American Pravda: Jews and Nazis

Around 35 years ago, I was sitting in my college dorm-room closely reading the New York Times as I did each and every morning when I noticed an astonishing article about the controversial new Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

Back in those long-gone days, the Gray Lady was strictly a black-and-white print publication, lacking the large color photographs of rap stars and long stories about dieting techniques that fill so much of today’s news coverage, and it also seemed to have a far harder edge in its Middle East reporting. A year or so earlier, Shamir’s predecessor Menacham Begin had allowed his Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to talk him into invading Lebanon and besieging Beirut, and the subsequent massacre of Palestinian women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps had outraged the world and angered America’s government. This eventually led to Begin’s resignation, with Shamir, his Foreign Minister, taking his place.

Continue reading…

I highly recommend Ron Unz’s American Pravda series of essays, the latest installment of which is linked above. They don’t need to be read in any special order. In today’s world when so much news media has been exposed as the partisan drivel it is, wise readers understand that history as told by “the academy” is also filled with drivel and misdirection. Unz’s voice is honest and straightforward. In clear language he takes us through his own awakening to the depths of American propaganda and the distortions it has created in American society. I have no doubt that Ron is doing his level best to speak the truth about difficult subjects. I respect him greatly for that. ABN

The Dark Core of Personality

We all know people who consistently display ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior in everyday life. Personality psychologists refer to these characteristics among a subclinical population as “dark traits.” An understanding of dark traits have become increasingly popular not only in psychology, but also in criminology and behavioral economics.

Even though psychologists have studied various dark traits, it has become increasingly clear that these dark traits are related to each other. This raises the question: Is there a unifying theme among dark traits? (Source)

Study can be found here.

“kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men” – Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong Joins The Times’s Editorial Board

About Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong is a journalist and lawyer. She is currently a senior writer at the Verge. She is the author of The Internet of Garbage, and has bylines at the Atlantic, the Washington Post, New York Times Magazine, Motherboard, Forbes, the Guardian, and more. In 2017, she was named as one of Forbes’s 30 under 30 in the category of Media.

Ron Unz: The Nature of Anti-Semitism

I recently published a couple of long essays, and although they primarily focused on other matters, the subject of anti-Semitism was a strong secondary theme. In that regard, I mentioned my shock at discovering a dozen or more years ago that several of the most self-evidently absurd elements of anti-Semitic lunacy, which I had always dismissed without consideration, were probably correct. It does seem likely that a significant number of traditionally-religious Jews did indeed occasionally commit the ritual murder of Christian children in order to use their blood in certain religious ceremonies, and also that powerful Jewish international bankers did play a large role in financing the establishment of Bolshevik Russia.

When one discovers that matters of such enormous moment not only apparently occurred but that they had been successfully excluded from nearly all of our histories and media coverage for most of the last one hundred years, the implications take some time to properly digest. If the most extreme “anti-Semitic canards” were probably true, then surely the whole notion of anti-Semitism warrants a careful reexamination. (Source)

Ron Unz’s American Pravda series of essays highlights information that has been consciously hidden from mainstream American books, news, and media. The information provided in this series is essential for fully understanding American history and culture. His recent essays on Jews, including the one linked above, go a long way toward correcting a typically skewed understanding of Jewish history and Jewish impact on the modern world. I deeply hope that Unz will cover Jewish vigilantism and terror in the United States and elsewhere soon. ABN

Is consciousness continuous or discrete?

Is consciousness a continuous flow of awareness without intervals or is it something that emerges continually at discrete points in a cascade of microbits?

The Buddhist answer has always been the latter.

The Buddha’s five skandha explanation of perception and consciousness says that there are four discrete steps that are the basis of consciousness.

The five skandhas are form, sensation, perception, activity, consciousness. A form can arise in the mind or outside of the mind. This form gives rise to a sensation, which gives rise to perception, followed by activity (mental or physical), and lastly consciousness. In the Buddha’s explanation, the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly. They are not a continuous stream but rather a series of discrete or discernible moments. A form arises or appears, then there is a sensation, then perception, then activity, then consciousness. (The five skandhas and modern science)

The first four skandhas are normally unconscious. Buddhist mindfulness and meditation training are importantly designed to help us become conscious of each of the five skandhas as they actually function in real-time.

A study from 2014—Amygdala Responsivity to High-Level Social Information from Unseen Faces—supports the five skandha explanation. From that study:

The findings demonstrate that the amygdala can be influenced by even high-level facial information before that information is consciously perceived, suggesting that the amygdala’s processing of social cues in the absence of awareness may be more extensive than previously described. (emphasis added)

A few days ago, a new model of how consciousness arises was proposed. This model is being called a “two-stage” model, but it is based on research and conclusions derived from that research that support the Buddha’s five skandha explanation of consciousness.

The study abstract:

We experience the world as a seamless stream of percepts. However, intriguing illusions and recent experiments suggest that the world is not continuously translated into conscious perception. Instead, perception seems to operate in a discrete manner, just like movies appear continuous although they consist of discrete images. To explain how the temporal resolution of human vision can be fast compared to sluggish conscious perception, we propose a novel conceptual framework in which features of objects, such as their color, are quasi-continuously and unconsciously analyzed with high temporal resolution. Like other features, temporal features, such as duration, are coded as quantitative labels. When unconscious processing is “completed,” all features are simultaneously rendered conscious at discrete moments in time, sometimes even hundreds of milliseconds after stimuli were presented. (Time Slices: What Is the Duration of a Percept?) (emphasis added)

I, of course, completely support science going where the evidence leads and am not trying to shoehorn these findings into a Buddhist package. Nonetheless, that does sound a lot like a slimmed-down version of the five skandhas. Considering these and other recent findings in a Buddhist light may help science resolve more clearly what is actually happening in the brain/mind.

As for form-sensation-perception-activity-consciousness, you might suddenly think of your mother, or the history of China, or the spider that just climbed onto your shoulder.

In Buddhist terms, initially, each of those items is a form which leads to a sensation which leads to perception which leads to activity which leads to consciousness.

Obviously, the form of a spider on your shoulder differs from the form of the history of China. Yet both forms can be understood to produce positive, negative, or neutral sensations, after which we begin to perceive the form and then react to it with activity (either mental or physical or both) before becoming fully conscious of it.

In the case of the spider, the first four skandhas may happen so quickly, we will have reacted (activity) to it (the spider) before being conscious of what we are doing. The skandha of activity is deeply physical in this case, though once consciousness of the event arises our sense of what the first four skandhas were and are will change.

If we slapped the spider and think we killed it, our eyes will monitor it for movement. If it moves and we are sensitive in that way, we might shudder again and relive the minor panic that just occurred.

If we are sorry that we reacted without thinking and notice the spider is moving, we might feel relief that it is alive or sadness that it has been wounded.

In all cases, our consciousness of the original event, will constellate around the spider through monitoring it, our own reactions, and whatever else arises. Maybe our sudden movements brought someone else into the room.

The constellation of skandhas and angles of awareness can become very complex, but the skandhas will still operate in unique and/or feedback loops that can often be analyzed.

The word skandha means “aggregate” or “heap” indicating that the linear first-fifth explanation of how they operate is greatly simplified.

The above explanation of the spider can also be applied to the form skandhas of the history of China or your mother when they suddenly arise in your mind, or anything else.

We can also perceive the skandhas when our minds bring in new information from memory or wander. As we read, for example, it is normal for other forms to enter our minds from our memories. Some of these forms will enhance our reading and some of them will cause our minds to wander.

Either way, our consciousness is always slightly jumpy because it emerges continually at discrete points in a cascade of microbits, be they called skandhas or something else.

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Edit: The first four skandhas can be stilled in meditation.

See also: How the brain produces consciousness in ‘time slices’

First posted April 16, 2016