WolfesBlogArchives: March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005

NOW, DOESN'T THIS JUST MAKE YOU FEEL SPECIAL?

DAVID DOWNEY, CEO, INVIDI: Well, with the Invidi solution, we're the Holy Grail for marketers and advertisers. We have the ability to combine the power of television with direct mail and send television commercials to individual television sets based upon age, sex, income, geography and ethnicity.

CAVUTO: But how do you know who's watching?

DOWNEY: Well, we have the ability to measure the click stream data that's generated by your remote control in combination with the geographic location that you're at. And through that algorithm base that we've developed, we've learned pretty precisely who's watching, not individuals....

CAVUTO: So I could be upstairs watching one thing. My wife could be downstairs watching something else and you guys would know what that is?

DOWNEY: Well, you could actually be watching the same program upstairs and downstairs and get different commercials.

CAVUTO: What are you putting in my TV that makes you know what the heck I'm watching?

DOWNEY: It's not in your television set. It's a software application that's downloaded into your cable television receiver or your satellite receiver, and that small application categorizes you based upon the same way in which Nielsen currently aggregates information.

CAVUTO: So do you have to be an agreeable participating household?

DOWNEY: No, it's actually a very noninvasive.
...

CAVUTO: How soon is this going to be reality?

DOWNEY: Well, it's happening right now. We're working with all the major cable companies and satellite firms.

CAVUTO: So satellite and cable. You're you won't be able to dodge this?

DOWNEY: It's definitely coming to a house near you soon.

From the indomitable Katherine Albrecht. Hm. Maybe part of the process of getting out of debt (see earlier entry today) should be cancelling that cable or satellite TV service ...

Posted by Claire @ 01:48 PM CST [Link]

THE INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES OF BIOMETRICS have begun. "Malaysia car thieves steal finger" to access the vehicle's biometric "protected" lock.

Now, just wait to see how much we'll enjoy Death By Passport once the State Department gets its way on documents that contain unencrypted biometric (and other personal) data accessible to anybody with the right sort of reader.

Both items come from privacy maven Richard M. Smith.

Posted by Claire @ 10:11 AM CST [Link]

IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE TODAY, please read Wendy McElroy's "Reflections on the World."

This entry from McBlog begins with an explanation of why Wendy hasn't been following or reporting upon the "convoluted and ever-changing tho' ever-the-same Occupation of Iraq." For that alone I was going to link to it. Wendy's reasons are my own. At times I've felt that I "should" be covering such a heinous Act of Government. But ... I can't.

Then I read further into Wendy's essay and discovered it was about much more. It's about some personal attitude adjustment and life-changing in a world gone mad with debt (of which government debt in pursuit of empire building is just one part).

Gary North's latest piece on LewRockwell.com could have been written as a companion to Wendy's. It takes a more global view, but the underlying warning is the same.

When you're caught in the debt spiral, the prospect of starting the process of getting out seems more daunting than the prospect of scaling Everest in your skivvies. But by the same token (something anti-debt writers don't address often enough) when you're enjoying the bounty of credit cards and other EZ loans ... who the heck wants to get out?

Too well I remember the days, not all that long ago, when I got a double benefit from my credit cards. First, I could
[more]

Posted by Claire @ 10:00 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

MJR SENDS WORD ABOUT SNAPSHIELD, a new telephone security company. Through your phone service provider, Snapshield aims to offer secure voice lines (just as Internet cos now offer secure data lines). No more need to have an expensive, clunky encryption device on each end of every communication.

They tout their SNAP product as wiretap-proof. If I understand correctly, they mean that the copper lines between you and the phone company could still be physically tapped in the old-fashioned way, or your conversations could be monitored in your home through other e-means. But that once your voice communications are on the phone network, they're private.

If it works, this would mean no Echelon snooping. No casual, "let's flip a CALEA switch and see what Jane Activist or John Guncollector is talking about today."

I'm not in a position to analyse this technology. Also, it appears Snapshield is barely getting started (though possibly with some heavy backing). So take this FWIW as an interesting development. My question is, would the feds tolerate your phone company offering SNAP as an option? And if so, could the technology still be subverted? I dunno. Only asking.

Posted by Claire @ 08:53 AM CST [Link]

THE FBI PAYS A VISIT TO A CANNABIS ACTIVIST. An interesting glimpse into the way they operate.

And here is more info on the Jonathan Magbie case that's at the heart of the FBI visit.

The person who said the judge in the Magbie case deserved to be shot was being exceptionally humane. To the judge. To the makers of the laws. To the "authorities" who've decided that mere possession of cash or expensive vehicles is "proof" of drug dealing, to the whole scurvy lot of them ...

Posted by Claire @ 08:45 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

BOY. I'M IN DARNED IMPRESSIVE COMPANY on an anarchist's nighstand.

I'd have missed this one, if not for SF and his ... er, burning desire to tell me. (Sorry, the rest of you guys. That was an in-joke.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:25 PM CST [Link]

THE NEW BUSH LEXICON. From the left, but sometimes smack in the center of the target.

Posted by Claire @ 06:16 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 28, 2005

I HAVE TO LAUGH. Ian and I posted such totally different blogopotimusses on the same day! Mine, airy and introspective. Ian's concrete -- literally concrete! -- and experiential. Oh well, something for everybody.

And damn good work, Ian. Valuable information, well told and well shown.

Posted by Claire @ 08:22 AM CST [Link]

THE GOOD VS. THE BEST. Jobs vs. vocations. Gary North expresses some concepts I've been wrestling with.

I've been working on two big projects lately. One is the Great Mystery Project, which is staggering to a finish and has been difficult, but satisfying. The other is a book for Loompanics on meaningful work vs. jobs.

Although I haven't had a job for many years, and even though I've aggressively sought a simple, quiet life for the last decade, I found myself feeling more "jobbish" than "workish" as I began writing this book. That is, the satisfaction, pleasure, and meaning of good work eluded me. I was writing merely to get the damn thing done and get the rest of my small advance so that I could survive. I was also writing in a hectic atmosphere of pressures, e-mails, phone calls, and demands (from a source not related to the book) to think about 40 things at once.

Though sitting high on a hill in a cabin in the woods, I might as well have been in a gray cubicle.

I'm in awe of my friends who can do six things at once. They're like many-armed Hindu gods and goddesses. I have never, ever, ever been good at thinking about multitudes of things simultaneously. Even in high school, I was never

[more]

Posted by Claire @ 07:41 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, March 27, 2005

RANGE REPORT: SHOOTING CONCRETE BLOCK

If someone starts shooting at you, what can you safely hide behind? Blogispondent Ian here again. It's a question I've seen a lot of speculation on, and only a little bit of actual, reproducible testing. So, I decided to grab some guns and targets are work on finding out for sure. Specifically, I decided to test concrete block walls. [more]

Posted by Ian @ 03:03 PM CST [Link]

Saturday, March 26, 2005

TWO MORE RAVES FOR VIN'S NOVEL, THE BLACK ARROW. This one from Oliver Del Signore at Backwoods Home magazine. And another from Wally Conger, film buff and rock afficionado.

Posted by Claire @ 11:05 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 25, 2005

IT'S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH as long as you look like you know what you're doing. "Town Watches as Men Carry off Home to Fund Their Drug Habit."

Simon Jester found this one. But the real Simon Jesters were the guys who -- almost -- pulled it off.

Posted by Claire @ 03:33 PM CST [Link]

MORE EVIDENCE THAT THE BRITS HAVE GONE COMPLETELY MAD in their love affair with Big Brother. (Article contains the creepies -- but also some of the monkeywrenches.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:03 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 24, 2005

TED RALL AT HIS VICIOUS BEST on a Texas man's fight for the right to life ... or death.

Posted by Claire @ 12:12 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

MORE ON MOOD ALTERERERERERERING DRUGS. I got a good-natured chiding from TCFers for having popped that doggie pill Monday evening. It was indeed not the brightest thing I ever did, and my brain and body paid for it for the next 30 hours. Never again, I can tell you.

Some folks suggested that the magnitude of the side-effects was directly related to the fact that I didn't have the condition the med is intended to treat. Very possibly so. But I still doubt the claims that the new antidepressants have fewer side-effects than the old. Got the following from somebody who did have the condition a drug was prescibed for. His side-effects were doozies:

I've always suffered horrible bouts of winter/seasonal depression. Never did anything other than wait them out. In January it got so bad my wife ordered me to the doctor's office. He convinced me to go on Wellbutrin "just for 6 or 8 or so weeks till it gets warm again". OMG. It worked unbelievably well. Incredibly! Within short period of time I was having no trouble doing anything at all. Plenty of energy and enthusiasm. Happy as a clam, work work work, exercise, creativity, etc.. all good!

But I couldn't sleep at all. I spent most nights in a weird, half sleep. Had HORRIBLE nightmares, and at least one really good hallucination - watched my office doorknob melt and fall to the ground.

BUT, I felt good! Didn't care that it was cold and icy. Didn't even care that I couldn't sleep. Wanted to get laid all day long, too. Remarked to my wife that "this is what it felt like to be a 16 year old boy - not go for more than a minute without thinking of sex) More than once she requested I ask the doc if increased libido was a side effect - it is. I was even going to a local strip club several times a week just to bide time in between sessions with my wife (all that does is produce frustration though). But I was happy!

But then we had a warm snap and I decided to stop. HORRIBLE withdrawl symptoms - like the worst flu and headaches you can imagine. Lasted about a week.

I'm fine now, and the weather is warmer. The strangest part about the whole thing is that I didn't even care that I couldn't sleep. I'm usually a total freak about getting 7-8 hours per night.

I won't touch that sort of stuff ever again. I guess there's a price for everything - felt good but couldn't sleep. It'll catch up with you either way.

Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

"DO YOU PUFF, DADDY?" Telling your kids about your own drug use.

Posted by Claire @ 02:29 PM CST [Link]

MOOD-ALTERING DRUGS. I've always been agin' em. I'm talking about the legal, prescribed kind here, not recreation.

Long before it became fashionable to diagnose every little human glitch as a treatable mental illness, I recoiled from the notion of drugging away problems. When I was a rotten teenager, doctors tried a couple of times to medicate my rebelliousness away, and I refused to take their pills. Got my first bad taste of what happens when you defy Authorities Who Are Determined to Help You For Your Own Good. I shudder to this day.

Once, later, I did take mood-changing meds for a couple of months, after a rolling riot of crises had knocked me down to a point where I literally couldn't function. But as soon as I got my good brain back, I dropped the drugs over my doctor's objection. That was almost 20 years ago, and the strongest thing I've put into my body since is aspirin. And occasionally a vitamin or supplement.

All that is prologue to confessing that I put one of my dogs on "puppy Prozac" last week. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:14 AM CST [Link]

HE WAS A NEO-NAZI. He came from a background marred by violence and death. He was an inmate in a government school and on a government reservation. He walked into a place where victims were guaranteeed to be disarmed. But it's the guns that will be blamed for the "Red Lake Rampage." Sigh. Here we go again.

Posted by Claire @ 08:32 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 21, 2005

THE NRA HAS REPEATEDLY BEEN ACCUSED of sabotaging pro-gun legislation at the state level. This time, the accusation comes, with details, from Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, one of the most effective gun-rights groups in the nation.

Last time Gary and I had a talk, I accused an NRA rep of similar sabatoge and Gary ardently defended him. So Gary is no knee-jerk NRA opponent.

Click the "more" link for Gary's news release and additional info. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 02:28 PM CST [Link]

RICHARD W. STEVENS SHOWED VIVIDLY that police have no duty whatsoever to protect individuals -- no matter what promises they've made. But here's one of the saddest cases I've ever heard of of police doing nothing while innocents died.

The mother of the dead little girls is suing for permission to sue the government. Wonder if it'll do her any more good than all the other lawsuits that have proceeded -- the suits in which courts have found again and again that police have no responsibility toward crime victims, even when the police themselves have made the victims vulnerable.

(Tks also to AZ for this sad story.)

Posted by Claire @ 01:38 PM CST [Link]

NEW TECHNOLOGY USES HUMAN BODY AS BROADBAND NETWORK. Fascinating. Creepy, sort of. But fascinating.

(Tks AZ for this one.)

Posted by Claire @ 01:28 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, March 20, 2005

FREE LINUX CDS! Now, this is very cool. Ubuntu Linux is giving away CDs -- free postage included -- as many as you can use.

Many Linux distros are free for downloading, but you (understandably) have to pay companies to mail you CDs. Ubuntu has gone one better. Go to the site linked above. Click on "Free CDs -- shipit" on the upper right -- and order away.

The shipment automatically includes both the installable version and the LiveCD, which lets you try the operating system before you make a big commitment. The default quantity is 10; they're really encouraging you to share Linux with your friends. But you can choose a bigger quantity or smaller. AND they promise not to spam your e-mail account or share your info with anybody.

I haven't tried Ubuntu yet, so no endorsement here. But when Velojym kindly told me about the offer, I just had to get me some. If Ubuntu is as friendly as people have said, my local friends who haven't tried Linux yet can expect me to show up on their doorsteps bearing shiny little discs.

Posted by Claire @ 11:53 AM CST [Link]

LOL! THE DEA AGENT WHO SHOT HIMSELF IN THE FOOT as part of a "gun safety" demonstration has been suspended.

What's weird (if this news story is accurate) is that he doesn't seem to have been suspended for his verifiable incompentence, but only because some unknown person "leaked" the video of his ineptitude to the Internet. Seems it's a problem that this undercover agent might be identifiable now. Mere idiocy and arrogance, on the other hand, were no drawback to his job.

I'm not quite sure how anyone can "leak" video of a public event witnessed by dozens of people. Also not sure why an undercover agent would be appearing in public with the giant word "POLICE" on his chest. But there you have the story, thanks to the alertness of Wolfesblog's own confidential informant, atek3.

Hm. Will Mr. "I'm the only one in this room professional enough that I know of to carry this Glock 40" now be featured at Who's A Rat?

(And thanks Karen at TCF for the reminder and update on that site.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:17 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, March 19, 2005

WEEKEND READS. While doing some research yesterday, I Googled across a 1976 Mother Earth News Plowboy Interview with one of my personal heroes, Karl Hess. Although parts of it seem hopelessly naive now, Hess' integrity and his joy in living by his principles still shines through.

In the same Google session, I ran across a page of Hess quotes that included this:

What I want from social change is freedom from all those institutional chains which in the past have bound us to the purposes and projects of others, without consent, without real recourse. I want the freedom to be responsible for my own actions, and I want my actions to be judged by those whom those actions affect. I want my citizenship in a community to be a nondelegatable aspect of my life, reflecting my place in the community and respecting yours. I want to live in a community where people are so sure of themselves, as human beings, that they can respect differences in others without being deferential to difference, or frightened by it, or cowed by it. I want to join in the applause for a neighbor's task superbly done but I do not want to be enlisted in a fan club. I want to live in a community where, no matter any other skills, decent human beings all will practice those skills which all may possess in common, truthfulness, consideration of others, a sense of proportion in undertakings and in ambitions, and the various human traits associated woth deep love of another and an abiding respectful sense of self.

I'm not sure how much Hess influenced my thinking and my life choices, but he was a strong inspiration to my young self and continues to be a touchstone of liberty to my older self.

Finally, if that's not enough good reading for your weekend, check out Sunni Maravillosa's lengthy interview with Vin Suprynowicz and Scott Bieser. Vin's first novel, The Black Arrow is getting enthusiastic reviews. Scott illustrated the cover of the paperback version and is also co-creator of the great graphic novels The Probability Broach (with L. Neil Smith) and A Drug War Carol (with Susan Wells).

Posted by Claire @ 08:53 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 18, 2005

A SOURCE WITHIN THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY sends this news. It appears that NORAD, most likely in pursuit of "security," has just rendered U.S. satellite systems far less secure.

A little piece of news that has not made it mainstream ...

For many many years, NORAD has been supplying the world with TLEs. TLE's (Two Line Element Sets) are the way that people can figure out where their satellite is at any given point in time. The TLE is a 'snapshot' of where a satellite is at a given time. Given this, someone who is equipped with the proper software can propagate the position of the Satellite into the future -- to a point. The accuracy degrades with time, so one needs to get a new ELSET (element set) every couple of weeks.

Many companies download these TLEs and provide them to the world for free.

This practice of redistributing the TLEs is now illegal. As of now, I have to navigate to a website and login with my own info. All they wanted from me to get an account is name and address -- no SS or anything, but now I have to login to get the info.

The satellite community is rather distressed at this.

There is some potential very serious blowback to this action. Obviously, the U.S. government is putting the satellite community on notice that its finger is on the switch. Well, the satellite community is international. Given some reasonable equipment, it is not all that difficult to create your very own elsets from radar data. This is how NORAD does it. Many countries, and many many private companies have the necessary equipment to do this.

Here is the blowback: As of now, the TLEs that we get from NORAD have the elsets for the classified satellites excised. This will almost certainly NOT be the case for other countries.

To get your own eyeful of this little bit, try typing Space Track or Celes-Trak into your favorite search machine.

[more]

Posted by Claire @ 01:52 PM CST [Link]

NOW, ISN'T THAT INTERESTING? All the major credit card issuers have jointly decided not to allow cardholders to charge cigarette purchases online. They'll still let you charge the Evil Sticks of Death at the store; no worry there. It isn't the Health Nazis who've gotten to the credit cos. It's the Nazi Nazis.

This withdrawal from the market is the result of an "agreement" between the credit issuers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The reason isn't that all you smokers are Endangering The Lives of Innocent Children and Driving Up Our National Health Care Costs. Oh no. Much worse! It's that you're ...

EVADING TAXES.

Good for you. Go buy money orders and keep evading as long as you can. The fact that you might also be breaking yourself of the credit habit is merely a bonus.

Perhaps I'm missing something here. But if the ATF wants everybody to pay more taxes on tobacco purchases, driving buyers toward more anonymous methods somehow just doesn't seem like the sensible way ...

Posted by Claire @ 12:55 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

BUT THAT'S OKAY. IT'S FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least two dozen detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan have died at the hands of U.S. forces in confirmed or suspected cases of criminal homicide, military officials said on Wednesday.

The article.

Posted by Claire @ 04:35 PM CST [Link]

"OBSTRUCTION OF GOVERNMENTAL ADMINISTRATION"??? Where in heck do they come up with these charges???

People shouldn't be dragged into court for that. They should be thanked by a grateful citizenry.

Posted by Claire @ 12:37 PM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

EUROHACKER. A new 'zine is launched from Europe, fueled by Attitude.

This is not just about hacking, as in computers. Though the first issue contains an interview with tech guru Eric S. Raymond, that interview deals (among other things) with the morality of assassination and the need for individual resistance.

You'll also find a rather interesting "recipe" -- though I don't recommend cooking it up in your kitchen. And some friendly fiction.

Posted by Claire @ 08:40 AM CST [Link]

"EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HERE. Did you know the unemployment rate in Germany is 12.6%? Which is scary because if unemployment reaches 13% in Germany they invade Poland." -- Jay Leno, The Tonight Show

Just think about what they do after currency collapses. Oooh.

(From Rick, aka Ulrich, who's right there and who knows.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:28 AM CST [Link]

LADYLEARNING HAS DONE AN ELEGANT JOB of reorganizing The Claire Files forums. I'm hoping the new topic structure encourages more activist-oriented info sharing, while still providing plenty of room for news and "lite" entertainment. Thank you, LL.

And of course The Sacred Twinkie Thread (now on its 58th increasingly strange page) remains in the Gulching/Self Sufficiency forum in recognition of the Twinkie's power as a long-term (long, long, long, long-term) survival food. Why, in a storage program, those well-preservatived Twinks might last nearly as long as the Twinkie thread has.

Posted by Claire @ 07:55 AM CST [Link]

"RUSHIN' AND RANTIN' WITH REACTIVE RALPHIE." The new Hardyville column is up -- and you might recognize somebody you know in it. Heaven forbid, some of us might even recognize ourselves.

Posted by Claire @ 07:46 AM CST [Link]

AT FIRST, IT SEEMS MERELY DOPEY that Congress is getting itself into a snit over baseball players using steroids. I mean, don't they have anything better to do? Another "war on __" to concoct? Another program to fix the program that was created to fix the program that was created to fix some other program?

Baseball players? Baseball players?????

But really, their agenda in sending subpoenas to jocks is darker and more far-reaching. And could ultimately open your private records to them.

Posted by Claire @ 07:44 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, March 13, 2005

NEW AOL AIM USERS "AGREE" TO THIS.

"You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the content or to be compensated for any such uses," according to the AIM terms-of-service.

Although the user will retain ownership of the content passed through the AIM network, the terms give AOL ownership of "all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this [user] content.

"In addition, by posting content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this content in any medium," it added.

Isn't is heartwarming to be considered such a valuable piece of chattel valued customer?

(Tks, AZ.)

Posted by Claire @ 07:04 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Zopa.com is the Net's first lending-and-borrowing exchange. The BBC says think of it as eBay for lenders and borrowers.

Not perfect for freedom lovers. Members' trust ratings begin with Equifax credit reports, which means with your SSN. But still ... if they can achieve a critical mass of users, they'll be shifting the banking paradigm, and in a rather interesting direction. Assuming the big bankers and their bought-off politicians don't stop them.

Another one from PT, with thanks.

Posted by Claire @ 02:17 PM CST [Link]

CHARLES ROBERT CARNER'S REMAKE OF "VANISHING POINT" is now on DVD. I loved the strange, nihilistic 1970s original. Carner's version (starring Viggo Mortensen) takes a 180-degree different viewpoint on Kowalski's motivations for his cross-country muscle-car run. David Codrea reviews -- and likes -- the new version.

Carner is one of the good guys. A Hollywood insider who's also pro-gun and pro-freedom.

Posted by Claire @ 09:03 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

YES, AND ONLY "EXPERTS" SHOULD BE TRUSTED WITH DATA.

Like ChoicePoint, Seisint maintains a massive database of public and private information on individuals, including Social Security numbers, credit histories and criminal records. Seisint made the news in recent years as the data source behind the "Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange," or MATRIX, system, a program to bring together criminal and public records from participating U.S. states.

Bill Shrewsbury, a vice president at Seisint, said that identity thieves used a different approach to breach the company's database than what was used to get ChoicePoint's data, but declined to elaborate.

This latest data-abuse story from PT.

Hang 'em all. And hang the bastards high. ChoicePoint, LexisNexis, MATRIX, Echelon, and every other data grabber, public and private.

Posted by Claire @ 04:02 PM CST [Link]

"CHOICEPOINT FILES FOUND RIDDLED WITH ERRORS." It's not exactly news, but it's hysterical, nevertheless, to think of governments and employers relying religiously on such garbage.

Religion is the operative term here, too. The faith placed in data mining, or in such things as facial-recognition cameras (with their 35 percent error rates), is just that ... faith: "The illogical belief in the impossible." Desperate people want magical solutions to their problems, and they're willing to pay purveyors of promised solutions, even when a world of evidence says they (and we) are being had. Too bad that the desperate people buying this dreck have the power to control our lives.

Posted by Claire @ 11:24 AM CST [Link]

"GUN NUTS AT 30,000 FEET?" Jim Bovard has another entry for the "why only cops should have guns" file. (Well, only cops or people who flunk out of cop tryouts and become the TSA's finest, instead.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:22 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

ONLY COPS SHOULD HAVE GUNS. Proof positive. A live demonstration by one of our beloved and highly trained drug officers.

Link courtesy of atek3.

Posted by Claire @ 07:38 PM CST [Link]

"THE PLEASANT PROBATION OF TOMMY CHONG."

Tommy Chong never was much of a stoner, but one of his most popular characters ("Man") was. So when Tommy's son Paris put Man's face on the surfaces of seditiously shaped blown glass (bongs, pipes) and was blatantly entrapped into sending 5,000 bucks' worth across state lines to undercover feds, Ashcroft's Justice Department took the opportunity to send Tommy to the Wackenhut-managed Taft Correctional Institution for nine magical months, to punish him not only for financing and promoting his son's glass-blowing studio but for, as the federal prosecutor put it, "glamorizing the illegal distribution and use of marijuana" in entertainment products that "trivialize law-enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and use."

At the time two years ago it might've seemed to anyone watching the ensuing "mission accomplished"-style press conference that Ashcroft was, well, confused. By bringing up Chong's so-called glamorizings and trivializings as aggravating factors, the Justice Department appeared unable to distinguish creator from creation, portrayal from endorsement. The result was that, of the 55 people similarly Ashcrofted all over America in "Operation Pipe Dreams" (yes, that was the sting's actual name), only one was incarcerated: Tommy Chong.

But he has a great attitude in the aftermath. This long interview peters into reporterly self-indulgence toward the end, but the first half is great. And I like Tommy Chong.

Saw Cheech & Chong in person once. Festival seating on the concrete floor of a big fair exhibition building. They were on a tiny, barely raised stage. I was at their feet. Much as I laugh over their movie Up in Smoke, I thought they were 10 times funnier in person.

Posted by Claire @ 04:53 PM CST [Link]

IT'S BA-A-A-A-ACK. TCF, I mean. And its parent site, The Mental Militia. We owe it all to Gen. Elias Alias and LadyLearning, who scrambled to make it so.

How disconcerting it was, being forced to have a real life for a few hours.

But now I've just turned in one book this morning and am months behind on another. Expect a quiet couple of weeks around the blog.

Posted by Claire @ 11:27 AM CST [Link]

TESSA ROSE FEARS TO BE A PERSON WHOSE LIFE DOESN'T MATTER.

Some people think I'm brave. Well, no, not really. I'll never go skydiving or rock climbing. But I have only one life to live, one life with which to make a difference in the world, or not. If I'm afraid of anything, I guess I'm afraid of being a person whose life didn't matter, just one more ordinary person who cowered in safety and let things get worse. If we go to trial and lose, that will really suck. But it won't negate the truth we've brought to light, or the resistance we've made to the growth of rampant tyranny. Every act of resistance makes tyranny weaker. Many, many acts of resistance, even small ones, can topple it. I don't wish suffering on myself or anyone else, but I am proud of people who have stood up for truth and justice when it was dangerous to do so. And I'll be proud to be one of those people, no matter what happens to me.

Posted by Claire @ 09:57 AM CST [Link]

Monday, March 7, 2005

WITH A LITTLE LUCK, THE CLAIREFILES FORUMS will be back up sometime on Tuesday. Apparently it's just a problem with the hosting service. Hang in there, TCFers ...

And welcome back to the blog, Ian. Thanks for the rabbit-hunting info (and for sparing some of us more tender readers the goriest of the details ...)

Posted by Claire @ 11:19 PM CST [Link]

HOWDY, blogispondent Ian here. I've been into guns and shooting for quite some time, but I've never done any hunting - until the past couple days. I've gone out looking for rabbits for a couple days now, and learned some things I thought I'd pass along. [more]

Posted by Ian @ 09:29 PM CST [Link]

THE CLAIRE FILES FORUMS and the entire Mental Militia site are down. Don't ask, 'cause I don't know why, either. Odd message on the main TMM site. I'll keep you posted if I learn anything.

Posted by Claire @ 04:28 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, March 6, 2005

FAKE ID: "THE KIDS ARE WINNING."

The age-old battle of wits pitting police officers and bar owners on the one hand against under-age drinkers on the other is as lively as ever, though it has entered a new technologically advanced phase. Gone are the days of the art major down the hall who was a wizard with an X-Acto knife, a stencil and some super glue. Using Internet resources and sophisticated computer graphics software, college students are forging drivers' licenses of startlingly good quality, complete with shimmering holograms, special inks and data encoding that can fool the police and even occasionally the latest generation of scanners. To hear law enforcement officers tell it, in the fake-ID arms race the kids are winning.

A surprisingly good article from the NYT and worth even the Dreaded Registration or the trip to Bugmenot.com. Once again, credit to privacy maven Richard M. Smith.

Posted by Claire @ 11:21 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, March 5, 2005

WEEKEND READ #2. "Amish Tech."

Turns out, that's not an oxymoron. This article helped me understand how the Amish use technology without becoming hypocrites -- and without destroying their community values. Don't expect to agree with everything (or perhaps anything) in the article. What's interesting is that they think hard and consider both the benefits and drawbacks of technology before they adopt it.

But the Amish concern is not just over how technology might change the community, but also the individual. One man noted that it's not just what or how you use a technology, but "what kind of person you become when you use it." When I asked an Amishman why an electric refrigerator was not acceptable, but a propane gas one was, he simply said, "You've never seen a bottled gas television set, have you?" The implication here was not that electricity was bad. The concern was what would come with it --- TV, radio, computers, the internet, and all the influences of the modern world and media. "Electricity is a hotline to the modern world."

(Thank you again to Sensei, whose original link to the Amish and social security led me to "Amish Tech.")

Posted by Claire @ 09:25 AM CST [Link]

WEEKEND READ #1. Michael Crichton's Caltech Michelin lecture, "Aliens Cause Global Warming."

Well, not really. But Crichton says bastardizations of science, which began with the search for extratrerestrial life, have led to sloppy unscientific method and catastrophic conclusions.

(Thanks to JS, fine editor and smart dude.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:19 AM CST [Link]

Friday, March 4, 2005

BEST ARTICLE I'VE SEEN ABOUT GOOGLE'S NEW AUTOLINK FEATURE. Useful addition? Tool of the devil? Or both? Paul Boutin gives enough information for you to judge for yourself.

Thank you freebyrd for the link.

Posted by Claire @ 12:13 PM CST [Link]

THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE GOVERNMENT BROCHURE ORDERED ME TO DO IT, so without question, I must immediately post a link to www.GovBenefits.gov on my (dis)organization's Web site.

Why? So that

... any citizen, social service caseworker, person working for a professional or faith-based organization, community center, library, college or university, Federal, State, or local benefits agency, or other interested party [can] determine the full spectrim of benefit and assistance programs that are available. Whether it's a direct payment, loan, insurance, training, or other assistance, there may be a government program that can help you or someone you know.

Yikes! These perverts are recruiting!

They don't think they're giving enough of your money away. More, more, more! Note also the capitalization on "Federal" and "State." Like, these levels of gummint have risen to such heights they've become The Deity, or what?

Posted by Claire @ 11:56 AM CST [Link]

WELL, GLORY BE. CHOICEPOINT HAS DECIDED to stop selling "sensitive" personal data like SSNs and drivers license numbers to freelance scum.

Of course there's a catch. They plan to continue selling exactly that data to federal, state, and local government scum.

One part of me wants to credit ChoicePoint for taking a step in the right direction. Another says there is no "right direction" for a company like ChoicePoint -- except down the drain.

Also don't like to see one more area in which government agents have more "rights" than those who aren't on the tax dole. I've been stalked and I hate identity thieves -- and ChoicePoint's very existence enables both stalkers and scammers. But freelance creeps are pikers compared with duly authorized official creeps.

Posted by Claire @ 11:48 AM CST [Link]

"FREE WALT ANDERSON," says Thomas Andrew Olson. He's just the latest tax-season "trophy" arrest for the IRS. And he's one of the good guys.

Posted by Claire @ 08:21 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, March 3, 2005

DAUGHTER'S DNA AND THE BTK MURDERER. First reports said his daughter went to the police and offered them a DNA sample to help nail her father. Next reports said police came to her and asked for a sample, which she gave to clear her dad.

Latest reports say police covertly obtained tissue from the daughter's routine pap smear to link her father to the killings.

Nobody's sorry BTK got caught. But this is HIPAA in action and the implications are creepy. Police can, and will, invade your most personal life, even if you're as innocent as new snow.

(I apologize; both links above require registration. Try Bugmenot.com.)

Posted by Claire @ 11:47 AM CST [Link]

CHOICEPOINT WAS APPARENTLY LYING when they said last fall's big data disaster was their first. This is at least the second time the Masters of Identity Verification sold private data to Nigerian scammers.

Posted by Claire @ 11:37 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

HA! I KNEW MY MEMORY WAS TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING. Today's arrested "Million Mom" wasn't the first. Let's not forget grandstanding "Mom," Barbara Lipscomb (aka Graham), who shot a guy and put him in a wheelchair for life just before her sanctimonious grandstanding as an anti-gunner.

Posted by Claire @ 08:37 PM CST [Link]

I JUST ADDED A LONG-OVERDUE BLOGROLL ENTRY for The Free Liberal.

Posted by Claire @ 08:23 PM CST [Link]

OH MY. ANOTHER OF THE "MILLION MOMS" HAS BEEN ARRESTED on gun charges. Not to mention drug charges. She admits to having the firearm -- with filed-off serial number, yet! But kept it only because she "didn't know what to do with it."

The link is to the Firing Line forums where you'll find the original article plus plenty pithy comments. Love the one from Rich Lucibella:

If she doesn't know what to do with a gun in her own home, HOW ON EARTH can she purport to know what I should do with mine?

Posted by Claire @ 07:34 PM CST [Link]

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USERS IN CALIFORNIA demand that the Highway Patrol stop seizing their drugs. That's good. The state of Californa has (or will soon have) a "universal ID card" for approved cannabis users. That's grotesque.

Posted by Claire @ 02:58 PM CST [Link]

TODAY'S THE DAY FOLKS IN THE MIDWEST QUALIFY TO RECEIVE FREE COPIES OF THEIR CREDIT REPORTS. Westerners have already been able to get free reports, under federal law, since December. East and South join the party later this year.

But the Privacy Rights Clearing House and World Privacy Forum say "Call, Don't Click". Sunni Maravillosa further recommends that you snail, don't phone.

Turns out that not only have phishers and marketers registered domain names almost identical to the real annualcreditreport.com. But the credit reporting agencies themselves have created sites that nudge mis-typing visitors toward their commercial products. They're also using their sites to collect marketing info on you.

Like most people, I'm curious to know what, if anything, these info-stealing scum have on me. Not much, I expect. And mostly wrong or misleading, if I've done my work well. Since you have to supply all kinds of snoopy information, including SSN, to find out what snoopy info they already have, the mystery will just have to remain a mystery to me.

For the same reason, I've never FOIA'd for my FBI dossier, curious though I am.

FOIA's a joke, anyhow. The only time I ever FOIA'd for anything (from the FBI, the BATF, and the U.S. Marshal's Service) was 12 years ago. Haven't received a thing yet, except one notice from the FBI saying they were responding within 30 days because the law required them to respond within 30 days. Or something like that. Persistence, patience, and a heap of money is often required to get FOIA to work. Wasn't worth my while -- which is, of course, exactly what the FOIA-evading fed agencies count on.

Let's hope the annual credit report thing doesn't turn into quite such a scam. If you're willing to supply your snoop info to the professional snoops, at least getting free credit reports from each of the three companies could be one way of making sure they pay a small price for the deeds they're committing against your privacy.

Posted by Claire @ 07:48 AM CST [Link]

"10 LESSONS FROM THE BUG-OUT CAMPOUT." The latest Hardyville column is now online. This one isn't my greatest artistic tour de force. But it's extremely useful and informative thanks to co-authors Bobaloo, Thunder, and Lightning, who lived to tell the tale.

Posted by Claire @ 06:45 AM CST [Link]

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