Dec. 30

Around The Internets Plain and Simple

Not sure what this is about but it sure looks interesting. .

 

 

 

 

Must Read (with footnotes) and Must See "The Story of Stuff". Billed by one viewer as kind of a shorter more immediate version of "An Inconvenient Truth", this ties together a lot of interesting and suppressed observations of the world and the United States. See it here:

 

 

And for Sunday my two fave atheism motivational posters:

Very good Google talk about the problem with copyright and its future with Cory Doctorow.

Must Read piece called the "Bipartisan Zombies" by Digby. This is the also the problem with Obama's "Let's just get along" approach. The other side is radical and extreme. They hate civil governance and all notions of fairness. They have to be fought as Edwards has said. An excerpt:

The idea among these Village elders is that only through bipartisan cooperation can we "get anything done." Well, if bipartisanship is defined like this, I suppose they are right:

As Congress stumbles toward Christmas, President Bush is scoring victory after victory over his Democratic adversaries. He:
 



• Beat back domestic spending increases.
• Thwarted an expansion of children's health coverage.
• Defeated tax increases.
Managed to uphold a pods storage facility in DC and another pods storage facility in Upstate N.Y for storage.
• The storage units or pods storage
UPack
were used for storage as well as military means.

• Won Iraq war funding.
• Pushed Democrats toward shattering their pledge not to add to the federal deficit with new tax cuts or rises in mandatory spending.

[...]
"The Democrats are learning this isn't the early 1970s, when the Republican Party was Gerald Ford and 140 of his friends," said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "There are 201 of us, and we will be heard.
"

Recall that the president's approval rating hovers at 30% and the rating of the is GOP minority in congress far lower. It appears to me that they know very well how to "get things done" not only on a purely partisan basis but with more than 70% of the country disapproving of their actions. They don't need no stinkin' bipartisanship.

Must Read by Glenn Greenwald. This goes back to the masses as "little people" argument. An excerpt:

And thus we have a perfect oligarchical system in which, literally, our most powerful and well-connected elite are free to break the law with impunity, exempt from any consequences. While exempting themselves, these same figures impose increasingly Draconian "law and order" solutions on the masses to ensure that even small infractions of the law prompt vigorous prosecution and inflexible, lengthy prison terms.

As Matt Stoller recently noted in an excellent post on the bipartisan orthodoxies that are untouchable in political debates, "there are 1 million people put in jail for doing what Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George Bush have done" (buying and consuming illegal drugs) and "2 million people are in prison in America, by far the highest total of any other country in the world." It's almost impossible for the non-rich to defend themselves effectively against government accusations of criminality, and judges have increasingly less sentencing discretion to avoid imposing harsh jail terms. Punishment for crimes is for the masses only, not for members in good standing of our political and corporate establishment.

Where our political elite break the law, our leading media stars and pundits fulfill their central purpose by dutifully arguing that establishment figures who have broken the law have done nothing wrong and deserve protection, even our gratitude, when they do so. In the view of our establishment, even mere civil liability -- never mind criminal punishment -- is deeply unfair when imposed on lawbreaking corporations, as we see in the "debate" over telecom immunity.

New Holt Bill. From Bradblog:

Simplified Legislation Offers Money to Jurisdictions Who Wish to Move to Paper Ballots, Optional Audits...

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is trying again. After learning a lesson or two, from his failed attempt to push an unpopular Election Reform bill (HR811) through Congress, he's scaling back in hopes of getting something passed that may help bring accountability to the 2008 election cycle.

The latest version of the bill, coming in at a relatively slim 20 pages, is available here [PDF].

We certainly applaud the effort in general, and note that it mirrors some of the simple, doable-by-'08 initiatives we've been speaking with a few folks in Congress about behind the scenes.In brief, the bill we've been discussing, with several Congressional offices, after common ground discussions with a number of EI advocates, a representative from the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and even a Republican who had initially worked on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but disliked the resulting bill, would call for the following:


Money to states and/or counties who wish to move to paper ballot systems.A requirement that all voters be asked before voting if they wish to vote on paper (and that those paper ballots actually be counted before unofficial tallies are released to the media).Grant money to further study disability voting technology and hand-counting systems.Restrictions to no more than one DRE per polling place to marginally meet HAVA's mandate for voters with disabilities.

Holt's new bill would do a few, if not all of those things.

In his run at it this time, his bill would simply offer federal funding for jurisdictions who wish to move to paper ballots (that's good), and also offer money to help pay for post-election audits of those ballots...if they choose to do so. It also sets aside money for study of disability voting technology, as we'd also recommended.

Perhaps he has become a bit too timid after his previous unfortunate experience. Though the bill has not yet been introduced officially --- so language is not yet finalized, thus we'll hold full fire until we see the final product --- the audits recommended in his bill would be optional. As well, there are currently no requirements in his bill to mandate that Election Officials actually count those paper ballots, paid for with federal dollars, before releasing unofficial vote tallies to the media. That last is no small point (just ask Al Gore or Christine Jennings).

Related: More Proof that the 2004 election was stolen.

 Quick note: when you destroy the ballots so that you can't make a full recount what should you conclude about the truthiness of the election results?

Cool profile of former basketball player and now urban organic farmer Will Allen. I guess there are Black American environmentalists. I first saw this guy on a very good show on the science channel called "Invention".

Dec 29

For some reason our fine alt weekly paper the City Paper dropped the cartoon strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which can usually be found buried in their classifieds section. While it hasn't been absolutely hilariously funny as of late Ruben's worst is still funnier than Derf. And his best, especially his rare social and political commentary, is as good as it gets. Here he is talking about this wonderful new group known as the "science racists" ("Look, I hate you, but it's all scientific don't you see old boy..."), represented most ably by Gene Expression although it seems more moderate of late now that my old nemesis Godless Capitalist  (Who rooted against the Ethan Hawke character in Gattaca...) no longer writes for them. I think white folks should participate in the experiment....Update: The geniuses at Gene Expression have altered the original GC post to show html text. They forgot to sweep away Google cache though, so here is Godless again. Aren't they proud of one of their past contributors? Can't imagine why not he was so right about the Iraq War especially with his high IQ and all....I wrote a response to that by the way which I'll think I'll repost. Some of my best writing...

Now Youse (or Yinz) Can't Leave.

(For background go see this Youtube clip from "A Bronx Tale".)

Let's say, for a moment, that you took a good look at the situation here in the US and you think its time to leave, kind of like Peter Drucker and other prescient Jews who left Germany in the 30s. You're on a no fly list and you're pretty sure you're being watched and you're absolutely certain that when the Blackwater death squads hit the street after the next natural or manufactured  "shock" they'll be knocking on your door and it won't be to socialize. So you've thought about making a move to Canada. Seems like a nice place.

Well, think again. These guys don't want "youse" to leave. Nice guys.

Two peace activists were recently denied entry into Canada, now run by a conservative. Jim Hightower has the story. Yes, you should find this frightening. At a certain point, as Naomi Wolfe points out in one of her talks about the signs of fascism, Jews weren't allowed to leave. They weren't stopped from leaving because the Germans liked them. In fact, the Germans had other plans for the Jews as history has shown us. And more than likely there are similar Gitmo/concentration camp plans for dissenters. Not a good sign.

Dec. 25

Video Showdown Special: Peanuts Theme with Christmas Lights versus South Park's Merry Fucking Christmas. And so it begins...

vs.


Link: sevenload.com

 

And here's a special Greg Palast Christmas Story. You can see this story on Democracy Now this Thursday I believe. I highlighted the notable parts.

Good and Evil at the Center of the Earth:
A Quechua Christmas Carol
by Greg Palast

December 24th, 2007

[Quito] I don't know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.

I'm not Barbara Walters. It's not the kind of question I ask.

He hesitated. Then said, "My father was unemployed.”

He paused. Then added, "He took a little drugs to the States... This is called in Spanish a mula [mule]. He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”

He continued. "I'd never talked about my father before."

Apparently he hadn't. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.

Correa's dad took that frightening chance in the 1960s, a time when his family, like almost all families in Ecuador, was destitute. Ecuador was the original "banana republic" - and the price of bananas had hit the floor. A million desperate Ecuadorans, probably a tenth of the entire adult population, fled to the USA anyway they could.

"My mother told us he was working in the States."

His father, released from prison, was deported back to Ecuador. Humiliated, poor, broken, his father, I learned later, committed suicide.

At the end of our formal interview, through a doorway surrounded by paintings of the pale plutocrats who once ruled this difficult land, he took me into his own Oval Office. I asked him about an odd-looking framed note he had on the wall. It was, he said, from his daughter and her grade school class at Christmas time. He translated for me.

"We are writing to remind you that in Ecuador there are a lot of very poor children in the streets and we ask you please to help these children who are cold almost every night.”

It was kind of corny. And kind of sweet. A smart display for a politician.

Or maybe there was something else to it.

Correa is one of the first dark-skinned men to win election to this Quechua and mixed-race nation. Certainly, one of the first from the streets. He'd won a surprise victory over the richest man in Ecuador, the owner of the biggest banana plantation.

Doctor Correa, I should say, with a Ph.D in economics earned in Europe. Professor Correa as he is officially called - who, until not long ago, taught at the University of Illinois.

And Professor Doctor Correa is one tough character. He told George Bush to take the US military base and stick it where the equatorial sun don't shine. He told the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which held Ecuador's finances by the throat, to go to hell. He ripped up the "agreements" which his predecessors had signed at financial gun point. He told the Miami bond vultures that were charging Ecuador usurious interest, to eat their bonds. He said ‘We are not going to pay off this debt with the hunger of our people. ” Food first, interest later. Much later. And he meant it.

It was a stunning performance. I'd met two years ago with his predecessor, President Alfredo Palacio, a man of good heart, who told me, looking at the secret IMF agreements I showed him, "We cannot pay this level of debt. If we do, we are DEAD. And if we are dead, how can we pay?" Palacio told me that he would explain this to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice and the World Bank, then headed by Paul Wolfowitz. He was sure they would understand. They didn't. They cut off Ecuador at the knees.

But Ecuador didn't fall to the floor. Correa, then Economics Minister, secretly went to Hugo Chavez Venezuela's president and obtained emergency financing. Ecuador survived.

And thrived. But Correa was not done.

Elected President, one of his first acts was to establish a fund for the Ecuadoran refugees in America - to give them loans to return to Ecuador with a little cash and lot of dignity. And there were other dragons to slay. He and Palacio kicked US oil giant Occidental Petroleum out of the country.

Correa STILL wasn't done.

I'd returned from a very wet visit to the rainforest - by canoe to a Cofan Indian village in the Amazon where there was an epidemic of childhood cancers. The indigenous folk related this to the hundreds of open pits of oil sludge left to them by Texaco Oil, now part of Chevron, and its partners. I met the Cofan's chief. His three year old son swam in what appeared to be contaminated water then came out vomiting blood and died.

Correa had gone there too, to the rainforest, though probably in something sturdier than a canoe. And President Correa announced that the company that left these filthy pits would pay to clean them up.

But it's not just any company he was challenging. Chevron's largest oil tanker was named after a long-serving member of its Board of Directors, the Condoleezza. Our Secretary of State.

The Cofan have sued Condi's corporation, demanding the oil company clean up the crap it left in the jungle. The cost would be roughly $12 billion. Correa won't comment on the suit itself, a private legal action. But if there's a verdict in favor of Ecuador's citizens, Correa told me, he will make sure Chevron pays up.

Is he kidding? No one has ever made an oil company pay for their slop. Even in the USA, the Exxon Valdez case drags on to its 18th year. Correa is not deterred.

He told me he would create an international tribunal to collect, if necessary. In retaliation, he could hold up payments to US companies who sue Ecuador in US courts.

This is hard core. No one - NO ONE - has made such a threat to Bush and Big Oil and lived to carry it out.

And, in an office tower looking down on Quito, the lawyers for Chevron were not amused. I met with them.

"And it’s the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States?" Rodrigo Perez, Texaco's top lawyer in Ecuador was chuckling over the legal difficulties the Indians would have in proving their case that Chevron-Texaco caused their kids' deaths. "If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude – which is absolutely impossible.” He laughed again. You have to see this on film to believe it.

The oil company lawyer added, "No one has ever proved scientifically the connection between cancer and crude oil." Really? You could swim in the stuff and you'd be just fine.

The Cofan had heard this before. When Chevron's Texaco unit came to their land the the oil men said they could rub the crude oil on their arms and it would cure their ailments. Now Condi's men had told me that crude oil doesn’t cause cancer. But maybe they are right. I'm no expert. So I called one. Robert F Kennedy Jr., professor of Environmental Law at Pace University, told me that elements of crude oil production - benzene, toluene, and xylene, "are well-known carcinogens." Kennedy told me he's seen Chevron-Texaco's ugly open pits in the Amazon and said that this toxic dumping would mean jail time in the USA.

But it wasn't as much what the Chevron-Texaco lawyers said that shook me. It was the way they said it. Childhood cancer answered with a chuckle. The Chevron lawyer, a wealthy guy, Jaime Varela, with a blond bouffant hairdo, in the kind of yellow chinos you'd see on country club links, was beside himself with delight at the impossibility of the legal hurdles the Cofan would face. Especially this one: Chevron had pulled all its assets out of Ecuador. The Indians could win, but they wouldn't get a dime. "What about the chairs in this office?" I asked. Couldn't the Cofan at least get those? "No," they laughed, the chairs were held in the name of the law firm.

Well, now they might not be laughing. Correa's threat to use the power of his Presidency to protect the Indians, should they win, is a shocker. No one could have expected that. And Correa, no fool, knows that confronting Chevron means confronting the full power of the Bush Administration. But to this President, it's all about justice, fairness. "You [Americans] wouldn't do this to your own people," he told me. Oh yes we would, I was thinking to myself, remembering Alaska's Natives.

Correa's not unique. He's the latest of a new breed in Latin America. Lula, President of Brazil, Evo Morales, the first Indian ever elected President of Bolivia, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. All "Leftists," as the press tells us. But all have something else in common: they are dark-skinned working-class or poor kids who found themselves leaders of nations of dark-skinned people who had forever been ruled by an elite of bouffant blonds.

When I was in Venezuela, the leaders of the old order liked to refer to Chavez as, "the monkey." Chavez told me proudly, "I am negro e indio" - Black and Indian, like most Venezuelans. Chavez, as a kid rising in the ranks of the blond-controlled armed forces, undoubtedly had to endure many jeers of "monkey." Now, all over Latin America, the "monkeys" are in charge.

And they are unlocking the economic cages.

Maybe the mood will drift north. Far above the equator, a nation is ruled by a blond oil company executive. He never made much in oil - but every time he lost his money or his investors' money, his daddy, another oil man, would give him another oil well. And when, as a rich young man out of Philips Andover Academy, the wayward youth tooted a little blow off the bar, daddy took care of that too. Maybe young George got his powder from some guy up from Ecuador.

I know this is an incredibly simple story. Indians in white hats with their dead kids and oil millionaires in black hats laughing at kiddy cancer and playing musical chairs with oil assets.

But maybe it's just that simple. Maybe in this world there really is Good and Evil.

Maybe Santa will sort it out for us, tell us who's been good and who's been bad. Maybe Lawyer Yellow Pants will wake up on Christmas Eve staring at the ghost of Christmas Future and promise to get the oil sludge out of the Cofan's drinking water.

Or maybe we'll have to figure it out ourselves. When I met Chief Emergildo, I was reminded of an evening years back, when I was way the hell in the middle of nowhere in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, in the Chugach Native village of Chenega. I was investigating the damage done by Exxon's oil. There was oil sludge all over Chenega's beaches. It was March 1991, and I was in the home of village elder Paul Kompkoff on the island's shore, watching CNN. We stared in silence as "smart" bombs exploded in Baghdad and Basra.

Then Paul said to me, in that slow, quiet way he had, "Well, I guess we're all Natives now."

Well, maybe we are. But we don't have to be, do we?

Maybe we can take some guidance from this tiny nation at the center of the earth. I listened back through my talk with President Correa. And I can assure his daughter that she didn't have to worry that her dad would forget about "the poor children who are cold" on the streets of Quito.

Because the Professor Doctor is still one of them.

*****

Watch the Palast investigation, Rumble in the Jungle: Big Oil and Little Indians, on BBC Television Newsnight, now on-line via www.GregPalast.com - and Thursday's US broadcast of Democracy Now.

For a copy of Palast's prior reports from Venezuela for BBC and Democracy Now, get "The Assassination of Hugo Chavez," on DVD, filmed by award-winning videographer Richard Rowley.

Dec. 23

Looks like CIGNA murdered this girl by delaying much needed care. They've done it before but this could be a tipping point event. They're murderers who use spreadsheets instead of knives and guns and they kill many many more people. How I hate the insurance companies. Links here and here.

Somewhat Related: Wexler argues that if we're going to move on our issues like health care for all this term (instead of playing out the clock and hoping that the democratic congress can expand while doing nothing to challenge mr 25 percent (not a winning strategy as we'll probably discover)), we need impeachment as a lever. I'm quoting the whole thing here. Add your name to those calling for impeachment here.

I was serving in Congress and on the Judiciary Committee for the ridiculous and politically motivated impeachment hearings of President Clinton. During that witch hunt Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and Ken Starr wasted a year and a half on investigations and hearings about President Clinton's personal relations. However, this attempted coup d'etat by Republicans against President Clinton was not and should not be the standard of impeachment that was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution.

First, impeachment hearings are only proper when significant allegations exist that the President or Vice-President, or others civil officers, committed actions – within their official duties – that constitute 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors.' The allegations against Clinton – involving a personal affair - never reached this threshold. The serious charges against Cheney involve alleged crimes that are central to his duties of Vice-President; namely war and peace, the widespread violations of civil liberties, and the security of the United States and our covert agents.

Unlike the show trial put on by Republicans against President Clinton, a proper impeachment hearing would involve a fair and objective presentation of the facts without hyperbole or political gamesmanship. The hard evidence that is presented at the hearings will be judged fully both by Congress and the American people. The evidence alone will determine the outcome, and if it is determined that Vice President Cheney committed "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" he should be properly impeached and put on trial before the Senate.

After the Democratic Party regained control of Congress, many – myself included – thought that it might be possible to meet President Bush half-way on the large issues facing our nation. Unfortunately, Bush has been nothing more than an ideological obstacle. He has vetoed stem cell research. He has vetoed efforts to bring our troops home from Iraq. He vetoed children's health care. So, the idea that we are somehow inhibiting Congress from passing our agenda by holding impeachment hearings – unfortunately – is a false argument.

Instead, I believe that we can both live up to our Constitutional obligation by holding hearings and pass a Democratic agenda. If President Bush perceives that the Democratic Congress is weak and unwilling to aggressively push our agenda – he will continue to veto legislation, such as children's health care – that is supported by a majority of Americans. The only way to move a progressive Democratic agenda is by acting through strength and following through on our core principles. A Congress willing to stand up to the abuses of the Bush Administration through impeachment hearings will demonstrate a strength of will that will more likely convince Bush to accommodate on issues such as Iraq, health care, and energy and environmental issue
s.

Related: Daniel Dennett at this year's Beyond Belief conference, which I'm waiting to see more of on Youtube.

 

 

 

 

More related: Big Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett roundtable. Features incredible quotes and arguments.

 

 

And thank goodness I'm not religious because that leaves me free to lust after the galactic ally hot women of Star Trek. Two Three I liked include Yvonne Craig of Batgirl (Batgirrl!) fame:

and winner of my fantasy date and or execution in alien combat area is bad actress in silver:

and oh yeah I'll give you something "fascinating" to examine (cue less than subtle Andrew Dice Clay reaction shot/"oh" sound):

Dec. 19

If you can find it, the new issue of World War III is outstanding. Here's a question: if you're doing a radical left wing comic and you probably lose money selling it for five bucks, why don't you just give it away, perhaps with google ads,  on the Internet? I might email that question to the publishers.

Go sign the petition for Cheney's impeachment. Now.  I think I was 105868. I wouldn't be surprised if that cracks a million within a week.

And thank you Chris Dodd, again. I would prefer that you were the majority leader though, and not president.

I still think that John Edwards is the best  progressive choice--who actually has a shot at winning-- we can get for the presidency. Here's why I like him:

He also makes the case against Hillary:

Related: Atrios sort of endorses Edwards. Shorter candidates Quote here:

Shorter Candidates


Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

Okay, who's best the melt guy or the insider? I'm going with two.  I wish Atrios would  endorse Edwards now as opposed to that Chuck Penn endorsement that he gave the day of the election that didn't do jack...

And Froth is back blogging after a short hiatus.

.

Or is this Froth?

Or is this?

And under some drug induced delusion he claims he is now married to a woman who looks like the star of Bewitched:

A big lie...sez the lonely writer of this site sniffity sniff snoo....

Dec. 16

Your Sunday toon from the Free Press:

I suppose John Horus has one way of initiating political change. Of course, you could use impeachment.  Here's the latest from Wexler. He's completely right. If you don't impeach Bush it shows that there are different rules for the rich and the powerful. You would be telling the public that we're all "little people", that famous line in Bladerunner. Of course, after watching the dem leadership in action I'm beginning to think that's the message they want to send.  One rule for us another for you rabble...

Dec. 14

New graphic novel that I would hope Phantom of the Attic would carry, although I'm not sure I could afford it. Review:

Housmans, London's 62-year-old "premier radical bookshop," was warm and animated on a rainy Friday night for the launch of a new graphic novel entitled "Iraqi Oil for Beginners." Auspiciously, Hassan Jumaa, president of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, was in London to speak at a conference and made a quick appearance at the launch party. Jumaa also happens to be one of the only sympathetic characters in the book.

Written and illustrated by Jon Sack, a young London-based American artist and musician, the 31-page paperback comic book may feel light to the touch but is so densely packed with information that it is more like a historical pamphlet, albeit a droll and caustic one. "I wanted to sex up history a little," says Sack, whose interest in the history of oil in the region was piqued several years ago when he became involved in an organization called Corporate Pirates, which keeps tabs on major corporations - in this case Western firms in Iraq.

He also spent time with Platform, a UK-based social and environmental organization that carries out research on the oil industry. "I take myself as a case in point," says Sack. "I had no idea of the role played by oil companies in Mesopotamia and then Iraq." Funded by the human-rights group Voices in the Wilderness, Sack began his project by piecing together accounts of the British occupation of Iraq in the 1920s, which led to evident parallels with the situation today. ...

Sack's graphic novel begins, perhaps inevitably, with the attacks of September 11, 2001, but then it quickly moves back 90 years to 1911, when Britain's Royal Navy converted its warships from using coal to oil, a pivotal point and catalyst for a growing and ever-increasing hunger for crude.

At the time, Britain had control of one of the first oil refineries in the world in western Iran, then known as Persia. A few years later, in 1914, Britain invaded and occupied Basra in southern Iraq. Sack leads his readers through the complicated creation of oil companies, the British determination of Iraqi borders after World War I and the maneuvering of multinational oil companies to obtain concessions in Iraq. The remaining third of the comic book is dedicated to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the situation today, and in particular, the impending oil law.

Related:

 Other things I want for Christmas:

They're not dolls. They're action figures. You could even spring for the special blood spattered edition. Black Summer is a must read by the way.

What should be a pop hit in a fair and loving world.

 


Little Dragon "Test"
Uploaded by Phunk_promotion

 

And is it me or is Jeff Beck bassist Tal Wilkenfeld hawt?

Dec. 11

Star Trek alumni support the writer's guild strike. Brent Spiner is there, as well as Chekhov and Sulu. Even my literary father figure Harlan Ellison was there. Harlan seems to be slowly mutating into Yoda but I support the guild as he does. Related: you can send a letter to the evil Hollywood owners on behalf of your fave show. I typed in Battlestar Gallactica.

Speaking of science fiction, here's a piece by Jim Burns.

Why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol' atheist. I mean, I suppose she had it coming...What's a religious dad to do...

Dec 9

My Most Blasphemous Post Ever

David Cross vs Doug Stanhope or Most Blasphemous Post Ever



Slight edge to Doug.
 

 

Labels: , ,

posted by Philip Shropshire at 5:59 PM Comment (1)

Why Richard Dawkins is a mean old atheist.

Dec. 4

Dave Chappelle Vs. Jon Lajoie




I have to admit. This second describes my life fairly well, but I will fight back...
 




Labels: comedy, music, yeh I ride the bus Mothafucka
posted by Philip Shropshire at 8:37 PM Comment (1)

 

Dec. 4

Dave Chappelle Vs. Jon Lajoie




I have to admit. This second describes my life fairly well, but I will fight back...
 




Labels: comedy, music, yeh I ride the bus Mothafucka
posted by Philip Shropshire at 8:37 PM Comment (1)

 

Nov. 29

As everyone here probably knows, Buffy's next season is now a comic. Angel's sixth season is now also a comic as well. Looks pretty exciting. I liked the first issue and that's the shortest review ever. Meanwhile, over at Dexter: they're going to pin everything on Doakes? The sharp FBI guy doesn't notice that a blood spatter guy would prefer blood trophies? I don't know. But very exciting...

But enough about vampires and serial killers. Here's some really scary stuff:

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

Here are the scary bits:

Harman's bill contends that the United States will soon have to deal with home grown terrorists and that something must be done to anticipate and neutralize the problem. The act deals with the issue through the creation of a congressional commission that will be empowered to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and designate various groups as "homegrown terrorists." The commission will be tasked to propose new legislation that will enable the government to take punitive action against both the groups and the individuals who are affiliated with them. Like Joe McCarthy and HUAC in the past, the commission will travel around the United States and hold hearings to find the terrorists and root them out. Unlike inquiries in the past where the activity was carried out collectively, the act establishing the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Commission will empower all the members on the commission to arrange hearings, obtain testimony, and even to administer oaths to witnesses, meaning that multiple hearings could be running simultaneously in various parts of the country. The ten commission members will be selected for their "expertise," though most will be appointed by Congress itself and will reflect the usual political interests. They will be paid for their duties at the senior executive pay scale level and will have staffs and consultants to assist them. Harman's bill does not spell out terrorist behavior and leaves it up to the Commission itself to identify what is terrorism and what isn't. Language inserted in the act does partially define "homegrown terrorism" as "planning" or "threatening" to use force to promote a political objective, meaning that just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label. The act also describes "violent radicalization" as the promotion of an "extremist belief system" without attempting to define "extremist."

And:

As should be clear from the vagueness of the definitions, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act could easily be abused to define any group that is pressuring the political system as "terrorist," ranging from polygamists, to second amendment rights supporters, anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, and peace demonstrators. In reality, of course, it will be primarily directed against Muslims and Muslim organizations. Given that, there is the question of who will select which groups will be investigated by the roving commissions. There is no evidence to suggest that there will be any transparent or objective screening process. Through their proven access both to the media and to Congress, the agenda will undoubtedly be shaped by the usual players including David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, and Frank Gaffney who see a terrorist hiding under every rock, particularly if the rock is concealing a Muslim. They and their associates will undoubtedly find plenty of terrorists and radical groups to investigate. Many of the suspects will inevitably be "anti-American" professors at various universities and also groups of Palestinians organized against the Israeli occupation, but it will be easily to use the commission formula to sweep them all in for examination.

And watch this from Naomi Wolf:

Time to get a gun. Time to get a passport. But who knows. Perhaps I'll stay and fight. Where could you run to anyway.

Nov. 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very cool pulp pics from the old Soviet Union and other alien places.

I have to admit that these Prolefeeds are very very good (Tip of the hat to Uncle Scam for pointing them out. Also at Amsam: Prolefeed does battle with the American Resistance Movement.). Don't forget to read the scrolling bar at the bottom of the page because apparently women love fascists. (Not entirely untrue from my experience...) Uh, these are jokes by the way. I hope.

Nov. 25

Catholic League Condemns "Golden Compass" to Fiery Hell. So we must all watch the "Golden Compass".

Apparently, the Catholic League is telling people to stay away from the "Golden Compass". So every atheist and non dogmatic person needs to shell out 8 bucks and go watch the "Golden Compass". Plus, it looks like a good movie. I mean, I watched the Chronicles. Its just an interesting imaginary story, Bill. Just like the Bible...


The Golden Compass - Extended Preview
Uploaded by toma-uno

Labels: ,

posted by Philip Shropshire at 3:42 PM Comments

I have noticed that my virtual girlfriend/daughter Agent Ska has responded to my snarky "Yer just votin' fer Hillary cuz' she's a girl! Nah!" post, now permalinked here. I will respond after I do my laundry. Or tomorrow.

Nov. 22

Actually, I probably won't buy anything because I don't have any money but this is a nice effort.

From Adbusters:

Action update: MTV, the channel that markets itself to hip youth, has decreed that our Buy Nothing Day public service spot "goes further than we are willing to accept on our channels". Gangsta rap and sexualized, semi-naked school girls are okay, but apparently not a burping pig talking about consumption.

(Here's the ad that MTV, which I long stopped watching because they don't play music. Sort of like my jazz channel that won't play any jazz...I truly hate you Reginald Hudlin. On the other hand, if not for your slashing mediocrity I wouldn't have created this. Life hands you a lemon...)

Nov. 20

Art by Joshua Middleton. I always thought that cover was striking and wondered who drew it. Related: Alan Moore's "Black Dossier" is out but it costs 30 bucks! That might have to wait for Christmas.

Here's why I think Edwards is the best choice for the presidency. I like and agree with his argument about there being no difference between corporate democrats and corporate republicans and that Hillary is certainly a corporate democrat. For example, the recruiting class that Schumer and Rahmbo gave us in 2005 was a status quo class.

And a question for Agent Ska: how will a President Hillary make your life better? She supported NAFTA for God's sake.  Now she supports that awful Peruvian trade bill...I'm not supporting  Barack as my primary choice because he's black. Are you supporting Hillary because she's a girl, even though many of her policies will probably hurt you? Do you want a society where its easier for companies to outsource the work you're studying for in college to some farm in Bangalore? I'm definitely sensing a "Look, its our time" vibe from a lot of women when it comes to Hillary even though I'm certain that very little that's positive will come out of a person who thinks lobbyists iz just plain folks. (See "oops. Our bad." ad below...)

More on that awful Peruvian trade bill here at Eyes on Trade. This is the kind of thing that a real media would be reporting on. Notice you don't see too many frontpage stories about this from either of our money losing  corporate media dailies.

I enjoyed this season of Weeds. It also looked like the cast is going to Pittsburgh or they're going to jail. Perhaps both. I don't see how Dexter is avoiding jail either. The police are on his trail. Doakes has stolen his "blood" trophies...does he live a life on the run? Join Blackwater? Is called up by the reserves?

Nov. 13

THE RETURN OF VAST WASTELAND

I usually end up watching Dexter and the Brotherhood back to back on Sunday night. Dexter tends to be the better show while Brotherhood seems to be kind of a lighter Sopranos, except without the glamor. You won't see Nancy Sinatra serenading anyone in "Brotherhood", although you will see many former Sopranos alumni. But last Sunday night Brotherhood was the better show.  It featured a completely disturbing yuppie assassin and also was one of the few shows I've seen that displays how caging lists could be used in elections. It did get a few things wrong, though. Politician Tommy Caffee (the house rep in the red tie above  who you would think is the nice one but you're always wondering (and who's played by yet not only a Brit, but apparently an upper class Brit as well...what no Irish American actors who can play these guys? Did anyone give the Baldwins or Carradines a call? Life is not fair...)) plays a democrat. But democrats have not been known to use caging lists. Republicans tend to do that. The only truth this fiction reveals is that white dems might not be all that upset when Republicans use those tactics to rob minorities of their vote. However, I could tell they were dems because they did show the slightest hint of shame at that dirty tactic and others that Tommy pulled out. There was also, possibly, one other glitch when one of Tommy's operatives starts challenging latino voters at the poll but makes sure to  not mention that they can use a provisional ballot. From what we've seen in Ohio the provisional ballots would never be counted anyway.

Dexter has also been very entertaining this year. But I think they did this particular plotline too early. This season's plotline involves the discovery of all those bodies that Dexter has been dumping, articulated in song here. And he's being  chased by a very capable FBI agent who's already figured out the serial killer is in law enforcement. I don't know how Dexter gets out of this one. Even if he kills the FBI agent everybody knows that it might be a cop, plus Doakes, who luckily enough was kicked off the force before talking to the FBI agent about this crazy theory that the serial killer is in law enforcement...unless this is the last season. Then it makes sense. It's weird seeing the show from the perspective of the killer. It's not unlike watching Silence of the Lambs not from the Jodie Foster point of view but of one of the killers...

I'm making a call: I think John Edwards is the best choice for the presidency. I like Obama and I think he would make a very capable president or vice president but his vote for that Peruvian free trade deal, the scare talk on social security...of course, he might think Hillary has wrapped it up and thinks this secures his rich guy money base back in Illinois but still...I would probably vote for Hillary but this would be the first election cycle in four years where I probably won't do any door to door work for the dems if she gets the nomination...Unless the GOP nominee is Tanc or Newt or somebody....

I just can't stand that "lobbyists is people" line, which, appropriately enough, was turned into an ad by the Edwards camp. Seen here in the "Oops. Our Bad" ad:

Ted Rall also has the anti Hillary analysis down:

I forgive easily. I could have let Hillary off the hook for supporting NAFTA, screwing up healthcare in 1993 and voting for the proto-fascist USA-Patriot Act. I could have overlooked her Reaganesque cluelessness about the lives of ordinary people. (Reneging on her "baby bond" proposal that Americans receive $5,000 at age 18, she now wants to give everyone a 401(k) and have the government match it "up to $1,000." Thanks to this windfall, she says, "they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on their first home." Lame idea, obviously. What I want to know is: Where can you buy a house or a college education for $1000? On the moon?)

I might have even have forgiven Hillary's vote to authorize Bush to start the unprovoked war against Iraq, though she never apologized for a cowardly (and miscalculated) act of triangulation that contributed to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis. As Tim Grieve wrote in Salon: "She has gone from 1) voting for the use-of-force resolution, to 2) questioning the intelligence that formed the basis of that vote, to 3) arguing that the Bush administration distorted the intelligence, to 4) saying she didn't regret giving Bush authority to use force but did regret the way he used that authority, to 5) saying the resolution never would have come to a vote if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 6) saying that Congress wouldn't have voted for the resolution if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 7) saying that she wouldn't have voted for the resolution if she knew then what she knows now."

Hillary's October 2003 speech to the Senate is a fair summary of her defense: "The idea of giving our president authority to act...against Saddam Hussein, was one I could support and I did so. In the last year, however, I have been first perplexed, then surprised, then amazed, and even outraged and always frustrated by the implementation of the authority given the president by this Congress." Good idea, fouled up by hyper-aggression and lousy implementation. Well, what did she expect? Bush was a warmonger, a liar who'd already attacked Afghanistan, where Osama wasn't, and sucked up to Pakistan, where he was, after 9/11. She gave him a blank check. She can't have been surprised when he cashed it.

As I said, I'm the forgiving type. I get it: Hillary can't apologize for her Iraq vote. It would make her look weak. As she said in September 2006 on ABC News, "I can only look at what I knew at the time because I don't think you get do-overs in life. I think you have to take responsibility. And hopefully, learn from it and go forward. I regret very much the way the president used the authority he was given because I think he misled the Congress, and he misled the country."

Except...except...she did get a do-over. The same president who misled her, Congress and the country, asked for her vote on yet another resolution based on phony intelligence that starts us down the path to war--this time against Iran. She had a chance to prove that she'd learned her lesson. She voted yes. Again.

President Hillary won't close Gitmo. She won't stop torturing. She won't stop listening to our phone calls. She won't stop the war in Iraq, much less in Afghanistan. Heck, she might even start a new one.

Fool you once, shame on Bush. Fool you twice, I stop thinking how cool it would be for the United States to finally elect a woman president.

Nov. 11

 


City of Progress by Broadcast
Uploaded by Steelydan

 

An excerpt:

A superhero killed the president this summer. Moments later, a shocked White House press corps watched as John Horus, his gleaming white-and-gold costume still soaked in blood, explained why. Because "the war in Iraq is illegal and predicated on lies," because "our people and theirs are dying for corporate gain," because of the "use of torture by our elected authorities," and because the president "stole the last two elections," the most powerful member of the Seven Guns could no longer "stand by while this administration commits crimes." In response, a terrified government imposed martial law, launching a nationwide manhunt for Horus' estranged teammates, whose reactions to the act ranged from horror to sympathy.

Nov. 6

 

"Senor Carlos Santana" by John Mclaughlin
Uploaded by Steelydan

 

Very important trailer for "Uncounted".

One of the reasons I couldn't support DeSantis or any republican is that the main way the GOP has won the last two national presidential elections is by suppressing the black vote in both Ohio and Florida. I guess that's a small and minor thing to local bloggers but to me and about a half million dead Iraqis its kind of a point of contention. I could never reward a party like that...(I would take a look at Ron Paul vs. Hillary. He's a non factor if Edwards or Obama get the nomination...).

Not that I could blame anyone for thinking that Luke Ravenstahl will be just an awful mayor. If he leaves office as a national embarrassment we would be getting off light. I'll say this again: he'll probably end up in jail or resigning before being sent to jail. He has the arrogance of the Bush regime but not any of its get out of jail free interpretative powers of the law.

I think the City of Pittsburgh will survive.

Nov. 1

What Chris Dodd is doing very cool but it does bring up the point that if it only takes one senator to stop any particular bill then dems could stop the war in the US Senate. Where is the principled Feingold on this? What's really stopping Barack or Hillary. I mean, I guess this is why we own California and the west because no one filibusters imperialist land grabs but still...

Ted Rall hits it right on the mark. Here's what Ted said:

"Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut unwittingly exposed the Democrats' Big Lie on Iraq: that they need support from Republicans to stop the war. In fact, any senator can place a "hold" on any piece of legislation. They can even do it anonymously if they're afraid of the political ramifications of their action! So, the next time you hear on TV that the Democrats "need" 60 votes in the Senate to override Bush's threatened veto, don't believe it. And write to the network to demand an immediate correction."
 

Related: Not as angry as you might think vagina monologues author makes same point but she's talking 40 senators. Just takes one.

Stunning new John Mclaughlin vids from July Crossroads guitar festival. You can sample them here, here and here. For years now J Mac's electric guitar sound had become, well, wimpy and mushy. He was probably hoping that Tony Mowad would play him (to no avail.). Here he seems to have discovered his Mahavishnu/Electric Guitarist strat sound and he sounds Godlike. He's never sounded better and this was recorded just a few months ago. Wow.

Here's one for your approval:

 


Live John Mclaughlin tune
Uploaded by Steelydan

 

What Should Be Posted on Oct. 31 (Boo!)

From Jamais Cascio's (of Worldchanging fame...) weblog. Related: Speaking of scary blood music technology that could certainly go bad let us look no further than CMU 's Claytronics, seen here and here. I, for one, would like to wear such tech. And then quickly go about Ruling the World. I would be a more than decent despot no doubt....This kind of looks like Tranformers tech.

New attempt at public interest non advertising based journalism. Looks to be much better funded than the Real News.

Interesting article about Afro Futurism (If you're a weirdo who cares about people like Chip Delany and Steven Barnes and Octavia Butler and etc...), by way of Warren Ellis, who has one of the best and wide ranging blogs on the Internets.

Now I have to admit: That's a costume party. I found Galactus and Annie Hall to be of interest. Features A List Bloggers Big Media Matt and Ezra Klein.

Top Ten sci fi movies never made.

Transhumanism debate that I need to check out.

I'm adding the Goddess to the blogroll. That would make two local African American bloggers who write about something other than hip hop or relationships in the Pittsburgh area. Woohoo. Related: I also enjoyed her essay about the mayor's race. That micropayment idea looked interesting. Luke's outreach to the black community is the same old "black face in a high place" kind of stuff. For the record, I loathe both candidates. I think Luke is incompetent and will likely end up in jail. I think decent people don't affiliate with the GOP, world's worst party. Decent people resign from the Republican Party, apologize for supporting NAFTA and giving money to Rick Santorum, and run as an independent.

Apparently, I can watch the Bourne Ultimatum for free on the Internets. I had better investigate this...Notice that there isn't an about section or a contact page. I guess that's the art of not being seen.

Oct. 30

Some vintage Jack. And great lettering. From this great new site.

 

Nov. 1

What Chris Dodd is doing very cool but it does bring up the point that if it only takes one senator to stop any particular bill then dems could stop the war in the US Senate. Where is the principled Feingold on this? What's really stopping Barack or Hillary. I mean, I guess this is why we own California and the west because no one filibusters imperialist land grabs but still...

Ted Rall hits it right on the mark. Here's what Ted said:

"Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut unwittingly exposed the Democrats' Big Lie on Iraq: that they need support from Republicans to stop the war. In fact, any senator can place a "hold" on any piece of legislation. They can even do it anonymously if they're afraid of the political ramifications of their action! So, the next time you hear on TV that the Democrats "need" 60 votes in the Senate to override Bush's threatened veto, don't believe it. And write to the network to demand an immediate correction."
 

Related: Not as angry as you might think vagina monologues author makes same point but she's talking 40 senators. Just takes one.

Stunning new John Mclaughlin vids from July Crossroads guitar festival. You can sample them here, here and here. For years now J Mac's electric guitar sound had become, well, wimpy and mushy. He was probably hoping that Tony Mowad would play him (to no avail.). Here he seems to have discovered his Mahavishnu/Electric Guitarist strat sound and he sounds Godlike. He's never sounded better and this was recorded just a few months ago. Wow.

Here's one for your approval:

 


Live John Mclaughlin tune
Uploaded by Steelydan

 

What Should Be Posted on Oct. 31 (Boo!)

From Jamais Cascio's (of Worldchanging fame...) weblog. Related: Speaking of scary blood music technology that could certainly go bad let us look no further than CMU 's Claytronics, seen here and here. I, for one, would like to wear such tech. And then quickly go about Ruling the World. I would be a more than decent despot no doubt....This kind of looks like Tranformers tech.

New attempt at public interest non advertising based journalism. Looks to be much better funded than the Real News.

Interesting article about Afro Futurism (If you're a weirdo who cares about people like Chip Delany and Steven Barnes and Octavia Butler and etc...), by way of Warren Ellis, who has one of the best and wide ranging blogs on the Internets.

Now I have to admit: That's a costume party. I found Galactus and Annie Hall to be of interest. Features A List Bloggers Big Media Matt and Ezra Klein.

Top Ten sci fi movies never made.

Transhumanism debate that I need to check out.

I'm adding the Goddess to the blogroll. That would make two local African American bloggers who write about something other than hip hop or relationships in the Pittsburgh area. Woohoo. Related: I also enjoyed her essay about the mayor's race. That micropayment idea looked interesting. Luke's outreach to the black community is the same old "black face in a high place" kind of stuff. For the record, I loathe both candidates. I think Luke is incompetent and will likely end up in jail. I think decent people don't affiliate with the GOP, world's worst party. Decent people resign from the Republican Party, apologize for supporting NAFTA and giving money to Rick Santorum, and run as an independent.

Apparently, I can watch the Bourne Ultimatum for free on the Internets. I had better investigate this...Notice that there isn't an about section or a contact page. I guess that's the art of not being seen.

Oct. 30

Some vintage Jack. And great lettering. From this great new site.

 

Oct. 25

Alex Nino. One of the greatest artists ever.

Update on the music channel. My music channel has over 2000 videos now. I call it the "Acid Jazz Channel" but it really would be more accurate to describe it as the "Acid Jazz Search Engine". I don't think I actually host any of those videos. I can honestly say its better than any music channel on cable because music channels on cable don't play music anymore. I guess they're not competitive. And if you actually like acid jazz and trad jazz its the best music channel ever. I swear I've turned it on just to check out a tune and I've just stared at if for three hours. Of course, when you do all the programming there's little that sucks. Try the widescreen version here.

Anyway, try it out and please give feedback here. Oh, and if anybody has some adds, say, some rare LTJ Bukem or Broadcast vids I missed inform me at the link below.

Commentary go Here

Oct 22

Two more vids from this gifted Youtube director. Profiled earlier here. The first one I remixed and added a different tune. His original is here.  It also makes me want to fuck Audrey Hepburn. Her being "dead" wouldn't stop me. That's the kind of fella I am.

The second one features a song from The Stone Roses, a band I wish had made more music.

 

Oct. 21

Naomi Klein on fascism.

Still the most underreported story of the decade: election fraud. From Fitrakis and Wasserman by way of Bradblog:

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?

Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.

With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.

Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions.

Thus it should come as no surprise that our exclusive investigations into the firings of eight federal prosecutors who refused to execute Rove’s plans for massive disenfranchisement of Democratic voters reveal a pattern of illegalities and fraud aimed at reducing the number of minority, poor and young voters at the core of Democratic support. In the wake of major news breaks, two felony convictions have come from the rigging of the illegal Ohio 2004 vote count and recount that gave George W. Bush a second illegitimate term. Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions. And the multi-million-dollar electronic voting machine scam that made possible the biggest electoral frauds in US history is under massive new attack, with key states moving to scrap the machines altogether in a desperate attempt to restore American democracy – but with the job far from done.

Oct. 17

Is this the future of comics distribution? I have no idea but the art's good.

More of the funny by Stephanie. Is there another daily strip this radical?

Agent Ska, my virtual girlfriend and/or my virtual daughter (its one of those...) discovers solar sats. I wrote this in response:

"I think their projections of 2050 make it unrealistic for energy purposes. We'll probably develop better solar cells here on Earth with nanotech or biotech (artificial venter created lifeforms) fuel sources that would do the job within the next decade. What would really make it feasible is to create cheaper lift launch costs. The reason it costs so much now is that it costs a lot to put things into orbit. If it became cheaper to put things into orbit you could do solar sats tomorrow. Therefore, we should all be rooting for Burt Rutan and hope that something cheaper results from the private space age.."

Agent Ska noted that you'll see her on the other side of the moon. She might find some interest in this Burt Rutan interview. Burt might just get her a ride. Here's the part I liked:

What will spaceflight look like a century from now?

A century is a relatively short period of time. Let me stick my neck out a little bit further and say that in 300 or 400 years, a large majority of people will go to a planet and not return back to the Earth. We will colonize. Lewis and Clark went out and back. But most of the people who followed them went to California and stayed there. In a hundred years, I believe you will see such an enormous reduction in the costs of transportation around our solar system that there will be a lot of travel. I’d like to see affordable transportation into space in my lifetime.

Trust me. A lot of us would take that one way ticket. "What? A society out beyond the orbit of Pluto with elected leaders that pay attention to the constitution, which includes direct democracy...I'm outta here..."

Why someone other than Richard Dawkins is a mean ol' angry atheist. I'm probably going to permalink her. An excerpt:

PopeI'm angry -- enraged -- at the priests who molest children and tell them it's God's will. I'm enraged at the Catholic Church that consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, for years, acted to protect priests who molested children, and consciously and deliberately acted to keep it a secret, placing the Church's reputation as a higher priority than, for fuck's sake, children not being molested. And I'm enraged that the Church is now trying to argue, in court, that protecting child-molesting priests from prosecution, and shuffling those priests from diocese to diocese so they can molest kids in a whole new community that doesn't yet suspect them, is a Constitutionally protected form of free religious expression.

Read the whole embittered angry thing as they say.

What looks like an incredible wind turbine breakthrough based on guitar strings. How much energy could that generate? Very cool. Website here. Pop Mechanics story and video here. Related: All of the Pop Mech breakthrough winners look interesting.

Oct. 14

More Forbidden Weekend Around the Internets

A book that probably won't get reviewed (unless its a pan) by any of our two daily papers but you can find information here and here and here and here and here. Video here and here.

So why should this be brought up? I think it should be brought up because, well, here's a crazy theory. Bear with me. One of the shocking things I've seen is the aftermath of the November 2006 elections. It was clear that the American public voted against the war. Its also clear to me that if the Democrats actually end the war (by withholding funding which they can definitely do) they would probably hold the presidency and the congress for the next 25 years, maybe longer. It would cause a generational shift toward the less ruthless business party, which might be incrementally better. Afterall, the Clinton years gave us the Internets. True, if they had known how important it was I probably couldn't afford to be writing these words and I would be as likely to have a platform on the internet as I would be to hosting my own show on cable television but anyway...

Yet that's not what the democrats have done. I suppose it could be just a dark tactic whereby they think that as the war stalls and burns people will vote democratic party as a reaction. Of course, if people see no difference in the parties on the war it would make the republicans competitive again. And of course, as we've seen the republicans don't actually have to win to be competitive, just close enough so that the courts can call it in their favor. They can destroy the evidence later and throw roadblocks into reform. Its not like the traditional media would write about it.

Well, there is an uncomfortable theory out there, first written about by Alexander Cockburn to his credit. He thought that the Dem recruiters, Schumer in the Senate and Rahm Emmanual (who once volunteered to serve in the Israeli army. Here's a thought experiment: say that Obama once tried to join the Cuban army where would he be politically...? Really. Think about it.) were deliberately recruiting pro war dems. Both Schumer and Rahm, who some have said is Mossad's man in DC, are Jewish. What if they're Jewish and think that the war benefits Israel.

Here's another thought experiment: Let's just assume for a moment that they're more loyal to Israeli foreign policy interests than American interests, specifically the American interest of ending this war. What would they do. How would they behave. They would, and this is just wild speculation, recruit democrats to win back the house and senate but not democrats who have the common sense and decency to withhold funding for the war. Corporatist DLC power elite dems. That would be the deal. We would know that's the deal because democrats won't have ended the war even though its in their power to do so.

Here's a more frightening thought experiment: what if they wanted to thank the republicans. Why would you want to harm the party that enthusiastically spills blood for Israel (and oil reserves but that would be secondary to the Israelis, unless they wanted a cut but who knows...). You wouldn't want a handy party like that eviscerated. In fact, you would do everything in your power to keep them viable. Going slow on ending the war might just do the trick. A Hillary nomination gives the Republicans a pulse for the presidency. Blur the distinctions. That means that everything just keeps getting worse.

A wrench in the works would be the creation of a viable well funded progressive third party. Let's hope Cindy Sheehan, the only candidate I know that wants AIPAC out of congress, widens her efforts.

Oct. 12

Forbidden Weekend Around the Internets

GOP Icon shows Cthulhu influence.

Oct. 11

 

 

 

Oct. 7

Late Sunday Night Around the Internets

Must Read David Rees.  I think the one on top sort of explains why some of us grimace whenever politicians blame the Iraqis, who we bombed and killed by the thousands, for the current situation.

Sun Ra (This wikipedia bio is shocking.) bios here, here, here and here. Frank Zappa bios here, here and here. Get em while they're hot. And unpulled for copyright violations.

Let's play a little game of compare and contrast.

First, this news from Craig Venter:

"Craig Venter, a DNA researcher that had a part in deciphering the human genome, has stuck together 580,000 base pairs of genetic code to create an entirely new and alien chromosome. Based around the Mycoplasma genitalium bacterium (pictured in all its primordial glory), the new chromosome is then implanted into a living cell and renamed as Mycoplasma laboratorium -- don't you just love science jokes? The new "life form" is reliant on the host cell for replication and metabolism so it's not exactly entirely synthetic, but as the DNA is different, it is effectively an artificial form of life. Sounds like the human race's really doomed now: ultimately, all we're doing is setting the robots up with a tag team."

Say it with me together now: "And nothing could possibly go wrong." Now, for the contrast and compare part. Remember a novel by Greg Bear called "Blood Music"?

Here's the Wikipedia synopsis of Blood Music:

"In the novel, renegade biotechnologist Vergil Ulam creates simple biological computers based on his own lymphocytes. Faced with orders from his nervous employer to destroy his work, he injects them into his own body, intending to smuggle the 'noocytes' (as he calls them) out of the company and work on them elsewhere. Inside Ulam's body, the noocytes multiply and evolve rapidly, altering their own genetic material and quickly becoming self-aware. The nanoscale civilization they construct soon begins to transform Ulam, then others, until eventually assimilating most of the biosphere of North America. This civilization, which incorporates both the evolved noocytes and recently-assimilated conventional humans, is eventually forced to abandon the normal plane of existence. The reason for the noocytes' inability to remain in this reality is somewhat related to the strong anthropic principle. This is one of the more extreme cases of the technological singularity found in science fiction literature."

Talk amongst yourselves.

Oct. 2

Good job Mike Tedesco. I wish him all the success in this. Mike just consistently comes up with good and doable ideas.

In the very short feature I call "Decent Americans Acting Decently"  (also see above post) Cindy Sheehan wrote a piece called: "Pro Democracy Means Anti-Fascism". Here's what she thinks the next congress should do:

There are just a few measures that we can use to stop this slide and Rowthorn articulates what has become an important part of my platform. Only vote for candidates that promise the following things…for president, or any other federal elective offices:

* Repeal the Patriot Act
* Repeal No Child Left Behind
* Scale down the Department of Homeland Security and rename it so it loses its Nazi
tone and is brought under civilian control.
* Restore habeas corpus and close all torture camps by repealing the Military Commissions’ Act.
* Repeal all contracts with paid mercenary killer companies.
* Restore the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
* Repeal all BushCo-Presidential directives (especially Directive 51) and review all laws that contain signing statements.
* Restore the 4th Amendment by enforcing warrants for spying on Americans.
* Impeach Bush and Cheney-post presidency so they can’t receive federal benefits.
* Bring all troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and review military needs for other bases around the world.
* Repeal all free trade agreements.
* Kick AIPAC and other lobbyists out of the halls of Congress where they have no business.

We have a token libertarian over at Amsat (Trevor. See Post below.). He questions the wisdom of Marx. Of course, I find that Marx works best when you look at his writings and writings of his followers as accurate criticism of how capitalism works. Not necessarily as a system to follow. In fact, hardcore capitalists I'm told read Marx for that very same reason: to better understand how capitalism works. I suppose its not much different than when the old bad East Germans used to read 1984 for tips on what to name their organizations and rooms and so forth.

I just find that Marx's description of the ills of Capitalism to be pretty much right on the mark.

So, in today's episode of "Sure, I'm a Marxist" contrast this statement written by Lenin:

The present "freedom of assembly and the press" in the "democratic" (bourgeois democratic) German republic is false and hypocritical, because in fact it is freedom for the rich to buy and bribe the press, freedom for the rich to befuddle the people with venomous lies of the bourgeois press, freedom for the rich to keep as their "property" the landowners' mansions, the best buildings, etc.. The dictatorship of the proletariat will take from the capitalists and hand over to the working people the landowners' mansions, the best buildings, printing presses and the stocks of newsprint.

With this Youtube video about the Real News. It just strikes me as being a correct view of how the press works in a capitalist society. That's why I read Marx. I want to understand how the world works.

The people I work with at American Samizdat. When the roundups occur they will become the "usual suspects". Need to go add some posts over there.

current american samizdat harbingers september 2007

posts [march - august '07] | nom | main linkage
201 | Uncle $cam |
mobythor
84 | Trevor Blake |
OVO
60 | Philip Shropshire |
Three Rivers Online
19 | Klintron |
Technoccult
19 | thistle |
Dehiscence
17 | emg | ? [please contact me for link addition]
13 | bill |
Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse
13 | m |
Estimated Prophet
12 | ddjango |
P!
2 | Mad Kane |
Mad Kane
2 | Bruce |
The River
2 | Mule | ? [please contact me for link addition]
2 | Mark Plattner |
No Touch Monkey!
1 | Youngfox Canada |
Youngfox Canada

1 | Skippy |
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Sometimes you just feel like pretty pictures.

Oct. 1

Yet another edition of My Big Fat Evil American Empire. Sy Hersh says we'll bomb Iran. We'll do it because we're evil. Evil evil evil evil evil. As an American I like to pull the wings off flies. I strangle kittens because I can. It's who we are as Americans don't you know...

 

Mike Kaluta is still cool.

Thursday Night Around the Internets

The important thing about the Stewart interview with the Bolivian president is that you see that he's a decent genuine fella who wants to help his people and he's usually the kind of guy who we kill or his plane goes down unexpectedly, after we accidently put a bomb in it. That's a little harder if you actually get to see him on the television. But not impossible as we'll probably find out. For more on how we kill latin american (and african american leaders for that matter) leaders who want to help the people see this youtube vid, and this one and this one.

 

 

 

And Bolivia is mentioned below. Apparently, Chavez helped pay off their IMF Depts. More about IMF debt here. Done with toons.

 

 

 

Big news on how they'll steal your election in 2008 front. One: The Supreme Court will be taking a look at voter id laws or as I call it "Jim Crow 2007". Be very afraid. Two: It looks as if caging techniques are still the rage. (Also here.) The republican tactic is to suppress the black vote at any and all costs. Not to negotiate with us. This is why I hold a grudge against the Republicans. I can't vote for them. I can't support them.

Good Marxist linkfest. Features characteristics of the urban guerilla.

Sept. 25

Classic Pulp Covers. Way to sell that Orwell. "Forbidden Love...Fear...Betrayal."

 

 

 

Tuesday Evening Around the Internets

Why Richard Dawkins is a Mean Ol Atheist and related silliness: "Support our troops! Deny Them Playboy!" More related: research blog about the history of atheism.
STOP Hans von Spakovsky's appointment to the FEC!
News in Fascism Today
All from Treehugger: solar air conditioning and cheap solar panels, plus some comment on the Wired story on Switchgrass with some interesting criticism in the comments (good issue of Wired this month by the way...actually worth buying.)
Note to my fellow Early Returns bloggers: The Instapundit is a right wing republican hack, who some suspect (okay its just me) of being on the NSA /SPECTRE payroll. Let me guess: you couldn't have added this or even this for balance? And perspective? Corporate press "objectivity" at work again. On the other hand: Love the stuff about the Scaife marriage. Best perspective on karmic payback here. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Long Tikkun Piece About the Evil of AIPAC and related: fallout from Jim Moran saying the truth. And even more AIPAC critique from the Europeans.
Interesting site and an update about the stealth plan (not so stealthy in this Internets age) by Leiberman to slip what seems to be a declaration of war against Iran into a bill. I'm officially an evil American now. I have to remember to start rooting for Bond villains, none of whom have successfully killed as many people as the current president of the United States. Smersh SPECTRE could use a few pointers and then they would say "Oh that's just preposterous. I mean, come on. Stealing two presidential elections. Really now. Let's just stick to the basics  of sharks with friggin laser beams on their heads and using models to distribute airborne viruses, I mean, that's workable right number two..."
Europe wary of US Style Capitalism.
Cory Doctorow's Fictional Piece About if Google Turned to the Really Dark Side. Related: Cory Doctorow on the economics of free publishing.
Excerpt from Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism. Related: Youtube clip about the book. even More related: Naomi Klein grills Greenspan at Democracy Now. You can't really stop Naomi Klein. You can only contain her.
You know, I've registered hundreds of voters but I never faked it because its a felony to do so. Really it is. Involves Debra Bowen again. Keep in mind while this is bad you can't steal an election with it.
Stuff About Jena that I failed to report on as a black blogger earlier when it mattered. Sigh. Democracy Now stuff. And Tony Norman column. I'm going to find those black bloggers who got this earlier and permalink them.

Sept. 23

Talented artist.

And a talented Youtube director. As I suspected: He runs a design company. Check out this very very sexy vid (features Selma Hayek in a memorable scene...) he did for Cat Power's Lived in Bars. Better than most of Cat Power's professionally produced vids. The Pixies vid is good (that's below) is cool too. Those vids are here.

And folks are getting fed up with the dems. There's this from Booman which kind of sums up our frustration. We have to create a Third Way.

What the hell did we elect Democrats for if this is what we are getting in return for our votes? Everyday on numerous blogs I see the frustration of those of us who supported Democrats to the hilt in the last 3 election cycles with our activism, money, blogging and volunteering for Democratic campaigns around the country. Without us, it's safe to say the Democratic victories last Fall would have been much less substantial in the House, and likely would not have happened at all in the Senate. So what gives? Why are our voices and concerns being dismissed and ridiculed by the very people we worked so hard to bring to power? As one of the people who has dedicated myself to helping Democrats win elections, running interference for them on all the blogs to which I post regularly, contributing money I don't have and working to ensure that every vote gets counted (I was in Cleveland with Election Protection in 2004), I feel entitled to some answers that aren't the same old tired line of we're doing the best we can, be patient, blah, blah, blah. Because frankly I and much of the progressive blogosphere’s readership don't buy the excuses we are being offered, as the extremely low approval ratings for Congress (primarily among Democrats if you break our the numbers) makes clear.

Sept. 18

Sometimes you just feel like Mike Kaluta.

Late Tuesday Night Around the Internets

How a buncha right wingers almost took over the country in the 30s. Now, of course, they put in (a) Clinton to turn the country right, bribe both parties, rig the machines and bribe the dems to look the other way or else their planes might go down and, finally, make sure that the viable presidential nominees are down with what Bertram Gross called "friendly fascism". It will have diversity but corporations will still run everything. Oh, and make sure that Kerry is on the team and won't sue over 2004 so you can use the same tricks in 2008. And taser that guy who asked Kerry the very logical question as to why he conceded so quickly...I said taser him and take away that awful book. Tell our minions in the corporate media that we don't talk about stolen elections. That's minor stuff.

Speaking of Friendly Fascism:

This is a prescient book  first published in the 80s. "Prescient" I sez. Would read more like a manual to the wrong people who I think have read it.

What will happen if more ordinary people should try to take over this baby and actually begin to make it their own? How would the elites respond if the masses began to ask the elites to give much more and gain much less-particularly when, under conditions of capitalist stagflation and shrinking world power, the elites have less to give. Some radical commentators claim that the powers that be would use their power to follow the example of the classic fascists and destroy the democratic machinery. I agree with Murray Levin that this would be stupid. I see it also as highly unlikely. No First World Establishment is going to shatter machinery that, with a certain amount of tinkering and a little bit of luck, can be profitably converted into a sophisticated instrument of repression.

Indeed, the tinkering has already started. Some of it is being undertaken by people for whom the Constitution is merely a scrap of paper, a set of judicial decisions, and a repository of rhetoric and precedents to be used by their high-paid lawyers and public relations people. Some of it is being perpetrated by presidents and others who have taken formal oaths to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Sometimes knowingly, often unwittingly, both types of people will spare no pains in preserving those parts of the written or unwritten constitution that protect the rights of "corporate persons" while undermining, attacking, or perverting those parts of the Constitution that promote the welfare and liberties of the great majority of all other persons.

Read the book online here.

Speaking of Hillary, she's introduced her health care plan which she described like mandatory auto insurance, which I hate. At Working Assets I left a comment here:

Horrible. This is the auto insurance standard where I'm forced to buy coverage but the insurance industry doesn't have to lower rates or offer competitive pricing. One of the reasons I don't owe a car now is that I can't afford the insurance...the solution involves a not for profit insurance company , not necessarily run by the government but not the same old lobbyist suspects who Hillary thinks are just "people". I say it again. Horrible. I can't wait for the day I can't afford my 200 dollar a week health care premium and I'm thrown in jail...

I forgot to add that this a "Blame the Victim" approach to healthcare. "You lazy proles! The problem is that you don't wanna pay fer nuthin'..."

Sept. 15

And yet another sad edition of My Big Fat Evil American Empire. Hail Bush. Short summary of the evil here from Undernews:

OBSERVER, UK - A survey of Iraqis, released last week, claims that up to 1.2 million people may have died because of the conflict in Iraq - lending weight to a 2006 survey in the Lancet that reported similarly high levels.

More than one million deaths were already being suggested by anti-war campaigners, but such high counts have consistently been rejected by US and UK officials. The estimates, extrapolated from a sample of 1,461 adults around the country, were collected by a British polling agency, ORB, which asked a random selection of Iraqis how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.

Previous estimates gave a range between 390,000 and 940,000, the most prominent of which - collected by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and reported in the Lancet in October 2006 - suggested 654,965 deaths.

and here:

Bush Setting America Up for War on Iran

by Philip Sherwell in New York and Tim Shipman in Washington

 

You also need to read this Ted Rall article. Has a very nice observation about the people who make up your modern press while he criticizes the dems spinelessness on the war:

Here's Rall's money shots so to speak:

Brian Knowlton, The New York Times: Knowlton dutifully quoted Democratic Senator Joe Biden’s claim that there were “political limits on his party, even with the Congressional majority it has held since the November midterm elections. ‘This is the president’s war,’ [Biden] said. ‘Unless we get 67 votes to override his veto, there’s nothing we can do to stop this war…’” Not only did the Times fail to call Biden on his brazen lie, it gave him the last word.

You’d think the Democrats would want to end the Iraq War before their likely retaking of the White House, but that’s because you’re a human being, not a politician. Politicians are happy to dispatch hundreds of young American men and women to certain death (along with thousands of Iraqis), if the bloodshed squeezes out an extra half percentage point at the polls. Reid and Pelosi prefer to run against a disastrous ongoing Republican war than point to a fragile Democratic-brokered peace.

Why are so many respected journalists parroting the Democratic party line? I suspect that corporate media culture, rather than Judith Miller-style malfeasance, is largely to blame. Ink-stained newsrooms have been replaced by bullpen offices indistinguishable from those of banks or insurance companies. Reporters used to come from the working classes. They distrusted politicians and businessmen, and politicians and businessmen loathed them. Today’s journalists are products of cookie-cutter journalism schools. Because graduate schools rarely offer scholarships, few come from the lower or middle classes. They look like businessmen. When they meet a politician, they see a possible friend. They wear suits and ties. And when a U.S. senator like Joe Biden feeds them a line of crap, they gobble it up.

Your contemplative Sonny Sharrock song for Sunday.

 

 


Link: sevenload.com

 

Sept. 13

Picture from Zack "300 Sin City" Snyder's Watchmen. I have to admit that this pic of Rorschach looks promising. Related: This is the website it comes from. Its dedicated to the movie. Even has a rundown of the major cast players. I have to admit that Ozymandius looks right...More related: The Iron Man trailer looks good. Robert Downey really does bring the character to life. Looks promising.

Jim Hightower explains the mortgage crisis with handy toons.

And if you recall (they'll be a quiz later) Jim Hightower also explained why we're in Iraq and it's not about democracy or "helping" the Iraqi people, unless you define helping as killing about 600000 Iraqis. We're full of help over here. We're really there so that our puppet goverment can pass something called the Iraqi Oil Law, which Hightower explained here. Or as I described it earlier this is legalized plunder. Nobody talks about it, even the dems. It would be nice if they said that we're above killing hundreds of thousands of people and taking their stuff "christian" nation we are and all that....

Sept. 12

Saying Goodbye to Mr. Gone

Joe Zawinul b. 1932 d. Sept. 11, 2007

Whenever noted jazz police fascists like Wynton Marsalis or Stanley Crouch talk about all that "bad" jazz that doesn't meet their pre 1962 standard they usually refer to people like the late great Joseph Zawinul.  Unfortunately for them and yet fortunately for us Mr. Z produced a lot of demanding world class work that the entirety of the imagination/vision starved Marsalis clan will never ever touch in the forever Kind of Blue continuum that they're hopelessly trapped in. (And what's sad is that they don't realize its a trap.) Z even wrote better trad standards than Wynton or what's a Marsalis tune that's as memorable as "Mercy Mercy Mercy", or "Country Preacher"? I still can't believe a white dude from Austria wrote those tunes.

Zawinul understood that the beauty of jazz is in its growth and reach. You're supposed to improvise and experiment in jazz. Bebop and smaller than Big Band ensembles used to be heresy too. Thank you Z for music that expanded my ear and blew my mind. I never needed drugs thanks to you. Not to mention music so futuristic fluid and cool  that 30 years later it still sounds futuristic fluid and cool. By the way, Z isn't only the father of acid jazz but he was one of the first samplers. A fuckin' genius.

Thanks to the Youtubes you can visit the entirety of the Z canon from his days with Cannonball Adderly:

 

 

 

to his peak work with Weather Report and even, and I admit this as a fan, his somewhat disappointing work with the Zawinul Syndicate. Just about every song from Heavy Weather, definitely their masterpiece even though Night Passage is a beautiful album as well, is online. You can find tunes from Heavy Weather here, here, here, here and here.

As for showcase pieces, I think these two songs from Mr. Gone kind of catch Z at his best. I just wish someone had taped the 79 Weather Report that I caught at the old Stanley Theater with Jaco. Still one of the most memorable concerts that I had ever seen. I was actually not a big fan of Mr. Gone when it came out but these tunes have aged very well or maybe its Jaco's sinewy live bass lines. Z  or Weather Report was never as good post Jaco. Just an opinion. (Another opinion: He probably needed another heavyweight like Wayne Shorter to occasionally tell him no.)

 

 

 

and River People:

 

 

 

You'll never be forgotten Z. I can't imagine my life without your sound.

 

Sept 9

The Steelers won so I won't be depressed tomorrow. I think the key is doing well these next seven games against somewhat weaker opponents. If they can go at least 5 wins 2 losses then they have a great shot at the playoffs. This looks like a team that's headed by a quarterback who didn't have a near death experience.

 

 

 

I haven't supported the hands around the burgosphere effort one because I'm poor and two I don't think this solves a problem and three if my tax dollars were spent properly there would be plenty of money for the care of this society's victims. and four I think the real solution to this kind of problem is a more open and tolerant understanding of male sexuality which means legalizing prostitution and porn (studies show that rape goes down when availability of either porn or prostitution goes up) so that bathroom stalls or force aren't options that grown men would ever need or use. But I should probably keep that to myself.

I will be supporting the efforts of the Real News because I really think the problems of society remain problems because the corporate media is run by the same people who are creating these problems. (Read the propaganda model for the lowdown. And as someone who has worked in a couple of newsrooms I can testify that its true.)

Their theory is that if 20 million people give 10 dollars a month you can create a real alternative press. Well, I think I can give 10 bucks. Not sure if I can give monthly but...Watch the promo above.

Funny joke by Stephanie. The one character is wearing leaves because that way you don't buy any clothes made by slave labor. Guess she hasn't heard about the Fair Trade movement.

 

Update on the singularity conference.

Yet another episode of My Big Fat Evil American Empire. Of course they want a closed internet. Its the only place that's offering resistance.

I have to admit if I lived in Homewood I would vote for independent David Adams. He's got a brain. Related: Thank God you failed to run as a republican. I can't vote for Republicans, even theoretically. Running as an independent is actually better. Yet another rabble rouser without a blog or even a website. I suppose I could help him with that...

 

 

 

Sept 6

Late Thursday Night Around the Internets

I must recommend (again) that you go out and buy all of the issues of Black Summer that you can find. I hear that its sold out in some places, probably because the current administration is just so so popular. Warren Ellis takes this just a step or two beyond Marvel's Civil War, which I liked but doesn't quite get at the question of what if your government is evil and corrupt. Sure, I trust military industrialist and all around cool exec Tony Stark, who I'm sure is indifferent to all the Haliburton like wealth he's acquiring from our evil imperialist wars (hmmmm...) but the Bush administration? No fucking way. So go out and buy Black Summer or you'll make the Eye of Horus very angry. And you wouldn't like him when he's angry...

Speaking of the evil Bush administration: This is yet another edition of My Big Fat Evil American Empire.

Great. Now I can't even enjoy my popcorn. You know I wouldn't mind not having healthcare if I didn't have this sneaky suspicion that you're trying to kill me or afflict me with no doubt a very profitable lingering disease. Related: Our toothless and impotent consumer protection agency.

Finally. A country whose policies on copying the RIAA can fully support.

Soft Machine futurist Rudy Rucker has a blog. Actually, a lot of talented people in science fiction and comics have blogs now and I'm thinking of starting sections on the left showcasing them. Related: Nothing quite this elaborate however.

The above looks to be Rudy's newest book. If you're interested in the Singularity you should go take this in on the weekend. Features Ray Kurzweil and other notable guests.

 

Sept 4

Some more old timey labor posters. And a late labor day quote from Treehugger of all places. Comes from Samuel Gompers and is pertinent:

TransFair.gif It is a good day to remind you to buy Fair Trade, products, and help marginalised producers and workers move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. Fair Trade producers move from being poor farmers working alone to organized co-ops producing better quality, getting more money and living better lives. Why organize? Samuel Gompers listed some good reasons:

What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.

 
« previous post | home | related |

I think its time that someone from Wilkinsburg talked about the Pittsburgh mayor's race. Even if I was given the choice between the incompetent lying dem pol and the evil republican I'd probably have to go with the former. I just think that the Republican party is evil. When you tell me that DeSantis is the "nice" republican I sort of feel like you're talking about the "nice" Nazi. Not to mention that his website is fulla nothing. I don't even know if he supports public transit or not. What public sector unions would he go after in order to get cuts? Wouldn't he gut public services and bid out the services to Halliburton?  Isn't that what Republicans do? I don't think he'll invade Cleveland but I don't know I'm just not sure...Of course, this is also a great opportunity for the Green Party so of course they're not running anybody...Pathetic. Ryan Scott, the revolutionary, doesn't even have a website or a blog, which, and perhaps he doesn't know this, would be a perfect place for a socialist to spew propaganda because its cheap. Doesn't even have a blog...More Pathetic.

I actually saw four of these Smart cars while walking in the South Side several weeks ago. More info about The Smart Car here.

But then there's always the horse driven bus. I bet they smell great...

August 30

Jack Kirby would've turned 90 several days ago. So its a great excuse to run some of his art.

Half crazy (I don't think fluoride is blinding my spiritual third eye) half paranoid yet possibly true theory that ties together a number of disturbing underground trends and activities from the fall of the dollar to why sectarian violence in Iraq is seen as a plus. Goes fast even for an hour and a half speech. After watching this I'm getting a passport and probably a gun. I'd move my investments out of the dollar if I had any investments. Not boring. (thanks to bruce at Amsam for this...)

 

 

 

Random Assortment of Links

David Sirota answers this O Dub question and its an emphatic "No." Looks like dems are already willing to give the pentagon 50 billion more. Pathetic. Laughing at the antiwar indeed. More like pissing all over us. Need a third party. Just that simple. Third Party or die. More related: Is Conyers getting sane on impeachment?

Interesting video site that features first run films. I agree with the Digg post: how is this legal? In the US anyway. Related: watch tv online and porn online although they repeat a lot.

And toilet train your cat. This might make me get another cat...

Why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist.

August 28

The ACLU is right.

I highly recommend Black Summer issues 0 thru 2. Think the Justice League vs. The Bush Administration.

All Praise Mighty Horus. He is wise and strong. And he wants new elections with paper ballots.

And speaking of evil governments up to villainy, Cindy Sheehan (plus notable friends) is warning us that a new false flag operation is in the works. (hat tip to Uncle Scam at Amsat):

To the American people, and to peace loving individuals everywhere:
 

Massive evidence has come to our attention which shows that the backers, controllers, and allies of Vice President Dick Cheney are determined to orchestrate and manufacture a new 9/11 terror incident, and/or a new Gulf of Tonkin war provocation over the coming weeks and months. Such events would be used by the Bush administration as a pretext for launching an aggressive war against Iran, quite possibly with nuclear weapons, and for imposing a regime of martial law here in the United States.

 We call on the House of Representatives to proceed immediately to the impeachment of Cheney, as an urgent measure for avoiding a wider and more catastrophic war. Once impeachment has begun, it will be easier for loyal and patriotic military officers to refuse illegal orders coming from the Cheney faction.

 We solemnly warn the people of the world that any terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction taking place inside the United States or elsewhere in the immediate future must be considered the prima facie responsibility of the Cheney faction.

We urge responsible political leaders everywhere to begin at once to inoculate the public opinion of their countries against such a threatened false flag terror operation.

 (Signed) A Group of US Opposition Political Leaders Gathered in Protest at the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, August 24-25, 2007 

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, FORMER US CONGRESSWOMAN, GEORGIA
CINDY SHEEHAN, CANDIDATE FOR US CONGRESS, CALIFORNIA
CRAIG HILL, CANDIDATE FOR US CONGRESS, VERMONT GREEN PARTY
BRUCE MARSHALL, CONVENOR, PHILADELPHIA PLATFORM

JAMILLA EL-SHAFEI, KENNEBUNK PEACE DEPARTMENT
WEBSTER G. TARPLEY, AUTHOR

ANN WRIGHT, COLONEL US ARMY RESERVE, FORMER US DIPLOMAT
DR. DAHLIA WASFI,
WWW.LIBERATETHIS.COM 

GEORGE PAZ MARTIN

JOHN KAMINSKI, LAWYER, IMPEACHMENT ACTIVIST

I am a mother who wants her children to grow up free. I was in the midst of starting a company, when I stumbled upon something that changed the course of my life: 9-11 truth, crimes against nature, treasonous war profiteering, and other things which have changed this apolitical woman into an active-duty peaceful soldier!

August 23

Well I'm in. I've been to the website and I have no idea how my "hitting" the streets of Wilkinsburg will do anything but I'm open minded. Its also my off day. But I fully expect those of you with kids to feed or who like their jobs to be out there "hitting" the streets with me. Come on. All you have to lose is your livelihoods. That said, I do think this is an idea that could work. We need more actions outside the tweedle dee tweedle dum parties that won't end the war. It will be interesting to see how well they can get their message out. I'll do my part.

August 21

 

I really think that the solution to the gun problem isn't gun control (There are about 100 million guns in the streets. You would just create a black market. Criminals certainly would get theirs I might add.) but freely available bullet resistant materials such as shields, book bags, with possibly some nonlethal weaponry thrown in. So, last week was a good week for me when it comes to bullet proof backpacks for kids, knife resistant clothing  (the company is called Bladerunner) and this kewl new nonlethal gun that looks like it was designed by Syd Mead. It comes in pretty colors too. Related: Trailer for the Life and Times of Syd Mead.

Yet another edition of My Big Fat Evil American Empire here.

You can get your Scarlet letter atheist t shirts right here. Related: Richard Dawkins has a new special out called the "Enemies of Reason". Features the usual new agey suspects. I'm an Aries by the way....See the first nine minutes here.  See the 48 minute first part here and the 48 minute second part here.

Veronica Mars joins the cast of Heroes.

August 19

Sunday Sound and Vision Tour

And a disturbing vid from the American Resistance Movement (next meeting?) here:

 

 

 

and here (hat tip to Uncle Scam my Amsam labelmate):

 

 

 

And why there's conflict in the middle east:

 

 

August 14th

Would have posted sooner but my ever dependable comcast went down again. Looks like someone removed a splitter from the outside. I suppose it could be the NSA or those damn kids or an older kid with a graying beard. I hope it was those damn kids.

They (those damn kids) probably didn't want me to comment about this proposed draft. Multi Medium guy sez this is a tactical mistake by the republicans. But who would stop them? The Democrats simply haven't showed a lot of spine. I can see them now approving the draft and making the argument that "sending the dissenters into detention camps and revoking their citizenship all for the public good don't you know", said Nancy Pelosi and locals Bob Casey and Jason Altmire... A great opportunity for an opposition party though (paging Ms. Sheehan to recruit more candidates...)...

Just for the record: If you're drafted to fight in the Iraq war just say no. Or wait until Mitt's five or six sons get drafted because we know a Bush administration draft would be ever so fair and impartial, where rich and poor would serve in equal numbers, over in Hobbitville, right down from the land of milk and honey, beyond the seventh galaxy etcetera etcetera...

Related: Some people think you shouldn't volunteer either. Of course, you shouldn't volunteer for the American armed forces because you would have to be a fucking idiot to volunteer to kill and be killed for oil industry interests. It matters why you kill people. I think that's the definition of real intelligence. What reason you give to kill people. That reason shouldn't be "Wella some guy told me to kill ya raghead..." Not a good reason.

Here's a book those damn kids won't like:

[Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World By Aimee Allison and David Solnit, Seven Stories Press, August, 2007]

 

 

Army of None is a manual for opponents of the Iraq war who want to cut off its supply of cannonfodder.  It presents how- to guides, hot tips, and successful examples of counterrecruitment strategies in schools and communities around the U.S.  It argues that such actions can be a critical part of ending the war by depriving the military of soldiers to fight it. It presents this strategy as part of a more general "people power" approach to combating war and transforming society based on the withdrawal of popular compliance with authority.

 

The authors argue that without enough soldiers, it is impossible to sustain a large, long-term occupation in a country like Iraq.[1]  Anyone who doubts this argument should read the recent speech by Senator Richard Lugar - the one that heralded the stampede of Republican politicians away from support of Bush's Iraq policy.  Along with the intractable political situation in Iraq and the loss of support for the war by the American people, Lugar listed a third factor that makes current policy untenable:  "The fatigue of our military."  Indeed, the window for employing American troops "without damaging our military strength or our ability to respond to other national security priorities," according to Lugar, "is closing."

August 7

Short Late Night Around the Internets

There are some complaints about Bowen from the Mark Crispin Miller camp about how she will recertify the machines if they meet certain "conditions". But those conditions probably won't be met because they're really really hard. Or as Ars Technica explains:

California to recertify insecure voting machines

By Ryan Paul | Published: August 06, 2007 - 09:27AM CT

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced on Friday that the state hopes to recertify and continue using electronic voting machines produced by Diebold, Sequoia, and Hart, even though the machines have known security vulnerabilities and severe flaws. The state government decided that the machines can still be used as long as the vendors adhere to a lengthy list of requirements that aim to limit the potential for security breaches and machine failure.

This announcement from the state follows extensive red team security audits that illuminated profound security failings in all of the electronic voting machines that were subjected to scrutiny. The security researchers who analyzed the voting machines found ways to modify firmware, gain root access, trivially circumvent voting machine physical security mechanisms, install self-propagating trojan horses, and manipulate mock elections. On Diebold's voting machine, which uses the Windows operating system, researchers even found a remotely-accessible administrative account that wasn't protected by a password.

In conditional recertification decision documents issued by the state, Bowen outlines an extensive set of requirements that the electronic voting machine vendors will have to meet before their products can be used in elections. The vendors will have to provide the Secretary of State with a document that lists the complete specifications of the hardware and software used by all components of the voting system, identify requirements for "hardening" the configuration of all software on the voting machines including the operating system, create automated testing mechanisms to ensure that individual voting machines conform to the standards established in the hardening requirements document, provide a plan for preventing the propagation of viruses between voting machines, establish documented procedures for performing necessary security updates on the voting machines and the underlying operating systems, collaborate with counties to develop requirements and procedures for protecting the physical security of voting machines, and document a system for auditing vote results.

The decision documents also include source code disclosure requirements. The vendors must provide the Secretary of State with "the source code for any software or firmware contained in the voting system, including any commercial off the shelf software or firmware that is available and disclosable by the vendor." It gets better. According to the documents, "any reasonable costs associated with the review of the source code for any software or firmware contained in the voting system shall be born by the vendor." That's right, the vendors have to hand over their source code and then foot the bill for source code reviews.

Bowen also lays out a series of requirements for election practices. Most notably, election officials will have to conduct complete manual audit counts of all votes tabulated on DRE machines. Use of any kind of Internet connectivity on the machines is strictly forbidden. Finally, the requirements limit the use of Sequoia and Diebold machines to one per polling location.

Bowen clearly takes voting machine security very seriously. The requirements are impressive, but even if the vendors comply, it still won't change the fact that these machines are irreparably flawed. Considering the many weaknesses of the voting machines that received conditional recertification, the unbelievable ineptitude of the vendors, and the limited amount of time that they have to resolve these problems, it's hard to imagine that the vendors will really be able to meet Bowen's requirements. In some states, voting machines have been certified anyway even when the vendors refuse outright to adhere to government standards. Let's hope that Bowen is willing to give Sequoia, Hart, and Diebold the ax if they can't deliver.

I agree. The vote machines were built out of political connections, not competency. I still think they'll take their whining to the courts. Related bingo link here.

Again, this is big news. Should be front page news. Your voting machines are easily hackable. The public should know this. Everything that happens in the country that sucks is political. Fallen bridges, evil wars and broken levees are all born of politics. Things started to go south after two consecutive and questionable presidential elections where the will of the people was deprived. Spiderman Debra Bowen is a Hero. Don't be surprised if the DNC stabs her in the back and works relentlessly to undermine work that should have been done a decade ago, by everybody of both parties who proclaims to believe in "democracy".

 

August 5

The big news is that Debra Bowen decertified most if not all of the machines in California--which we also use here in Pennsylvania--because she found them to be not up to snuff. Or to translate: she just got rid of easily hackable pieces of junk that shouldn't have been certified in the first place. What's astonishing isn't that Bowen did this but that not a single other democratic official even tried to do this. What does the Pennsylvania Secretary of State do? Is he or she an empty suit? Bowen for President.

Now this should affect the national debate because no one in the house or the senate has done the work that Bowen has done. But don't be surprised if they do ignore her work. In fact, after seeing this particular congress in action, don't be surprised if congressional dems undermine her work and spout voting machine talking points while they do it. It's our sick sad excuse of a democracy.

  I also strongly suspect that the evil companies will appeal to the evil GOP courts for "justice" and those courts will decide "No. We really like the unaccountable machines."  But let's see what happens. And of course a court action could backfire in that Bowen could show her considerable evidence, which the press would probably ignore. I could blame the evil GOP courts but its been DNC strategery for years now to fold on republican appointees to the courts. Its not like you ever need justice of course. (see related posts about The Washington Generals Party.)

Here are the best bits of news.

Truthdig named Bowen their Truthdigger of the week:

Truthdig tips its hat this week to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who did her constituency proud by heading off potential voting disasters in her state by ruling out the use of Diebold and Sequoia direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems in upcoming elections, with exceptions made for disabled voters. 

According to The Brad Blog’s Brad Friedman, Bowen’s bold move came at the 11th hour—actually, at 11:45 p.m.—just before a certification deadline.  Read on for more of Friedman’s coverage:

From Bradblog:

PAPER BALLOTS FOR CALIFORNIA! - SECRETARY OF STATE ANNOUNCES DE-CERTIFICATION/RE-CERTIFICATION PLANS FOR E-VOTING SYSTEMS

Debra Bowen Announces DRE (Touch-Screen) Machines to be Used Only One Per Polling Place for Disabled Voters with 100% Manual Count of Paper Trails

Dramatic Late Night Press Conference Held at 11:45pm in Sacramento...

By Brad Friedman from Plano, TX, with help from Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us and Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE...

In a dramatic late-night press conference, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified, and then recertified with conditions, all but one voting system used in the state. Her decisions, following her unprecedented, independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all certified electronic voting systems, came just under the wire to meet state requirements for changes in voting system certification.

Bowen announced that she will be disallowing the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems made by the Diebold and Sequoia companies on Election Day, but for one DRE machine per polling place which may be used for disabled voters. The paper trails from votes cast on DREs manufactured by those two companies must be 100% manually counted after Election Day. DREs made by Hart-Intercivic are used in only one California county and will be allowed for use pending security upgrades.

From Steve Rosenfeld

Saying California's touch-screen electronic voting machines can not prevent hackers or partisans who want to alter vote counts, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced late Friday that she will remove thousands of the machines from use in California's new early 2008 presidential primary next Feb. 5. Southern California - from San Diego to Orange County to Los Angeles - will most seriously affected.

"When you look at how people actually vote in the state, more than two-thirds and probably three-quarters will not be affected by the decisions that I am announcing today," Bowen said, emphasizing she had a duty to investigate and address concerns about the integrity of California elections. "The systems that we use to cast and tally votes in this state are the most fundamental tools of democracy. If our citizens don't have faith in the tools, then election officials have to investigate their citizen's concerns."

California's new touch-screen voting machine policy will likely have a national impact. Other states, including Florida, Connecticut and Ohio are undergoing similar reviews of their touch-screen voting systems. Meanwhile, Congress is reviewing its first-ever legislation to regulate electronic voting. The proposed bills in Washington largely echo California's law, which require a paper trail for touch-screen machines and audit standards. Other federal agencies are also reviewing security standards for electronic voting machines.

"I think much of what we have done here will be incorporated into standards that will be adopted at the federal level," Bowen said.

Yeah let's hope.

From Michael Lubin:

Last night, following a top-to-bottom review of the state's election systems, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen all but banned black box electronic voting.  “When NASA finds a problem, they don’t continue just because they’ve already spent the money,” she declared. “They scrub the mission and spend the money to get it right. We must do same with elections.” What a disturbing, radical thought. Does she actually think the people’s votes are as important as sending astronauts into space? Bowen must not have listened to enough corporate TV roundtable discussions by self-perpetuating experts whose main concern is how to responsibly manipulate the people.

Instead, she listened to those ultimate icons of irresponsibility, election integrity activists, who actually think it isn’t enough that elections be accepted as legitimate — they really have to be legitimate. Oh, what naifs these activists be! Just imagine if such unenlightened views had prevailed on the Supreme Court in December 2000. They wouldn’t have stopped the vote count in time to avoid the appearance that the election had been stolen. As a result, after they stole it, even more people would have realized the theft, doing further damage to that already fragile relic, The Legitimacy of American Democracy. For in a media-created world whose fundamental reality is he-said-she-said, legitimacy can only be a perception.

Returning the real world, Bowen’s top-to-bottom review had shown that a single hacker with inside access could implant malicious code onto a machine which would then spread to other machines, allowing a whole election to be stolen without anyone being any the wiser. In keeping with the basic principles of today’s American democracy, she should have said, “While this is cause for some concern, no one would really do such a thing, and besides, the wonderful companies who created these vulnerable machines can’t have their profits snatched away from them.” But instead, subversive that she is, the Secretary of State had these shocking words to say: “It is my hope that voting system vendors will, starting tomorrow, start to evaluate the competitive advantage to moving to open source software.” That would ruin all their lovely proprietary code, just to prevent an undetectable election theft that — let the point be stressed — has never once been detected.

August 2

The Big News, if you're paying attention to the very minor backpage story about how the US election process has been hacked, is that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen did something that really should have done about a decade ago. She directed a group of hackers to take a comprehensive look at all of the voting machines, which happen to be the very same machines in our own great state of Pennsylvania. (Here's a mystery question: who is the Pennsylvania Secretary of State? What does he or she do exactly?).

And, surprise, they were easily able to hack ALL of them. Who could have guessed? Think about that. Of course, whole books and articles have been written about this very same possibility here, here, here, here, and here. They were, and certainly remain, crazy people who shouldn't be given the time of day, even though it looks like they were right. See Atrios snark about those same serious people vs. what he calls "dirty fucking hippies"  when it comes to the Iraq war for a similar funny vibe.

From Bradblog:

If you've yet to find time to read the hundreds of pages from the landmark "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems from California University, as commissioned by CA SoS Debra Bowen, we don't blame ya.

So after plowing through dozens of articles covering the reports, we'll make it easy for you, and recommend two short articles which will get you all quickly caught up with an overview of some of the most notable findings from all of the various reports as written in nearly human-being language.

As well, we're happy to sum up --- and destroy --- the pathetic, predictable, and lock-step Election Officials' and Vendors' response to Bowen's report in a few easy paragraphs....

Erika Morphy at TechNewsWorld does a fine job of giving a brief, to-the-point overview with some of the most stunning findings quickly explained. She also gives the response from vendors the time it's worth (very little, but a link to read more if you wish). The article also has the added benefit of a quote or two from yours truly.

Scott M. Fulton, III, at BetaNews gives a similarly informed, descriptive, and human-readable overview and goes into a few more details. He also points out what much of the media coverage of the reports has otherwise overlooked. Namely, that the greatest threat revealed in these reports comes from election insiders.

"Manufacturers may have been reluctant to cooperate fully with red teams, under the theory that 'hackers' may not themselves enjoy a similar level of access," writes Fulton. "Of course, that presumes that those seeking to actually break into a voting system to rig an election, and those who run the election, are in all cases different people."

Read the whole thing here.

The other scary thing that happened, in the very minor story about how we're living under a president who has never been elected with a vote count that we can actually check, is that a number of Ohio ballots have been destroyed. If you're not aware of this and you probably aren't if you get all your news from the corporate media (There were fires and car wrecks and murders today, most of which you can do nothing about. Its a distraction. Trust me on this.), there were some heroic lawyers who saved the ballots, or so they thought, so they could better understand the many many anomalies in Ohio 2004. But several days ago we found this out:

The criminal cover-up of Ohio's stolen 2004 election sinks to the fraudulent, the absurd, the pathetic
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
August 2, 2007

The illegal destruction of federally protected 2004 election materials by 56 of 88 Ohio counties has become a fraudulent "dog ate my homework" farce of absurd justifications and criminal coverups.


The mass elimination of the critical evidence that could definitively prove or disprove the presumption that the 2004 election was stolen has all the markings of a Rovian crime perpetrated to hide another one.� Indeed, under Ohio law, that's precisely what must be presumed here.�

But what makes the situation downright pathetic is that Ohio's new Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has publicly stated she sees "no evidence" of intentional destruction in the disappearance in more than 60% of the state's counties of the ballots from the 2004 presidential election.

So once again, as did Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, the Democrats seem poised to cave to the on-going GOP coup that has redefined America, and that now involves the criminal destruction of contested evidence in one of the most controversial vote counts in US history.

Ironically, in Florida, under Jeb Bush, the ballot records from the 2000 election in all but one of the state's counties were successfully preserved.� They are now stored in a state repository in Tallahassee.� An unofficial recount conducted by the national media concluded that Al Gore rightfully carried Florida, and thus the presidency, in 2000.�

A parallel preservation was ordained by federal and state law for the election records from Ohio 2004, where a similar examination has been viewed as inevitable.�

But a series of excuses that range from the lame to the pathetic to the obviously criminal have left us shocked---shocked!---to learn that despite the protection of established federal law, a federal court order, long-standing Ohio laws, two directives from the Ohio Secretary of State's office, and legal notification letters from plaintiff's attorneys to hold the evidence, a precise recount of Ohio's stolen 2004 election may no longer be possible.

In short, Brunner has informed us that 56 of Ohio's 88 counties have mostly "inadvertently" destroyed all or some of their records from the 2004 presidential election.


And the DNC Secretary of State response...just stunning. They really are the Washington Generals Party. Will the Democrats ever catch a clue? You know that 75 foot hook shot that Meadowlark lobs...you need to defend against that. Really. The whole bucket of water thing...off sides at least. Probably an execution offense under David Stern rules...Hey, I'm thinking of doing a show called DNC Law and Order. Its over in one minute because Detective Diane Feinstein doesn't believe in clues so nothing ever gets solved. I mean it looks like a robbery nevermind the wallet left in plain site and the A List actor playing the mischievous real killer...  Related: Sen. Diane Feinstein might consider a zone defense against the weave: she says Bowen's findings are disturbing. But as the Bradblog post notes if you're so concerned why isn't the elimination of these machines in your awful awful senate version of voting reform? You're no Vince D'onofrio maam, that's for sure.

Sigh. Enough of this.

My Big Fat Evil American Empire

Time for a new feature here. I call it My Big Fat Evil American Empire. Here's a graphic of Lex Luthor as president. Of course, he's different from George Bush in that Lex is widely regarded as being competent.

Featured story from major reporters on the election fraud beat:

Will Bush cancel the 2008 election?

by Harvey Wasserman | Jul 31 2007 - 9:01am |  
article tools: email | print | read more Harvey Wasserman
 

by Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis

It is time to think about the "unthinkable."

The Bush Administration has both the inclination and the power to cancel the 2008 election.

The GOP strategy for another electoral theft in 2008 has taken clear shape, though we must assume there is much more we don't know.

But we must also assume that if it appears to Team Bush/Cheney/Rove that the GOP will lose the 2008 election anyway (as it lost in Ohio 2006) we cannot ignore the possibility that they would simply cancel the election. Those who think this crew will quietly walk away from power are simply not paying attention.

The real question is not how or when they might do it. It's how, realistically, we can stop them.

In Florida 2000, Team Bush had a game plan involving a handful of tactics. With Jeb Bush in the governor's mansion, the GOP used a combination of disenfranchisement, intimidation, faulty ballots, electronic voting fraud, a rigged vote count and an aborted recount, courtesy of the US Supreme Court.

A compliant Democrat (Al Gore) allowed the coup to be completed.

In Ohio 2004, the arsenal of dirty tricks exploded. Based in Columbus, we have documented more than a hundred different tactics used to steal the 20 electoral votes that gave Bush a second term. More are still surfacing. As a result of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit (in which we are plaintiff and attorney) we have now been informed that 56 of the 88 counties in Ohio violated federal law by destroying election records, thus preventing a definitive historical recount.

As in 2000, a compliant Democrat (John Kerry) allowed the coup to proceed.

For 2008 we expect the list of vote theft maneuvers to escalate yet again. We are already witnessing a coordinated nationwide drive to destroy voter registration organizations and to disenfranchise millions of minority, poor and young voters.

Wait there's more:

There is much more. In all instances, the 109th Congress---and the public---have rolled over without significant resistance.

Most crucial now are Presidential Directive #51, Executive Orders #13303, #13315, #13350, #13364, #13422, #13438, and more, by which Bush has granted himself an immense arsenal of powers for which the term "dictatorial" is a modest understatement.

The Founders established our government with checks and balances. But executive orders have accumulated important precedent. The Emancipation Proclamation by which Lincoln declared an end to slavery in the South, was issued under the "military necessity" of adding blacks to the Union Army, a step without which the North might not have won the Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order #8802 established the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Harry Truman's Executive Order #9981 desegregated the military.

Most to the point, FDR's Executive Order #9066 ordered the forcible internment of 100,000 people of Japanese descent into the now infamous concentration camps of World War II.

There is also precedent for a president overriding the Supreme Court. In the 1830s Chief Justice John Marshall enshrined the right of the Cherokee Nation to sovereignty over its ancestral land in the Appalachian Mountains. But President Andrew Jackson scorned the decision. Some 14,000 native Americans were moved at gunpoint to Oklahoma. More than 3,000 died along the way.

All this will be relevant should Team Bush envision a defeat in the 2008 election and decide to call it off. It's well established that Richard Nixon---mentor to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney---commissioned the Huston Plan, which detailed how to cancel the 1972 election.

Today we must ask: who would stop this administration from taking dictatorial power in the instance of a "national emergency" such as a terror attack at a nuclear power plant or something similar?

Nothing in the behavior of this Congress indicates that it is capable of significant resistance. Impeachment seems beyond it. Nor does it seem Congress would actually remove Bush if it did put him on trial.

Short of that, Bush clearly does not view anything Congress might do as a meaningful impediment. After all, how many divisions does the Congress command?

The Supreme Court, as currently constituted, would almost certainly rubber stamp a Bush coup. If not, like Jackson, he could ignore it as easily as he would ignore Congress.

What does that leave? There is much idle speculation now about what the armed forces would do. We also hear loose talk about "90 million gun owners."

From the public side, the only conceivable counter-force might be a national strike or an effective long-term campaign of general non-cooperation.

But we can certainly assume the mainstream media will give lock-step support to whatever the regime says and does. It's also a given that those likely to lead the resistance will immediately land in those new prisons being built by Halliburton et. al.

So how do we cope with the harsh realities of such a Bush/Cheney/Rove dictatorial coup?

We may have about a year to prepare. Every possible scenario needs to be discussed in excruciating detail.

For only one thing is certain: denial will do nothing.

Read the whole awful thing here.

I-I need some fanboy stuff now.

Pittsburgh boy Skylar has been picked to play the young Spock in the new Star Trek film. Full interview here. For the record, my fave post Spock vulcan was the other vulcan on Voyager, although I liked Tuvok.

 

July 31

I wish I could say that I was watching Sicko as a completely disinterested party. Unfortunately, I'm one of those 50 million Americans who doesn't have health insurance--

--quick aside: I indirectly work part time for UPMC. I even have an UPMC identification card. But part timers don't get health care benefits for the smaller company that I work for and apparently UPMC, with only 400 million in profits last time I checked, can't afford to cover me as well. Quick note to all you folks who spout AMA propaganda about the "long waits" whenever single payer comes up: I would prefer long waits to never seeing a doctor at all--

--True, I'm in good health (I think. Nothing has fallen off, so far....) and I walk a lot but it would be nice to talk to a doctor other than in an emergency room. The main thing I took away from the movie is that other people in other countries live much better than we do, period. They get better health care, better education, and probably better lives. And yes there are other reasons why they want us to hate France as Mike Moore makes clear in this clip. I guess this is why your usual corporate media outlets don't do more journalism about How People Live abroad. One: They rather you didn't know and two: you might notice that where people have the six week vacations and unemployment insurance that pays better than our minimum wage they tend to have real opposition/labor parties, as opposed to pretend ones that think NAFTA is going great. I guess, and this could be the theme of all of Mike Moore's movies: I live in a country that really doesn't give a fuck about me. Hail America and so forth....

Moore also offers a number of solutions at his website. I'm definitely printing out that Sicko health care card above. Its the only health card I'll have. There's also this:

ACTION PAGE
Tell congress to pass HR 676 now.
31101 submissions so far.

Moore also points out that there is a House Bill that would simply expand Medicare to everybody. Sounds good. I'm sure the insurance lobbies and the AMA will take a break on this and let it pass without objection or outcry or multimillion scary ad campaigns. Yes I like to openly amuse myself. Related: there was a big debate recently between Nathan Newman and Ezra Klein about whether the states should take the lead on providing health care or the feds. I found myself on the Nathan Newman side of things here. Let the states take a crack at it. The federal  Republican only filibuster will kill all meaningful change in health care policy and other issues of meaning as well.

July 30

July 26

Two vids I like: here's Ron Paul and David Cross vs Rudy G:

And Eric Alterman tells us the truth behind the "New York" money men and their plans for Iran.

July 24th

More Richard Corben. You just can't get enough of Richard Corben.

I'm still on the beat on the voting reform bills that are in the US Congress. As far as I can tell, I'm the only person on this beat here in Pittsburgh. Still waiting for that cute Samantha Bennett to give it a shot but no such luck. Just for the record, there is some evidence that both the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen. There are at least four books and one prominent article, written by heavyweight reporters and PhDs with math degrees and one of the smarter Kennedys, which can lay it out for you here, here, here, here, and here. These books went largely unreported on by both the Republican (Fox and Scaife and radio talk ilk) and corporate mainstream press. In fact, most of the hostility has come from Salon's Farhad Manjoo who was destroyed not only by the public but by Mark Crispin Miller here.

The story so far: The voter reform movement is bitterly split over the Holt Bill in the US House. After looking at this for a long time with puzzlement I have decided that the people (Bradblog and Mark Miller and Bob Fitrakis) against the Holt bill were right. I base my final opinion on this article by Mark Crispin Miller, where he points out that machine lobbyists and Microsoft essentially got the house committee to roll over on open source provisions in the bill. (Quick aside: if you can look  at and observe the code you could in theory prevent the Hursti hack during an election. Proprietary code prevents you from looking. See related evil judicial decision here.)

The second reason has to do with the Senate voting reform bill, which everyone hates and which seems to have been  written by machine lobbyists. That bill is being sponsored by Diane Feinstein. Now, it turns out that Feinstein is also pushing to make sure that the bill doesn't take effect until 2010 thus ruining the only good reason to pass some changes now for the 2008 presidential election even if they're not all favorable to transparency. Feinstein, according to what I've read, doesn't think the voter theft issue is real.

There is a shot that the bills could be revived this session but at this point perhaps we should let it die. We do have other options. It would seem to be that the major thing to do would be is to notice when someone like Ken Blackwell purges 300000 mostly black democratic voters from the voting rolls. I have to be honest I really thought the Democratic Party was doing something like  that back in 2004 now I realize that they weren't. And with people like Feinstein at the helm I'm pretty sure the dems won't be looking again. Why bother after all only two presidential elections stolen and a million Iraqis dead.  Such minor things...

Related: Not only are DREs not as transparent as paper ballots, they're much more expensive.

Last year Luzerne County, PA spent $2.4M on 750 ES&S iVotronic DREs and a one-year warranty. Now that the first warranty is to expire ES&S wants $300,000 for a three-year warranty. The county Director of Elections has written the state and told them, in part, “In addition to not being able to meet the financial burden that ES&S is asking us to meet, we cannot individually deal with such a large, multi-national corporation and the mix of deception this company promulgates.” And he asked the state to ensure “that voting-system vendors doing business here do not have the opportunity to threaten the democratic process with such unsavory business practices that vendors, such as ES&S, seemingly have a deep commitment to employing.”...

Cool flying wind turbine energy thing. Related: Creating artificial tornadoes for energy. No nothing could possibly go wrong..

I openly support Cindy Sheehan's run for congress. It would be better though if she got 25 to 40 people to run with her in the senate and the house and  create a viable third party in the US but that's just me. There needs to be another option than just the dems and repubs. It would actually make the two parties better.

I also support Google's bid to create open access broadband. That would create a new boom and all kinds of jobs. Expect the Bush administration to find a way to turn it down because they're just so so fucking evil.

Gel that stops HIV and Herpes and which the Bush administration and Ales Rarus (as soon as the Pope tells him what to think...) will probably oppose.

July 19

My video channel now has almost a thousand vids. There are several profiles of comic book heroes and tons of comic related stuff, which include but are not limited to a very funny story about jazz addiction from Harvey Pekar, a five minute story about why Jack Kirby is cool with a Harlan Ellison intro no less, and something done in Europe about Heavy Metal alum Richard Corben. The above is from Richard Corben's website. What's remarkable about Richard's work is that it always looked three dimensional even before computer graphic enhancements.

I had heard that the Holt bill has been pulled from the schedule but I can't find a site that confirms this. Meanwhile, Mark Crispin Miller claims that machine lobbyists and Microsoft essentially rolled over the open source provisions in the bill when it was in committee. You combine this with this equally disturbing Florida ruling and you get a situation where trade secrecy trumps democracy. This isn't the way democracy is supposed to work.

More things I need to read more closely:

Coverage of John Edwards here and surprisingly from Mullah Rob, who probably approves of Edwards firing atheist bloggers. No I didn't attend but I still think its between Edwards and Obama. Would be nice if these guys were on the same ticket in any order, although considering the reality of changing demographics Richardson would seem to be the best vp choice.

Japanese nuclear accident underplayed. I don't understand why anybody supports nuclear. Related: Possible organic solar cell breakthrough where you could produce solar cells by way of a printer. More info here and here. Possibly related:The CEO of  Steorn, whose video I feature on my channel above and whose demo several weeks ago was a complete bust, talks about their recent troubles. I still think there might be something to this free energy device of theirs, but why they simply couldn't film the working prototype back at the plant troubles me...I guess I'm just being hopeful and I also think there may be dimensional properties to magnetism and gravity that we simply don't get yet. Still, we need to see that prototype fellas...

Photos of a nice country that we're probably going to bomb into oblivion in order to please the military industrial complex and AIPAC.

As some people may or may not know, I believe in the religion wacky techno geek cult  very sensible and optimistic philosophy of Transhumanism or "The I'd Like To Be An XMan Movement".  I found this interesting transhumanist statement of purpose which I suppose could double as a kind of a secular transhumanist prayer. It's very cool. Here it is:

Transhumanist Statement Wednesday, Jul 11 2007 

transhumanism Michael Anissimov 12:03 pm

I have seen a world where death and disease have been defeated by science…
where food, shelter, and clothing is manufactured quickly, and without waste…
where transparency makes violent crime impossible, and authorities accountable…
where people walk on other planets and in endless virtual worlds…
where intelligence and empathy are magnified far beyond present levels…
where the diversity of sentient beings has expanded to unimaginable proportions…
where the risk of human extinction has been reduced to near zero.

I will endeavor to take the fastest safe route to such a future, and direct my present-day energies towards its realization. I will be polite and understanding to skeptics and naysayers. I will thoroughly enjoy my daily life while simultaneously working for a better future. I will work towards that future for the good of all, not just myself, and try my best to maintain an altruistic point of view at all times.

And after this the William Shatner voiceover kicks in talking about "and Boldly going where no MAN..."

July 17

One of my own electronically  produced pieces. Someone has to promote my work...

And I'm back.

I could have been back Saturday or Sunday but it turns out that while Comcast can quickly turn off your internets service when you haven't paid your bill it takes them at least three days for them to turn it back on when you have paid your bill. Real cute fellas. Looking into alternatives as I write this.

I also found out that internet services at the public libraries suck. Downtown, at the Carnegie Library, if you log out because your crappy 200 dollar mini comp won't access pages anymore you can't get back on for another half hour. But at least they sell you ear plugs so you can do this wild thing where you listen to things on the Internets. That's something that you can't do at my neighborhood Wilkinsburg public library. That's right. You're not allowed to use your ear phones at the public library in Wilkinsburg. Now I can see why they would ban speakers. I'm no fan of the hippity hop at public libraries. And many people would find my fave band the Mahavishnu Orchestra equally offensive. Fair enough. I don't understand why I can't listen to things on earphones. I guess I'm a wild man. Next I'll demand my federally funded heroin after finishing up "listening" to something at the Wilkinsburg public library. Call me a scofflaw and a rebel.

I did ask as to what was behind such an insanely hideous and backwards policy, although perhaps not in those exact words even though I like to think my expression told a thousand tales of incredulity.

I was told that people listening with their headphones--which I assumed was a private act which I would recklessly describe as private and contemplative--was "disruptive". Really. When I asked the kindly white haired gentleman how is it the Carnegie Library--a slightly bigger library with more possibly "disruptive" patrons by about a factor of 1000--could sell earplugs and yet you won't even let me listen to stuff he proudly exclaimed that the Wilkinsburg library was a separate library not at all operated by the anarchist bomb throwing emma goldman scum who run the Carnegie Library who let you "listen" to things on the Internets heaven forbid. I mean, if you let people listen to things then dancing might break out, or experimental open marriages between adults. Gotta nip this thing in the bud the librarian thought to himself while he gave me the evil eye for daring to question Big Brother. That librarian loved Big Brother. I kept on thinking: "You know if I strangled you where you stood I bet that would be disruptive...hmmm."


I might ask one of the librarians for a more thorough explanation of the policy, probably the cute girl with red flower tattoos on her forearms. Hey, its all for the "mission".

July 9

 


"Must be a camel" by frank zappa
Uploaded by Steelydan

 

Posting here may be light this week as I take care of some personal business. But my video channel will be here. Lots of good stuff if you like alt jazz and left wing propaganda. I recommend all Jaga Jazzist vids if you can find them. There's also a beautiful jazz tune by Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek called "Country" If you listen carefully you can catch Keith Jarrett's trademarked humming. Above: One of my fave tunes ever by Mr. Frank Zappa.

July 8

Hey they posted my letter on Elwin Green's PG blog. It has a glaring grammatical error (should have said: "Why ACORN only held an event with DNC presidential candidates..." Double Sigh. That's what I get for typing too fast.). On the other hand, Brave corporate media blogger Elwin has yet to offer his opinion as to what the RNC can do for the black working classes, other than ship their jobs off to Chinese slave labor, which most black folk should find ironic. Quiz time: who has more power? The broke ass black blogger who runs this site or the corporate media African American blogger who can't answer a simple question unless "massa" tells him he can. I'm going to go with the former, although I wouldn't mind making 40 grand a year.

Make your own Simpsons likeness. And I must say that I am one handsome fella.

Agent Ska's brother goes to Ireland so you don't have to. Some good writing here as well.

Not feeling depressed? Here's the latest from Juan Cole:

Readers sometimes ask me if analyzing the news from Iraq every day doesn't get me down.

It got me down today. Sunni Arab guerrillas, unable to operate as effectively in Baghdad because of the US troop surge, had a suicide bomber drive a truck loaded with explosives into a market in a village on the fringes of the northern city of Tuz Khurmato and detonate his payload. As I write, authorities had counted 130 dead bodies, many of them women and children, and relatives reported another 20 dead. Another 250 or so were wounded, some of them badly, according to the Arabic daily al-Hayat. The latter says Iraqis are referring to the bombing as "the Turkmen massacre." Some 40 homes, 20 shops, and a dozen automobiles were also destroyed.

Like the detonation of the minarets at the al-Askariya shrine in Samarra recently, this act of terrorism had a strategic purpose. First, even 160,000 US troops cannot provide security to the whole country. The guerrillas are announcing that if they are prevented from operating in the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, they will just shift operations to Samarra (an hour's drive due north of Baghdad) or Tuz Khurmato.

Moreover, they are saying that they are just as capable of waving a read flag in front of the Shiite bull even if they aren't in Baghdad. Thus, they hit a sacred Shiite shrine again at Samarra. And Tuz Khurmato is a largely Shiite Turkmen city of some 63,000, surrounded by villages with a similar composition, like the one that was blown up Saturday. Although Turkmen Shiites had in earlier decades been removed from the formal, clerically-dominated Shiism of Najaf, practicing instead a folk religion, in the 1990s Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr reached out to them and brought many of them into orthodox Twelver Shiism. Arab Shiites now feel solidarity with them, and on occasion young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has sent Mahdi Army fighters up to protect them. The Badr Corps of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council has also attempted to attract their loyalty. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denounced the bombing as the work of Sunni extremists who declare that Shiite Muslims are actually infidels.

Meanwhile, it looks as if the Iraqi parliament is going to reject the oil deal--or as it should be known "The Legalized Plunder" deal--that's been foisted upon the puppet regime. Looks like the puppet isn't dancing like evil Uncle Sam wanted. Good for the Iraqis.

I criticized ACORN in my letter to the Post Gazette. My history with ACORN goes way back and I detail their many many problems here. I occasionally still get feedback from people who have worked or have tried to work for ACORN. Elwin should read it with links.

THANK YOU!
by NonviolentFem Friday, Jun. 22, 2007 at 8:40 PM
akbattag@purdue.edu

Thank You so much for this very informative article. I was in the process for being hired for an organizer position in ACORN. I was very excited about the prospect of being part of working for fair labor rights, but after I learned about the hypocricy and expliotation that comes along with working for ACORN, I withdrew my application. Thank you for the advice. Just for fun... here is the email Im sending to their Director of Recruiting hopefully it will strike a chord:


Ms. Mansour,

I regret to inform you that I am no longer interested in the
activist/organizer position. After doing further research into your
organization I was educated on the hypocricy and mismanagement that is rampant
in ACORN. I refuse to work 55 hours a week and not be paid overtime. I refuse
to be denied lunch breaks and 15 minute breaks that are required by law in
several states. I refuse to work for an organization that insists on putting
young unexperienced workers into possibly dangerous neighborhoods without at
least a buddy system for security. Most importantly, I refuse to work for an
organization that tauts the necessity of fair labor practices and then
blatantly DENIES THEM TO THEIR OWN WORKERS. I am very passionate about the
fighting oppression that ACORN works against, but I will not become a victim
of it myself. Thank you for your time, and I hope these problems can be
rectified within the ACORN community.

Well, all in a day's work for Bicycle Repairman.

July 4

Above: Mr. Fish and below by Kyle Baker, author of the excellent Nat Turner.

Jaco Pastorius, voted greatest bassist of all time,  does his version of America (catch the early wiz of oz riffs...).

And now a few words from Frederick Douglas, a badass in any time. And yes I was surprised to see that at the Great Orange Satan's left side or his virtual frontpage. Perhaps he's getting smarter.

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms- of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

July 3rd

List of classic Jack Kirby covers. I'm also permalinking the Datajunkie guy. He'll be right beside the Gravity Lens guy.

Datajunkie also has a  very cool logo:

There were two prominent black american bloggers of prominence who you could reliably trust to fill the "token" slot in most liberal blogs over the last few years. One of them, Steve Gilliard, just passed away  and while I sometimes disagreed with him (Steve never got the vote theft issue right or figured out that this was kind of a black issue...not a problem with, say, the Black Agenda Report, which arguably has the best black writers on the net. They never say stupid things.) he knew stuff. Oliver Willis is the other who guy who usually fills the token spot on most liberal white blogs. I have come to the conclusion that Oliver Willis just isn't a very talented guy. Certainly not a guy who represents black intellectual thought at its best and brightest. Today, for example, he recently called Howard Zinn an "idiot".

Go ahead and gasp.

Even if its true that Howard Zinn--who actually served in ww2 when its clear that the only thing the Original O Dub has ever served is on the menu and its large portions--doesn't love America sufficiently enough for Oliver's tastes I don't understand someone who's African American putting this guy down. Here's just a partial rundown of Mr. Zinn's civil rights pedigree from Wikipedia:

Civil rights movement

In 1956, Zinn was appointed chairman of the department of history and social sciences at Spelman College, where he participated in the Civil Rights movement. Zinn served as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

While at Spelman, Zinn collaborated with historian Staughton Lynd and mentored young student activists, among them writer Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman. Although Zinn was a tenured professor, he was dismissed, in June 1963, after siding with students in their desire to challenge Spelman's traditional emphasis of turning out "young ladies" when, as Zinn described in an article in The Nation, Spelman students were likely to be found on the picket line, or in jail for participating in the greater effort to break down segregation in public places in Atlanta. Zinn's years at Spelman are recounted in his autobiography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. His seven years at Spelman College, Zinn said, "are probably the most interesting, exciting, most educational years for me. I learned more from my students than my students learned from me." [1]

Zinn said that while at Spelman, he observed thirty violations of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution in Albany, Georgia, including the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and equal protection of the laws. In an article on the civil rights movement in Albany, Zinn describes the people who participated in the Freedom Rides to end segregation, and of the reluctance of President John F. Kennedy to enforce the law.[2] Zinn has also pointed out that the Justice Department under Robert F. Kennedy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation headed by J. Edgar Hoover, did little to nothing to stop the segregationists from brutalizing the civil rights workers.[3]

Zinn wrote frequently about the struggle for civil rights, both as a participant and historian [4] and in 1960-61, he took a year off from teaching to write SNCC: The New Abolitionists and The Southern Mystique. [5] In his book on SNCC, Zinn describes how the sit-ins against segregation were initiated by students and, in that sense, independent of the older, more established civil rights organizations.

This is the guy that Oliver Willis calls an "idiot". Astonishing. Beyond contempt. So beside Oliver's name on my linkroll I've added a whole list of African American bloggers who are probably better and brighter than Oliver Willis and who know who their friends are. Oh, he adds: "I hate people like Howard Zinn". Unreal. Un fucking real.

Speaking of the vote theft issue, there are a number of voter reform bills moving through the congress right now. This is actually a really important debate that you would know about if the media concentrated on real issues and not bullshit car wreck and fire stories that you can do nothing about for the most part.

It's actually a fairly complicated issue. Voting activists that I respect are split on the Holt Bill in the house. Everybody agrees that the Feinstein bill is terrible and seems to have been written by voting machine lobbyists. I would think that if any of the senate bill makes it into the final package this bill shouldn't pass.

There has finally been a debate between the pros and cons of this issue and you can listen to it here. Unlike Paris Hilton going to jail this issue may determine who wins or gets away with stealing the 2008 election.

A Special "I Link Therefore I Am" Version of Around the Internets

Some art by Paul Pope. Pic of Ravi Shankar, father of Norah Jones.

Horrible supreme court decision commentary here and here. I agree that the high court has become a tool of evil. I will also remember that the dems didn't filibuster a single Bush II court nominee. Related "racism is dead" news here. Also related: Pitt study documenting that life in Pittsburgh not great for African Americans.

FTC Hostile to Net Neutrality

Digital indexing sites sued by movie industry. For the record, that's kind of of what my music channel actually is. Its also what google is. Related: How not to get busted for file sharing. Update from techdirt:

It's amazing how badly the entertainment industry wants people to believe that anything they don't like must be illegal. There's already a long history of them suing the easiest party for them to find rather than the party actually breaking the law, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise to see them doing so again. Apparently the MPAA has sued some sites that create a directory of online videos, mainly TV shows and movies. These sites do not host the files. They simply point people to where they are online. Effectively, it's the same thing that a search engine like Google does. There are plenty of Google searches that will lead you to unauthorized content, but for some reason, the entertainment industry believes that if you make a specialized search engine or directory you're somehow liable. These sites have come under attack before, and the MPAA may be hoping that by creating a specialized search engine they'll be able to show "inducement" under the Supreme Court's Grokster standard. It will definitely be worth watching how these court cases go, because if the MPAA succeeds, it effectively means that they'll have the right to sue anyone who links to infringing content by claiming inducement. That would be a horrible precedent to set.

Why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist.

And don't click this. It's very disturbing. I mean it.

Great piece about the most powerful union in the country: The American Medical Association.

NOVA has some of its shows online and you can watch them.

In important fanboy news:

Mark Millar says that he's seen the initial shots of Wanted and that they've done the first two issues pretty much word for word, which means that it should be sensational. This is one comics property that I always thought would make a really good movie. Wikipedia info on the film here.

Late Night Weekend Around the Internets

One of my fave online comics has concluded. The inks are very Steranko.

\

Agent Ska's brother is blogging. Are there any underachievers in this family? Related: She's also involved in this group ladies (with a title font right out of Jane Austen)  blog that I had better permalink and soon...

I decided  to check out my fave impartial corporate media blogger (because when I read something from corporate media bloggers I just KNOW I'll learn something dangerous and whatnot..) Elwin Green, who apparently is quite the impartial one. Don't ask who he backed in the civil war. He won't know or can't tell or something. Anyway, he wrote about how ACORN (not my favorite organization but they do some good)  wrote about who how they were going to meet Obama and then he mentioned this:

"No word yet on whether the organization will offer a similar trip to see and hear Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani or any of the other Republican presidential candidates."

So I wrote him this:

Well, first, I think the reason why ACORN, run by mostly unaccountable white folks by the way last time I checked, is that the Republican Party is thought to be, quite correctly, kind of a racist party. Why did white supremacist David Duke choose the GOP? Because that's where he felt comfortable and I agree with him. I know that there's a tactical reason not to lay your eggs in one party but why help the other people that's clearly a racist party and against any significant widestream effort that would actually improve the lot of the black underclass for example: direct federal funding of education as opposed to property taxes or amending these top down trade deals to protect the bulk of african american blue collar workers or investing more in education than prisons or not waging imperialistic war against mostly brown skinned people and the list goes on. What benefit would there be to hearing Fred Thompson speak? I mean, even white americans are soured on the GOP...why should African Americans embrace them? Wouldn't building the Green Party into a viable second party make more sense. Your opinion please.

So far no response from Elwin. Hey, he said he wanted feedback...I also forgot to mention the republicans are really really bad because they've stolen the last two presidential elections by purging mostly african americans from the polls.  I know Elwin is impartial but sometimes a grudge is a healthy thing...

June 19

I actually caught the last day of the Three Rivers arts fest thing and I caught two interesting artists. The above work was drawn by Monique Luck, who also has a mural in Squirrel Hill. I like all the murals I've seen in the city so far. And below there are two pieces by Mark Traughber. There were more  other interesting artists at the fair--the couple who built modded broomsticks and the black wood carver come to mind--but they didn't have websites so...

Down below I linked to a site called The Real News. This is an attempt to create a completely publicly funded press. They don't want government subsidies or corporate money. They need your donations. I guess it would be like NPR except that the republicans wouldn't work relentlessly to either destroy it or convert it to fox news. The founder talks more about the project below.

Quick links I need to read more carefully:

New Google Public Policy Blog
33 Ways to Watch TV Online
10 web operating systems reviewed
Locus Magazine Reviews Ken MacLeod's New Novel (it sounds cool because it features a channel similar to the one at the top of the page that features executions as opposed to songs.) Cory Doctorow also gave it a rave review.
Interesting Site Called Fleen that Reviews Online Comics

June 14

More Darwyn Cooke. He's good.

So you want to be a black republican eh? (from Oliver Willis)

 


So you want to be a black republican?
Uploaded by fagenbecker

 

I finally have time to respond to this, which was a part of a City Paper story here. (I do think Chris Potter has done a better job as editor than my old In Pittsburgh editor Andy Newman...on the other hand, Chris has never gotten back to me about doing a weekly book column, which I could even do online. Oh, I'm sure he'll find a cute white kid who hasn't written for Locus to do it, preferably from an Ivy League college or local...Just like my mom implied: only rich white kids should aspire to write. True, that would eliminate about 99.9 percent of the majority of black writers who've written over the last 100 years but my mom isn't a big reader...I think I'm going to ignore her advice...yeah I'm a little pissed off at my mom not that she would read this. She has a hard time even turning on the computer in between bouts of telling me how to live because she's so "bright"...)

Here are the interesting quotes from the new council rep from Homewood:

"The issues of some people, like those in the blogs, are not my issues," Burgess says. "What's holding our district back is the education for our kids, the violence and lack of economic development in our communities." Such issues, he notes, get very little attention from bloggers, who are much more likely to be set abuzz by the news that Ravenstahl was detained by police at a Steelers game in 2005.

Burgess admires the blogs for being an "unfiltered perception of some segment of the community." But, he adds, "The authors of the blogs are talking about the perspective they live" -- and "mostly, they aren't living in Homewood."

First, and this is just flat out wrong on so many levels, there are a number of local blogs that do concern themselves primarily  with education and economic development, almost nauseatingly so. I suppose Pittsblog and Mark Rauterkaus would be the first stops. Of course, I'm curious as to what he's going to do about the issues of education and economic development as a councilman. I always thought that those were macro issues that involved direct federal funding for education as opposed to property tax based (where the residents of Fox Chapel and the residents of Homewood (or what American Writer Greg Palast bluntly and correctly calls "American Bantustans" ) get a slightly different kind of "public" education.) and massive deindustrialization where corporations and their political servants are rewarded for hollowing out the American economy...not to mention continuing an imperialist war at odds with the public in and in concert with what C. Wright Mills called "The Power Elite".

Two, the reason that Luke got a lot of attention early is not because whitey is preoccupied with minor things about how the mayor beats raps that would lead other people into beatings or arrests (I would think that would interest an African American man, really.) but because he's perceived to be a lightweight machine dem--who would be a republican in a two party town-- who doesn't have the heft, breadth, or depth to do anything to fundamentally change the many things that are wrong in the city. Furthermore, they were also shadow operatives for the now deceased Peduto campaign and they probably thought it was helpful to his campaign.

Three, there's nothing stopping someone from writing about Homewood who lives in Homewood, aside from that Post Gazette guy who registered as a Republican because, you know, as a black man he's completely unbiased. (File under: what's wrong with the corporate media and the objectivity principle.) Actually, if you really are unbiased, does that make you smart? Some black guy who won't tell me who he wants to win the Civil War because he's "objective"? Who's more helpful to me you or David Sirota, or even the late Steve Gilliard? (More thoughts on him when I have time..tragic loss.)

I suppose, if Burgess understood the Internets, he could write that blog and tell me more about what he's doing to improve the local economy and education in Homewood. Hey, I'd like to know.

Speaking of C. Wright Mills, here's a helpful quote that perhaps explains why the Dems haven't stopped the war.

"American 'militarism,' accordingly, involves the attempt of military men to increase their powers, and hence their status, in comparison with businessmen and politicians. To gain such powers they must not be considered a mere means to be used by politicians and money-makers. They must not be considered parasites on the economy and under the supervision of those who are often called in military circles 'the dirty politicians.' On the contrary their ends must be identified with the ends as well as the honor of the nation; the economy must be their servant; politics an instrument by which, in the name of the state, the family, and God, they manage the nation in modern war.' What does it mean to go to war?' Woodrow Wilson was asked in 1917. 'It means,' he replied, 'an attempt to reconstruct a peacetime civilization with war standards, and at the end of the war there will be no bystanders with sufficient peace standards left to work with. There will be only war standards ... ' American militarism, in fully developed form, would mean the triumph in all areas of life of the military metaphysic, and hence the subordination to it of all other ways of life."

Speaking of the Pittsburgh Lesbian correspondents, I noticed they thought that there should have been more comment about the house fire that claimed five lives. I don't think it means that we're not paying attention. Some of us just don't think that's real news. If you're interested in real news, then go look at the topic matter of, say, a Democracy Now or Undernews. Real news, to me, is something that you can change and affect. I'm more interested in policy questions because, in theory anyway and not necessarily in practice as of late, I can replace the policymakers whereas I really can't do anything about tragic fires or carwrecks. That's my two cents. I also remember my two years of being a beat reporter at the Evansville Courier where I had the wonderful joy of asking somebody how they felt about their newly dead relatives. Not the fun part of that job...

I agree with this Agent Ska piece on POG. Peduto must know that what he's saying wouldn't hold up in a court of law. It had a kind of "If not for you meddling kids" kind of tone so perhaps he thinks these attacks against Shadyside shops and green grocers (Is that a legitimate target...I know the East End Co-op is a little pricey but still...) were inspired by POG's actions. I guess I have a different point of view. I think that when your country slaughters a half million Iraqis and the political process isn't working some things should be broken. I wouldn't have picked community grocers as my target but who said anarchists were organized, or even could be.

June 12

Darwyn Cooke, the artist above, apparently won an award or two or something. I think he deserves it. I have not read this new Spirit. Since the art looks spectacular and Frank Miller is putting off Sin City 2 in order to do a movie version of this property perhaps I should check it out.

More art by that creepy Japanese artist, who Tom Moody should hurry up and marry.

Why Richard Dawkins continues to be a mean ol atheist for vague and unspecified reasons that shouldn't be allowed in the "respectable" public sphere. I mean, she probably had it coming Allah be praised and so forth.

June 10

Late Weekend Around the Internets

Bada wha'?

Well, the fact that we didn't see the actual hit itself blurs things just a bit. One, its meant to symbolize how you would see a quick death. Actress Sean Young, who had a near death experience, described it as someone turning the television off. Two, its kept open ended because of movie potential. That nervous guy who goes into the bathroom isn't a hitter who finds a gun in the stall. Those black kids aren't hitters either. Three, life goes on for Tony as uncertain as it ever was and Paulie Walnuts is the head of the New Jersey gang? Please. I opt for two: "Sopranos: The Movie."

June 7

Brian Michael Bendis is offering the first Powers book for free online. Related: Live Action Youtube adaptation.

More pros and cons about the new election bill in congress. I'm still a cowardly fencesitter. First the cons:


From Rebecca:
 

"The 2007 Holt bill and its revised version is NOT a compromise bill, although it HAS been COMPROMISED in various regards. Specifically it re- funds the EAC (the earlier version actually extended the EAC as an institution, indefinitely, the later version provides a $1B handout to the vendors, to be doled out by the EAC since they are out of HAVA money to give away) with funds that will CERTAINLY be used by states, such Holt's home base of New Jersey, to purchase VVPAT add-ons to DREs, hence perpetuating the use of this unreliable and expensive equipment. The bill does NOT ban DREs, as some HR811 advocates have been misinformed to believe and expound. In the case of New Jersey, purchasing precinct-based opscan equipment is NOT an option, since the state has continued (to this date) to refuse to certify any such equipment. 
 
The Holt bill also will be the FIRST to FEDERALLY legislate and thus legitimize the restrictive use of non-disclosure agreements in the examination of election systems. Certainly Holt could have disallowed trade secrecy for voting systems and the vendors could continue to protect their intellectual property with copyrights and patents. Instead, this is a very bad aspect of the bill, because it introduces this sanction of secrecy in such fashion that election advocates run the risk of being silenced or threatened with lawsuits if they reveal information about the equipment. The NDA section of the Holt bill has been weasel-worded such that advocates will be required to foot hefty attorney fees in order to ensure that the NDAs that they sign do not contain implicit risks such as compensation for vendor loss of income, criminal charges if false claims are made, and so on. 
 
There are many other severely bad aspects of this bill, such that it does NOT pose an improvement for 2008 or 2010, but rather provides a further legacy of bad voting equipment and election-related policies, that will be exploited by the vendors into a 180 degree turn-around from the bill's (presumed and touted) intentions. We will be dealing with this additional resulting mess for another half-decade, much as we found ourselves dealing with the mess that HAVA created for the last half-decade. 
 
I am of the strong opinion that a bad federal bill is WORSE than no bill at all. At least with no federal bill, the states can continue to enact GOOD legislation (with the assistance of input from concerned citizens and election advocates). With a bad bill, threats (such as we saw with HAVA) and intimidation (such as from the DoJ) can be used to force unwanted election equipment down on the municipalities. HR811 is a bad bill and should not be supported AT ALL BY ANYONE, least of all, election integrity advocates. 
 
............ .... and further, the companion bill is unlikely not to have sufficient bipartisan support to pass muster in the Senate, and certainly both the House and Senate do not have sufficient votes to override a Bush veto. ............ ......... the "shushing" tactics used by so-called election integrity advocates to quelch debate and discussion on Holt's bill this round have been rather appalling. It seems apparent (at least to me) that supporting (or remaining quiet about) HR811 is actually a "litmus test" to see who will continue to get a seat at the table at hearings, and who will benefit from the grant money being doled out by the feds. 
 
So far, we can see that the legacy of this crop of House Dems will include hundreds of billions of war debt, plus the death of tens of thousands (including many of our own service people) in the Iraqi civil war, all in the spirit of "compromise. " Let us not be fooled by the gutless Dems that Holt's voting bill will not be similarly "compromised" to promote the vendors' agendas. 
 
Rebecca Mercuri. 

And the pros:

Folks,

In an effort to be gentle and polite, here's my overview opinion on
HR 811.

I wholeheartedly support it, and will continue to do so. And I
encourage you all to do the same.

The bill has been in markup lately and only a choice few have seen it
along the way. I do not know who all has seen it, but I believe that
Barry Kauffman (Common Cause) is one of them and still likes it as it
is. His opinion trumps some of you folks' opinions by me.

What I read in some of your emails [on this and other lists] is
anger. Unthrottled, unbridled anger. What on earth are you all so
angry about? Some of what you say is somewhat inaccurate, but we
will pass on that for the moment. But mostly what I see is a railing
at the heavens because it's not raining in the right spot.

In the House now they have a huge contingent of sponsors and
cosponsors to HR 811. It has taken well over a year to garner that
support. It is based on a tentative balance, as is every negotiated
bill, and yet it still retains bipartisan support.

Right now, large corporate forces are opposing the bill, because it
would affect what they see as their "proprietary" rights (it would
let others see what poopy computer code they've been selling or would
allow the theft of Windows code which is also used in their systems)
and some of those corporate interests also now have the ears of
elections officials, whom they have been wining and dining and whose
elections they have often quite effectively infiltrated with their
employees' hands. They have gotten such elections officials to write
letters to legislators (who have waved hunks of paper around to show
same) advocating against the legislation.

We are not bloody likely to get anywhere near this kind of
Congressional support for any other bill of this sort ever again. It
is all we can do to keep Voter ID out of the blasted thing before it
is passed. There is absolutely no reason to throw the bill away.

And further to that, I'll stand AccuPoll's machine up to some of your
opinions any day. Even our cohorts at CMU and Pitt computer dep'ts
can appreciate its merits. Also appreciate the integrity of the
company. I get furious when folks come up and say that no DRE -
or "no electronic voting machine" - is good enough. The machines are
meant for (a) expediency of tabulation of votes, and (b) facility
of user interface with the ballot, and (c) accurate calculations.
This is really what all computers were/are designed for. We don't
want them to do any more. And this is what should be reflected in
the federal law. If they are doing this stuff and are not retaining
recountability, accessibility, security, safety, or voter-
verifiability, then they are not good enough tools toward our ends.


Certain of your plans of action really are no plan at all. Certain
items such as emergency paper ballots in case of breakdown really do
not belong in federal legislation. They are covered in county and
state legislation. I don't really think it is a good idea to cast
off all our various state legislation in favor of uniform federal
legislation (although Pennsylvania' s election laws are so convoluted
and self-contradictory and antiquated in many places that I have to
bite my lip when I say that).


Let me reiterate what I keep on saying in various arenas. The Help
America Vote Act was written by Bob Ney for his voting machine
comapny owning friends to make a pile of money and possibly to rig
votes in certain places. It was passed by a Republican Congress,
another bunch of his friends. (I hope he has so many friends in
jail.) You know what Bob Fitrakis wrote about the computers in Ohio
vis-a-vis the lost federal emails and the voting tabulations running
through the same server.

The companies spent virtually nothing on R&D but everything on
schmoozing. Now we have all, like sheep, bought their machines, even
against all common sense. So we need to fix this, and that fix
should rightly come from a federal level. We really cannot outlaw
bad companies or bad business decisions by counties and states. But
we can legislate against their effects. What do the bad machines
do? What wrongs might they cause? How do we prevent those?

Right now, too many folks are dividing those of us who have been
working toward getting the best out of what we have been given -
finding the best machines, using the happy notion of accessibility to
its best intent, etc. We have to let common sense prevail, and we
have to work with what we have. We cannot go off railing and wailing
and flailing, and those who do should please disassociate themselves
from those of us who remain calm.

I'm still sticking behind 811 because it is our best shot. We have a
cannon aimed at the groin of the problem, and even if we don't have a
killer charge in the cannonball, we need to fire, because the only
thing we have left is shotguns at 500 feet.

- Audrey

Why, for reasons that simply can't be fathomed by decent gawd fearin' folk, Richard Dawkins is still a mean ol' atheist.

You know, for a long time, I've wanted to cut Maria of 2 Political Junkies off in traffic and then stick my head out of my car window and say something like "Yeah, I nearly killed ya! And yeah, you can write down my license plate cuz' whaddya gonna do...write about it on your blog and call me a stupid frakin bitch...? Hardee har har I dares ya" or something. I have now reconsidered and withdrawn my dream.

June 5

John Perkins is interviewed in Tuesday's Democracy Now.

JOHN PERKINS: Thank you, Amy. It’s great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, before we go further, “economic hit men” -- for those who haven’t heard you describe this, let alone describe yourself as this, what do you mean?

JOHN PERKINS: Well, really, I think it’s fair to say that since World War II, we economic hit men have managed to create the world's first truly global empire, and we've done it primarily without the military, unlike other empires in history. We've done it through economics very subtly.

We work many different ways, but perhaps the most common one is that we will identify a third world country that has resources our corporations covet, such as oil, and then we arrange a huge loan to that country from the World Bank or one of its sister organizations. The money never actually goes to the country. It goes instead to US corporations, who build big infrastructure projects -- power grids, industrial parks, harbors, highways -- things that benefit a few very rich people but do not reach the poor at all. The poor aren’t connected to the power grids. They don’t have the skills to get jobs in industrial parks. But they and the whole country are left holding this huge debt, and it’s such a big bet that the country can't possibly repay it. So at some point in time, we economic hit men go back to the country and say, “Look, you know, you owe us a lot of money. You can't pay your debt, so you’ve got to give us a pound of flesh.”

AMY GOODMAN: And explain your history. What made you an economic hit man?

JOHN PERKINS: Well, when I graduated from business school at Boston University, I was recruited by the National Security Agency, the nation’s largest and perhaps most secretive spy organization.

AMY GOODMAN: People sometimes think the CIA is that, but the NSA, many times larger.

JOHN PERKINS: Yeah, it is larger. It’s much larger. At least it was in those days. And it’s very, very secretive. We all -- there’s a lot of rumors. We know quite a lot about the CIA, I think, but we know very, very little about the NSA. It claims to only work in a cryptography, you know, encoding and decoding messages, but in fact we all know that they’re the people who have been listening in on our telephone conversations. That’s come out recently. And they’re a very, very secretive organization.

Rest of the transcript here. He can also be seen talking at the bestest music channel that I've ever created here and above.

Yes, this deserves some comment when I have some more time. And, oh yeah, I live in Wilkinsburg and I'm concerned about education and jobs too.

Can't blog just now...I'm watching The Shield. Update: Welp that was exciting. Keeps everything active until next year's final season. I thought Shane redeemed himself a little by saving Vic's family. I really want a Shield/Sopranos crossover.

June 2

Quick Sopranos review: Bobby buys it. I can never understand why people in such a dangerous line of work don't wear body armor, like, all the time. You can even get tshirts that are bullet resistant. You can't always carry guns but you can carry air tasers (no permit needed I think) portable shields, something. Decent episode. So far, New York: 1and a half. New Jersey: Nuthin'. I hate that Phil Leotardo.

More about the Pinky Show.

The Pinky Show! or Left Wing Propaganda for Lil Tots...

 

The Pinky Show : concept & purpose

Q: What is The Pinky Show?
A: The Pinky Show is the original super lo-tech hand-drawn educational TV show. The Pinky Show focuses on information and ideas that have, for various reasons, been misrepresented, distorted, suppressed, ignored, or otherwise excluded from mainstream discussion. The creator and main character of the show, a cat named Pinky, presents and analyzes the material in an informal, easy-to-understand way, with helpful illustrations that she draws herself. Episodes are short and are available on the internet for free at www.PinkyShow.org.

Pinky's Take on International Banking:



Pinky's Take on Globalization:



 

Labels: , ,

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:55 AM Comments

I'm still confused over whether to support this new voting reform bill in congress. First, here are the people who hate it, which include people like Mark Crispin Miller and Bradblog. These are sources I respect. Here's what they want you to send to your congress people.

Ask Congress to SLOW DOWN on HR 811

Call Congress for Open, Public Debate on HR 811
No secret vote counting, full public accountability

May 31, 2007

Dear Representative _____________:

We are contacting you because we do not want HR 811 to be fast-tracked.
Our voting system is too important an issue not to allow time for public debate.
We are alarmed that this bill leaves far too many unacceptable vulnerabilities in our election process.

We urge you NOT to support HR 811.

We must do better than HR 811.

This bill federalizes secret vote counting
and invites -- rather than prevents --
systemic corruption of our elections.

We do not consent.

IN LIEU OF HR 811, WE PROPOSE:

1. Paper ballots, not paper trails

2. Federal BUYOUT of all touchscreen voting equipment

3. No secret vote counting, no secret records, no secret contracts,
and no trade secrecy in our public elections

4. No control of voting technologies by four White House appointees

5. No unfunded mandates

Please consider a workable, alternative proposal for essential election reform

outlined in brief presentation here:

http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/five_point_proposal

 

I sent a copy of that to the yahoo newsgroup that I'm a part of. Here is the main response counter to it that was posted.

Dear Philip (and everyone),

Among the organized groups participating in VotePA and this list, the 
vast majority have indicated that they support HR 811 as the best 
vehicle available to get voter-verified paper with audits and other 
needed changes in time to meaningfully help protect the 2008 election 
in Pennsylvania and in our entire nation.

HR 811 currently has 216 bi-partisan cosponsors in the US House.

A large coalition of national groups including VoteTrustUSA, 
VerifiedVoting, Common Cause, MoveOn, PFAW, and others also strongly 
support the bill. There are many other national, state, and local 
organizations, political groups, and governmental groups that support 
the bill as well.

Detractors include vendors (who stand to make larger profits if the 
bill fails), election official (who are resisting the work it will take 
to change our voting system to provide voter-verified paper and the 
audits), and part of the so-called activist community such as you have 
mentioned in your post who generally seem to claim the bill either does 
not go far enough or  in some cases that it is not a "perfect" bill.

Unfortunately, the vendors' and election officials' goal is to maintain 
the status quo. Not surprisingly, the vendors and election officials 
have employed high-priced professional lobbyists to fight the bill and 
maintain that. On the activist side, the detractors have been very 
vociferous but have in general not stated any concrete alternatives to 
the bill that might realistically get in place in time to protect the 
2008 election.

I will be posting a more detailed analysis and information as to what 
is happening with the bill soon.

Marybeth

I still can't make a call here. I'm leaning slightly toward the detractors because here's the rules: if there's any room for the GOP to cheat then they'll do it. And after watching the dems in action, or rather inaction, on both the war and impeachment  I'm fairly certain that they won't prosecute republicans if they break the law, let alone operate within the law legally to disenfranchise voters. Those rules don't seem to apply to the democrats. I guess I'll have to read more on this issue...

Catcam! Could also be used as a spycam or house cam...

 

May 31

Classic Jim Starlin.

You can do this on the net somewheres but I forgot where...

Here's reason 49 as to why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist.

May 29

Back From Memorial Day Vacation  Around the Internets

Let's start light.

If you didn't know this Joss Whedon is continuing Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a comic. I liked the show and thought it got better the longer it went on. It wasn't entirely original, but he stole from many of the science fiction sources that I respect. The first three issues are out. Joss is writing one cycle of the "new" season eight and then turning it over to other writers. I think he writes the final cycle of the series as well. There's an interview with him here.

I like the first three issues. The art could be better. It definitely feels like the show. Most of your fave characters are back. Still no sign of Angel or Spike except in a dream sequence. Remember the bad witch who was turned into a gerbil for awhile? She's back. Remember that guy that Meadow Willow skinned alive? He's not entirely dead. Nuff said. Definitely worth picking up.

I should have published this on Memorial Day. Its Mark Twain's war poem. More info about this here. It wasn't to be published until after his death, which apparently wasn't exaggerated.

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

I guess I don't have anything respectful to say about Memorial Day,(see above post), at least not when it comes to recent wars. You'd have to be an idiot to enlist now. I can understand why gangs are sending their members into the militia to learn skills. I imagine that its always  helpful to learn as many ways to kill someone as you can when you're engaging in criminal activity (Can't wait to see those IEDs on American streets. Should make my bus commute more interesting.) but what's everyone else's excuse? If you fight in Iraq then you're fighting to terrorize and murder sand niggers and protect oil company profits. It has nothing to do with democracy. Period. The war should have ended long ago because they shouldn't have found enough people to enlist in the ranks.

Speaking of the true motives behind the Iraq War, its to keep the agreement in place that gives the Iraqi oil reserves to multinationals. If you want this in cartoon form, then Jim Hightower can explain it. If you like your truth in essay form:

This war will wind down when the oil distribution law, or whatever they call it, is signed. It was all about the oil, from day one (really from before day one). Once it is passed by the Iraqi Government that we set up for just this very reason, we will start winding down and leave just enough troops in Iraq to make sure that they don't renege on the law, and to keep Iran in line. If this turns out to be the case, than Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and everyone else in government and the oil companies should be put on trial for murdering almost a million human beings for profit. Big Oil has gotten its hands on all that light crude and can pump for another twenty years.

Bush will claim that we have done all we can do to bring democracy to Iraq. He will claim that he doesn't want to waste more "innocent" lives for people unwilling to stand up for themselves and turn to the Iraq Study Group's recommendations (that was put together by James Baker III, THE NO1 Oil Man), and take our troops out of the hard fighting in the cities and they will stay on the big military installations with the premise that we are there to make sure that Al Qaeda will not use Iraq for a training ground.

Why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist.

 

May 24

From Tom Moody, who got it from an unknown artist.

I just think there's a real need for a viable third party right now. We certainly needed it locally. (Did the Greens run a candidate for mayor?) And I think we need it nationally. Here's the trick: It probably can't be done by the usual suspects with your crazy ACORN/PIRG types and your wish fulfillment candidacies. You don't have to win every seat. You need to vie for 25 House seats and 5 Senate seats nationally. You need to work with the dems and focus on republicans and whatever dems voted for continued funding. There needs to be a third option, certainly for progressives but really for everybody.

You need 1 million dollars to run a viable house campaign at the federal level and you need 2 million dollars to run a viable race at the senate level. Period. Otherwise you're being silly. That's about 35 million. That's a lot of money, but not an impossible amount of money to raise. What to call it? "The New Party" is taken but they haven't done anything "new" in years. We've seen where the Green's all volunteer efforts have taken us: nowhere fast. (New Rule: Build a new party around the canvass. Pay your workers and occasionally ask them to pay themselves. Use Progressive Discipline in firing and not the crazy cultlike ACORN/PIRG rules.) How about "The Enlightenment Party"? Turn that new science lobby into something bigger...

More on this later. I'm going to codify these rules when I have some more time.

Jim Hightower on Walmart. Well done.

David Sirota has the best wrap up of the carnage.

It is a dark day in our nation’s history. That sounds melodramatic - but it is true. Today America watched a Democratic Party kick them square in the teeth - all in order to continue the most unpopular war in a generation at the request of the most unpopular president in a generation at a time polls show a larger percentage of the public thinks America is going in the wrong direction than ever recorded in polling history.

The numbers are not pretty. First, 216 House Democrats cast the key vote to send a blank check Iraq War funding bill over to the Senate. As I reported at the beginning of the day and as the Associated Press now confirms, the vote on the rule was the vote that made it happen. As the AP said: “In a highly unusual maneuver, House Democratic leaders crafted a procedure that allowed their rank and file to oppose money for the war, then step aside so Republicans could advance it.” Nauseating.

In the Senate, we saw lots of promises and tough talk from senators telling us they were going to do everything they could to stop the blank check. Some of them bragged that they were going to vote against the bill - as if that was the ultimate sign of heroics. Then, not a single senator found the backbone to stand up to filibuster the bill a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Apparently, Senate club etiquette comes even before the lives of our troops. The blank check sailed through the upper chamber on a vote of 80-14 with 38 Democrats (the majority of the party) voting yes. In all, at a time when 82 percent of Americans tell pollsters they want Congress to either approve funds for the war with strict conditions or cut off all funding immediately, 90 percent of House and Senate Democrats combined voted to give George W. Bush a blank check.

The worst part of it all was the overt efforts to deceive the public - as if we’re all just a bunch of morons. House Democrats have the nerve to continue to insist the blank check they helped ram through the House was all the Republicans doing, and that a sham vote on a GOP amendment today - which most Democrats opposed for show - was the real vote for the war. But, again, as the AP reported, it was their parliamentary motion - passed so quickly and under the devious pretenses of mundane procedural necessity - that showed their calculated complicity. Now, tonight, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actually sending out fundraising emails, claiming: the House just passed legislation that will go to the White House that includes critical issues Democrats have been fighting for including canceling the President’s blank check in Iraq.” Beyond nauseating.

I’m not a purist nor am I a “pox on both their houses” kind of guy. I have worked to elect Democratic politicians and I supported Democratic leaders when they pushed an Iraq funding bill that included binding language to end the war. But what happened today was perhaps the most stunning travesty I’ve seen in a decade working in Democratic politics. A Democratic Party that six months ago was elected on a promise to end the war first tried to hide their complicity in continuing the war in the House, and then gave a few token speeches as the blank check sailed through the Senate club. And it all happened, as the New York Times reported today, because these Democrats believed criticism from President Bush - the man who polls show is the most unpopular president in three decades - “seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left.”

Of course, according to Real Journalist Greg Palast, the republicans are already trying to purge 8 million voters for the 2008 election. Palast has to have a hacker under his hire. How does he do it.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast says 4.5 million votes will be shoplifted in 2008, thanks largely to the “Rove-bots” that have been placed in the Justice Department following the U.S. Attorney firings. Being the guy who uncovered the voter “purge lists” of 2000 that disenfranchised black voters, he’s worth listening to, even if the mainstream press chooses not to.

This time around, he claims to have the 500 emails that the House subpoenaed and Karl Rove claims were deleted forever. They prove definitively, says Palast, that the Justice Department is infested with operatives taking orders from Rove to steal upcoming elections for Republicans and permanently alter the Department.

The “clownocracy” of Bush and Rove is criminal and even evil in its attempts to steal past and future elections, according to Palast, and can only be stopped if “Democrats…find their souls and find their balls.”

In an updated new version of his best-selling book, Armed Madhouse, Palast lays out the case for the future theft of the presidency, along with lots of other Executive malfeasance. I chatted with him about the role of the Justice Department in this scheme, and what it means for the viability of our “democracy.

Read the whole thing. No matter how depressing.

May 22

From Paul Pope, a great comix and science fiction artist who has a blog.

Stunning video profile of Hugo Chavez by Real Journalist Greg Palast. There are three parts (part one here and part three here) to the interview at the Youtubes. Part two is what I'm showing here. Contrast this with the Hightower vid of what we're doing in Iraq and what we would probably like Venezuela to be. The United States, especially under this particularly vile Republican crew, has become a force for evil in this world. There really isn't any other way to put it.

Yep. Those Republicans are completely evil. So the Democrats wouldn't give President Bush a blank check on the war, right? Wrong. It looks like they're folding big time. Way to fight fellas. The reviews, from people who have, quite frankly, been apologists for the dems so far, have not been kind.

Let's try Buzzflash first:

Democrats Yield to the Inmate in Charge of the Nuthouse and Condemn Our Troops to More Deaths: "Withdrawal timetable dropped from war spending bill."

From Oliver "Let's Not Pick on Joe Leiberman" Willis:

The Democratic Capitulation Act of 2007

charlie brown and lucy playing football

They never learn. They just never f*cking learn. They get the majority and they still act like they're in the minority. It's ironic that right before Memorial Day they vote to give this president a blank check to send more good men to Arlington Cemetery.

STOP THIS WAR.

The only reason the Democrats aren't going to suffer electorally for this is because next year is a presidential year, and a Democratic president must end the war or suffer punishment like impeachment.

But I don't get the Democrats. I just don't get them. They've added almost a whole Friedman (until September) and what do they think is gonna happen then? The right will claim the surge is working even though it isn't, they'll request six more string-free months, and more Americans die for no damn reason.

Makes me sick.

From a poster at the Booman Tribune:

Actions speak louder than words.

And yet without the Democrats, we would have not invaded Iraq.  Without their votes they would not have the supplemental funding for the last 4 years.  Without their compliance and complicity there would not be the structure in place now for Bush to declare himself Maximum Leader for life.

Why.  Why is ANYONE here surprised that the Dems caved?  What actual hope did any of you have?  Actions are louder than words, and the actions of the Democratic Party in the last five years are "We made a good show of this but we're going along because dammit, we want the power Bush is accumulating.  We like his soft fascism.  We want to use it against our own people because they don't know best...we do."

And they will keep taking us for granted, because our other choice is letting the GOP keep control.

I'll comment more on this later.

May 20

Late Sunday Night Around the Internets

Also crossposted at my high brow dirty page: the Red Light District. Hey it was well drawn and while prurient acceptable to general audiences.

It looks like Tuesday's elections had some good results. It would have been nice to see some competition at the higher level races, but it looks like we lose two less than great councilmen and get some people who might actually do some good. Election reactions from the usual suspects here and here.

Meanwhile, over at the Booman Tribune, they've discovered that Chairman Kos and his henchmen (and henchladies) ban people who speak critically of Israel. That's why I got banned so I should know. Here's one of the writers at Booman:

Daily Kos Bans Two Palestinian Peace Activists

by shergald
Tue May 15th, 2007 at 05:22:03 PM EST

If Daily Kos' banning of Steve Amsel and Eileen Fleming, two peace activists who support the rights of the Palestinian people, a few days ago, and three other peace activists that preceded them, were not enough, today Daily Kos banned two Palestinian peace activists. This action was taken in an apparent attempt to appease a small group of right wing proIsrael supporters who have invaded Daily Kos. If anyone believes that of course they should probably take ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge. The true source of all of these banning is not yet evident, but no one is ready to believe that Daily Kos is getting ready to be sold to an AIPAC subsidiary.

As for Daily Kos' investment in progressive and liberal issues like civil and human rights, the word is that Kos the owner doesn't care one way or another about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though it is a core issue in American foreign policy. That's an interesting prospective when a Left Wing Democrat does not care about human rights issues. Because many people believe that the Left Wing of the Democratic party is taking its lead from the netroots, places like Daily Kos, which is the largest political blog on the internet, not giving a damned one way or another about human rights issues is not exactly what a typical liberal or progressive Democrat would expect from a blog that purports to be liberal or progressive. Leadership in civil and human rights is certainly not what any liberal or progressive Democrat will find at Daily Kos.

Here are the obituaries for the most recent voices snuffed out by Daily Kos, both of whose writings cried out for justice for the Palestinian people, especially because they are both Palestinian.

Read the whole thing here. As I've said before, at the bottom of this page: "Bottom Line: Despite all the mean things I've said I read Kos daily. You kind of have to. But I don't think he can be a leader for all democrats and certainly not for progressives."

Related, at Muzzle Watch (reminds me of what Hesh of the Sopranos said of the Christian Right's love of Israel: "Just wait."):

With Friends Like these: Christian Zionists stifle US Jews and inhibit peace efforts.

Posted by Rob Lipton under Faith-based , American Jewish Committee , Anti-semitism
[6] Comments 

The recent death of Jerry Falwell can serve as an opportunity to reflect on the growing Christian Zionist (CZ) movement and how such a movement is related to other establishment pro-Israel groups such as The David Project, ADL and AIPAC. To be clear, there is a Faustian bargain being forged, for short term political and financial gain, Israel and the American Jewish establishment are willing to engage with people such as John Hagee of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) “who is contemptuous of Muslims, dismissive of gays, possesses a triumphalist theology and opposes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

This bargain also entails muzzling - American Jewish leaders who have been critical of CUFI sponsored local “Nights to Honor Israel” say they have been pressured into silence.

“The pressure has been enormous,” said a prominent Jewish leader who said he was contacted by local community officials after he raised questions about a local Christians United For Israel (CUFI) event. “I can’t even talk about it now; I feel a real sense of intimidation because people in our own community are saying I’m opposing something that’s good for Israel, that I’m hurting Israel.”

In terms of Falwell specifically, although their relationship has not been seamless, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has called Falwell a “towering figure of the religious right” and a “dear friend of Israel

The fly in the ointment, beyond the occasional “oopsy” anti-Semitic utterances, eg, “the antichrist is probably a Jewish man alive today,” (condemned by Foxman of the ADL), is that the relationship between the Christian Zionists (like Falwell, Pat Robertson and Hagee) and Jews is roughly that of Germany to the Soviet Union before Germany invaded its ally. Christian Zionists believe that as one large piece of the Apocalypse endgame, a unified Jewish state must exist over all of what is now Israel and Palestine and that a new temple must be built on temple mount. The important take home point is that within the framework of Christian Zionist belief is the notion that at the time of Christ’s second coming, Jews will be offered a choice to convert to Christianity or immediately be condemned to hell or some reasonable facsimile.

Speaking of the Sopranos, good episode tonight. I do see an out for Tony. Kill Phil first and that leaves the movie producer as the head of New York, a guy that Tony can work with. He also quiets down the need for a New York retaliation. I can't believe somebody went after Meadow. Tony was in the right. He was there for both of kids tonight. I guess that's what makes the series so interesting. He's not always evil.

May 15

I'm just awaiting the election results like everyone else.

Meanwhile, I've been reading this Business Week piece about how the poor are being fleeced by a number of predatory companies.

And I've been watching this explanation by Jim Hightower as to why we're in Iraq. You'll all be shocked to learn that it has nothing to do with democracy, but its direct opposite.

May 12

Local stuff about the fine opponents of Kraus and Dowd. I really hate their opponents now.

Funny toon by Stephanie McMillan.

Mean Ol Richard Dawkins talks about why he isn't like a fundamentalist. (I don't think he says this but atheists don't have real political power. I think that's the real difference. I suppose if we were footsoldiers in the republican party...)

You’re preaching to the choir. What’s the point?

The nonbelieving choir is much bigger than people think, and it desperately needs encouragement to come out. Judging by the thanks that showered my North American book tour, my articulation of hitherto closeted thoughts is heard as a kind of liberation. The atheist choir, moreover, is too ready to observe society’s convention of according special respect to faith, and it goes along with society’s lamentable habit of labelling small children with the religion of their parents. You’d never speak of a “Marxist child” or a “monetarist child”. So why give religion a free pass to indoctrinate helpless children? There is no such thing as a Christian child: only a child of Christian parents.

You’re as much a fundamentalist as those you criticize.

No, please, do not mistake passion, which can change its mind, for fundamentalism, which never will. Passion for passion, an evangelical Christian and I may be evenly matched. But we are not equally fundamentalist. The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe”, in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.

I’m an atheist, but people need religion.

“What are you going to put in its place? How are you going to fill the need, or comfort the bereaved?”

What patronising condescension! “You and I are too intelligent and well educated to need religion. But ordinary people, hoi polloi, Orwellian proles, Huxleian Deltas and Epsilons need religion.” In any case, the universe doesn’t owe us comfort, and the fact that a belief is comforting doesn’t make it true. The God Delusion doesn’t set out to be comforting, but at least it is not a placebo. I am pleased that the opening lines of my own Unweaving the Rainbow have been used to give solace at funerals.

When asked whether she believed in God, Golda Meir said: “I believe in the Jewish people, and the Jewish people believe in God.” I recently heard a prize specimen of I’m-an-atheist-buttery quote this and then substitute his own version: “I believe in people, and people believe in God.” I too believe in people. I believe that, given proper encouragement to think, and given the best information available, people will courageously cast aside celestial comfort blankets and lead intellectually fulfilled, emotionally liberated lives.

Mike Moore responds to the threats of the justice department. Some graphs here:

First, the Bush Administration has been aware of this matter for months (since October 2006) and never took any action until less than two weeks before SiCKO is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and a little more than a month before it is scheduled to open in the United States.

Second, the health care and insurance industry, which is exposed in the movie and has expressed concerns about the impact of the movie on their industries, is a major corporate underwriter of President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, having contributed over $13 million to the Bush presidential campaign in 2004 and more than $180 million to Republican candidates over the last two campaign cycles.

It is well documented that the industry is very concerned about the impact of SiCKO. They have threatened their employees if they talk to me. They have set up special internal crises lines should I show up at their headquarters. Employees have been warned about the consequences of participating in SiCKO. Despite this, some employees, at great risk to themselves, have gone on camera to tell the American people the truth about the health care industry. I can understand why that industry's main recipient of its contributions -- President Bush -- would want to harass, intimidate and potentially prevent this film from having its widest possible audience.

And, third, this investigation is being opened in the wake of misleading attacks on the purpose of the Cuba trip from a possible leading Republican candidate for president, Fred Thompson, a major conservative newspaper, The New York Post, and various right wing blogs.

Read the whole thing as they say....

Fitrakis and Wasserman argue that vote theft has gone worldwide:

Now similar cries are coming from Scotland and France. May 3 elections in Scotland using new electronic counting systems resulted in as many as 100,000 votes being classed as "spoilt papers." (About 90,000 such ballots from Ohio 2004 remain uncounted to this day).

Complex methods of tabulating and weighting the Scottish votes yielded "chaos." Several vote counts were suspended. In some races the tally of rejected ballots was greater than some candidates' winning margin. "This is a temporary interruption to one small aspect of the overall process," says a spokeswoman for DRS, the company responsible for the vote counting technology.

The language in France has not been so polite. A watershed presidential election has just been won by Nicolas Sarkozy, a blunt right-wing Reagan-Bush-style extremist over the socialist Segolene Royal. Sarkozy is a hard-edged authoritarian whose intense anti-immigrant rhetoric matches his support for the American war in Iraq and his avowed intent to slash France's social service system, including a public health program widely considered among the best in the world.

Like the balloting in Ukraine, the US, Scotland and Mexico, Sarkozy's victory was marred by angry, widespread complaints about dubious vote counts whose discrepancies always seem to favor the rightist candidate. Throughout France, the cry has arisen that the conservatives have done to Segolene Royal what Bush/Rove did to John Kerry.

In the not-so-distant past, other elections were engineered by George H.W. Bush, head of the Central Intelligence Agency and father of the current White House resident. During the Reagan-Bush presidencies, in the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other key third world nations, expected leftist triumphs somehow morphed into rightist coups. "CIA destabilizations are nothing new," said former CIA station chief and Medal of Merit winner John Stockwell in 1987. "Guatemala in 1954, Brazil, Ghana, Chile, the Congo, Iran, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay---the CIA organized the overthrow of constitutional democracy."

The recent trend to privatizing vote counts, with corporations claiming "proprietary rights" to keep their hardware and software covert, has added a new dimension to an old tradition. The recent "e-victories" in the US and France have significantly tipped to the right the global balance among the major powers. So while Ohio and California conduct their studies of electronic voting, the whole world will be watching.

May 10

Late Thursday Night Around the Internets

Ralph Nader has more to say on Mike Gravel's National Ballot Initiative.

Here's a few graphs:

For over a decade, given the failures of elected politicians, Mike Gravel has been engaged in some extraordinary research and consultations with leading constitutional law experts about the need to enact another check to the faltering checks and balances--namely, the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposed law that empowers the people as lawmakers.

Before you roll your eyes over what you feel is an unworkable utopian scheme, go to http://nationalinitiative.us to read the detailed constitutional justification for the sovereign right of the people to directly alter their government and make laws.

Among other legal scholars, Yale Law School Professor, Akhil Reed Amar and legal author, Alan Hirsch, have argued that the Constitution recognizes the inalienable right of the American people to amend the Constitution directly through majority vote. What the Constitution does not do is spell out the procedures for such a sovereign right.

To Hack the Human Gut

A Great Twilight Zone Sci Fi Series That ABC Won't Show You

More About Our Descent into Fascism

Making Your Own Solar Thingie...Doesn't look too high tech...

Nantech Breakthrough in Spinal Research?

Here are the roundup of those online illegal campaign worker stories. I think Agent Ska had it first. Then the 2 PJs came in, but they added a broader legal context. I think the best analysis came from the admiral, who clued me into this union angle I had never even imagined...who is the admiral? How does he know so much about the city's players? Curious.

What's also revealing is that the photos were leaked to online sources. I guess that's the future...

May 7

A Quiet Sunday Around the Internets

I hope cranky dem presidential nominee Mike Gravel talks more about creating a nationwide ballot initiative. He makes sense. This can also be seen at the best television music and politics station that I have ever created.

Cory Doctorow on the recent posted numbers scandal. Related: Die DMCA, also a part of Phil's Music Show, now in widescreen.

CORY DOCTOROW, BOING BOING - Michael Ayers, the chairman of the AACS-LA (the organization that sent hundreds of legal threats to websites that published the random 16-byte number that represented one of the keys for cracking the copy-prevention on HD-DVDs) has given an interview to the BBC in which he vows to use technical and legal means to shut down the 802,000+ websites that have reproduced the key. Michael says that this doesn't impact free speech -- that it's possible to discuss the crack and DRM in general without reproducing the key. I think he's wrong. I just taught a class at USC where we talked about this crack as part of our coursework, and part of my lesson was talking about the ease with which this information can be retrieved and spread -- and how that makes anti-copying systems futile. For my students, seeing just how little information was needed to undo the AACS scheme was critical to understanding its fragility. Indeed, one of my students posted this key to the class blog to show his fellow students how trivial this was, prompting AACS to threaten me with legal action as well. . . The companies that made AACS spent millions and years at it. The hackers who broke it did so in days, for laughs, for free. More people now know how to crack HD-DVD than own an HD-DVD player.
 

Cold Fusion is back! Maybe...

Riverbend and her family have decided to leave Iraq, probably because nothing makes you say "Let's go" more than roving fundamentalist death squads. Here's a snippet:

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

Speaking of the wonderful role that religion plays in demonizing women, there's this great new site called Madre. Here's a snippet from one article that involves Iraq and how you can teleport a smart computer programmer like Riverbend to the 14th century:

Violence against Women as a Strategy for the Creation of a Theocracy

This campaign of gender–based violence was intended to subjugate women as a first step in the creation of an Islamist state. As Mithal Alusi, one of 30 Iraqi legislators who called for the protection of women's human rights in a 2006 declaration said, "These attempts to intimidate women are attempts to terrorize society."26 In fact, violence against women is a primary weapon in the arsenal of fundamentalists of various religions, who seek to impose their political agenda on society. Often, the first salvo in a war for theocracy is a systematic attack on women and minorities who represent or demand an alternative or competing vision for society. These initial targets are usually the most marginalized and, therefore, most vulnerable members of society, and once they are dealt with, fundamentalist forces then proceed towards less vulnerable targets.

"This campaign of gender-based violence
was intended to subjugate women as a first step
in the creation of an Islamist state."

In Iraq, women, Christians, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and intersex (LGBTTI) Iraqis have been among the Islamists' first targets of violence. For example, the Mujahadin Shura Group vows to kill any woman seen in public without a headscarf. Mujahadin Shura listed among its reasons for opposing the January 2005 Iraqi elections the need to prevent Iraq from "becoming homosexual. " In the northern city of Mosul, the group has targeted Christian women with a campaign of murder, kidnapping, rape, and sexual enslavement. According to the Union of the Unemployed,27 groups such as this use the most violent and inhumane methods to impose their will, targeting "anyone who disagrees with them and does not observe their way of living."28

But wait there's more. They also did a great article called:

It's Not Just an Abortion Ban: The Christian Right's Global Agenda

Bringing It All Back Home

For the most part, policies such as these did not cost the Republican Party votes because they didn't impact women in the US—at least not at first. But the US attack on women's reproductive rights abroad followed by the recent Supreme Court ruling is a stark reminder that ideologically speaking, there's no such thing as foreign policy. The Christian Right seeks to restrict women's rights domestically, just as they have internationally—as part of one coherent "vision" that includes much more than a world without abortion.

We only need to look at countries where religious fundamentalists have gained the upper hand in policymaking to see where the US Christian Right would like to take us. Fundamentalists of different religions draw on different texts and operate in diverse cultures and contexts. But when it comes to their rigid and retrograde gender ideology, they show a lot more commonalities than differences. The Christian Right's agenda extends to restricting women's rights to work, equality before the law, education, and freedom from a range of gender-based human rights abuses, including domestic battery and marital rape. And the Christian Right's "vision" goes beyond attacks on any narrowly construed notion of "women's rights." They're angling for more of the kind of messianic militarism that characterized Bush's response to 9/11 (which he originally called a "crusade"), and more neoliberal economic policies that promise greater ruin to the world's poor people and ecology.

May 4

Friday Art Break

From Boing Boing. How to make every movie poster a grindhouse poster.

From Tom Moody: First piece: some of Tom's Art. Second piece: Rube Goldbergesque baby torture machine.

May 2

By the way, NARAL gets a lot of flack (Chairman Kos and Oliver Willis spring to mind) for supporting republicans sometimes. Well, that might be tactically suspect, but the reason they do that is that there are many dems that aren't pro choice, or when it comes to stem cells, even pro progress. And of course its apparently unthinkable for dems to ever use a fillibuster to stop a horrific republican appointment to the Supreme Court...sigh. This really is a fight between reason and superstition. I wish the secularists in Turkey all the luck in the world. They have a right to be worried. That's a fight worth fighting here and abroad.

Back from the Avian Flu Around the Internets

The underreported story of the day that should frighten you more than Al Q: your food supply may be contaminated. Eat up. I will stick to crackers.

Now there's a book they won't teach you in college. Won't be assigned a lot of Ivan Illich (whole text of Deschooling Society here) and Paulo Freire either. This first paragraph from an alternet article from Barbara Ehrenreich reminded of the late John Holt. Here it is:

Higher Education Conformity
Barbara Ehrenreich, Barbaraehrenreich.com

Is a college degree really a sign of competence? Or is it chiefly a signal to employers that you've mastered the ability to obey and conform?

More quotes from John Holt:

"Two Idiots Get a Forum"

Now here's a weird call I got and I got it twice. Somebody called me and there was this recorded question about this new Wal Mart that's being built in the East Hills area, but then it turned into one of those sleazy pressure calls which pointed out that the Walmart might impact (I wish I had recorded it) the black owned Giant Eagle across the street. It's overall impact is "We don't want to put the black owned Giant Eagle out of business do we? Come on." Using my ace reporting skills I'm going to guess that these calls were funded by the black woman who owns that Giant Eagle. I guess its meant to create some kind of groundswell of support against the Wal Mart. But we need jobs around here.

 On second thought: These would be evil Wal Mart jobs where they don't like unions or costlier long term employees. Here's a crazy idea: could you talk to Costco? The crazy ones that pay 16 an hour and provide healthcare and support the democratic party, individually anyway.

The evils of water privatization and of road privatization. Froth offers a genteel take on the latter issue.

12 important laws every blogger should know.

Rage Against the Machine doesn't like President Bush. I don't need hanging or shootings you pinko commies. Just simultaneous impeachment. Let's restrain ourselves a bit.

April 26

First response to the debate: I'm voting for that cranky dem ex senator from Alaska, even though I wasn't aware that Alaska had an ex dem senator. He's kind of a radical in that he's ruling out nukes as a first strike weapon. Back to reality: still torn between Obama and Edwards. Related: I'm probably voting for the Agent Ska endorsement slate because a 20 year old has better sources in local politics than I do. And one more thing: The Sith iz kewl! I'm sending her this action figure cause that's what girls like:

Important Youtube update about what's happening in the electoral fraud story from Mark Crispin Miller or: The most important story of the new century that no one respectable covers.

 

April 24

Speaking of Rudy Rucker and Posthuman Blues, here's a snippet of a great short story called "Postsingularity Outtakes" published online. Around part 6 I start getting lost but it reads cool:

1: The Singularity. The Singularity happened when, encouraged by his business backers, President Dick Dibbs sent an eggcase of nants to Mars. Nants were self-reproducing nanomachines: solar-powered, networked, capable of gnatlike flight, and single-mindedly focused on transforming all available material into more nants. In a couple of years, the nants had eaten Mars, turning the red planet into a Dyson sphere of a duodecillion nanomachines, a three-millimeter-thick shell half a billion kilometers across, with Earth and the Sun trapped inside.

The stars were hidden by giant ads; in daytime the ads were a silvery background to the sky. Dibbs’s backers were well-pleased. And behind the scenes the nant swarm was solving a number of intractable problems in computer science, mathematical physics, and process design; these results were privily beamed to the nants’ parent corporation, Nantel. But before Nantel could profit from the discoveries, the nants set to work chewing up Earth.

Its part of online science fiction effort called Flurb.

My old amsat new world disorder pal Jason Lubyk is up to some new tricks. I interviewed RU as well some years ago. Hard to listen to the podcast but I found the part about changing your own skin color pretty cool. I'd go for an all black or blue look, with white line tatoos...I borrowed this blurb from Doc Menlo.

Jason Lubyk Returns to the Blogosphere

(with an interview with RU Sirius)

Labels: , , , , ,

Weekend Around the Internets

I think, and I might be off by about a dozen or so bodies, 400 Iraqis lost their lives this week. Try reading the last week of Juan Cole and not weeping...

Posthuman Blues is my featured weblog. I'm skeptical of the alien abduction stuff, of course, but this person seems to be a member of my karass so....Check out this youtube presentation from Way Way out science fiction writer Rudy Rucker. I reviewed one of his books here.

Story about those new mean 'ol atheists.

A very good update on novelist Jonathan Lethem written by Cory Doctorow. Features a review of his newest novel. Lethem also has some interesting ideas about copyright.

The very sad history of the war against pot, arguably a miracle plant that we should be exploiting. You might notice that I've added a few NORML ads to my tv station above.

Update on David Sirota's  progressive network.

"The Inexplicable Enrichment Of Bush Cronies"

April 17

Well the shootings were horrible. And an English major. I think I speak for all English majors in that we don't think he represents us. I used to think this was just another reason to support gun control. I no longer think this for a number of reasons. One, gun prohibition would work just as well as drug prohibition, which means that it works great if you're trying to create a criminal cartel that makes lots of money selling guns. He probably could've gotten better guns off the street and cheaper too. Two, I no longer trust my government. I want the right to buy a gun in case things go south. I admire the White Rose society but I think I prefer a more Alamo/300 like exit. Three, I don't think the answer is everybody having a loaded gun at all times but I wish ballistic shields (I favor the Baker Batshield for pathetic and predictable fanboy reasons.) and bullet proof vests were as easy to get as loaded weapons. Ditto for rubber bullets. Elsewhere: comparisons to the shooting and what's happening in Iraq. And oddly good coverage from Boing Boing here and here.

April 16

Monday Morning Around the Internets

Two good posts from the People's Republic from Pittsburgh. One is about how Bill announced that he won't be making an independent run (He had to take a deal for that ever elusive councilmanic chairmanship I just know it..) and after you read this post you might find yourself asking why would I ever support Bill Peduto again? I mean really. Two, there's a piece about a letter from Catherine McNeilly--that he discovered on a WTAE blog (They do real news on television?..I had no idea. I'll have to start reading that.) that she apparently paid for if I'm reading this correctly. Short version: despite the settlement nothing has changed in the mayor's office. I guess he's Don Imus in his twenties. What a great several years we have ahead of us...

Tonight was the first great Sopranos episode I've seen in awhile. Plotlines for the future: they dig up Mr. Pink's body and desecrate it...? If the New York boss kills Christophuh would Tony really mind? A New York vs. New Jersey war? Is that possible? Who's Doc? Also great: Jericho (Best black character ever. He's black see so no one notices that he's the smartest guy in town. Sure, he knows morse code, is an expert shot but nevermind those nappy headed people...), The Shield has been great, and Heroes will soon return. I watch a lot of tv. I'm also creating my own channel here. The goal is to create early MTV which you could watch for hours because the music was so good.

I didn't go to Flux but Agent Ska did. She has pics. Over in the comments I make a humble proposal: Pittsburgh and Braddock should switch mayors. Pittsburgh would be much much better off. John should run for something higher. Period.

Briggs has become "The Great Black Hope". Did you ever think that the conditions of poor white men in Eastern Europe are tougher than even for black men in the US? Something to think about.

Shocking news on the delusion front: Abstinence education doesn't prevent premarital sex. Really.

Interview with the person who created an x prize for a fuel efficient automobile.

April 15

 

What Should Be Posted April 13

I got a letter in my comments section. I'm printing it whole:

Harvey Pekar and his Pittsburgh illustrator Ed Piskor will speak and show some work at Slippery Rock University's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival http://academics.sru.edu/HFPA/kaleidoscope/performers.htm on April 20th at 12:30 p.m.. Does anyone at this site have some suggestions about how we can best get the word out to those who'd like to be there. Should be fun.

Well I could mention it here on the frontpage and feature Ed's work. Comics people know Harvey Pekar of course. You might know him from that cool film that came out and which was pretty good.

I have nothing to say about Don Imus. Nothing. But I did read this on another site which summed up what I didn't write about Imus.

Imus Is Wrong, and Gone, On Race. What About Friedman and Pollack on Iraq?

Don Imus is a racist. Much as I love him, I can see it in him. And yes, we're all racists; but Imus stepped in it bad, and it will be fascinating and good to see him reform. I wish him well.

At least he apologized and is doing time. What about all the journalists who were wrong on Iraq? The Rutgers women held a press conference saying Imus hurt their feelings. What about all the American and Iraqi families destroyed, torn apart, blown to the wind, etc., by one of the greatest mistakes in history? Hordes of journalists out of desire for influence and status peddled the administration's lies and distorted reality to rationalize attacking Iraq. Tom Friedman saw the war as good because of suicide bombers in Israel. Ken Pollack didn't see any real strife between Sunnis and Shi'as, and neither did Kristol and Kaplan, and none of them thought the Israeli occupation had any bearing on the case. I could go on and on.

At the very least they showed terrible judgment. Last year I watched Pollack rationalize one or two of his errors before the Council on Foreign Relations. George Packer sought to excuse his credulity, wishy-washily, in Assassin's Gate. Don't they owe us a lot more? Don't the New York Times, Washington Post, and WSJ owe us investigations of their conduct and sourcing? The only reporter to suffer professionally for getting us into this horror is Judith Miller. Shouldn't there be more?

 

April 12

I am just a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan. I'm not surprised by his death, however, in that he was a manic chain smoker. A pack a day guy at least. Its amazing that he lasted until 84. I also think he died creatively about 23 years ago, right after the publication of Deadeye Dick. His sixties stuff is definitely the best. Recommend Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater and his short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. Oh, and Slaughterhouse 5 is great too. He also wins my award for best science fiction title ever: The Big Space Fuck. Here's a collection of Mr. Vonnegut's best quotes over the years. By the way, if you're linked to certain people on the Internets they are probably a part of your Karass, which is defined as "A group of people who, unbeknownst to them, are collectively doing God's will in carrying out a specific, common, task. A karass is driven forward in time and space by tension within the karass."

What should have been published April 11

Better Late Than Never Around the Internets

Possible Cure for Diabetes Using (Presumably) Adult Stem Cells. I'll take it. Related: Bob Casey won't back expanded stem cell research. Translation: Vatican shamans have more say over American science policy than scientists. This is also another edition of why Richard Dawkins is a mean ol atheist. Also related but it's not clear to people yet: US no longer number 1 in innovation.

Incredible Solar Cell Breakthrough and yet another incredible solar cell breakthrough. Too bad our country is run by oil barons. Note: Notice these aren't American breakthroughs. Go on. Notice it.

Everything You Wanted to Know About How We Fraked Up Iraq But Were Afraid to Ask

Rad  Movie of Green Arrow Breaking out of Negative Zone Prison Green Lighted (So to speak.)

Profile of Spaceports to Come. We hope.

April 8

Its Easter Sunday which means that its a good time for atheist blogging. First up Blog Against Theocracy: Here's the petition I signed:

We, the undersigned, call upon elected and appointed officials to join us in reaffirming America's religious freedom by demonstrating a commitment to the following:

We join together, as the most diverse nation in the world, to commit ourselves to defending and preserving this freedom.

Related: Sam Harris on Faith vs. Reason.

Speaking of Christian Jihads, how goes it in Iraq? Here's this gem from Undernews:

BRITISH GOVERNMENT SCIENTISTS CONFIRM ESTIMATE OF 650,000 IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS

RICHARD HORTON, GUARDIAN, UK - Our collective failure has been to take our political leaders at their word. This week the BBC reported that the government's own scientists advised ministers that the Johns Hopkins study on Iraq civilian mortality was accurate and reliable, following a freedom of information request by the reporter Owen Bennett-Jones. This paper was published in the Lancet last October. It estimated that 650,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the American and British led invasion in March 2003.
 
Immediately after publication, the prime minister's official spokesman said that the Lancet's study "was not one we believe to be anywhere near accurate". The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that the Lancet figures were "extrapolated" and a "leap". President Bush said: "I don't consider it a credible report".
 
Scientists at the UK's Department for International Development thought differently. They concluded that the study's methods were "tried and tested". Indeed, the Johns Hopkins approach would likely lead to an "underestimation of mortality".
 
The Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the research was "robust", close to "best practice", and "balanced". He recommended "caution in publicly criticizing the study".
 
When these recommendations went to the prime minister's advisers, they were horrified. One person briefing Tony Blair wrote: "Are we really sure that the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies?" A Foreign and Commonwealth Office official was forced to conclude that the government "should not be rubbishing the Lancet".
 
The prime minister's adviser finally gave in. He wrote: "The survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones".

Now, read the above post and follow it to this conclusion. Froth, who's in law enforcement , says what you would think (I wonder if Froth could say what these guys are saying...? Just an open question of curiosity (On second thought, all of those guys are retired I think)...) he would say about the issue. But a couple of points: First, we don't know that POG has done this. I don't see how they could do it even if they wanted to. Everyone is watching them. Two, I could see where somebody could look at the war and come to the conclusion that non violence hasn't worked. I suppose if we march another four years we can watch another half million Iraqis/Iranians die. I'm sure the marching will make us feel so much better. Three: Froth makes an argument that the marines are just doing their duty and following orders. If I recall, the "I'm just following orders" defense didn't go over too well in Nuremberg. And, quite frankly, it shouldn't have. Who but the most naive and simple among us think we're fighting for democracy over there? We're there to steal their oil and terrorize the populace into submission. It is a volunteer force? They can take responsibility for their actions, right? They're legitimate targets of the resistance....

April 5

Light posting until the weekend, obviously. I have updated my channel though.

Correction: Jeff Simmons, just back from touring in Spain, writes in to tell me that he was never NEVER married to Jill West. My bad as they say. I probably read it on the Internets and thought it was true. More from that email from Joff when I have more time to write...

April 2

Today is my birthday and blogging will be light. Here is an appropriate video here. Three hour version of Manufacturing Consent.

Was leaning strongly toward Edwards until he betrayed bloggers, and atheist bloggers at that. Now, I was leaning toward Obama, until he said that we should get rid of the timelines in the spending bill. This tells the world that there's no difference between the parties. None at all. And not a decent third party in sight....Edwards and Obama are even again.

April 1

I've quit blogging and I've joined a monastery. Imaginary beings in the sky rule my world, or at least the part of the world I was born in. Besides, I just can't go "negative" anymore. Or at least that's what I said after I took the deal for City Council Chairman.

And now: This special message about the dangers of communism.

 

March 28

Speaking of my old high school pal Paul R. Shaffer, who needed to know what Marshall Rogers was like, he now does this. He works as a psychologist and apparently he's better looking than I am. We sort of took a turn away from each other when he went to Oral Roberts U but we still trade emails occasionally. I will, however, never forgive him for stealing my Dave Cockrum  run of the X Men. He has a very cute daughter. He's also divorced despite writing a book about relationship counseling. Related: I also grew up with two drummers. You might have heard of Joffo. He plays with a little known band called the Houserockers. He can be seen briefly singing the praises of His Mentor and Patron Saint Joe Grushecky in this Youtube clip.

(Jeff "Joffo" Simmons doing his best Billy Cobham, or more accurately in the talent department,  Buddy Miles impression...)

And he's married to this...woman? No fuckin' way...! Now I'm jealous...wasn't he married to Jill West for awhile...I'm not going there....(His wife has a nice voice too...) I would never say this to his face but I'm really proud of him. Also: one of the best natural athletes I've ever known. Jeff used to ride his bike from hilly Penn Hills, and it was a crappy yellow 10 speed, to hilly Monroeville, atop the hill where the Showcase theater used to be, everyday and he never walked his bike. I wish I could have persuaded him to go out for the track team. (He used to run miles with ex pro football player Tom Flynn...) He would have gotten a free ride at a college somewhere...

Jeff's wife. In the immortal words of Frozone "That ain't right". I can't even get a date for a movie. True, I'm not trying anymore but still....Gawd I hates you rock n roll people...

My other best high school pal, Bob Napolitano, was probably a more talented drummer (and Jeff, who used to, I don't know, suck...got really good. Loved that short lived two lead guitarists band that played the Rush covers Joffo was in....) but I don't think he has an internet presence. So he doesn't exist. That's life in the Matrix booboo...

March 27

Earlier, or down below since I won't update my permalinks, I made the point that I was too dangerous for Duquesne University as my site would no longer appear on Explorer. It turns out that I am not, sniff, too dangerous for college kids. Turns out that IE blanks out when certain types of javascript are introduced to your code. I have since removed that script, but I suppose I have accidentally learned a way to block all IE users. I'm not sure if that's something that I want to do. I will work on being more dangerous in the future, however. So that even college kids must be protected from my dangerous dangerous thoughts.

Rest in peace Marshall Rogers, one of the best Batman artists ever. He was also a really nice guy in person. And as my buddy Paul asked me after I met him (and Len Wein) at a 1980 comicon "was he kind of a genius type?" I said "yep".  Below: Another candidate that Bill Peduto wouldn't run against because he didn't want to go "negative". Drawn by the late Marshall Rogers.

 

 

 

 

 

March 26

Early Monday Morning Around the Internets

New piece from my blood cousin's wife. Looks good.

So what do you want to do with this blog? That was a question asked at another blog but you could ask it here as well. Well, the big answer, for blogs of a progressive nature, is to completely displace the corporate press and create a truly progressive press, that probably believes in all those things that Joe Klein says we believe in--except that you don't have to be some "radical" to believe in these things. You just have to be an ordinary American who finds that this system just doesn't work very well for you. You could be without healthcare or decent work or afford the training that would get you the decent work if those jobs aren't off shored anyway, but you're certainly not living like Tom Friedman or Joe Klein. That's most of us.

If I had money, say a million bucks, then I would hire reporters for about four beats. Essentially every city and county council meeting would be covered. Lots of arts stuff, even book reviews. Without a dime to my name, pretty much my current state, then you have the site that you have in front of you. Generally, I try to write about things that I'm passionate about that the corporate media outlets don't write about. Lately, that's been atheism and the vote theft issue. Wash, rinse and repeat. The Internet should be a place to get the things that you need that the corporate media isn't giving you. Yes Craigslist has the infrastructure already in place to build that network but he doesn't have the money. (If  you're worried about the corrupting influence of 500 million put it in writing what limits--say, no more than 2 million a year for personal use--you think a decent man should live under. It's called contract law....)This is why some of us wish he would take those google ads or create some other revenue stream.

Speaking of the vote theft issue, these convictions probably confirm what I have long thought: that the Ohio election not only was stolen, but that a fair recount was never heard in a county where there were probably enough votes to put Kerry over. Thanks for not fighting for me John. I guess I'm not worth it. Seems to be going around.

So, for you future historians out there, here's the big story: The reason the Earth may be headed for an unstoppable Venus like global warming is that the Republican president stole not just one but two national elections. I just hope there are future historians O journalists of Dune...Here's more from those original stories:

First criminal convictions from Ohio's stolen 2004 election confirm recount was rigged
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
January 27, 2007

The first felony convictions of two Cleveland poll workers stemming from Ohio's stolen 2004 election confirm that the official recount in that contested vote was, in the words of county prosecutors, "rigged."� The question now is whether further prosecutions will reach higher up in the ranks of officials who may have been involved in illegalities�throughout the rest of the state.�

The convictions have come down in Cuyahoga County, where Democratic candidates traditionally run up huge majorities.� Suspicious vote counts and other irregularities cut deeply into John Kerry's margins in 2004.� Official vote counts gave the state---and thus the presidency---to George W. Bush by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million counted.��

A statewide recount, paid for by the Green and Libertarian Parties, was marred in 87 of the state's 88 counties by the types of illegalities that led to this week's convictions. Only in Coshocton County was a full, manual recount performed.�

Throughout the rest of the state, under the direction of Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, mandatory random sampling was not done, as prescribed by law.� Instead, poll workers illegally chose sample precincts for recounting where they knew there would be no problems, and then routinely recounted the rest of the ballots by machine, rendering the recount meaningless.

Go to the Free Press election page to read the other stories.

Related: Brad Friedman on the new voter rights bill. Not sure where I stand on this but they should try to pass the strongest bill they can. The republicans only have to corrupt one state in a close presidential election. It was Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Who knows what state it will be in 2008.

Looks like the next Watchmen film could be really good. It will at least look good. Interview with Zach Snyder here. At the Youtubes: a Sin City version of Watchmen and another scene acted out entirely with a Very Fat Nite Owl. Dennis Hopper should be Rorshack. Even a Watchmen trailer...

The first episode of This Modern Life is online. This show has had very positive things to say about election reform and atheism in the past.

March 25

Porn for Atheists

 

March 24

Best commentary on the House vote: Wise old Max Sawicky who I think is near death.

Now would be a good time for me to score some points by attacking Nancy Pelosi from the left for an inadequate anti-war resolution, but I don't want to. Markos and David Sirota are right. This is the best we're going to get at the moment. There is simply more work to do at the grass roots, and at the task of browbeating mainstream media If David Obey is too conservaive for you, you might as well move to Sweden.

I certainly don't fault the House Progressive Caucus for trying to throw sand in the gears. That's their job. They are better situated to judge when it's time to hold or fold.

We've got wobbly liberals who want the U.S. out but, for good reasons, go queasy over what happens to those we leave behind. And there are Red State types who elected centrist Democrats who may be vulnerable to the support the troops by supporting the mission idea.

We've also got wobbly Democratic politicians running for president who are fuzzy on Iran and on the manner in which they would end the Iraq engagement. They need to be harrassed as well.

Arithmetical majorities in polls are not enough. To beat the champ, you have to knock him out. This is why I rant about flaky anti-war arguments. To get stronger mobilization, you need a better story.

My own thoughts on this: if its the fall 2008 and we're still in the war and gas prices have risen with no penalty on the horizon woe unto the dems. Yes, it would be a great opportunity for a progressive Third Party if there was one.

March 23

Two really interesting blogs that I should be permalinking soon. Muzzlewatch and the Consumerist.

I think this is the deal Peduto cut: If he gets out of the race, then he gets to become City Council President after Shields, presumably, wins the Controller's seat. Furthermore, he would get to solidify his power, gather chits among the committeemen and watch what looks to be a disastrous Ravenstahl mayoral term come to an end within a year. I don't think that was a principled deal to take and I can't prove it. That's just the way it looks. Its just a theory.  I guess we'll know if Peduto becomes the next City Council Chairman.  Related: Couldn't you have taken the same possible deal a week before the primary and not rewarded the Lying King for ducking out on the black community and going to Hooters? Arrrrrrghhhh...and I mean that. (It also would have been nice to see how strong the netroots have become in helping a candidate. I guess we won't know for awhile...We certainly would have fought for you Bill even if you weren't willing to fight for yourself. )My other theory is that he just plain ran out of money and that reflects better on him! I saw that happen in the Pennacchio. Somebody canceled his Hollywood meeting. Of course, I think you have to take pac money from labor and environmental groups. You should be doing their work anyway...would like to know the final state of Peduto's finances.

Note to Mullah Rob: I don't give a fuck if you don't think my blog is interesting. I began my writing career because I needed to do it. I vent therefore I am. Sometimes I've made good money doing it. Sometimes not. I only left that comment because I know how lonely it feels when people don't respond to your fiction. I'd prefer negative hostility rather than nothing. But don't worry. Jesus loves you in the end. In fact, I don't know why you don't hurry up and die and meet him faster! That would certainly end your incessant whining about your depression that Jesus with his infinite power can't cure or your diabetes (ditto), but the fantabulous afterlife that Jesus has promised that's a fucking certainty, I mean right? What a heavyweight. And he's listened to or read Feynman's lectures. Oh I'm so fucking impressed. He's so smart.  It's all written in the book of life don't you know...Feh, indeed. But of course you won't be reading this anyway darn the luck...

Its another day and we need another cool Black Panther party poster! (Hint: You could do a remix here and and change that to Iraq, Iran, France, etc...)

March 22

I'm shocked by Peduto's decision. "Negative" means swiftboating or impeachment over blowjobs, not pointing out that your opponent is an incompetent inexperienced liar. This ain't beanbag. I don't blame the Post Gazette. Peduto should have stayed in until the final bell. He either took a deal or there were incriminating pictures...did he run out of money? Can't figure this one out...

Black Panther Press posters for sale. Incredible graphics...just like the GOP owned Pittsburgh Courier...

March 21

Toon from the Black Commentator. And why people think this here and here.

March 20

(Approximation of evil blogger far far too dangerous to be allowed on the Duquesne University campus bhahahaha....)

So, anyways, I was looking at Ms. Laura's site looking for more evidence that Bill Peduto is a better candidate than the Lying King and I saw this. I presume it was meant for me.

Dear Three Rivers Alternative,

Everytime that I try to reach your website via some of the computer labs at school, the system aborts.

Is there a possibility that you have either been killed by an intelligence agency or your website has been filtered by a school filter?

Please let me know.

My answer was this and I also gave her some secret on the QT advice as to why some people buy PCs. Laura is in mourning over her lost Apple laptop...

I'm still alive. But yes its probably true. I'm too dangerous for college kids. I would like to know more about your university's filtering policy though. I wonder whether its the atheism or the porn? I've always wanted to be dangerous though and, no fooling, I really do discuss a lot of dangerous ideas on the site. I guess this proves it. Just call me Shropshire. Phil Shropshire. Shaken not stirred.

I guess I could update my backup site Mirror Universe, which they probably haven't banned yet...to the batcave!

Sincerely,

Name's Shropshire. Philip Shropshire.
www.threeriversonline.com and later tonight:
http://mirroruniverse.blogspot.com/

PS: By the way, buy a decent used desktop PC that has at least 1 gig of ram and 1.5 ghz chip. You can get one of those for about 300 bucks at the Goodwill computer shop in southside. That's one of the sad secrets of us nerdy bespectacled PC buyers: sometimes you don't have an extra grand to buy a decent Apple laptop...

March 19

Early Monday Morning Around the Internets

How to surf anonymously without being caught. Related: How to not be seen. Hint: Don't stand up.
Interesting New Wired Blog about the military called Danger Room helmed by Noah Schactman of Defense Tech.
My Television Station, full of song and what they call "kitsch", looks better and works with all browsers at the Series of Tubes Website. I warned you Reginald Hudlin said with my fist clenched. You...shall pay.
Incredibly blunt analysis of AIPAC in the comments section of Calpundit--who originally supported the Iraq War and doesn't like the very democratic referendum process because its "messy" and/or democratic--where every question is discussed. I noticed it was taken off the frontpage pretty quick...
10 online ways to save the world. I'm only impressed with 1: Leave for Mars.
Mostly positive review of the 100 dollar laptop. I'd like to have one in black. The price sounds right.
So you want to be an eco terrorist huh? Well, life in the Pen isn't so glamorous Stephanie McMillan...
Interesting post from Ms. Staniland about Ralph Nader and working within vs. working outside of the Democratic Party for real change. I actually have a response to what she wrote when I have time to write it...

March 18

Your Sunday Atheism Moments

First from an incisive piece called "God's Dupes" from Sam Harris that I think hits a number of points. I guess the premise is that the relatively sensible Mullah Rob (Can't let this one go: Could you name those angry atheists? Could it be that the overwhelming number of studies--there's more than one--show no positive correlation or perhaps these unnamed angry atheists understand the placebo effect?)  gives cover to Catholic Jihadists like Funky Dung. So they must all be...destroyed. Okay he didn't say that last part. He has said that people who take the Old Testament God at his angry off oft times malicious word should be taken as seriously as, say, palmists and astrologers. Sounds good to me.

Here's a snippet:

PETE STARK, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.

Of course, one can imagine that Cicero's handlers in the 1st century BC lost some sleep when he likened the traditional accounts of the Greco-Roman gods to the "dreams of madmen" and to the "insane mythology of Egypt."

Mythology is where all gods go to die, and it seems that Stark has secured a place in American history simply by admitting that a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham — the jealous, genocidal, priggish and self-contradictory tyrant of the Bible and the Koran. Stark is the first of our leaders to display a level of intellectual honesty befitting a consul of ancient Rome. Bravo.

Oh here's the whole thing. Its that good.


The truth is, there is not a person on Earth who has a good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead or that Muhammad spoke to the angel Gabriel in a cave. And yet billions of people claim to be certain about such things. As a result, Iron Age ideas about everything high and low — sex, cosmology, gender equality, immortal souls, the end of the world, the validity of prophecy, etc. — continue to divide our world and subvert our national discourse. Many of these ideas, by their very nature, hobble science, inflame human conflict and squander scarce resources.

Of course, no religion is monolithic. Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death.

Outside this sphere of maniacs, one finds millions more who share their views but lack their zeal. Beyond them, one encounters pious multitudes who respect the beliefs of their more deranged brethren but who disagree with them on small points of doctrine — of course the world is going to end in glory and Jesus will appear in the sky like a superhero, but we can't be sure it will happen in our lifetime.

Out further still, one meets religious moderates and liberals of diverse hues — people who remain supportive of the basic scheme that has balkanized our world into Christians, Muslims and Jews, but who are less willing to profess certainty about any article of faith. Is Jesus really the son of God? Will we all meet our grannies again in heaven? Moderates and liberals are none too sure.

Those on this spectrum view the people further toward the center as too rigid, dogmatic and hostile to doubt, and they generally view those outside as corrupted by sin, weak-willed or unchurched.

The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren't sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.

People of all faiths — and none — regularly change their lives for the better, for good and bad reasons. And yet such transformations are regularly put forward as evidence in support of a specific religious creed. President Bush has cited his own sobriety as suggestive of the divinity of Jesus. No doubt Christians do get sober from time to time — but Hindus (polytheists) and atheists do as well. How, therefore, can any thinking person imagine that his experience of sobriety lends credence to the idea that a supreme being is watching over our world and that Jesus is his son?

There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it. Compassion is deeper than religion. As is ecstasy. It is time that we acknowledge that human beings can be profoundly ethical — and even spiritual — without pretending to know things they do not know.

Let us hope that Stark's candor inspires others in our government to admit their doubts about God. Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.

Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.

He also makes the same point at the Beyond Belief conference here:

And let's not forget Multi Medium's Sunday feature Mr. Diety.

More Pittsburgh thoughts that touch upon life here. I've been to the new Sav A Lot in Wilkinsburg and the new Trader Joe's in East Liberty. I can say that the people at Trader Joe's are definitely better looking but I do most of my shopping at Sav A Lot because I'm a despicable dirty poor person who likes bargains. Plus, the Sav A Lot is about 500 yards away as opposed to the three miles that I have to hike to the Trader Joe fella. I will make that hike to get their really good pound of European chocolate. It really is a pound. About four bucks. Pittsburgh story part two: I found myself in Shadyside and fell into that snazzy new Apple boutique for all those computers that I can't afford. And as someone who used to sell computers for Dell I can tell you why Dell's fortunes have faded while Apple's have improved. Whenever you see one of those poor Dell salesman at one of their mall kiosks ask them if you can use the Internets. He'll probably tell you no. I could sort of understand that. You don't necessarily want some 10 year old exploring the World of Porn on one of your fancy Big Screens. What I would never tell you as a salesman is that I wasn't allowed to look at the Internet, either. Think about that for a moment. Think about all the ways you could use the Internet to sell a computer and how I couldn't do it. For the record, we just hacked one computer and we did have internet access, but here's the thing: We probably shouldn't have had to do that if we were working for a reasonably intelligent computer company to begin with. How does Apple do it? Every one of their machines has Internet access, of course. I spent a good half hour just surfing the net and putting the machine through its paces. So, being that the public had access to the Internets I'm going to presume that the Apple salesmen had the same rights as well. Here's a crazy thought: The value of computers is the Internet. One company gets it and the other doesn't...

March 17

Another great animation from Tom Moody. He didn't do it but he did find it.

March 16

Here's a Watchmen like question: Who is the real bad guy: people who mug old ladies or folks who kill a half million Iraqis? If you really wanted to stop crime, then who would you kill first? I think that's the premise for this comic called "Black Summer", which I heard about at Warren Ellis' great site. (Editor's note: I used to just post those comments here but it looks like it turns off Explorer. So instead here's the original link at American Samizdat.)

For the record, and for the edification of the prying eyes of either Homeland Security and/or the secret service, I do not support the murder of the current president of the United States. However, I think there are people who may have come to the conclusion that our political system is broken and that all nonviolent avenues have been exhausted. So, I guess I'm saying I wouldn't be surprised if someone took a shot at him. Then again, its only a comic book ha ha ha and ha.

March 14

From Truthdig.

March 13

From the always superior Gravity Lens: atheism logos. Related: One congressman comes out of the closet as a nontheist. Rep. Stark I salute you. 40 million more politicians to go...

I went back to that Angry Arab link and found that people still weren't that thrilled with Obama, even though there have been reports that his speech to AIPAC wasn't nearly as subservient as others. I thought this one comment kind of captured the truth.

If you parse Obama's words carefully you will see that his promises amount to very little, it is always that he will try to do something, not that he will. If he supports the Palestinians in any way, he will never get elected. If he panders to AIPAC, he might get elected. Once he is elected he can say and do what he really wants to. I suspect that someone who treats the Israelis and Palestinian equally could never get elected in the first place. I strongly suspect that, with the advantages of an incumbant, someone who treats the Israelis and Palestinian equally could get re-elected.

Related: I also think that's why he supported Leiberman, not that Hillary or Edwards didn't if I recall...still, a notch down for Obama. I have to admit one thing though: after seeing him speak at that Selma thing I believe he is a more talented politician than either Edwards or Hillary. That charisma thing matters in politics.  As far as a ticket: how about Obama/Richardson? Or Obama and a woman? I don't think Hillary would accept the VP spot.

This is kind of old but it looks like all of the stories are online. I've only read the one about jetpacks. Working my way through it...

March 12

I first saw this at the Warren Ellis site. I believe in science fiction. Looking for good online stories? Aussie Greg Egan, arguably the best hard science fiction writer alive, has most of his short stories online. They're all disturbing and leave you with an itch at the back of your mind that you just can't scratch. Disturbing. Really. Try "Oceanic" here. Some people think he's a horror writer in drag. This is why. And for Mullah Rob: "Oracle". Features an alt reality with fictionalized cameos by Alan Turing and C S Lewis, where Lewis has to choose between eternal life that he controls or death and an opportunity to meet with his God. Guess which choice he makes...Also: nice Cory Doctorow story here. 0wnz0red. I'm also going to listen to the podcast of "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth". For  your information, in case you don't know this, Cory Doctorow is a copyleftist. He thinks you probably shouldn't go to jail because you've downloaded an MP3 or uploaded a copyrighted video.  Lots of people say that but they don't put most of their work online for free. (And yes: my two science fiction efforts are online here and here.)

Related: Tom Moody's take on the most important science fiction novels of the last 50 years. His list here. I've always kind of wished Woody Allen would adapt "The Space Merchants". Or any science fiction for that matter...I've read all of those writers but I tend to focus on short fiction and not novels. So, I'm not well read enough here. "Watchmen" is an inspired choice.

A.A. Attanasio - The Last Legends of Earth, Radix
Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons - Watchmen
Brian Aldiss - Non-Stop, Hothouse
Philip K. Dick - Ubik, Martian Time Slip
J.G. Ballard - The Crystal World, High Rise
Pohl & Kornbluth - The Space Merchants, Wolfbane
Bruce Sterling - Schismatrix Plus, Heavy Weather
The Strugatskys - Roadside Picnic
Stanislaw Lem - Solaris
Greg Egan - Quarantine
Greg Bear - Blood Music
Octavia Butler - Earthseed novels
Michael Swanwick - The Iron Dragon's Daughter
Doris Piserchia - Doomtime
John Brunner - The Shockwave Rider

March 11

One of the things that always angered me about some of these right wing pundits--mostly the now thankfully retired from punditry USS Clueless guy--is that we're just not smart enough to move beyond fossil fuels. We need to know our limitations. Oh sure, you can now carry more memory on your keychain that used to fill up your desktop hard drives but that fossil fuel thing...better to kill a half million Iraqis than even Think about moving away from the old energy infrastructures. And yes I'm an operative for Big Oil. (Or at least I always thought he was. His handler was probably Glenn Reynolds. Note to self: hack into Glenn's puter and get the NOC list...)

So, this is the blurb from Fast Company:

The electric-car quandry is almost over. Until now, you could get either a low-speed "neighborhood" vehicle that couldn't break the 40 mph barrier, or an electric supercar like the Tesla Roadster that sells for $90,000. But Ontario, California--based Phoenix Motorcars is about to unveil a $45,000 truck and an SUV that will go from zero to 60 in 10 seconds, travel 200 to 250 miles, and keep up with highway traffic. At the heart of the Phoenix is a new variant of the lithium-ion battery, made by Altair Nanotechnologies. It replaces the carbon anodes of old with nanosized lithium-titanate particles, which don't overheat and allow the car to recharge in about 15 minutes using a special charger, or in six to seven hours using a wall socket. The first two production runs--500 this year, 6,000 in 2008--will be sold to fleet owners to work out the final kinks before the Phoenix is offered up to the general public. "What we're saying," says Phoenix CEO Dan Elliott, "is you can have your cake and eat it too."

I might note that Mr. Clueless wrote his precious theories before we realized that Wind is a winner. Who knows what we could have done to move away from fossil fuels had there simply been the political will and intelligence to do it. I also hope the makers at Phoenix and Tesla have watched "Tucker: A Man and his Dream" very very carefully. Hold that tiger...

A related miracle tech that Mr. Clueless says can never happen from MIT's Technology Review. There are claims that it can't be done but the batteries either work in cars or they don't...

March 10

Mac Booker is definitely the most interesting writer at Metroblogging, although Laura is still the cutest. (Of course, if you're still creating content for free I can't call either one of you the "smartest"...) He actually seems to know things. He also did a nice review of the PG blogs.  I do have to disagree with Macbooker's assessment of "My Homewood" that a Family Dollar being built isn't much news. If you live in a poor community, hey, that's news. Take it from me I live in Wilkinsburg. When I first moved here I pretty much had to walk a mile and a half to buy fresh milk and eggs. Now that there's at least a drive in Giant Eagle on Penn Avenue near the McDonalds and the Save a Lot has opened its a pretty big deal. You can actually walk to a store and buy fresh food. If you live in Homewood, well, you can pretty much walk to Wilkinsburg and/or East Liberty. That's a big thing if you're poor and don't have a car. I'm also guessing that the Mac Booker hasn't had too many bullets flying through his window. I'm not saying that its war reporting but on that guy's salary he could live in a lot nicer places than Homewood. Would be nice if he updated it more. Does he have stronger opinions and can he express them on his blog? See next post for answer...

Here's my own review of those PG blogs here: They can't fuckin' swear. Actually, they might be able to but the thing is can they do it without looking over their backs and being tossed out the door the next day? Can any of those music blogs play a Youtube vid without clearing it with legal? Out here in the mostly independent burgosphere Richard Scaife can blow me. Don't really care if he doesn't like my work. The same for whoever edits the PG, especially if its that adorable Samantha Bennett.  I can say all kinds of things out here and often do and don't really have to worry about being fired for saying them. While my annual income hovered around $5000 last year--I can live on twigs and cable, which isn't that hard when you don't have any pesky "family" bothering you with their "demands" regarding food drink habitation and whatnot-- I have much more power and much more say so over my content than any PG writer. I won't even go into the right wing theocratic sweatshop that is the Tribune Review.

Welp, all done. I'll be back fuckin' tomorrow too barring death. I'll stop writing when you pry my ergonomic keyboard from my cold dead hands. Oh, what's that, the bosses in Toledo don't like my strident style...well they can blow me too. What would you rather have: power or money? (Trick question: I'm actually striving for both...) One more thing: I was kind of hoping that maybe contract negotiations would have stalled and the writers of the PG took a shot at creating and owning their own paper, because if it worked a newspaper owned by its creators would be a great force of good in this world.

Nice Peduto ad here. It strikes up the adult vs. kid theme quite nicely. Note to anyone canvassing for the Peduto campaign: It would probably be cheaper to burn these on a cd and hand deliver them door to door than pay to put this on the teevee. It is, afterall, the future. Update: nevermind.

 

 

March 7

Funny toon by Stephanie:

The Angry Arab says Hillary will trot out this pic of Obama speaking with Edward Said, who's a bad person because he thinks Palestinians are people. Bu there wouldn't necessarily be an overt rebuke. The poison would look more like this.

By the way, Said said things like this (from Wikipedia, although with a second's worth of googling you could probably find several Democracy Now Interviews):

In August 2003, in an article published online in Counterpunch, Said summarizes his position on the contemporary rights of Palestinians vis-à-vis the historical experience of the Jewish people:

I have spent a great deal of my life during the past 35 years advocating the rights of the Palestinian people to national self-determination, but I have always tried to do that with full attention paid to the reality of the Jewish people and what they suffered by way of persecution and genocide. The paramount thing is that the struggle for equality in Palestine/Israel should be directed toward a humane goal, that is, co-existence, and not further suppression and denial.[41]

Pris has a great videoblog, even though I can't really afford all that fancy organic food.

March 6th

My fave fantasy serious film experience got a modest box office over the weekend. Note to self: move this poster to the Red Light District where it belongs. Related: Multi Medium guy is spreading a false and malicious rumor that this proposed new Burger King movie (probably being produced by the same people who want to turn the Geico cavemen ads into a sitcom...oh, that will do well...)will be using a V for Vendetta style advertising campaign. Or as the ad campaign will say: The Burger King Shouldn't Be Afraid of His People, The People Should be Afraid of the Burger King.

Speaking of thinly disguised pornography, I see that the county--aided, probably, by Dan "The Boss" Onorato and the Rendell machine, so sez Thomas at Mark Rauterkaus--committeemen endorsed Luke Ravenstahl, in case you're wondering how a mediocre man like Bush became the President (its because dumb guys are less threatening to the status quo...) over the grown up Bill Peduto for the mayor. Laura of Ideas Bucket offers her depressing take. And she even has a video, with some old skool alice cooper as the soundtrack. Maria is not full of sunshine, either.

I still think Peduto has a great shot at winning.  My take from the last election is that Lamb and Peduto split the anti establishment vote (I'm terrified that Obama and Edwards will do the same thing at the national level and hand the thing to Hillary...) and handed it to O Conner. Right now, it's just Peduto versus the popular kid. I wish Peduto well. I just hope that he's well funded for these final 10 weeks. And Mark you're wrong: May 15th really is it, unless the Arnold comes into Pittsburgh with a 10 million dollar independent run.

March 5

Well well well, looks like MTV is losing money. Turns out lame reality shows not as interesting as breaking a band like the Sugarcubes or U2. Really. I never would have guessed that. That means that BET on J probably isn't doing that well either. Roll over Beethoven and somebody tell Reginald Hudlin the news.

The velocity of change has left MTV occasionally looking as if were being programmed by an 83-year-old namely Sumner M. Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, which owns MTV. The network, itself a stately 25 years old, has suffered a decline in ratings and cultural cachet.

Last week, MTV Networks, an umbrella which includes MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, laid off 250 employees, including some executives. The idea was to trim bodies in the television ranks and ramp up hiring on the Internet side of the business, investing the savings to make sure that its various channels don"t end up like the dad in the basement at the teen party.

As a brand, MTV has been beyond durable, managing to reinvent itself continuously and in doing so presenting a fast-moving target that left many would-be rivals in its wake. Shows like MTV's Real World deserve much of the credit, or blame, for demonstrating that reality can make for compelling viewing.

March 2

Even though I criticize the dems I still think they're the only game in town. I'll say this again: You give me 35 million then I'll give you a viable third party movement, or I'll show you a way to throw a lot of races to the Republicans. It's the winner take all system and people who win with the winner take all system aren't in a hurry to change the winner take all system. I was having a little fun with one of my Amsam comrades. Here's the original toon. I'm sure he'll take it well or he'll tell me to stick it where the sun don't shine. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm adding several local Pittsburgh blogs. One is the The People's Republic of Pittsburgh and the other is Metroblogging Pittsburgh, whose premise of making some other guy rich who won't share any of his revenue with you seems like a bad idea. You could just as easily start something called Three Rivers Online Metroblogging and you could share in the google ad revenues, instead of giving it to some "guy". But some of the writing is pretty good.

March 1

I'm getting more breaking news from my informative piece about ACORN called "My Brilliant Career at ACORN" over at Indy Media.

Here's the latest from people who have gone through the ACORN experience:

acorn blows
by nonya Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 at 8:37 PM
Yeah, I just washed out of training with ACORN. There were three of us, two with masters degrees, and two fluent spanish speakers. All three of us were gone within three days.

We read an article by Cesar Chavez about his work organizing. Two things that stood out to me were 1) the UFW offered tangible rewards for dues paying members, such as subsidized gasoline, auto repair, credit union, cheap groceries, and other benefits. 2) The issues were decided primarily by the workers themselves.

At ACORN, there are no benefits. They take your money, and they make you protests, and the only benefit is that a law might be passed after years of struggle. No one joins a union, and pays $120 dues, just to win political victories. They do it for very specific, personal benefits, like keeping their electricity on, getting discounts.

But the issues that they are fighting for may or may not be in everyone's self interest. For example, the head leadership decided to have paid sick days as the primary goal. But really, each individual has their own personal reasons for joining a group, like getting the crack heads out of their ally, having their street snow plowed, or stopping people from doing doughnuts on the street. I am not sure that the ACORN organizers are really listening to their constituents. Rather, it seems like they are trying to get money and warm bodies to support their pre-determined leftist causes, (like stopping Wal-Mart, for example).

Because the ACORN workers, especially the managers, are paid so little, you end up with this children's army of workers. At the typical ACORN office, everyone is stressed, no one is smiling, the office is in disarray. Their database is out of date, so you call the same deceased person five times without anyone taking him off the list. They don't give a damn about their workers; I never got fifteen minute breaks, nor did I get lunch breaks. You work 55 hour weeks, no overtime.

Truly, the only people who work work for ACORN are too inexperienced, too unprofessional, or too sketchy, or too radical to get a job anywhere else. Instead of expanding their organization, they should shrink it, pay their workers more, offer their members tangible benefits, and otherwise get their act together.

Yep. Sounds about right. Keep fighting the Power Maryellen if she's even still there...