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What Julian Assange has done

At Truthdig, comedian Lee Camp summarizes important Wikileaks revelations and points out why each of these leaks is important. In the meantime, many news outlets vilify Assange without recognizing the important work he has done.

Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

“Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America.

 

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Connecticut AG files suit against numerous generic drug manufacturers for price fixing

The pharmaceutical companies sued in this case are not merely greedy. Many people who desperately need these drugs can no longer afford them, and they are going without, resulting in pain, sickness and even death. We need to stop mincing words. These defendant pharmaceutical companies are functionally assaulting and murdering innocent people through their predatory policies and their lies that there are "markets" when they have illegally destroyed any semblance of markets. Thank goodness that the Connecticut AG has brought this suit (now joined by 43 states). Shame on the U.S. Antitrust Department for not vigorously filing this suit a long time ago. Here is a key quote from the lawsuit:

For many years, the generic pharmaceutical industry has operated pursuant to an understanding among generic manufacturers not to compete with each other and to instead settle for what these competitors refer to as "fair share." This understanding has permeated every segment of the industry, and the purpose of the agreement was to avoid competition among generic manufacturers that would normally result in significant price erosion and great savings to the ultimate consumer. Rather than enter a particular generic drug market by competing on price in order to gain market share, competitors in the generic drug industry would systematically and routinely communicate with one another directly, divvy up customers to create an artificial equilibrium in the market, and then maintain anticompetitively high prices. This "fair share" understanding was not the result of independent decision making by individual companies to avoid competing with one another. Rather, it was a direct result of specific discussion, negotiation and collusion among industry participants over the course of many years.

Try and give me a better example of Hannah Arendt's banality of evil. In short, thousands of ordinary-seeming people, many of them like you and me, work for these corporate entities that have been illegally inflicting pain and death upon innocent people.

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Movement is not necessarily progress (though it feels like it)

I've often written that humans are prone to act without a legitimate plan because it seems like Motion is Progress. No one will accuse you of failing to do something if you are doing, literally, something, even if your are acting in ways that are nonsensical, harmful, counterproductive. Motion is Progress is a fallacy. Doing something is often a bad idea.

Movement offers shelter from failure. When you’re in motion, you feel like you’re doing something. We convince ourselves that as long as we’re in motion, we can’t fail. As long as we’re doing something, anything, failure can’t really find us. Movement feeds our ego. Our evolutionary programming craves the validation of others. In a world that values action and short soundbites, nuanced conversations are hard. Others don’t have time to really listen to your nuanced story as they run to their next meeting. And telling people that you’re doing nothing results in disapproving looks. Movement offers the drug of validation to the outside world. It is far easier to tell others that we’re doing something than doing nothing. And so we do.

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Drivers of expensive cars tend to drive their privilege

My gut feeling borne out . . . Drivers of expensive cars are more likely to drive like jerks. These studies explore driver behavior in four-way intersections.

A research team including Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner have been examining the way social status and wealth affects morality. Their findings — which are getting a lot of media attention — broadly show that wealthier, higher-status individuals are, essentially, more likely to cheat.
John Nichols and William McChesney gathered enough evidence on this topic of wealth privilege to fill an entire book: Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America. Also, check out the new podcast of Michael Lewis, Against the Rules. I've only heard the intro podcast so far ("Ref, You Suck"), but this is podcasting at its best.

The study at the top, involving an simple traffic intersection with simple well-known rules, seemed like an especially good illustration that a disproportionate number of wealthy people feel and act out their privilege, even out in the open.

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Erich Vieth Photography Website Upgrade

I'm about to hear a ratchet click of yet another year of age. Time is truly flying by! One way I try to keep track of things is by taking photos. It started as a hobby, then grew into a business about eight years ago. And it is also therapy. Photography helps me to stay in the moment. Photography is also exciting, and post-production is as exciting as capturing images.

I have accumulated an unwieldy number of photos over the past eight years. Given that I'm about to be a year older, I decided to steer away from any existential funk by going through my favorite images from home and abroad. It then occurred to me that I really ought to share these by making them accessible in a website. Over the past two days I have designed my official photography website. I invite you to take a look at some (or many) of the hundreds of images you can find in the seven Galleries.

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The Dialogue Continues . . .

Today I decided to play the album Chicago V while working.? That album includes a two-part song called "Dialogue."? I remember this song well, including all the lyrics.? That's because I sing one of the lead voices of this song (along with Charles Glenn) with a band I formed with Charles Glenn back in the late 1970's. We were an 7-piece jazz-rock band that performed many types of music, including the music of Chicago, including "Dialogue."

"Ego" in 1975.: Tom O'Brien (bass), Tom Atkinson (woodwinds), Erich Vieth (guitar), Mike L'Ecuyer (keyboards), Sharon Schutte (vocalist), Charles Glenn (percussion and vocalist), Mark Harmon (trumpet), Ron Weaver (trumpet) and Mike Harty (trombone).

---- As I heard this tune today, it very much brought me back to the happy times of playing with such an extraordinary group of good friends.? It also struck me how little things have changed.? It also haunts me that the vocal part of the song that I sang in our performances (sung by Terri Kath on the album) is an extraordinary challenge.? I very much meant those opening words as an 18-year old young man and they resonate with me today.?

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How to Reclaim the Hours of Your Life for the Things you Value

I'm really enjoying the writing of time-management writer Laura Vanderkam. ?More important, I'm using her ideas to change my life. I discovered Laura on TED. Last week I read her 2018 book,

Laura's first order of business: In order to know how to get more out of life, you need to track your time to learn how you are actually spending your hours. Creating this inventory is critically important because humans are notoriously error-plagued when they attempt to intuitively account for how they use their time. We fool ourselves relentlessly. Laura points to studies showing that we claim to be working far more hours than we actually work. For example, people claiming to work 75 hours per week typically worked only 50 hours per week. I've been tracking my time for more than a week using a free spreadsheet, Google Sheets. My rows consist of 20 categories (sleeping,attorney work, exercising, entertainment, altruism, eating, reading, wasting time on social media, etc). My columns are the days of the week. Fitbit keeps exercise and sleep counts accurate and an insurance company app tells me house much time I'm actually driving. I estimate the other activities, inputting the data several times per day. It only takes a few minutes per day once you set up your spreadsheet.

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