Friday, December 29, 2006

Setting Targets in the Fight against Corruption by Louis Evan Palmer

As any dictionary will inform, corruption is a diminishment of integrity and it's an inducement to break the rules often by improper means such as bribery or blackmail. But, it's more, it's a subversion of the rule of law; it's a step towards a criminal society run by crooks & thugs; as harmless as corruption might seem under some circumstances, it represents a menace to good government. It is not something that can be safely ignored or minimized.

It can be stated without equivocation that corruption exists and also that, in most cases, it needs official cooperation or protection to exist. The vexing question is how is it to be discovered and removed?

A technique used in debugging software might help - one establishes the expected number of bugs and then it's decided whether to find a certain percentage of the bugs or to vigorously search for a set time period. This target-setting technique might be useful in rooting out corruption.

Let's say, for example, that there are 15,000 policemen in a given jurisdiction. Let's say we have a corruption index for various jurisdictions: above 9.0 is very high, between 7.0 and 8.9 is high, etc. Then we agree on what percentage of policemen are expected to be corrupted for a given corruption index in an area. There would have to be some accounting for the seriousness of different types of corruption when determining the ratings. Serious hidden systemic corruption - corrupt politicians, judges or lawyers - would likely be rated as more serious than, say, bribe-taking policemen on the beat.

For the sake of argument, let's say that "very high" means that at least 10% of a given force is corrupted. So for a 15,000 member police organization, we'd expect to find some 1500 policeman involved to varying degrees in corrupt activities. At the same time, we'd establish which units are more likely to be corrupted and what types of corruption exist and what their threat profiles are - for example, corruption that involves the legislature or judiciary is more serious than corruption that involves a small-time loan-shark down the street.

Using a target-based system, we'd state that we want to identify a certain percentage of those 1500; say, 80% - so we'd investigate until we had identified 1200 corrupt policemen or until a set period of time had elapsed, for example, 12 months. Naturally, a process would have to ensure that anti-corruption investigations were pursued correctly. If too low a number of policemen were uncovered in the 12 months, that in itself might force the constitution of a new investigative team and a new 12 month mandate.

This example mentions policemen but that's just one potential group. There are also corrupt judges, corrupt politicians, corrupt public administrators, corrupt military staff, etc. etc. They all must be looked at.

Notice that we're saying "are" and not "might be". That change of attitude forces us to contemplate and carry out appropriate action. We're in effect saying that crimes are taking place.

The whole process of rooting out the corrupt members in various groups is complicated. This is proposed as a continuous effort. The expectation is that an organization moves downward on the corruption index and then maintains itself at a low level. While we want to have zero-corruption, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

A lot of quality effort is needed to figure out how to staff an anti-corruption force and to ensure that its interactions are protected and enforceable. It must have subpoena powers and the ability to get wiretaps. It must be outside of the normal chain of command. It's difficult and it would require a serious dedication of resources and talent to properly set-up. There have been numerous attempts, some better than others, some more long-lasting. They can be re-visited where necessary. The point is to have an active & effective group that will be tenacious and fair.

The anti-corruption group also must be able to adapt to handle re-organizations, changing conditions like an economic downturn and to evaluate the impact of organizational structure on corruption.

The anti-corruption groups should develop expertise in governance and how it can be subverted to facilitate corrupt activities. This especially comes into play in war or conflict zones, in lawless regions or failed state zones and in the interaction within a given nation of extra-territorial institutions and groups like corporations and criminal syndicates and entities like free zones and tax havens.

There are, and have been, many anti-corruption groups - divisions of larger police organizations, divisions of tax collection agencies, within various government entities. This article envisions a national anti-corruption group that exercises supervisory power over these groups, conducts its own investigations, and coordinates research and interaction among all anti-corruption and related groups and, perhaps, most importantly, offers expertise in the governance of anti-corruption organizations.

A very important point in this type of endeavour is that the corruption uncovered is only the first step. It must be followed all the way. In whose interest are these various persons being corrupted? Who does it serve? How? Why? Without this step, it'll end up as serving up the small fry for public consumption while the big fish move on to better feeding grounds and the rot continues.

The guiding principle is that normal operation & governance will happen as long as the organizations themselves are free enough of corruption to properly function. A continuously operating national anti-corruption organization and its associated campaigns and affliated groups would help ensure that the various components of government are clean and unobstructed as they perform their legally constituted roles.

Another aspect not mentioned - there must be a comprehensive move into any branches of "invisible" or secret groups whether within the government or without. By definition, they represent a corruption of good government. These might prove to be the most dangerous and difficult battles in the anti-corruption campaigns.

Setting Targets in the Fight against Corruption, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Unbridled Corruption & Abuse of Power - Naked Shorting by Louis Evan Palmer

The bedrock of society is trust and this requirement especially extends into the financial realm. Yet, it is precisely there where it often fails because the tentacles of greed, desire & fear squeeze it out of the unsteady converts to honesty. Their religion is "self and what can be gotten away with" and they rapidly crumble under any ethical pressure.

With rampant corruption, mostly hidden or obfuscated, and its attendant abuse of power, it's difficult to choose a starting point so letting chance play its part, we settle on a story identified by "Project Censored" and listed as #18 in the "Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006".

It appears to be a variation on the theme of the rich get richer. It's called "Naked Shorting".

Naked shorting is a shell game - you sell something you don't have - in this case, stocks; in fact, you don't even sell them, you borrow them; actually, you don't even do that - you pretend that you either have or will them; so maybe we can call it an IOU on a loan on a stock.

In the world of MBAs-turned-conmen, these complex schemes are ideal because you can baffle them and dazzle them and if they want to probe too deeply then you can "Emperor's New Clothes" them - if you don't understand their explanations, it's because you're stupid or ignorant or both. Best keep your mouth shut and let your betters do their thing which in this case, is to rob you blind.

This is a layman's version of "Naked Shorting". The "naked" part refers to the fact that the "short" is not covered which means there is no stock in hand to short. A normal stock purchase involves investing in a company and hoping it does well enough so that you make your money back plus some. Say, as when you buy shares at $1 a share and sell them for $1.50 a share. "Shorting" is the opposite - although you can't actually buy a share in this scenario. You agree to borrow a share for a period of time. In this case, say the stock is trading at $1 a share but you think it will drop, so you agree to borrow the share and return it for $ 0.90 a share in 30 days - you're hoping it falls to $0.80 or lower and then you make $0.10 a share. Because there is no proof that the trader offering the short actually has the stock, there can be a greater number of shares than what a given company has issued. Such a stock can only go down. This then can be used as a means of attacking a company and putting it out of business and stealing its assets - making money all the while.

What is the bottom line?
  1. Hedge funds and large traders & specialized traders get away with grand theft
  2. Small & mid-sized companies, especially those in need of capital, are driven into bankruptcy and/or to the vultures
  3. Small & mid-sized investors are victimized (again)
This is yet another in a long line of techniques for creating credit - one of the guaranteed ways of making (i.e. stealing) a great deal of money. This is always the foundation technique - creating credit. Look for it and everywhere you see it, you will see the mark of thieves and thugs.

Job One for our governments and their agencies - control, transparency & fairness in the creation of credit in all its forms.

Unbridled Corruption & Abuse of Power - Naked Shorting, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


Monday, December 25, 2006

3rd Hint.... You might be in a Holographic Universe by Louis Evan Palmer

Whenever you have holes in a theory, you naturally suspect that the explanation is not quite all there. When the theory has to do with reality and consciousness then, of course, it's all the more important that it's addressed seriously, yet all the more likely it won't be, unless you can find a technique that allows almost anyone to see through the fault and understand, and be able to use, the new explanation.

Some interesting tidbits in the assault on the contention that matter is the primary reality and everything including mind flows out of that.

Our reality appears to be completely shaped by our organs of perception as we understand them. For example, humans have two eyes and this gives us the ability to see depth due to the overlap of the two fields of vision. No binocular vision, no depth of vision.

Two interesting vision-related phenomena have been under study - one is called is binocular rivalry, the other is called stereopsis.

Binocular rivalry refers to the situation where one image is seen by one eye and another image is seen by the other eye. In any natural situation, you'd be seeing two aspects of the same scene. But, if by chance, or by experiment, you happened to see one image in one eye and another image in the other eye then binocular rivalry comes into play. There are many interesting permuations but to boil it right down - you end up seeing only one image even though two images are presented. Your mind decides which one will dominate and the other image disappears. While this phenomenon has been under study for centuries, most intensely in the 20th century and beyond, what is being looked at are the various scientific aspects - the intensity of the light, the similarity or difference between the images, the timing, etc. etc. The salient point for this discussion is that the mind is deciding what is to be seen. This opens up the question as to what else, or how much, of what we see (or hear or smell or sense or taste) is decided by the "mind". What might we be blocking out? How do we arrive at a consensus as to what is to be perceived if that's what is happening?

The materialists will say that it's some aspect of matter that determines what is to be seen but it does seem to be more like a quantum phenomenon than an ordinary physical one. That is, the observer affects what happens.

Stereopsis refers to a situation where the mind (or the brain) takes two images and merges them to some extent which the mind then sees as a single composite image. Again, what appears to be the "raw" input and what we perceive differs as a result of a decision in our "mind". This seems to fit in with our powerful drive to make sense of the world by seeing patterns and causality and connections. We will create a narrative even out of a potentially Rorschach blot universe.

This drags us into that dreaded conundrum - how do you know what you don't know? How do we know what we don't perceive? How do we know what we perceive but ignore; and why? How much is what we decide versus what is? Is there a "what is"?

3rd Hint.... You might be in a Holographic Universe, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


Character-spotting...... Take 2 by Louis Evan Palmer

There's always a pharisaic quality to these types of articles but I'm going to humbly proceed because allowing certain actions and words and other commentaries (or lack of) to pass without remark signifies acquiescence even tacit acceptance.

Children are precious to most people in most societies. Children are also among the most vulnerable of any society. Typically, they are protected and nurtured.

In this regard, statements, especially public statements, about children should never be damaging or invasive of their privacy.

Let's contrast two such statements - one by Eddie Murphy, another by Ethan Hawke.

In an interview, Eddie Murphy stated: "But, you're being presumptuous because we're not together anymore and we don't know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn't jump to conclusions, sir."

This was in discussing his relationship with Melanie Brown, her pregnancy and her claim that he is the father.

At this point, Mr. Murphy does not know whether he is or isn't the father. In fairness to the child, one would think he would have kept silent on the matter. Instead, he is, in effect, casting aspersions on the mother by saying that she may not really know who the father is because she may be sleeping with too many men to keep track; and, worse, rejecting the child as his own. Since this has all been done in the open media, the child will presumably find out about this at some point. In the meantime, the whole world knows. Is this fair or right? Is this something that a man of honour would do?

Uma Thurman & Ethan Hawke had a son and a daughter before they divorced. They have not talked about their split and have not been critical of each other in public

"She's my children's mother," he says. "You have to keep that above anything else. If you bring two people into the world together, that supersedes anything else."

It may have been easier to lash out at each other in public but it would have hurt their children.

Sometimes it's difficult being a gentleman or a lady, sometimes it's not difficult. It definitely helps to have a guiding light, words of wisdom to follow, perhaps something like "do unto others..."

Character-spotting... Take 2, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mental Illness Casts a Wide Net

Says who?

In a holographic universe mind is primary and therefore, mental illness is a more direct malady than, for instance, having a sore back. In our common understanding however, mental illness is still a mystery and without pharmacology, there probably would have been almost no progress in treating it.

Our approach is mostly empirical and based on
a material explanation. We give a person substance "A" and note its effects and if it's sufficiently helpful then it gets prescribed. Does it mean that this manifestation of mental illness is caused by a lack of substance "A" or that the substance acts on the conditions that are causing it? That all depends on the delicate art of correlation.

It gets difficult because so many substances, or lack of, can cause similar effects. For example, how many substances or other inputs can cause anxiety? That's why we can have popularly prescribed anti-depressants that make people suicidal. Most of us would consider suicidal thoughts or actions as the ultimate in depression which is what an anti-depressant should be combating. Maybe we don't really understand it all that well.

Yet, even as our lack of understanding becomes more
exposed, the list of things that are enveloped to some degree by the mental illness net widens. The former Soviet Union used to declare political opponents as mentally unbalanced. The United States under its corporate tutelage has more recently been declaring more and more conditions as illnesses for which medication is mandated. Political and other forms of correctness are dragging various "isms" into the mix. Racism is being mentioned in the same breath as mental illness. Alcoholism has been successfully rebranded as an illness.

All these dictates and compulsion is occuring precisely as
we call into question the foundation of how mental illness is currently explained. Sounds like denial.

Mental Illness Casts a Wide Net, Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be
Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. He may be contacted at

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Canadian Head of State by Louis Evan Palmer


Despite repatriation of the constitution, Canada still maintains the Queen of England (and Scotland, Wales and other various places) as the official Head of State. It is long past the date when Canada should Canadianize this ceremonial but nonetheless important position. This in turn would precipitate changes to a raft of other symbols and emblems associated with the Head of State such as currency, stamps, specialty flags, & names of military units to name a few.

It is proposed here that we keep the ceremonial institution of Head of State but Canadianize it by having a first nations Chief as Canada's Head of State - where first nation would include the Inuit.

“Your Excellency” would replace “Your Majesty” and other similar changes. Ships at sea would go from “HMS Canada” to something like “CCS Canada” where CCS stands for “Canadian Confederation Ship”. A Canadian Head of State would not be a heriditary position along it might be a lengthy tenure, perhaps even a lifetime appointment.

Place names like “Queensway” or “Kingsway” would give way to “Chiefs Way” and all the other assorted names and conventions would give way to similarly appropriate Canadianized revisions.

It might take a few years to settle in but like the Maple Leaf Flag it wouldn't be long before we could never imagine it not being that way – the Canadian Way, eh?

Canadian Head of State, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.