H/t to Karen L. Myers.
"Atlas Shrugged" (2011), Amazon, Ayn Rand, Barack Obama, Bestsellers, Jerome Corsi, Obama's Birth & Citizenship
Propelled by the release last Friday of the new film version, Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, in three different editions, is today occupying positions 1, 2, and 3 on Amazon’s Bestseller List of Classic Literature & Fiction.
Meanwhile, the Number 1 Best Seller on Amazon in the category of all books is Jerome Corsi’s Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, which is not even published yet, and which will not be released until May 17th.
The new Corsi expose is described:
Over the course of more than three years of research, Jerome Corsi assembles the evidence that Barack Obama is constitutionally ineligible for the office of the presidency. As a New York Times bestselling author, Harvard graduate, and investigative journalist, Corsi exposes in detail key issues with Obama’s eligibility, including the fact the President has spent millions of dollars in legal fees to avoid providing the American people with something as simple as a long-form birth certificate.
Christopher Booker, in the Telegraph, adds another glaring example to what is becoming an ever-growing list of exposed scientific falsehoods and wholly-fabricated claims of dire climactic effects.
This time it is the same Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that asserted that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 on the basis on a phone conversation has been found to be basing its claims concerning the Amazon rainforest on environmentalist agitprop.
The IPCC made a prominent claim in its 2007 report… citing the WWF as its authority, that climate change could endanger “up to 40 per cent” of the Amazon rainforest â€“ as iconic to warmists as those Himalayan glaciers and polar bears. This WWF report, it turned out, was co-authored by Andy Rowell, an anti-smoking and food safety campaigner who has worked for WWF and Greenpeace, and contributed pieces to Britain’s two most committed environmentalist newspapers. Rowell and his co-author claimed their findings were based on an article in Nature. But the focus of that piece, it emerges, was not global warming at all but the effects of logging.
A Canadian analyst has identified more than 20 passages in the IPCC’s report which cite similarly non-peer-reviewed WWF or Greenpeace reports as their authority, and other researchers have been uncovering a host of similarly dubious claims and attributions all through the report. These range from groundless allegations about the increased frequency of “extreme weather events” such as hurricanes, droughts and heatwaves, to a headline claim that global warming would put billions of people at the mercy of water shortages â€“ when the study cited as its authority indicated exactly the opposite, that rising temperatures could increase the supply of water.
Little of this has come as a surprise to those who have studied the workings of the IPCC over the years. As I show in my book The Real Global Warming Disaster, there is no greater misconception about the IPCC than that it was intended to be an impartial body, weighing scientific evidence for and against global warming. It was set up in 1988 by a small group of scientists all firmly committed to the theory of “human-induced climate change”, and its chief purpose ever since has been to promote that belief.
Read the whole thing.
Maybe readers allowing you to purchase electronic copies of books from giant impersonal corporations are not such a good idea after all.
What happens when Amazon decides, for reasons of its own, that you should not be in possession of a particular book? Pop! It’s gone. Eliminated by your friendly corporation’s software update system.
Big Brother came calling on Amazon customers yesterday, as the New York Times reports.
In George Orwellâ€™s â€œ1984,â€ government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the â€œmemory hole.â€
On Friday, it was â€œ1984â€ and another Orwell book, â€œAnimal Farm,â€ that were dropped down the memory hole â€” by Amazon.com.
In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.
An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. â€œWhen we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customersâ€™ devices, and refunded customers,â€ he said.
Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. â€œWe are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customersâ€™ devices in these circumstances,â€ Mr. Herdener said.
Nancy Pelosi’s new book, Know Your Power, has been less than well-received.
It’s ranking 1576 this morning on the Amazon best-seller list, and 23 of 34 reviews give it one star (Amazon’s most negative rating).
Lone Pony reports that Nancy Pelosi has leaned on Amazon, forcing the on-line bookseller to remove more than 200 negative reviews. How lame is that?
Via Pam Geller.
A statue of the Mapinguari in Rio Branco, Brazil.
Perhaps it is nothing more than a legend, as skeptics say. Or maybe it is real, as those who claim to have seen it avow. But the mere mention of the mapinguary, the giant slothlike monster of the Amazon, is enough to send shivers down the spines of almost all who dwell in the worldâ€™s largest rain forest.
The folklore here is full of tales of encounters with the creature, and nearly every Indian tribe in the Amazon, including those that have had no contact with one another, have a word for the mapinguary (pronounced ma-ping-wahr-EE). The name is usually translated as â€œthe roaring animalâ€ or â€œthe fetid beast.â€
So widespread and so consistent are such accounts that in recent years a few scientists have organized expeditions to try to find the creature. They have not succeeded, but at least one says he can explain the beast and its origins.
â€œIt is quite clear to me that the legend of the mapinguary is based on human contact with the last of the ground sloths,â€ thousands of years ago, said David Oren, a former director of research at the Goeldi Institute in BelÃ©m, at the mouth of the Amazon River. â€œWe know that extinct species can survive as legends for hundreds of years. But whether such an animal still exists or not is another question, one we canâ€™t answer yet.â€
Dr. Oren said he had talked to â€œa couple of hundred peopleâ€ who had said they had seen the mapinguary in the most remote parts of the Amazon and a handful who had said they had had direct contact.
In some areas, the creature is said to have two eyes, while in other accounts it has only one, like the Cyclops of Greek mythology. Some tell of a gaping, stinking mouth in the monsterâ€™s belly through which it consumes humans unfortunate enough to cross its path.
But all accounts agree that the creature is tall, seven feet or more when it stands on two legs, that it emits a strong, extremely disagreeable odor, and that it has thick, matted fur, which covers a carapace that makes it all but impervious to bullets and arrows.
â€œThe only way you can kill a mapinguary is by shooting at its head,â€ said Domingos Parintintin, a tribal leader in Amazonas State. â€œBut that is hard to do because it has the power to make you dizzy and turn day into night. So the best thing to do if you see one is climb a tree and hide.â€
David Oren and his sloth theory also made Discover magazine in 1999.
Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Jaron Lanier, Libertarianism, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Oracle, Samuel Edward Konkin III, Technology, The Internet, Walmart
Jarod Lanier (above) writes about Technology the way certain of my college friends used to talk about these kinds of things after a couple of hash brownies. This specific (brilliant, crossing the barriers of a variety of separate and distinct topics, wildly original and speculative, and a trifle daft) form of discourse was referred to in our circles as space-ranging. Criticized by his interlocutors for his prolixity, for the profusion of his ideas, for their chaotic disorganization, and for indulging in the characteristic intellectual overreach of the seriously stoned, one Early Concentration Philosophy classmate of mine, had on a particular occasion declared memorably in his own defense: “I am a Space Ranger!”
As the rings of Saturn fade distantly in the view-finder, Lanier remarks:
As it happens, I dislike UNIX and its kin because it is based on the premise that people should interact with computers through a “command line.” First the person does something, usually either by typing or clicking with a pointing device. And then, after an unspecified period of time, the computer does something, and then the cycle is repeated. That is how the Web works, and how everything works these days, because everything is based on those damned Linux servers. Even video games, which have a gloss of continuous movement, are based on an underlying logic that reflects the command line.
Human cognition has been finely tuned in the deep time of evolution for continuous interaction with the world. Demoting the importance of timing is therefore a way of demoting all of human cognition and physicality except for the most abstract and least ambiguous aspects of language, the one thing we can do which is partially tolerant of timing uncertainty. It is only barely possible, but endlessly glitchy and compromising, to build Virtual Reality or other intimate conceptions of digital instrumentation (meaning those connected with the human sensory motor loop rather than abstractions mediated by language) using architectures like UNIX or Linux. But the horrible, limiting ideas of command line systems are now locked-in. We may never know what might have been. Software is like the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which each day is the same. The passage of time is trivialized.
But, as is often the case in space ranges, there is some very good stuff in here. The concept of the Antigora, i.e., a privately owned marketplace whose owner benefits both from its use by, and from the volunteer labor of, entrants is potentially quite useful.
I have a strong suspicion that Lanier’s use of Agora, and variations thereon, as his preferred term for one kind of marketplace and another, stems from the influence of the late Samuel Edward Konkin III (1947-2004), founder of a unique strain of California counter-cultural Libertarianism which he called Agorism, whose theories were promulgated via Sam’s own Agorist Institute. Potlatch metaphors were also a characterististic trope of Konkinian Libertarianism. One can hear the echo of Sam Konkin’s sunny optimism in the following analysis:
Perhaps it will turn out that India and China are vulnerable. Google and other Antigoras will increasingly lower the billing rates of help desks. Robots will probably start to work well just as China’s population is aging dramatically, in about twenty years. China and India might suddenly be out of work! Now we enter the endgame feared by the Luddites, in which technology becomes so efficient that there aren’t any more jobs for people.
But in this particular scenario, let’s say it also turns out to be true that even a person making a marginal income at the periphery of one of the Antigoras can survive, because the efficiencies make survival cheap. It’s 2025 in Cambodia, for instance, and you only make the equivalent of a buck a day, without health insurance, but the local Wal-Mart is cheaper every day and you can get a robot-designed robot to cut out your cancer for a quarter, so who cares? This is nothing but an extrapolation of the principle Wal-Mart is already demonstrating, according to some observers. Efficiencies concentrate wealth, and make the poor poorer by some relative measures, but their expenses are also brought down by the efficiencies.
An amusing read and a fine provocation. John Perry Barlow, Eric S. Raymond, David Gelernter, and Glenn Reynolds will all be replying.
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.