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The Cross of Bethlehem II

Dow Chemical and the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

On Complex Technology Interactions



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Typewriter | Entrapped by Dow Chemical


Technologies interact in complex ways; seldom are we able to appreciate the various technologies used to create even simple machines. Our documentation of those hard- to-spot interactions is poor and sometimes we simply lose technologies as time passes. It sounds hard to believe, but fifty years ago nobody suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, an ailment popular with heavy users of computer keyboards. Yet, fifty years ago there were typewriters and the people used them not less than keyboards are used today. At the peak of that technology, typewriters were designed upon ergonomic principles that avoided the physical stress leading to the mechanical damage of the wrists. However, once the computer entered our lives, no one remembered the basic principles of typewriter design; notoriously, laptop keyboards are flat. It's true that we can find the principles and reuse them in future keyboards for computers; but from a practical point of view this technology had been sacrificed for one more profitable, but less healthy.

Dow Logo

Dow Chemical Logo

The State of Israel behaves similarly with all its technologies. Their dream is to build a spaceship with sand and carpenters glue; McGyver is still a demigod there. While working with the Jacobson Agencies - representing Dow Chemicals in Israel - I witnessed an attempt to push American military classified technology by Dow to Israel that resembled the interaction of keyboard technologies mentioned above. I was invited to the Dow European Headquarters in Horgen, next to Zurich, and for a week I attended various technical encounters. Until the last day I couldn't understand the reason for my trip, but then something strange happened.

On that last day, I was invited to a private meeting with a German worker of Dow, who told me: "We have something special for you. We are searching new markets for a very special product we have and we know your country has a missiles industry."

"It is very hard to access it," I countered, still not knowing what he was aiming at.

"That's why we want you. Look, your country lacks the technology to make the missiles fly straight to the target in the last split-second of the flight."

"How do you know that," I asked.

"Because they aren't buying our product. If you don’t coat the fuel rod with it, the solid fuel rod doesn’t burn evenly and causes an unpredictable flight."

"And how do you know that?"

"We are the suppliers to the USA army, we developed this technology. That's why we need to approach this project quietly. I'll give you a general description of the process and the formula, you give it to Rafael and then they will, from their initiative, place a commercial order."

Rafael is a research center for the development of arms. It belongs to the State of Israel and is located in the Haifa Bay.

"But that's an American secret..." I told him, trying to evade my destiny.

"Are you American?," he asked.

Following that last rhetorical question, he began describing the technical details without waiting for my answer. I was being used in Switzerland by a German worker of an American corporation to transfer classified American military technology to Israel. Secrets have their ways. Israel's secret of their less-than-perfect score at hitting their target was discerned by a commercial company holding the technical secret that would solve the problem. The confidence of the American military was abused by that company. The company and its associates forced workers to perform tasks that at the least were immoral.

An early review of this article claimed its two parts seem poorly connected. My listener was surprised when I said that was intentional. I created a cognitive dissonance which intended to reflect my surprise when at a supposedly innocent meeting at Dow Chemical; I was dragged into their dirty businesses.

The details of what happened next are complex; the bottom line is that I didn’t fully carry out the task and that the Israeli Ministry of Defense didn’t believe Dow’s claims regarding their accurate knowledge of the technologies used by Rafael. I found myself as the scapegoat, a situation that was aggravated by my political views and my writing of Holygarchy. At the end of the day I found myself boycotted by Jacobson in the Israeli market, persecuted by the Israeli sinister security services, and somewhat later internationally recognized as a refugee.

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