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21 June 2008

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Phil Donohue and Vladimir Pozner in 1993

19 June 2008

Maj. General Taguba Calls Bush Torture Regime a War Crime

But let's not impeach. Nah, too "divisive."

More info here, from an excellent day of reporting by Democracy Now!

Full report; here's the quote by Taguba in the preface:

By Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.)

Major General Antonio Taguba (Ret)Maj. General Taguba led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May, 2004.

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted—both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report, each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life, require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.


The prepared statements (still coming in) from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

CSPAN coverage: here and here.

And here's Wilkerson at the House Judiciary Committee on this; Feith chickened out and didn't show up as promised.

Finally: here's McClatchy Newspaper's excellent week-long series detailing their investigations, including interviews with 66 Guantanamo detainees, "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law." That's called, "journalism."

Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, Jonathan Miller, 2003

I've linked this before, but it's out on GooTube now:

Part I: Shadows of Doubt
Jonathan Miller visits the absent Twin Towers to consider the religious implications of 9/11 and meets Arthur Miller and the philosopher Colin McGinn. He searches for evidence of the first 'unbelievers' in Ancient Greece and examines some of the modern theories around why people have always tended to believe in mythology and magic.

Part II: Noughts and Crosses
With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller wonders how disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. He discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D'Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses.

Part III: The Final Hour
The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a 'thought disorder'. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century.

The Atheism Tapes
, 2004: Six extended interviews:

Christian theologian Denys Turner defends the case for God as the answer to the most important questions.

Jonathan Miller talks to the philosopher Colin McGinn about atheism and anti-Theism.

Arthur Miller...

Steven Weinberg...

And here's an extra, since the other Atheism Tapes aren't up yet -- "Life After Darwin," from the Darwin Centre in the UK, with Miller, Dawkins, and MacLeod:

Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study: 10% Solar by 2025

18 June 2008

Jonathan Miller on the Dick Cavett Show, 1981

The Nation's Health: Delivering healthcare in the twenty-first century, Jonathan Miller, BBC Radio Series, 2002

Public health was, probably is, and very well may be far more important for health than "medicine," meaning, individual-based therapies. Click the bolded links below to launch RealPlayer.

In a six part series, Jonathan Miller offers his unique perspective on the development of the nation's health since the end of the Second World War. You can listen again to each of the programmes (see below), visit the Picture Gallery and hear extended interviews with Jonathan's guests.

Jonathan Miller is well placed to diagnose the nation's health. A medical student in the 1950s at University College Hospital, he qualified as a doctor in 1959 and had first-hand experience of the early years of the National Health Service. Although his subsequent career has taken him into opera and the theatre, Jonathan has maintained his interest in medicine. During his lifetime, the nation's health has improved dramatically. But Jonathan stresses that the maintenance of a healthy society requires the full co-operation of all its members; the health of each individual is dependent on the health of the wider community.

During the making of this series, Jonathan has interviewed eminent historians and medical ethicists; he's spoken to pioneering doctors, surgeons and epidemiologists. But the programmes are also about Jonathan Miller and his unique perspective on the nation's health. Delivered in his own inimitable style, Jonathan hopes that these thought-provoking programmes will contribute to the continuing debate about the best means of delivering healthcare in the twenty-first century.

1. Getting Started

In the first programme, Jonathan talks to medical historians Chris Lawrence and Charles Webster about the origins of the 'nation's health'. Health is something we now regard as a social right - but it has not always been that way. Victorian military planners were alarmed by the poor health of recruits for the armed forces, and well into the twentieth century, poverty coupled with inadequate diet blighted the lives of millions of Britons. It wasn't until the creation of a National Health Service in 1948 that political steps were taken to improve the lives of ordinary citizens, in terms of better housing as well as improved medical care.

One of the groups active in the 1930s that provided much of the impetus for the creation of a National Health Service was the Socialist Medical Association. Jonathan talks to three of its surviving members, John Pemberton, Richard Doll and Jerry Morris, all of whom saw at first hand the impact of poverty and malnutrition on the nation's health. Jonathan also talks to Anne Oakley about the innovative statistical work carried out by her father Richard Titmuss - work which, for the first time, established clear links between poor social conditions and ill health. One of the most dramatic pieces of post-war research analysed the experience of childbirth among women of different social classes. The research showed beyond doubt that malnourished women were likely to have longer and more dangerous labours. Jonathan speaks to Barbara Thompson, who was one of the researchers on the original Aberdeen project.

2. Public Health

In the second programme, Jonathan talks to some of the pioneering epidemiologists whose statistical work underpins our ability to track illness and disease across society at large. As well as establishing beyond doubt that poor social conditions, particularly malnutrition, have a profound impact on public health, epidemiologists also began to investigate links between illness and social behaviour. Richard Doll showed that smoking caused lung cancer; Jerry Morris demonstrated the importance of exercise to combat coronary heart disease; Alice Stewart proved that exposure to TNT could lead to the development of leukaemia.

As the links between ill health and social conditions became an accepted part of medicine, it became even more important that the public should have access to good healthcare as and when they needed it. With the help of Tony Ryle, Sheila Silcox and Howard Baderman, Jonathan discusses the post-war development of General Practice and Casualty. But the more we learn about the impact of social behaviour on our health, the greater the amount of information we have to absorb. The challenge facing present-day public health epidemiologists like Klim MacPherson is to find ways of delivering a health message that sounds neither patronising nor irrelevant.

3. The Risks of Safety

In the third programme, Jonathan investigates some of the issues surrounding immunisation. While vaccines against infectious diseases like polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria and measles have undoubtedly played a part in reducing mortality, we shouldn't forget that improvements in hygiene, nutrition and living conditions have also had a major impact on life expectancy. Nor can we shirk the fact that vaccines carry risks of their own.

As parents agonise over the rights and wrongs of allowing their children to have the MMR vaccine, health professionals are agreed that the public needs reliable information upon which to base their decisions. But statistical analyses are never the easiest things to make sense of, and even if the man or woman in the street knew enough maths to make a fair judgement of the figures, it doesn't necessarily mean they would act accordingly. As Jonathan argues, 'People don't think of risk or reward in rationally quantitative terms. And when it's a question of acting on behalf of someone else, especially a loved one, the perception of probability is skewed even further'.

With the help of health professionals Elizabeth Miller from the Public Health Laboratory Service and Ian Chalmers from the UK Cochrane Centre for evidence-based medicine, and medical ethicist Jonathan Glover, Jonathan explores the complexities of how we assess information about immunisation - and how, in the final analysis, subjective impressions tend to carry more weight than any amount of objective, statistical data.

4. The Amiable Juice

In the fourth programme, Jonathan traces the development of what used to be called the National Blood Transfusion Service. With the help of haematologists Jean Harrison and Helen Dodsworth and blood donor Charles King, he discusses how on-the-spot transfusions for blitz victims led to the development of blood banks - and how the introduction of plastic bags in the mid-seventies revolutionised our ability to fractionate whole blood into its respective components.

But blood donation is much more than a physical transaction. Jonathan argues that giving blood is a symbolic act which 'dramatises our social solidarity'. He describes blood as a 'rich liquid asset, a priceless deposit which can neither be spent nor accumulated'. With sociologist Ann Oakley, he explores the concept of blood donation as a 'gift relationship', an idea first put forward by Richard Titmuss who had himself been inspired by the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss.

Some, like Peter Howell, archivist for the British Blood Transfusion Society, argue that as society becomes more individualised, it becomes harder to persuade people to act altruistically and donate blood regularly. Could our growing reluctance to give blood be a reflection of our loss of a sense of community?

5. Doing What Comes Naturally

In the fifth programme, Jonathan discusses organ transplants, and the developments in our understanding of the body's immune system which makes transplants possible. Jonathan talks to Leslie Brent, one of the pioneering immunologists who, together with Nobel prize-winner Peter Medawar, made the theoretical breakthroughs that opened the way for surgeons like Sir Roy Calne to begin a programme of organ transplants. Jonathan is particularly interested in the kidney - it is, he says, 'one of most important mechanisms for maintaining our physiological stability, without which the cells we are composed of would be unable to survive or thrive'. Kidney specialists Hugh de Wardener and David Kerr describe the development of an Artificial Kidney - and how, despite early setbacks, Artificial Kidneys now support more than 15,000 dialysis patients in the UK. But while increased organ transplantation demonstrates how dependent we've become on our fellow citizens for a regular supply of organs, John Harris, a bioethicist at Manchester University, believes we have to find ways of increasing the availability of organs for transplantation. He argues that we have to overcome our scruples about removing organs from cadavers - in his view, people are not entitled to an intact body after death.

6. Who Cares?

In the final programme in the series, Jonathan Miller discusses the beginnings and endings of life, and how the development of Intensive Care has made it possible for machines to take over when the body's regulatory systems fail. Technological advances have prolonged our expectation of life, and there's now a pressing need for long-term social care to support the very old. Can we provide our old people with a quality of life they deserve?

Self-Made Things, Jonathan Miller, BBC Radio Series on the Origin of Life, 2005

Click the title or click the date below (five half-hour episodes):

In this five-part series, Jonathan Miller returns to his roots in medicine and tells the story of how we came to understand reproduction & heredity. Disposing with the idea of an external, perhaps even supernatural, vitalising force, he describes how we have arrived at the picture of ourselves and all organisms as Self-Made Things.
  • 27 July
    Programme 1

    Darwinism in the second half of the 19th century gave us a theoretical framework that captured in one stroke the seemingly limitless variety that zoologists, botanists and paleontologists were finding in every dimension in nature.

    On a macroscopic scale, it seemed that everything from extinctions and new species in the fossil record to the mating displays of birds of paradise and the pattern of a butterfly's wing was within reach of scientific explanation. If the new feature were good for survival and propagation, it stayed. If not, it fell from this new tree of life.

    And yet, at a finer level, explanations of how these variations came about, and where they entered the process, were still wanting. Indeed it became clear that we couldn't even describe satisfactorily how species bred true to type, without variation, let alone how eye colours and claws change over time. Why does a duck give birth to a duck rather than a platypus?

    In the first part of this series, Jonathan Miller looks at organisms that make things other than themselves. Nests, webs and dams are all part of what Richard Dawkins described as the "extended phenotype" of a species. A termite mound is as much a part of the identity of a termite as its white thorax and strong mandibles. Does looking at the way things make things give us clues as to how they make themselves?

    More Information:

    Michael Tomasello
    Richard Dawkins
    Richard Byrne
  • 3 August
    Programme 2

    This week Jonathan Miller looks at the birth of ideas about reproduction and heredity. Starting with the ideas of Aristotle and the early Greeks, he argues that because knowledge of underlying structures such as cells and genes are comparatively recent, it was necessary for thinkers addressing the problem, right through the renaissance, to resort to immaterial agents acting upon the raw substances of fertilization.

    When addressing theoretical problems, the human tendency to look for purpose rather than mechanism, especially with an issue as fundamental to our condition as reproduction, has taken a long time to disappear from our investigation.

    Aristotle's influence on embryological thought was considerable for much of the classical period. But in the 2nd Century AD the Graeco-Roman physician Galen introduced for the first time his rigorous anatomical technique to the argument.

    However, it was William Harvey, best known for his work on the circulation of the blood, who made the next major contribution.

    But as Jonathan Miller suggests, what links these three thinkers is their epigenetic approach to reproduction. To them, lacking as they did knowledge of any ordered material substrate for explanation of the interaction between semen and the womb, the foetus somehow condensed out of unordered mass.

    More Information:

    Prof Sir Geoffrey Lloyd
    Prof Vivian Nutton
    Prof Simon Schaffer
    BBC History - William Harvey
  • 10 August
    Programme 3

    This week, Jonathan Miller describes eighteenth and nineteenth century efforts to identify the cell as the underlying structure of living things.

    It's sometimes suggested that the English microscopist Robert Hooke discovered the cell in the mid-seventeenth century, but as Simon Schaffer tells Jonathan, the 'cells' that Hooke saw in sections of cork were empty, and Hooke only called them 'cells' because they reminded him of monkish cells in a monastery.

    The question of how to describe bodily structures before a conceptual framework existed was a real problem for those biologists trying to understand the inner processes of life.

    Janet Browne explains how French scholars used a terminology of fibres and textiles to describe what they saw through the microscope. Paul Nurse argues that, in their efforts to identify and describe the basic units of life, nineteenth century biologists borrowed the concept of the atom from physics, and tried to apply it to the living world.

    The major embryological breakthroughs came in Germany. Nick Hopwood describes how Christian Pander and Karl Ernst von Baer created a new language of 'germ layers' to describe the early embryo.

    Although the German duo, Schleiden & Schwann, are often credited with the actual discovery of the cell, historians like Robert Olby give them credit for focussing attention on the cell, even though their descriptions of cell division as a process of crystallisation or precipitation were eventually shown to be wrong.

    More Information:

    Prof Simon Schaffer
    Dr Nick Hopwood
    Prof Janet Browne
    Prof Paul Nurse
    Prof Robert Olby
  • 17 August
    Programme 4

    This week, Jonathan Miller describes the research that eventually led us to identify the gene as the key agent of inheritance.

    One of the most important figures in this search was a nineteenth century Augustinian monk called Gregor Mendel. Robert Olby tells Jonathan about Mendel's hybridisation experiments which showed for the first time that plants inherited characteristics according to a mathematical pattern. Mendel recognised that characteristics could be recessive or dominant, so that traits could 'disappear' from one generation and 'reappear' in the next.

    In 1859, Charles Darwin published 'On the Origin of Species' which laid out the theory of evolution by natural selection. But as Enrico Coen says, Darwin had little idea about the actual physical processes of inheritance. He thought that hereditary particles representing each part of the body - he called them gemules - were somehow collected together and passed on to the next generation. The fact that circumcised males managed to pass foreskins on to their male offspring was something Darwin was unable to explain.

    The ideas of Darwin 's contemporary, the German biologist August Weissmann, were far more convincing. Richard Dawkins is full of admiration for Weismann's concept of a river of hereditary particles, insulated from environmental influences, flowing through the generations and determining the characteristics of individual species.

    But as Evelyn Fox Keller argues, it wasn't until the beginning of the twentieth century that scientists began to realise that the key to inheritance lay as much in the mechanisms that activate the genes, as in the genes themselves.

    More Information:

    Professor Robert Olby
    Professor Enrico Coen
    Professor Richard Dawkins
    Professor Evelyn Fox Keller
  • 24 August
    Programme 5

    In the final programme in the series, Jonathan Miller brings the story of reproduction and generation up to the present. He hears first from Nobel prize-winner Sir Aaron Klug who describes the work done by Crick and Watson in 1953 to identify the chemical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, better know as DNA, which they represented as a double helix.

    But as Jonathan argues, since the discovery of DNA, we've had to face up to the enormous complexity of the cellular and genetic mechanisms that enable us to be 'self-made things'.

    Lewis Wolpert stresses the importance of the proteins that the genes code for, and the control regions that determine when and where a particular gene is turned on.

    Claudio Stern explains how, despite their identical genetic inheritance, dividing cells begin to differentiate and commit themselves to becoming different body parts.

    Tim Horder describes Hans Spemann's discovery of a command centre, now known simply as the Spemann Organizer, which sends out signals that inform cells what body parts they should become.

    Ever since he was a zoology student, Jonathan has been interested in how many animals, including ourselves, are organised into serial segments. Peter Lawrence explains some of the principles of serial segmentation, and warns Jonathan against assuming that internal genetic segments will necessarily coincide with the external segments that we see with our eyes.

    Enrico Coen draws all these threads together in a metaphor that likens our ability to make ourselves to the relationship between a painter and a picture. But rather than there being a distinction between painter and canvas, we have to understand that living things are both painter and canvas. We are the product of an interactive dialogue in which both painter and canvas are interdependent.

    More Information:

    Professor Sir Aaron Klug
    Professor Lewis Wolpert
    Professor Claudio Stern
    Dr Tim Horder
    Professor Peter Lawrence
    Professor Enrico Coen

Ralph Nader on Barack Obama: “It is Quite Clear He is a Corporate Candidate from A to Z”

Nader on Democracy Now!

Jonathan Miller on Dick Cavett, 1980

Bill Moyers Interviews Jonathan Miller

Everyday Anarchism: Cooperation, Action, Community

Anarchism Portal on Wikipedia

Gore Vidal Interview, 2006, on CultureCatch

Free audio; click the title....

Free Audio Book of Ulysses

Hope it's good -- me and my wife are going to dive in (me for the third time, her for the first), and this should be a good help.

17 June 2008

Carl Sagan's Cosmos, New Version

All episodes here -- won't allow me to embed the video with all thirteen episodes, for some reason.

Dialectics of Nature, Frederick Engels (1873-1886)

Dialectics of Nature

First Published: in Russian and German in the USSR in 1925,
except for Part Played by Labour, 1896 and Natural Science and the Spirit World, 1898;
Transcribed: by Sally Ryan and jjazz@hwcn.org 1998/2001;
Notes and Fragments transcribed by Andy Blunden 2006.

Table of Contents

Preface, by J. B. S. Haldane 1939

Articles and Chapters

Basic Form of Motion
The Measure of Motion - Work
Tidal Friction, Kant and Thomson - Tait on the Rotation of the Earth and Lunar Attraction
The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man, 1876
Natural Science and the Spirit World, 1878


From the History of Science
Natural Science and Philosophy
Forms of Motion of Matter, Classification of the Sciences
Mechanics and Astronomy


Titles and Contents of Folders
Plans and Outlines
Notes to Anti-Dühring: From the History of Science (some duplication with notes above)
Notes to Anti-Dühring: Fragment: Historical (some duplication with notes above)
Index to the Contents of the Folders
Chronological List of Chapters and Fragments

Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey

Also now under Worthy Endeavors in the left nav.

Some info on this free online course:

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY) and author of various books. He has been teaching Karl Marx's Capital, Volume I for nearly 40 years, and his lectures are now available online for the first time. This open course consists of 13 two-hour video lectures of Professor Harvey’s close chapter by chapter reading of Capital, Volume I.

The text for this course is Capital, Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx. The page numbers that Professor Harvey refers to are from the Penguin Classics edition. Help finding the text.

Jonathan Miller Interview

Obama is a truly Democratic expansionist, John Pilger, New Statesman

Pepe Escobar on Iraq Status of Forces Deal

An Interview with Noam Chomsky by Wajahat Ali

16 June 2008

Bill Maher: I'm Swiss