of Ohio’s work force. (ohiobwc.com, n.d.)

In 2005 it was revealed by investigative journalists that former Ohio governor Bob Taft’s administration was involved in a scandal known as “coingate”. Tom Noe, a coin dealer and top republican fund raiser was awarded contracts to invest $50 million dollars on behalf of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), which he invested in rare coins. Two coins worth $300k went missing and further investigations revealed that only $13 million of the $50 million could be accounted for. In 2006 Noe was sentenced to 18 years in jail for money laundering while former governor Bob Taft was charged with misdemeanors. Taft admitted that he had failed to report 45 golf outings provided to him over the course of seven years as well as numerous gifts from Noe.

Bob Taft’s misuse of office for self-gain is clearly an unethical abuse of power and a common scenario that a public servant will most likely face during the course of their career. According to the United States Office of Government Ethics, the basic obligations of public service incorporate general principles which form the basis of ethical conduct. Two of these principles are that employees shall not use public office for private gain and that they shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual. Employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting any gift from a prohibited source or because of their official positing. Any action contrary to this would be unethical conduct.

Although Tom Noe was contracted by the OBWC, the same ethical standards expected of government employees should be expected from government contractors. Money laundering, the practice of disguising the origin of funds, is unethical because it is illegal and dishonest.

Due to both of their actions, the OBWC was unable to recover the investment funds and later had to readjust investment strategies in order to continue providing their service. In order to prevent this from occurring in the future; contracting oversight agencies should be established on all levels of government in order to ensure strong fiscal and management controls, and by supporting audits and investigative activities. (ASPA, n.d.)

Resources:

A Brief Guide to Coingate. (n.d.). Commoncause.org. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=475691

Cauchon, D. (n.d.). USATODAY.com – Rare-coin deal buys scandal for Ohio governor. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-16-coingate-taft_x.htm

Code of Ethics. (n.d.). The American Society for Public Administration. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://www.aspanet.org/scriptcontent

OhioBWC. (n.d.). Ohio.gov. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.ohiobwc.com/

Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. (n.d.). United States Office of Government Ethics. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://www.usoge.gov/ethics_docs/publications