Friday, August 01, 2003

Why you want more Dubya in 2004

Originally posted by New Kojak at the Maccentral Forums.

You are independently wealthy and wish to pay a lower tax rate than the people you hire to cut your grass and serve you lunch.

You absolutely despise overtime pay and the labor unions that demand it.

You think public universities are great, but not nearly white enough and with far too many women's athletics programs.

You hate most of the world and really wish that was reflected in foreign policy.

After a history of tax evasion, skirting trade restrictions, and over-billing governments, you think Haliburton probably deserves only the juiciest of no-bid reconstruction contracts for the countries the US is sure to bomb the hell out of.

When Paul Wolfowitz talks about fighting preemptive wars against three or more countries at once, you can't help but wipe the saliva off your chin with your sleeve and feel your nipples harden with excitement.

Children in poor schools are easily fooled into thinking they won't be "left behind," and you want to know if Bush has any more hilariously evil and sadistic jokes to pull on the nation's impoverished.

You seriously believe George W. Bush when he says that God himself put him in charge of spreading freedom throughout the oil rich Caspian Sea basin with depleted uranium ammunitions and cluster bombs.

You think that asthma, bronchitis, acidic mercury-laden rain, radioactive waste, wars in the middle east, and global terrorism are simply fine substitutes for research into a sustainable energy future.

When faced with the choice of a bloated government, or cuts in social services, you think, "gee, can't we have both?"

You're thinking of starting a giant suicide cult and the credible fear of nuclear armageddon really helps with recruitment. Nuclear non-proliferation treaties do not.

You're tremendously homophobic and want an administration that makes your fears a priority.

Listening to George W. Bush's speeches makes you feel like a sophisticated and intelligent individual.

You're sexually attracted to Ann Coulter and would do everything she says for just one night of savage passion with her finely tailored, Skeletor-like body, vapid of compassion, logic, and reasonable thought.

You think the Iraq War is best justified after hundreds of American deaths and thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and that Bush is going to need until at least 2006 to find any weapons in Iraq.

Kenneth Lay really deserves to keep someone else's parent's retirement savings.

You really think Ralph Nader still doesn't quite get it.

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Batman the way nature intended

Oh yes. Batman: Dead End. If you are a Batman fan and you have broadband go check it out. There is a full screen version at 160MB and a small version at 48MB. It's a very well done, 8 minute short film. In my opinion it is far closer to the way Batman is meant to be portrayed. Hollywood's Gotham City was sterile and synthetic compared to Dead End which feels dark, gritty, and realistic. There's no comical Joker here, but a very creepy lunatic. Yeah... I'd love to see this guy make a feature length film with the exact feel of this short.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

We're not liberators?

But while the prince was taking the raid calmly, elsewhere in Mansur it provoked a reaction that was anything but. "We consider the Americans now as war criminals," said Mahmoud al-Baghdadi, a 32-year-old baker. "They claim to be fighting terrorism, but they cannot defend freedom by killing disabled people."

It's not getting better.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Geneva Conventions. Protocol 1.

Art. 75.

2. The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilian or by military agents: (a) violence to the life, health, or physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular: (i) murder; (ii) torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental; (iii) corporal punishment; and (iv) mutilation;

(b) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form or indecent assault; (c) the taking of hostages; (d) collective punishments; and (e) threats to commit any of the foregoing acts.


The US is now violating this Article of the Geneva Conventions. US troops are taking hostages.

Atrios points this out and adds more details.

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Sunday, July 27, 2003

Photo's from the storm

Okay, I did not take any photos but my good friend Mat sure did. Nearly one week later and the clean up is in full swing. There are still many, many homes without electricity. What a crazy week it's been. Mama Nature sure has a way of shaking things up when you least expect it. It's not been easy but in the end, I love this kind of nature induced freak-out.

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Thursday, July 24, 2003

Crazy in Memphis

Few updates for the time being. Memphis had a crazy storm Tuesday morning. Winds reported at 80 mph and massive destruction. 325,000 homes without electricity... mine included. It's nearly impossible to get net access there right now. I've taken the opportunity to visit my family in St.Louis. I'm going to post from here as much as I'm able. Word in Memphis is that many folks will be without power for over a week. Yuck.

So, sorry about the sparse updates. One quick note for the geeks in the house. I'm currently online, a slow dial-up connection which my brother is sharing from his iBook. The beauty of Mac OSX is the ease of use. He dialed up, clicked share internet connection in preferences, then created a network which I joined instantly. Soooooo easy.

One last thought... impeach Bush and try him for war crimes.

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Monday, July 21, 2003

Homeland security

USA Today: Microsoft acknowledges a critical flaw in nearly all Windows software allows hackers to seize control of your computer over the Net, steal your data, delete your files, and eavesdrop on your email.

Heh. Now this is, er, funny. The spooky aliens of the U.S. "Department of Homeland Security have awarded a five-year, $90-million contract to Microsoft to supply all its most important desktop and server software for about 140,000 computers inside the new federal agency."

Kinda not too funny that one department of the government is awarding a $90-million dollar contract to a criminal which has been found guilty of abusing monopoly power. So much for any kind of punishment. I wonder if they get cupcakes too? "Our" government hard at work.

You gotta wonder, why not Unix, Linux, or Mac OSX? All of these are, by default, more secure. Is Windows secure? Well, Zeldman says it well: "Windows can be hacked by a squirrel monkey, thus is wide open to attack."

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Sunday, July 20, 2003

Earth to Bush... come in...

George Bush would like us to forget certain inconvenient truths:
The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful.
Those words were spoken by George during a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on July 14, 2003. Now, I have to ask, was George, er, unaware of the fact that UN weapons inspectors were in Iraq? George, it was only a few months ago... try real, real hard and maybe you'll remember it.

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The downward spiral

The situation in Iraq is apparently worsening day by day. Two more soldiers died today. One yesterday and the day before that too. It seems that it's becoming a daily happening.

Are they serious? U.S. Plans To Enlist Iraqis in Operations: Civil Force Is Intended To Quell Resistance. Do they really think this is a good idea?

CAMP AS SALIYAH, Qatar, July 19 -- U.S. military commanders plan to train and arm thousands of Iraqis to conduct military missions alongside U.S. and British troops in an effort to restore security and quell resistance by forces loyal to ousted president Saddam Hussein, the new head of U.S. military forces in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East said today.


The Iraqi army was falling apart


In the final days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this country's armed forces collapsed from within, with soldiers deserting in droves and commanders of even the most elite units refusing to push their last fighters toward inevitable slaughter by a technologically superior U.S. force, former Iraqi military leaders said.

Was Iraq a current and immediate threat to the US? What evidence did the Bush and Company have? Did they have any real evidence at all? Where are the WMD? Recent developments indicate that they did not have new information which would justify anything close to pre-emptive war.

It seems to me that the primary threat to US safety is the US itself. It's president lied to wage a pre-emptive war. It's congress, republicans and democrats, went along for the ride and offered no dissent during the conflict. Millions of people in the US and around the planet protested what amounted to a war of aggression. It's bizarre that the "leader of the free world" so completely ignored the voices of so many millions of people who did not want war. It is increasingly clear that the US is in no way a government by the people for the people. It's political culture and governmental structures have made it easy for Bush to do what he has. The US is the rogue nation which needs to be stopped in it's tracks by the world community. Is this not obvious?

The US and Britain committed a crime in waging this war. What will the consequences be? I'd say fly Bush, Blair, and their cabinets into Iraq and deposit them into the streets. Let the Iraqi people deal out whatever justice they feel necessary.


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Monday, July 14, 2003

You won't see this reporting in a U.S. newspaper

Red, white and worried
Post-war euphoria gives way to new realities as Fourth of July finds America troubled and confused



Since George W. Bush congratulated troops on their job well done in his infamous photo op aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier on May 1, American soldiers are facing an average of 13 ambushes and attacks per day. Seventy have died, 27 from enemy fire.

The long Independence Day weekend opened here with television images of jubilant Iraqis jumping on the roof of a burned-out U.S. Humvee and a threatening audiotape from Saddam Hussein. That wasn't supposed to be happening.

The Taliban is regrouping in Afghanistan. No one here talks much about Afghanistan any more, but the job is not finished.

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Sunday, July 13, 2003

Hiding out

Spent the past few days away from the keyboard. There's so much going on in the community of which I'm a part and in my personal zonality (i just made that word up) that I thought it better to keep my thoughts on the downlow. I think at the moment I'm feeling emotionally detatched or disconnected. Some would say that's bad, I don't think it is. I kinda feel like I'm watching a movie. I see turmoil, emotion, missed communication, miscommunication, disrespect... everyone seems to have a role in one mess or another. I was talking to a friend yesterday and we concluded that we need a big heart circle with everyone in our community present... maybe 25 people. Personally I think folks should be naked at this heart circle. People put up too many barriers, myself included.

We freak out about relationships. Sometimes we try to own or control. I'm starting to think that the traditional model of a "romantic relationship" (or whatever you want to call it) is a failure. Actually I've thought about that off and on for eight years. I'm not sure that model is the best way of going about intimacy. I guess I'm not sure what I think of the idea or emotion called love. Hollywood would have us believe in soulmates but I don't think that is real. The modern family unit, the nuclear family, is a recent fabrication with particular purposes. It works for some people but I do not accept it as the ultimate goal or model for relationships. I think this is especially true for folks who do not intend to have children.

I wonder if we ought not develop a different mentality regarding romantic or intimate relationships. Why not have something more open with more people. I'm not talking about sex, but emotional and certain kinds of physical intimacy. Perhaps pairings which are more transient and less serious. If we love and are more intimate with more people at the same time might this not be better? If our various needs are being met by a greater pool of people, might that not be more interesting and more stable? In a way that's what our community already does (and others also) but we have weirdness with the different kinds of intimacy.

I'll leave it at that. I think it's possible and would be a good thing. I'm sure there are various social and psycological barriers that will need to be worked through but in the end... well, who knows?

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Bush's lies are catching up to him

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

-- From Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address
Liars
"It is unfortunate that this one sentence, these 16 words, remained in the State of the Union, but this in no way has any effect on the president's larger case about Iraqi efforts to reconstitute the nuclear program, and most importantly in the bigger picture of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." --Condoleezza Rice
"The president of the United States did not go to war because of a question of whether or not Saddam Hussein sought uranium in Africa." -- national security adviser Condoleezza Rice

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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Going, going, gone?

Steve Gilliard has yet again nailed it on the head: Time to admit the obvious: there are no WMD

Ok, let's go through this simply:

No units have found any stores of shells, rockets or any production facilities that could be used to convert them into chemical weapons. Despite months of scouring Iraq during and after the war, despite special operators running around Iraq, not one chemical shell has been found. Not one chemical rocket has been found.
So, the question: Is there a deadline for finding the so called Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? I can see the headlines now: Bagdad, Iraq - AP - January 1, 2019, George W. Bush, former President of the United States, continued his search today for the long lost WMD...

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Monday, July 07, 2003

U.S. Troops Vandalize

U.S. troops vandalized and looted the Iraqi airport and now we get to pay for it. Not only was it a needless waste of millions of dollars, but it's probably not the only example of U.S. troops behaving disrespectfully. Of course disrespecting an airport and it's contents is just the icing on the cake of U.S. aggression.


"I don't want to detract from all the great work that's going into getting the airport running again," says Lieut. John Welsh, the Army civil-affairs officer charged with bringing the airport back into operation. "But you've got to ask, If this could have been avoided, did we shoot ourselves in the foot here?"

What was then called Saddam International Airport fell to soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division on April 3. For the next two weeks, airport workers say, soldiers sleeping in the airport's main terminal helped
themselves to items in the duty-free shop, including alcohol, cassettes, perfume, cigarettes and expensive watches. Welsh, who arrived in Iraq in late April, was so alarmed by the thievery that he rounded up a group of Iraqi airport employees to help him clean out the shop and its storage area.

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Sunday, July 06, 2003

Watching the Government

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both." - James Madison (Fourth Presidentof the United States)

Thanks to some folks at MIT we now have Government Information Awarness. Their Mission:

To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government of the United States of America.

To allow citizens to submit intelligence about government-related issues, while maintaining their anonymity. To allow members of the government a chance to participate in the process.

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Presidential manipulation

A couple days ago I mentioned this story over at The Nation in which Renana Brooks offers an analysis of Bush's use of language.

Given the manipulative content of Bush's speeches on the 4th, it seems like a good time to reflect on his words. Emma over at Notes on the Atrocities also takes a look at Bush's speech.


"By killing innocent Americans, our enemies made their intentions clear to us," Bush said from a red-white-and-blue-bedecked stage set up on a sun-soaked field. "And since that September day, we have made our own intentions clear to them."

Who killed innocent Americans? Not Iraqis. Bush has provided zero, zilch, nada in the way of evidence which might link Iraq to 9/11. He's mixing the shit here.


The United States, Bush said, "will not stand by and wait for another attack, or trust in the restraint and good intentions of evil men."


Who's good and evil? Are Iraqi civilians evil? Were they deserving of 3/12/03? What about 3/15/03? Maybe they deserved 3/17 or 3/19? Just what was the threat posed by Saddam? Where are the chemical and nuclear weapons? The constant repetition of these accusations does not make them true.


"We will act whenever it is necessary to protect the lives and the liberty of the American people."

"Without America's active involvement in the world, the ambitions of tyrants would go unopposed and millions would live at the mercy of terrorists," he said. "With Americans' active involvement in the world, tyrants learn to fear and terrorists are on the run."

What in the hell is he saying here? The "ambitions of tyrants"? Please, tell me, what had Saddam done to us? What has he ever done to the U.S.? Bush is fond of talking terrorism, of bringing up 9/11 and suggesting that we should live in fear, afraid for our lives. From the perspective of an Iraqi it is the U.S. and George Bush that is the terrorist. It's currently estimated that 6,000 - 7,000 Iraqi civilians died as a result of our recent aggression. That does not count the thousands who were injured, many maimed for the rest of their lives. Does this not far outweigh the pain and suffering of 9/11? Just in pure numbers it does. So, tell me again, who is the terrorist? George Bush, you are a piece of shit.

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The troops are frustrated

Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom'


In one Army unit, an officer described the mentality of troops. "They vent to anyone who will listen. They write letters, they cry, they yell. Many of them walk around looking visibly tired and depressed.... We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."

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Saturday, July 05, 2003

Remember this?

The Declaration of Independence

Watch out, some folks might label you a traitor or subversive for reading such radical propaganda:


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Thanks to Cory at Boing Boing for posting it there.

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Remember this?

The Declaration of Independence

Watch out, some folks might label you a traitor or subversive for reading such radical propaganda:


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Thanks to Cory at Boing Boing for posting it there.

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Friday, July 04, 2003

What a nightmare

bush golfs

Steve Gilliard over at the Daily Kos has written an excellent summary of the current situation in Iraq.


The look on Donald Rumsfeld's face lately has not been a happy one. As the Bush Administration and its defenders try to pretend that the war in Iraq is not going badly, the reality is that things are getting worse with little hope for a solution in the near future.

Viceroy Jerry has asked for 50,000 troops to maintain his rule. There's one small problem with that. There aren't 50K to give. The US military is nearly at the end of it's deployable strength and needs to withdraw the 3ID as soon as possible.
Each day that passes get's uglier and uglier. Bush apparently does not know who's in charge of finding the WMD. Saddam is still on the loose. Resistance to U.S. occupation grows each day. Back on the ranch Cowboy George is inviting attacks on the U.S. troops.

Of course I'm just looking at it from the point of view of a citizen in this country. I have no idea what it must be like over there. As if the Iraqi's were devastated enough by 10+ years of economic sanctions we pounded their country with Gulf War 2. They didn't ask for Saddam, nor did they ask for Bush. Why does the U.S. constantly interfere in the affairs of so many countries? Never forget that Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam in the 1980's.

Today we celebrate Independence day. I wonder, what does that mean?

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Cost of the war

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

An ongoing tally of the cost of the war in Iraq
The tally updates every second and I'll tell ya, it's scary to watch. We're spending about $2,000 every second.

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Thursday, July 03, 2003

Maybe it's the heat?

Boy, I'm slackin. I have not been motivated to do anything the past few days. Actually, I am taking a more pro-active role at my place of employment but outside of that I, er, just don't care. I'm felling very apathetic about most things. It's interesting, but some folks think I need fixing. There seems to be a sentiment that there's something wrong with me. I suppose I can't know for sure but I don't think there is.

Why is happiness so important? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be miserable. But I don't know that I want to be happy either. I think I just want to be. I'll take the good with the bad and try to keep it all in context.

I think that perhaps I've just exhausted my limited social energy. I'm feeling like I want to be alone more than I have in the past. I'm not content but I'm not really interested in making any changes at the moment. Yes, I want to be left alone. That may sound harsh but it's where I'm at. I need space. I'm feeling a shift in myself. Perhaps it's only temporary but what has been open is now closed. I will be by myself because that's what I have to do.

I think I used to be afraid of being alone. Perhaps it was a fear of what that might imply about me. If I'm alone then I'm not desired which is a negative about me. I think otherwise now. I'm not afraid of this. I wish I'd faced certain fears that I've turned away from in the past. Perhaps it's the easy way out, but it's what I choose for now. Perhaps I'm just looking for some sort of mental safety or comfort, I'm not sure. I suppose every choice has positives and negatives, every choice is right and wrong.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Normalcy? Democracy

I found this story over at the Daily Kos. Concerning Nader voters and Nader's suggestion that he might run for president Kos writes:


I've tried to encourage a truce between Democrats and Nader voters in the interest of ousting Bush and returning this nation to some measure of normalcy...

Screw him. Let him run if he wants. It's a Democracy. But every vote for Nader can't be anything more than a vote for Bush. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded, and will get no respect for enabling our nation's systematic destruction by the Bush cabal.

I wonder, what is this normalcy he speaks of? What does that mean? Further to the left on the political spectrum? He also states that this nation is a democracy. Not true. It's way past the time that we should be talking about what this nation really is. It's past the time that we continue the American Revolution that started over 200 years ago and create a real democracy. We don't need normalcy, we need a true, participatory democracy.

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Sunday, May 25, 2003

Food and Health and Manipulation, er, Hope

That phrase (minus the Manipulation) was a part of Monsanto's promotional materials for a while. It's since been replaced with "Imagine". Jeanne d'Arc over at Body and Soul has posted
a story about the AIDS relief bill which was passed by the Senate on May 16, 2003. Apparently "our" representatives in congress continue the push to cram genetically modified food down the throats of people in Africa. She writes:

I'm hardly an expert, so if anyone wants to take exception to this characterization, be my guest, but my impression is that the safety of GM food seems pretty well established, the environmental impact and the effect on the local agriculture (and, long-term, on local economies as a whole) a lot less so. There are reasons to accept GM food and there are reasons to be wary of it (plenty of American farmers are wary), but almost nobody is arguing the case on its merits.

I don't know that the saftey of GM food has been established. I'm not an "expert" either and I've not been keeping up with this for the past year but the last reading I did left plenty of doubt in my mind. A part of the problem with GMOs and food safety is illustrated by the case of "Starlink" corn which was not approved for human consumption. It was approved for feeding animals but it found it's way into the human food supply in 2001. Our food supply is, apparently, not as organized as it should be. As long as some foods are considered safe for livestock but not humans I think we'll need better safegaurds to ensure that the two do not mix.

I don't think we can make blanket statements about the safety of GMO foods. The general attitude of the FDA (and other agencies) has seemingly been that GMO's are safe until proven guilty. Shouldn't it be the other way around? I'm going to look into it further but my impression is that they're far more lax about food saftey that we realize.

On the subject of GM, environmental impact and agriculture, the process whereby GM has been introduced is a real mess. Just take a look at how Bovine Growth Hormone, rBGH, was brought into play in the 1990's. rBGH and GM generally have been adopted too quickly and with little public debate. An interesting sidenote concerning rBGH and the media is the case of Jane Akre and Steve Wilson. In many ways it's a problem with technology generally. It seems to me that any democratic society should rigorously debate the adoption of new technologies, especially ones which could have such far reaching impact as genetic modification. Yet this did not happen in the U.S. The media hardly discussed it. Instead multinationals like Monsanto, Novartis, and DuPont forged ahead and the U.S. regulatory agencies let them. Just as with food safety, the EPA seems to take a stance that genetically modified organisms are innocent until proven guilty. Of course, the problem with this is that once organisms are introduced into the ecosystem they cannot really be contained.

Multinational corporations do not generally function for the benefit of ecosystems or human health. That's a fundamental flaw of capitalism and unfortunately the flaws of capitalism are not widely discussed in our society. Nor are the intentions of corporations when they push new products and technologies.

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Saturday, May 24, 2003

To benefit the Iraqi people?

Help me out here. I'm trying to remember, trying to understand; why did we just beat up Iraq?

Was it a continuation of the "war on terrorism"? Was it to remove "weapons of mass destruction"? Was it to remove a dictator and create democracy? Thanks to Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul for pointing to this article at the Christian Science Monitor. According to that article there is increasing evidence that "between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war, according to researchers involved in independent surveys of the country."

That would make the "Iraq war" "the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that US forces have fought since Vietnam." It also puts civilian casualties far beyond the 3,500 that died in the first Gulf war. Of course this number doesn't include the many people that are likely to die because people's needs are not being met after the war. Hospitals are not even close to being stabilized nor are food needs being met. What about the radioactive wastes left behind? Just as with the first Gulf War, tons of depleted uranium bullets now liter the Iraq landscape.

Some might argue that it's American-based multinationals that stand to benefit. Call me crazy but I think that may have been the plan all along.

For a continuing discussion check out salon.com has set up a new blog, Iraq Democracy Watch.

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Thursday, May 22, 2003

It's those little details...

"When the guy from the White House tells you to take your tie off, you don't ask why." --Brian Bosma, Indiana House Republican, minority leader, who, while attending a speech by President Bush, was asked to remove his tie so audience members would look like ordinary people.

Time Magazine, May 26, 2003.

You gotta love juicey little tidbits like this. Gotta make sure all us ordinary folk feel at home with "our" president. Gee, thanks fellers for being so thoughtful.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Scale of Democracy

Thanks to Jon Lebokowsky I found Adina Levin's post discussing the dynamics of scale and democracy. She writes that "The "lobbying-and-marketing" approach isn't just an elitist power-grab by special interests. It's a practical response to a scaling problem. Representative democracy is a solution to the problem of aggregating decision-making power. The "lobbying and marketing" strategy is a solution to aggregating the power to influence decisions. The Sierra Club and the NRA can get hundreds of thousands of people to donate, vote, and contact representatives."

Social ecologist Murray Bookchin has proposed a democracy of the municipality which would shift decision making away from Washington D.C. It's a radical proposal and calls into question our acceptance of the nation state as a required entity. His idea, greatly simplified here, is to think of democracy as a participatory process which begins in the neighborhood and then builds up to the city level and from there to a regional level through a process of confederation.

It's interesting to think about in these times when many would argue that citizenship is dead or dying and has been replaced, to a great degree by consumerism; a gradual, but fundamental shift that is not healthy for democratic process.

What Bookchin and others have called for is actually a deep cultural shift as well as a political shift. The machine as it currently functions is not democratic and I'd argue that it's incapable of democracy. It would be like asking a common kitchen toaster to fly accross the room. That's not going to happen because toasters are not designed to fly. Similarly, the social, political, and economic systems of the U.S. are not governed by democratic process nor are they designed to cultivate it. It's really about the management of people and resources by a fairly small group of people who function behind the facade of "representative" democracy.

Of course there are times when it's pretty obvious that we're not living in a democracy, or even a democratic republic. If we want a democratic society we will have make fundamental, radical shifts to the many layers of our lives. It's not just about government. We need to examine the purpose and practice of our "educational" systems. What about the influence of corporations, which are private tyrannies, over public policy? How does car centered city planning affect the use and experience of public space? How is techonolgy being used? Who decides which technologies are used? Is the corporate media system really informing people or selling to them? Who controls the media system? What does it mean to be a citizen? What are the responsibilities that go along with citizenship? Is it possible to have a more direct relationship to public policy? Should democracy extend into the economy?

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Saturday, May 17, 2003

George Bush went AWOL

Okay, so Georgie boy waged a war against a nation that couldn't defend itself using a pretext that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the U.S. Have they found those weapons? Of course not. Will they find them? Probably not. Did they get Saddam? No, just like Osama bin Laden he seemed to disappear into the countryside. Did over a thousand innocent Iraqi's die? Sure did.

So the "war" against Iraq "ends" and flyboy Georgie lands a jet on an aircraft carrier for his grand finale. "Our" fearless leader. Nevermind the fact that he went awol for over a year. That's right, Bush's military records show that he did not report for Guard duty for a year or more from 1972 - 1973.

What a joke this guy is. Check out GW Bush Went AWOL for more info and links to articles found in the mainstream press.

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Thursday, May 15, 2003

Playing Card Deck for U.S. Regime Change...

This is great. A playing card deck which shows the way to regime change in the U.S. The deck is a 55 most wanted list of those responsible for crimes against Iraq and is modeled on the deck issued by the Pentagon a few weeks ago.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

My day job...

Is painful. But damn, I guess it's better than most I've had. In a strange way I've actually been looking forward to going in lately. I think that's because it's a lower stress environment than my home life has been lately. I work at the Memphis Literacy Council and I'm happy to be working at a place that isn't about making a profit. It's great to see people helping each other on a daily basis. Though I suppose I'm frustrated. Much of the work I do is repetetive: data entry. I'm a total fucking office dork and it get's old. Damn, I've been there for 5 years and that's longer than any other job I've ever had. Sometimes the urge to quit is overwhelming but thet I wonder where I'd want to work and I can't think of any job situation that would be better. Maybe I just lack creativity.

I suppose that in many ways it's an ideal situation. My pay is a little low but the work is not too demanding and leaves me with plenty of energy for my real passions... whatever the hell they are. This is the direct opposite of Sue who's cleaning people's houses and is utterly exhausted after working or Renae who's wating tables and who comes home with her back aching.

Here's something most folks are amazed to hear: the national illiteracy rate for adults is around 25%. That's 1 in 4 adults. The rate in Memphis is a little higher. I'm happy that places like the Literacy Council exist in most cities and and that most of them offer their services for free or at very low cost. It's a shame though that less than 1% of those who are illiterate use these services on a regular basis. I'm amazed at the way people are able to adapt to life without the ability to read.

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The Matrix

Okay, being the consumer geek that I am I went out last night and bought the Matrix DVD. I'm suprised I hadn't bought it before but really wanted to watch it again before going to see part 2 which is, of course, out this week.

Am I the only one who sees just a hint of serious societal critique in the Matrix? Of course what's stated in the movie is fairly surface level. We're not talking a deep analysis here. If you want that in a movie check out Mind Walk which is really amazing. But what is implied in the Matrix could be the stuff of many late night discussions. Specifically, when Morpheus is defining the Matrix for Neo. He describes it as being the big fat lie that is our lives. Not just any lie but the fundamental deception which has been carefully created to keep us sedated so that we will serve as an energy source for others that will profit from us. This is easily applied to the current "system" in which the corporate media is owned by (or own) other multinational corporations. This system, or matrix, surrounds us from birth to death. It seeks total control over the minds of supposedly "free" people and does so without being seen. It is the air that we breathe. It is most developed in the United States where the media seems to be the most invasive and where televisions have been the most consumed for the longest period of time.

What is the truth which is obscurred by the matrix? At it's most basic it is that we are not free as we are told we are. The matrix is designed to hide the ways in which we are merely tools which are used by those in power to increase the power that they have. It is a never ending struggle. They have control but not complete control. As long as there are people who protest, who write words such as these they will lack complete control. Perhaps the internet is helping in the breakdown of their control. It seems that it's almost certainly true. But their control is not just measured in what people are thinking, it's what they are doing. Resistance against the matrix is about the mental activity as well as physical activity: protesting, building community-based counter-institutions, and direct action which takes many different forms.

Of course, in the end the movie itself is just a thread in the matrix it is describing.

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Frustrations with BellSouth FastAccess DSL

It's a real bummer that Directv DSL went out of business this past fall. In one year of service with those folks we had maybe 2 outages for a total of less than 1 hour. An added bonus was a static ip address which made connecting remotely much easier. Their service was the best I've had yet.

Enter BellSouth FastAccess which is almast as bad as Road Runner was. For starters, the signal drops out several times a week. These outages usually only last a few minutes but sometimes up to several hours. Very annoying. Another kicker is what they apparently do to discourage do-it-yourself home networking. From the start we've had problems posting from certain online forms or email services such as yahoo or hotmail. These problems only occurr when working through our Asante or Linksys router. A direct connection to the modem works fine for all pages and services. Why? Evidently Bellsouth throws a wrench in the works by requiring that data packets be smaller than what the router normally uses in some instances. This is not a problem that can easily be fixed or even discovered by the typical home user. I discovered a solution after many google searches and finally a post to the Asante support forums.

There is a solution though it's a pain in the ass and I've not been able to get it working on all of the computers on our home network which range from Windows XP to Mac OS9 to Mac OSX. Each computer has to be configured to limit the size of it's MTU (maximum transmission unit). The two machines easiest to configure were running OSX. I did a search for configuring MTU in Apple's KBase and came up with this article. Pretty straight forward use of the terminal and the pico text editor to create a script and a file as well as altering another. Though it is described as an "advanced procedure" most anyone could do it if they simply follow the directions. Took me about 10 minutes to do both computers.

As of this writing the XP computer is still not properly configured. I downloaded a recommended shareware program, NetTweak Pro, installed and configured it but with no success. In fact I can no longer access the web on that computer. Nor have I found a solution for reconfiguring the OS9 computer.

Seems like Asante and other router manufacturers could allow for this kind of setting in the router? Perhaps future router firmware updates will include this feature.

Music

Ah.... it amazes me how much music can shift my reality. We don't just listen to music, we use it. I suppose that's obvious but I hadn't really thought of it that way till tonight.

Listening to Azure Ray right now... so sweet and kinda sad too... but comforting at the same time.

Current favorites: Virgin Suicides soundtrack, Asian Dub Foundation, Morcheeba, Poi Dog Pondering,1 Giant Leap soundtrack, Leonard Cohen, and They Might be Giants.

For the geeks out there... the new Apple iPods are pretty sweet. I sold my 5 gig to Brandon and bought the new 10 gig last week. Smaller and lighter though supposedly less battery life... 8 hours instead of the former 10. It's nice to have the added ability to use text notes... I could see lots of potential there. The backlit buttons are pretty nifty. Overall it seems more sensitive to touch than the older iPods and I'm not quite use to that yet. I'm finding that it's easier to accidentally push buttons... hopefully it's just a matter of adjusting.

One last note, Apple's iTunes and the iPod now support the AAC file format which supposedly increases quality and allows for smaller files. I've encoded a few cd's with it but hell, I don't really notice a difference in quality. Since the files are smaller I suppose it makes sense to go with the new format.

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Monday, May 12, 2003

The FCC makes me sick

According to Zeldman: "On 2 June 2003, the FCC proposes to remove laws that prevent any single company from owning every TV channel or newspaper in your city. If these regulations change, a company with a right- or left-wing agenda could eliminate your access to opposing views. One with no political agenda could eliminate intelligent programming and replace it with sewage that sells ad time. Don't let one conglomerate control what you and your family can watch, read, or hear. See this or that and contact your representative."

Funny thing. The reason for the FCC's existence is to regulate the airwaves in the public's best interest. Time and time again they have violated their own mission and demonstrated that they are far more interested in the creation of media monopolies.

Am I the only one that thinks that any country which claims to have a government by the people for the people also needs a media which is by the people for the people? Of course we all know that this is a government increasingly by the corporations for the corporations so it's no surprise that one of it's agencies would increasingly act in the interest of corporations.

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Sunday, May 11, 2003

In a funk

I've been having a difficult time lately. Strange how life can be so wonderful and really yucky all at the same time.

Lately living at deCleyre is kinda like swimming in sandpaper. I'm feeling overwhelmed by people. Relationships can sometimes seem so difficult. Maybe I just need a vacation from my life, some time out of Memphis. Why is it so hard for folks to get along? Why is communication so difficult? Why are we so quick to be defensive? What must we do to be comfortable with communication about communication?

On a positive note, the first screening of Weaving Community went really well. I didn't promote it at all so the turn out was small which I'm okay with. There were a few people that didn't show that I hoped would but I'll get over it. I was able to get more feedback and will do some final editing sometime in May or June. Basically I need to bring it down from 95 minutes to something like 80 minutes. I think I'll try to show it again in August and I'll actually promote that showing.

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Sunday, April 06, 2003

God Talk

Thanks to DruBlood for pointing me to a very interesting blog and also to
this article about European leader's dislike of George Bush's "God Talk".

It cracks me up to think of George Bush as a Christian. As an agnostic I just kinda find myself wondering at the diversity of Christians and all world religions. What's really scary and disgusting is when these folks start waging wars in the name of god. Actually, any kind of condemnation in the name of god by one human against another is really fucked up. So hey, any of ya'll that might be reading this and thinking "This freak is going to hell" I got something for ya: go screw yourself. Oh, and fuck you George Bush, you fucking twit.

Ugh. Now I'm thinking about the separation of church and state. What the fuck does that mean? How is it that u.s. dollars still have the words "In God we trust" on them? Am I missing something here? While that's not a connection to any particular religion it's still a statement regarding a god of some sort. Money. God. God Money. Money God. Monkey God. Why don't we start a movement to change the dollars to "In monkey we trust"?

I have to wonder. Is "God" just a front used by people like the monkey boy Bush or does he really believe? Either way it's twisted.

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