Tag Archives: books

More Deadly Than the Unabomber

Manhunt UnabomberThere have been many bombers, but “going postal” is a phrase which began due to several infamous USPS shootings, sparking discussion about workplace violence. It spawned books and a violent video game, Postal. While the Unabomber case was a significant tech-related case involving three deaths and 25 injuries, a more deadly incident in Edmond, Oklahoma was chilling: when postal clerk Pat Sherrill, about to be fired, turned his rage on co-workers, killing 14 and wounding five more. Within a decade 11 rampages at post offices ensued. Why? The monotony of the job, the relentlessly by-the-numbers demands of management, and mental illness. (Employee screening is lax: former military are given preference, regardless of their unresolved issues on battlefields.) People can “snap.” As for Ted Kaczynski, he is a Harvard educated mathematician now in supermax prison in Colorado. Unlike OJ Simpson, he will never walk free. His manifesto, which he preferred to call an “article,” discusses technology as the enemy of freedom, and he has things to say about AI, too.

unabomber manifesto

Apparently, he was friends with Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing, who was also at the prison prior to execution, and had things to say about Osama bin Laden wanting to access technology to pull a power play in a nationalistic sense, something that must be stopped. He also questioned the tendency of the media to produce fake news.

fake news PostalOn Oct. 10, 1991, former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shot two former co-workers to death at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiance, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. After a four-hour standoff with police at the post office, Harris was arrested. His violent outburst was one of several high-profile attacks by postal workers that resulted in the addition of the phrase “going postal” to the American lexicon.

Harris, who was born in prison and had a lifetime of psychiatric problems, was fired from his job in April 1990. Harboring a grudge against his ex-employer, he began to stockpile automatic weapons, grenades, and ninja swords. Two years later, he learned that he had lost as much as $10,000 by investing it with broker Roy Edwards. Dressed in a black ninja costume, Harris entered Edwards’ Montville, New Jersey,home and handcuffed the family. After sexually assaulting Edwards’ wife and two daughters, he shot Edwards to death. Since hundreds of investors had lost money while dealing with Edwards, police never even considered Harris a suspect in his death until after the mass slaying on October 10.

Arguing that he was insane, Harris’ lawyers said that he had told psychiatrists that he was driven by the “ninja spirit” to commit the crimes. In 1992, Harris was convicted of both the Montville and Ridgewood attacks and was sent to death row. But in September 1996, two days before a New Jersey State Supreme Court battle to overturn its death-penalty law was to start, he died of natural causes.

Are You Being Brandwashed?

NASA

Unlike the Flat Earthers, who believe the number one threat to society is NASA lying to people, I believe the real threat is giant corporations who have created our fake news culture as a diversion while they spy on us. Latest case in point is the book THE AISLES HAVE EYES. Author Joseph Turow is a professor at the Annenberg School of Communication, and his subtitle is “How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power.” Your “power” is becoming illusory. Listen to the audiobook HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson, subtitled “The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction,” (due out Feb. 7.) We are being distracted while our personal data is being mined and sold to third parties under our noses, often within seconds of downloading a “free” app or turning on a “smart” phone. Who is smart? Not the consumer, for sure. Those posting fake news to distract us (or viral cat videos: same thing) are being used by politicians and corporations to manipulate our thoughts and actions. (And how we vote.) If there’s a conspiracy out there, it’s from people like Alex Jones of InfoWars talking about things that don’t matter. Or ESPN. Dan Patrick has a popular radio show that is also on cable TV, with toys for good old big boys surrounding him. Nothing wrong with that, you say? Well, for anyone watching him, or Alex, or the Flat Earthers, or a thousand TV shows, when is there time to read books? Most don’t, anymore. That’s the point made in Hit Makers. Hits are those things that get the most clicks. How do they do this? By advance publicity from influencers and celebs, by market saturation, by slight of hand and tailored ads. Like football, it is a sport with the biggest prize of all: eyeballs. If they can keep your attention focused on what they want, they can control you. It’s as simple (and complex) as that. What chance does quality content have, in this environment? The same odds as a plow horse running in the Kentucky Derby. It may be a smart horse, but that doesn’t matter at all, in direct rebuttal of the saying, “If you’re smart why ain’t you rich?” Likewise, the best things can get ignored. This extends from songs to products. As Bill Gates told Steve Jobs in the film The Pirates of Silicon Valley, “You have the best stuff, but it doesn’t matter.” (At that point Gates had control of the market with an inferior product: Windows was a ripoff, one operating system stacked on top of another, and prone to bugs and viruses. MacOS is still superior, but not as ubiquitous. Jobs ripped off Xerox and improved on it, eventually going viral with iMac, iPod, and iPhone.) The moral of the story? Buyer beware. You’re basically on your own, especially if you don’t read books. Because the major media won’t tell you this. They are in on the gravy train. Watch NBC or CBS or ABC evening news programs, and what happens every time? They start off with a relatively long report on soundbites and viral videos, then move to shorter and shorter items, the drug commercials building momentum until by the end they are saying, “When we come back” within ten seconds of coming back! Then you see another series of Big Pharma ads for diseases we wouldn’t have if we weren’t on our devices or watching the NFL so much while munching on advertised junk food.

 

narcissism

The Case Against Sugar

healthGary Taubes is a staff writer for Discover, and a correspondent for Science magazine. An award winning investigative journalist, he has appeared in the NY Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Esquire. He is a co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative, his previous book “Why We Get Fat.” This audiobook is narrated by actor Mike Chamberlain. Preorder here.