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An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open, free and exciting is waking up.

Sunday, December 22, 2002day link 

 Angry people in airports
The most linked article in weblogs today is Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife’s Breasts? at Kuro5hin. It is presented as a tale of some ordinary decent people who get grossly mistreated in an airport by a fascist police state, for no reason at all, and he gets thrown in jail and she develops complications in her pregnancy. Well, I read it, and I'd otherwise be the first to complain about the violations of human liberty and rights to privacy going on in the United States right now. But, even reading the guy's own account, it sounds more like a self-centered macho guy with a big anger problem.

The security checks at U.S. airports are very annoying, and it is very questionable if they'll make much difference in hindering terrorist attacks. I made the mystake myself of flying to Las Vegas recently from L.A., rather than driving. Each way they twice pulled me aside to meticulously go through everything I was carrying and wearing. Taking off my shoes, patting over my body, locating my nail clipper, etc. It might or might not all make sense, but there's a point to it, and it certainly wasn't the personnel at the gate who came up with those policies. And everybody's a bit on edge. So, the very wrong thing to do is what that guy did. Refuse to take your hat off, because you can't see why you should have to. When they find the scissors in your bag, and they point out that you aren't allowed to bring scissors, you jump up and yell "What the fuck! What kind of shit is that?!?" Yeah, that'll help. And when your pregnant wife is crying after having gone through the same thing, you don't comfort her, but you stomp over and try to start a fight with the people who had checked her. The result is very predictably that they'll take you away in handcuffs, but that they'll later look quite leniently on it after things have calmed down, and it was obvious that you were being protective of your pregnant wife who was vulnerable, and you for some reason didn't understand what was expected of you. It has nothing to do with whether your rights are violated because somebody has the audacity to think you might have a bomb in your hat or around your waist or under your skirt or in your shoe. Indeed, it is people like you who are most likely to think they have a reason to. People who carry anger with them wherever they go.
[ | 2002-12-22 23:59 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

Friday, December 20, 2002day link 

picture Johnny Carson: "Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have, to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties. ... Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto -- usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money. ... Democracy means free television, not good television, but free. ... And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head -- this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle. I thank you."
[ | 2002-12-20 15:53 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 Immigrants arrested in Los Angeles
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has arrested close to 1000 Middle Eastern immigrants in Los Angeles, after tricking them into voluntarily coming in to register. That's not good, and it is looking a bit like how the U.S. imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII in 'internment camps'. Lisa Rein has a bunch of things to say about it. Well, I can see the other side too, not that it is reasonable or pretty or anything. The U.S. immigration system is a hugely screwed up bureaucracy. People are still being processed based on boxes of paper, and each step typically takes several years, no matter how simple it is. My wife and my daughter only got their greencards last year, and that took 9 years for a simple formality, as they had a right to immigrate because I already had a greencard. In the meantime they could, in principle, have been arrested and deported. But the immigration system has an unwritten racial bias here. People from Mexico, or people from the Middle East, would most likely be deported if arrested. But if my wife had been arrested, we could probably have talked our way out of it, with the help of a laywer, as we don't look like illegal immigrants. Anyway, the bureaucracy is so huge and stupid here, and there are so many holes in the societal control system here, that it looks very feasible for people to just stay here after your visa expires. And that's what happened with those 1000 Iranian people. They live here, but they didn't have valid visas, and some of them had applied for greencards, but they weren't really in any legal category. So, yes, when they walk into the INS, they will recognize of course that these people don't have any legal visas, and they will arrest them. But the whole thing got to look quite a bit like a setup, in order to cart Muslims off to concentration camps.
[ | 2002-12-20 15:33 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]

Tuesday, December 17, 2002day link 

 Prison is no fun
picture CNet: "Prisoner rights groups are cheering a federal court ruling that quashes attempts to halt Web postings that mention prisoners." Good. I'm quite familar with the problems that prisoners face in trying to call attention to injustices they've experienced. For many months last year I was helping Bruce Lisker put up his website. He has spent the last 19 years in prison here in California for a murder he didn't commit. He was a screwed up kid on drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd, living here in Van Nuys where I also happen to live. His parents lived also close by here, in Sherman Oaks, and were rather well to do. A 'friend' of his murdered his adoptive mother while trying to rob her, after having visited the day before and noticing they had money, and he didn't. Bruce got convicted for it, because he looked the part, and he was the first to show up and get blood on his clothes, and the investigating detective, Andrew Monsue, decided right away it was him, and stepped lightly over the facts, and a combination of factors conspired against him. Nobody in his family ever believed it was him, and the real killer was relatively easily identified as a John Michael Ryan, but there was nothing they could do. It is not easy to change the mind of the law, and Bruce has been sitting in San Quentin and similar places more than half of his life, studying the law, trying to have his case re-heard. Today he's a decent and polite fellow. I have no doubt about his story either, having spoken with him many times and looked at his case. But he was working somewhat blindly trying to get a website up, to call attention to his case, as inmates aren't allowed to touch anything that is connected to the Internet, so his only knowledge of the web was from magazines. Anyway, his site finally got up. Somebody else is maintaining it today.
[ | 2002-12-17 15:15 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Monday, December 16, 2002day link 

 Misinterpreting Osama's Message
picture In this article on AlterNet, Diane Perlman points out correctly that nobody seemed to pay any attention to what Osama bin Laden actually said in his last few 'official' messages.
"While media experts were preoccupied with analyzing Osama bin Laden's voice, they failed to comprehend, or even read, his actual words. Speculation about hidden meanings and secret clues totally ignored the obvious intended message, which is so clear that it doesn't even need decoding.[...]

All of bin Laden's messages have a consistent theme, emotional tone and logic. All are about reciprocity, expressed in many different ways. The message from Nov. 12, 2002, began, 'The road to safety begins by ending the aggression. Reciprocal treatment is part of justice. The incidents that have taken place ... are only reactions and reciprocal actions.'[...]

Bin Laden's messages are misinterpreted as unconditional threats and vows to attack. This is incorrect. They are all conditional warnings that whatever we do, they will respond in kind. What is missed by media and political leaders, whether intentionally or unconsciously, is the conditionality, the centrality of our role in provoking retaliation or preventing retaliation and reducing terrorism."
Read the whole article. Of course none of that legitimizes what Bin Laden is doing, but she's right. He says he'll pay back the aggressions, but that he, for example, wouldn't use nuclear weapons first. He is talking about reciprocity. Paying back. Retaliating. Evening the score. But that is not of much comfort, as an immature U.S. government continously supports and carries out plenty of aggressive and oppressive campaigns overseas that he and other terrorists might find ample reason to retaliate against. The escalation could quickly be stopped if the U.S. stopped trying to always get the last word in terms of retaliation, and if it stopped the dangerous planning for preemptive strikes. And, even better, if the U.S. would actually listen, and discover what it is people have been so mad about in the first place.
[ | 2002-12-16 16:36 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Thursday, December 5, 2002day link 

 New Political Compass
picture Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson were also giving separate speeches here at the Prophet's Conference. They're the authors of Cultural Creatives, and Paul invented the term based on his marketing research. Lately Paul has been talking and writing about a "new political compass", which comes out of a lot more surveys of many Americans. When I first read about it, I thought it was sort of boring, as it mainly is a conclusion that the left/right political spectrum doesn't cut it. But now I got the point much better. Most importantly, the study pinpoints specific characteristics of a group of people, which Paul puts as North on his political compass. He calls them New Progressives, says they're neither left nor right, but they're against big business and globalization, they're for the environment, for personal development. More willing to volunteer and take action than any other group, but nobody is noticing the group or speaking to them. In terms of politics and big media, that is. And the point is that if this group would recognize itself, it could be the most powerful force in U.S. politics. Or, rather, the breakthrough is not just that it might be a good thing, but Paul Ray shows that it IS the biggest force in U.S. politics, and it just doesn't know it yet. 45% of the people who vote.
[ | 2002-12-05 23:59 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, December 4, 2002day link 

 Total Information Awareness Demonstration
picture John Poindexter is the U.S. Federal Information Czar. Not too long ago he was in prison for being an Iran-Contra conspirator. But now he's in charge of gathering information on all Americans. John Gilmore has an excellent demonstration for him of what it means to have your information pried into, as does the SF Weekly.
"The SF Weekly's column by Matt Smith in the Dec 3 issue points out that there may be some information that John M. and Linda Poindexter of 10 Barrington Fare, Rockville, MD, 20850, may be missing in their pursuit of total information awareness. He suggests that people with information to offer should phone +1 301 424 6613 to speak with that corrupt official and his wife. Neighbors Thomas E. Maxwell, 67, at 8 Barringon Fare (+1 301 251 1326), James F. Galvin, 56, at 12 (+1 301 424 0089), and Sherrill V. Stant (nee Knight) at 6, may also lack some information that would be valuable to them in making decisions -- decisions that could affect the basic civil rights of every American."

[ | 2002-12-04 20:47 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Monday, December 2, 2002day link 

 Big Government
Doc Searls quotes Britt Blaser, who in Is our Sense Becoming More Common? says good stuff like:
"It's not Republicans vs. Democrats or conservatives vs. liberals, it's us vs. THEM. People vs. big organizations using people's money against people's interests. If you're against big government - as you should be - then also oppose companies big enough to influence governments.

The current administration is oppressing all citizens with its own version of big government - in the most virulent form we've ever seen - bureaucracies that Republicans won't try to dismantle. Without the Republicans' traditionally trustworthy counterbalance against big gummint, we may be facing the darkest time in our history.

As Charley Reese pointed out, FDR, the legendary big-government guy, had about 15 people on staff while fighting his world war. George W's got 3,000 bureaucrats directing the biggest military of all time and he still can't find a 6' 4" Arab on dialysis. Isn't this a good time for less government, fewer intrusions and more candor?"
It certainly is. And I'd also like to add that it is very peculiar that the U.S. political parties usually end up doing the exact opposite of what they supposedly stand for. The Republicans supposedly stand for less government and taxes. Ronald Reagan skyrocketed the U.S. national debt and the tax burden more than any U.S. president before him. And George W. here has created more debt and bureacracy than anybody. And a democrat like Clinton actually balanced the budget and lowered the taxes.
[ | 2002-12-02 17:22 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 Software license tied to human rights
CNET reports on a software license created by Hacktivismo, which includes clauses to "promote fundamental human rights of end-users". It forbids that the software is used for anything that violates the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and additionally, the monitoring of individuals, filtering of free expression, and more. If we do need restrictive licenses all, this would certainly be a fruitful approach. Way to go!
[ | 2002-12-02 02:42 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]

Friday, November 8, 2002day link 

 Weblogging Candidates
pictureThe first U.S. congressional candidate with a weblog, Tara Sue Grubb in North Carolina, ended up with 11.19% of the votes, despite next to no funding, and no traditional campaigning. She ran her campaign directly to the Internet through her weblog. Heheh, I notice that I provided 0.85% of her total funding, by sending her $30 through PayPal, and I'm not even in her state. Ed Cone has some commentary.
[ | 2002-11-08 23:59 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Bush is in the oil business
pictureAccording to Oil & Gas International, the US State Department is busy planning the expected huge oil bonanza in Iraq. They need to remove Iraq's current government first, of course, but that doesn't stop them from making oil deals at this point, with the opposition leaders they plan on putting in power shortly. It is all apparently so transparent that they don't even try to hide it. Bush is an oil man. The air force is his purchasing department.
[ | 2002-11-08 23:59 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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