WolfesBlogArchives: March 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Silver here. I was in England recently. Reading the paper every morning was educational:
On Monday the government proposed a jet tax; each year a family would be allowed a single jet trip, one that wasn't "too long." All others, especially those evil businessmen who fly around the world (I resemble that remark) would be heavily taxed, global warming and carbon. For the children.
On Tuesday the government announced that police would begin taking fingerprints and DNA samples when stopping citizens for minor infractions including speeding, jaywalking, littering, driving without a seat belt, and not picking up your dog's poop.
On Wednesday the government revealed that it's "voluntary" national biometric ID program meant that those who did not participate would not be able to get a passport and would become prisoners in their own country.
On Thursday the EU revealed plans to create a massive database of biometric and other information on every citizen in the EU.
On Friday the government proposed building jails inside the British equivalent of Walmart; just "temporary holding cells" since the real jails were getting all filled with seat belt scofflaws and such. No more than 4 hours in a see-through plastic pen; the government promised.
On Saturday I flew home. I wish I could say things were better here, but we all know that isn't true. Wherever I go, the tobagan ride to tryanny is accelerating to breathtaking speeds. No one knows how it will end, but it isn't hard to imagine it ending badly.
Posted by Silver @ 09:29 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 29, 2007
IT'S NOT A CONSPIRACY! Debra here. In my time in the freedom movement (a time that is rapidly coming to an end), I've alienated quite a few people, including close friends, over my refusal to believe in conspiracy theories.
I used to look at the evidence (which was usually mind-numbingly HUGE piles of semi-coherent data), consider it open-mindedly, and try to make up my mind one way or another. With the right spin, the evidence can be fairly convincing ... although the evidence proving the opposite can be fairly convincing as well. More often than not, though, Occam's Razor applied.
What pushed me over the edge was my stint on the board of the Free State Project. [more]
Posted by Debra @ 10:55 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
"THE OTHER GREEN GODDESS." Purely enchanting poetry in prose. And a nice little slam at the drug warriors, too.“The Prohibitionist must always be a person of no moral character; for he cannot even conceive of the possibility of a man capable of resisting temptation.” -- Aleister Crowley
I’ve been waiting for this moment. My long anticipated date with the Green Goddess is tonight. But will I live to tell about it? Or will she make me cut off my ear and wrap it in newspaper like Van Gogh?
The Green Goddess I speak of is absinthe—the notorious, mysterious, allegedly hallucinogenic, herbal, highly alcoholic, bitter, translucent green beverage that is barred in the United States and many other countries because it supposedly causes in its users episodes of madness, violence and epilepsy.
Being illegal, the only way to obtain absinthe is through mail order from the European dark market. So, from an ad I found in the back of Modern Drunkard Magazine, I ordered a cask of absinthe.
Tonight I plan to drink it all.
Read and hear the tale. Did author Edwin Decker plummet into madness? Or did he -- and his ear and his sanity -- survive their night of debauchery intact?
(DT sent this. Hello, DT; long time invisible man.)
Posted by Claire @ 01:22 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
ONLINE POLLS AND PARTY POLITICS. Neither usually seems very productive. But hmmmm. I think JPFO is hinting at something provocative with its just posted two-question Second-Amendment poll.
Posted by Claire @ 03:48 PM CST [Link]
Monday, March 26, 2007
I don't remember JFK. He was in his grave for a decade before I took my first breath.
It's me, PSM. Hi.
I don't know if it's some sort of subconcious desire to grab all the stories I can before...something, or what, but since I started asking people to tell me what they remember and what it means to them, I've just sensed somehow, somewhere down in the primitive, sub-lingual regions of my gut that I'm on to something here.
Posted by Penguinsscareme @ 10:13 PM CST [Link]
I've desperately tried to like Linux.
Debra here. In my software binder, I have copies of Slax, Puppy, Fedora Core, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandrake, Mandriva, Knoppix and Debian. I've installed them all. But when it comes down to it, I always crawl back to Windows. Why?
Here's a classic example. I want to install Skype onto a Windows XP Pro system and a Linux Kubuntu 6.06 system. I compared the times to install, starting after I downloaded the Skype install package in both instances. The results speak for themselves: [more]
Posted by Debra @ 02:41 PM CST [Link]
THE CORPORATE-SECURITY COMPLEX has just reached a new low. The TSA is now selling ads at airport checkpoints, including ads in the little bins where you have to dump all your worldly goods. Taxes and control just aren't enough any more. The fedgov must make a profit off destroying the Fourth Amendment. And the media is concerned only that this might be "distracting"?
But hey, why not? Security theater (Bruce Schneier's coinage) has been driven by business interests right from the start. With terror databases quadrupling, just think of the growing opportunities! Maybe Weight Watchers or Curves could place ads on those body-scan machines and give out free coupons to obese passengers -- which is all of us, given how lumpy our naked bodies look to the TSA screeners. The possibilities are limitless. Someday, perhaps, your corporate brand could even appear on the forehead of "approved" passengers everywhere.
(Thanks to LS for the link to the terror database. No doubt, LS, you're one of the names in it.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:29 AM CST [Link]
MORE BIG CHANGES FOR CHARLOTTE CAROLINA. And a conclusion to the adventures of "Monkey-Fu."
Posted by Claire @ 09:11 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, March 24, 2007
If you thought Why Mommy is a Democrat was bad, you're gonna love this.
Debra here. I recently ran across the following barfalicious offering, which I simply had to share: Liberality, an 8-issue mini series comic book (fine, fine: graphic novel). With Liberality, conservatives prove they they too can produce transparently obvious propaganda feebly disguised as childish tripe.
From the website:In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sights on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. On one dark day, in 2006, many conservative voices were forever silenced by terrorist assassins. Those which survived joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization called “The Freedom of Information League”, aka F.O.I.L
The efforts of F.O.I.L. threaten both the liberal extremist power structure and the U.N.’s grip on America, the U.N. calls F.O.I.L. the most dangerous group in the world. It seems the once theorized Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has now become a reality.
andThe New York City faction of F.O.I.L. is lead by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a bio mechanical engineer affectionately nicknamed “Oscar”. F.O.I.L. is soon to be joined by a young man named Reagan McGee.
Reagan was born on September 11th, 2001. He is the son of a NYC firefighter whose life was spared by attending his son’s birth. Reagan has grown to manhood in an ultra-liberal educational system: being told, not asked, what to think. With personal determination, which alienates him from his contemporaries, he has chosen the path less traveled…the path to the Right.
I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
Posted by Debra @ 06:15 PM CST [Link]
IT'S ALL ABOUT CONTROL. By the time Our Masters have us on our knees begging for "enhanced" driver's licenses (aka national ID; see my last blog entry), we'll be SO conditioned. Exhibit A: "ScholarChips" for high-school students.
Note that the linked article doesn't even give lip service to the standard claim that all this tracking is "for the children" or "for security." It's about control. Naked, authoritarian control. The advocates and marketers of cradle-to-grave tracking devices don't even need to pretend otherwise any more. Because almost nobody's objecting.
(Nods to Randall the Dreamer for the lead to the story.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:07 PM CST [Link]
"ENHANCED" DRIVERS LICENSES FOR BORDER CROSSINGS are about as encouraging a development as "enhanced" prison sentences for gun owners. Ever since Washington state and the Department of (Achtung!) Homeland Security announced their plan this week to "allow" Washingtonian-Americans to cross into Canada without passports, something has been nagging at me, but I had no time to put it into words.
An email from Jackie Juntti ("The Old Polish Woman"), who once fought hard, and for a time in the 1990s successfully, against "enhanced" driver's licenses in Washington state, handed the words to me:The Hegelian Principle
You remember the steps:
The first step (thesis) is to create a problem.
The second step (anti-thesis) is to generate opposition to the problem (fear, panic, hysteria).
The third step (synthesis) is to offer the "solution" to the problem created in step one --- change which would have been impossible to impose on the people without proper psychological conditioning achieved in stages one and two.
Although she now lives elsewhere, Jackie has been calling her old friends in the Washington state legislature, hoping they'll oppose this new plan. Instead, she's found them wildly in favor. After all, it means Washingtonians (and eventually others) will "merely" have to have a drivers license again to cross into Canada -- no $97 passport -- no cumbersome federal roadblock to cross-border commerce, right? Because, after all, everyone will already have a DL or a state ID card.
Thus national ID gets imposed by the very people who once opposed it. Because it's a "convenient" solution to a problem that never existed until the fedgov decided to begin locking down U.S. borders.
Jackie concludes:I may be Polish but I am not stupid and I can't figure out how so many fall for this stuff when it is so easily spotted. I guess ease -- and MONEY -- really are what runs the brains of Americans now days, true FREEDOM is too far back to even remember by most. Like the freed Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai; they had freedom but cried to return to Egypt and slavery as they didn't have to work as hard being slaves -- just do as ordered.
Posted by Claire @ 10:32 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 22, 2007
WARMAKERS ON SPEED! How could I have forgotten them? When I wrote earlier this week about super-efficient maids on speed, and (thanks, DA) one super-proficient mathemetician on speed, I forgotten all about the one organization left in the world that actually encourages its employees to use not just speed but a dangerous daily cocktail of uppers and downers.
Have you remembered who it is yet? Well, here's a hint. Which organization cares nothing about either human life or following the rules it imposes on the rest of us? Yeah, you guessed it!
Remember the news from a couple years back?The expression "flying high" takes on a whole new meaning when viewed in the light of the admission by the U.S. Air Force that its combat pilots regularly consume uppers and downers with its blessing. In fact, American bomber pilots are encouraged to take amphetamines, and upon return to base are sometimes offered tranquilizers to help them sleep.
This shocking announcement - apparently a longtime open secret in the military - came to the notice of the public during an investigation of two U.S. F16 pilots responsible for dropping a laser-guided, 500lb bomb on a Canadian unit in Afghanistan. Four Canadian servicemen lost their lives as a result.
And remember the news that there was nothing new in that news?
So while you can't hire a maid on speed (unless it's the Officially Drug War Approved kind with the ugly meth habit who'd probably steal the change out of your sock drawer), and while a mathemetician on speed might end up counting his years in prison, the Pentagon officially sends speed freaks out to kill people. But don't worry; they're not doing it in your neighborhood, and the people they're killing are ones you've probably never met. You do have to wonder, though, why the DEA hasn't sent SWAT teams to U.S. bases in Iraq to bust these miscreants -- or sent teams to the Pentagon to bust the "drug kingpins."
(Thank you to P. for the reminder.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:01 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
IT’S 1:30 AM. SILVER HAS BEEN AWAKENED from a sound sleep by cries of agony. A family member lies on the floor of the bathroom. He is barely coherent, writhing in pain. He’s pale; his skin is cold and clammy, pulse rapid and weak. Eventually he talks clearly enough to tell you that he’s had 2 bouts of diarrhea with cramps, and feel like more is on the way. The pain is from strong tingling and cramp sensations in his muscles. He isn’t nauseous and hasn’t vomited, and doesn’t hurt in any particular place. He’s lying on the floor because he feels so dizzy and weak he’s afraid of fainting if he sits or stands.
He slips back into semi-consciousness, awake but not very responsive, moaning in pain. Frantically you review what you know of the day. You both ate pasta for dinner, so food poisoning doesn’t seem likely. You know from dinner conversation that he worked hard all afternoon, saw the time was late, and jumped in the car to come pick you up. He mentioned a light, late breakfast. There was no mention of feeling poorly earlier, and none during dinner.
The cramps are getting worse, the writhing now bordering on convulsions. What is wrong? What do you do?
Posted by Silver @ 06:13 AM CST [Link]
Monday, March 19, 2007
NO, HARDYVILLE DID NOT MEET THE SAME FATE AS FRESNO. The new column is now online, just a tad late. And Charlotte Carolina makes some big decisions.
Posted by Claire @ 03:39 PM CST [Link]
THE LAWYER BEHIND THE D.C. SECOND AMENDMENT VICTORY is even more interesting than the case.
(Thank you to JF for the story.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:04 AM CST [Link]
FINALLY, SOMEBODY IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA notices the political fraud of "mistakes were made." This opinionator from the Christian Science Monitor even spots the more devious fraud of the grand political pronouncement, "I take full responsibility" (while knowing I won't have to suffer any consequences; Janet Reno, anyone?).
Unfortunately, the perspicacious commentator is not actually of the mainstream media, but merely a guest -- a psychologist who helps children learn to accept responsibility for their mistakes so they can mature and behave more effectively. Still. 'Bout time somebody other than a blogista noticed that "mistakes were made" is the very opposite of an honest admission of responsibility. You listening, Atty. Gen. Gonzales?
Posted by Claire @ 09:01 AM CST [Link]
MATHEMETICIANS ON SPEED. After reading yesterday's tongue-in-cheek blog entry, D. wrote to remind me that amphetamines are not merely for good housekeeping. He quoted Wikipedia on Paul Erdős, one of the greatest mathemeticians of the twentieth century:As his colleague Alfréd Rényi said, "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems", and Erdős drank copious quantities. (This quote is often attributed to Erdős, but does seem to originate with Rényi.) After 1971 he also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erdős won the bet, but complained that mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine habit. ...
Erdős was one of the most prolific publishers of papers in mathematical history, second only to Leonhard Euler; Erdős published more papers, while Euler published more pages (Hoffman 1998). He wrote around 1,500 mathematical articles in his lifetime, mostly with co-authors. He had 509 different collaborators, and strongly believed in (and obviously practiced) mathematics as a social activity.
Even back in my wild 60s days (before a nice cup of hot tea became my drug of choice), I never did speed. I stayed away from any drug that involved needles, vomiting, bad company, or getting all hyper without receiving the reward of artistic hallucinations. Hm. 1,500 articles, though. With high-level content. Hm. Ah well. Not my drug. I'd still probably just end up with really, really clean kitchen counters.
Posted by Claire @ 07:51 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, March 18, 2007
WE ARE SUPPOSED TO REGARD AMPHETAMINES now as the Ultimate Evil Drug. Crack cocaine is right up there. But crack is so last week. And when I was growing up heroin was The Great Satan. But when I was growing up is now the stuff of legend and nostalgia. It's meth, momentarily, that will drag your daughters down into the depths of Debauchery and Depravity.
And of course, there's truth in that. You wouldn't invite a meth-head into your luxury home on the golf course in hopes of making friends with him. You wouldn't hire him to do your business accounting. You'd watch your back because people on meth are par-o-NOID and sometimes not as reluctant as they should be to bash your head in. Your daughter on meth, with her teeth snaggling from her gums and her bones poking up under her skin, isn't a pretty sight -- not to mention her boyfriend, Mr. Noid with the prison tattoos.
But a conversation with friends got me thinking about the Meth Monster in a different light. Every drug has its drawbacks (although with cannabis you sort of have to work to consider a craving for cupcakes to be a drawback exactly). But every drug also has its strengths. Cannabis is very creative, very amusing, very appetite enhancing. Cannabis could be good for comedians and songwriters -- as long as they didn't forget where they were in the middle. It's marvelous medicine when nothing else will help. LSD showed phenomenal promise in treating addictions before the drug warriors, in their infinite wisdom, put the kibosh on the research. All the psychedelics can be an aid to spiritual practice. Writers have long thrived on booze. Oh, on many chemicals, sometimes. But bourbon or some other such ghastly thing is the boon companion to a writer, helping him get through everything from interviews to "I'm no good" jitters. Yeah, it pickles the liver. But until it does ...
So anyway, these friends and I got to talking about meth and how it was one of the few drugs that just didn't have anything going for it. Then one of the friends said something like, "Yeah, but people on speed can really get a lot of work done." [more]
Posted by Claire @ 04:14 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, March 17, 2007
THE MOVIE 300 IS GETTING ALL THE BUZZ. Is it a freedom-endorsing fantasy? Or is it Bushevik propaganda? I think I'll wait for it to pop to the top of my Netflix queue to find out.
The freedom movie I really crave to see is Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, about Ireland in the era of the thuggish black & tans, the birth of the Irish Free State, and bitter civil war. (Reviews here and here.) It's been in my Netflix Save queue since it blew Cannes away last year. Finally made it to theaters yesterday. This one I'd go to the Big City for.
Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]
Friday, March 16, 2007
"A DESPERATE ARMY IS SCRAPING THE BOTTOM." When a former senior military correspondent is moved to write like this, you know our country is scraping the bottom:All of these costs are being pushed down the line to be borne by our children and grandchildren and their children in the form of burgeoning budget deficits seen and, as yet, unseen.
When is someone, somewhere in this country going to stand up and demand an accounting for all we've lost in a foolish, unjustified and unnecessary war in the wrong place, against the wrong people, at the wrong time - conducted by a president who got every bit of it wrong?
When are we going to cut our incredible losses in Iraq - human, spiritual and monetary - and get back on the road to being a better country and a better people whose leaders believe, as we do, in the U.S. Constitution and habeas corpus and the right to privacy?
Joseph L. Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young, gives the best summation I've read of the true U.S. costs of the Iraq fiasco. He doesn't include (how could he?) the cost to the people of Iraq or the price we'll eventually have to pay for turning America into an object of worldwide loathing. But other than that, he sees it all. Sure would be nice if the Dems in Congress were listening. But that's too much to hope.
Posted by Claire @ 08:25 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 15, 2007
THIS EXCELLENT LIBERTY PAPERS PIECE ON ANGEL RAICH and the fedgov's latest deadly outrage against her made it to the top of Google News' story selection. That's at least some good news among the evil. Can you imagine the government of a free country telling a dying woman she deserves to go to jail for taking the only medicine that helps her? A medicine that's legal in her state? A medicine that's been used for thousands of years and is an incredibly benign substance?
Posted by Claire @ 03:31 PM CST [Link]
HEY, ALL YOU PATRIOTIC, SECURITY-CONSCIOUS AMERICANS! Holding a special sale or a grand opening for your business? Well, guess what? You, too, can increase your bottom line by doing something Very Special For the Children, thanks to Our Fingerprintin' Friends at Operation KidSafe. (Note the BIIIIIG tall buildings covered in American flags? Is that a Really Cool subtle patriotic message about the dangers we face from all those Evil Outsiders, or what?)
You've heard about these Fantastic Nationwide Tot-Printing Events. But did you know that you, too, could Drive Traffic to Your Event or Move More Cars At Your Dealership and have a Great Family-Friendly Promotion by fingerprinting kiddies? I didn't know, either, until Jim Bovard shared the following Really! Exciting! News Release! with me. But now ... well, I just can't tell you how overjoyed I am. And I just can't wait! Maybe next year we can have DNA-collection events to promote sub-prime mortgages! Iris-scanning to sell more french fries! Or how about educational faux arrests sponsored by Corrections Corporation of America to teach families to support their local for-profit drug warriors?
Isn't American go-gettiveness just wonderful? Oh, and by the way, when you read all about how Operation Kidsafe SafeStart Events are "serving" kids and families, it would be shockingly unAmerican of you to think of any old Twilight Zone episodes. Keep Your Thoughts Loyal and Your Kids SAFE! And keep those used cars moving!
Posted by Claire @ 09:37 AM CST [Link]
NO DOUBT HE IS A DOUBLE-DYED BASTARD and a cold-blooded murderer. But why does the confession of Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed remind me so much of the results obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department in the famous old joke?
ADDED: At the moment I was posting the above, Jim Bovard was typing me a message on the same subject. Sez Jim (with permission): "You torture a dude for 5 years and then it is 'news' he confesses? I'm just surprised he didn't admit being on the Grassy Knoll on 11/22/1963."
Yeah. How'd the interrogators miss that one? And Jim and I both muttered about the confessions extracted before Stalinist show-trials, too. But in the post-911 era, with its craven media, bringing those up would just be too very unPC. Not to mention useless, since our dumbed-down citizenry has no idea what Stalinist show-trials were, even though we're watching history repeat itself now.
Posted by Claire @ 08:55 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
QUESTION IS, WHY WAS THIS "FEATURE" EVER ADDED to photocopiers in the first place without the very obviously needed data-protection safeguards?
This is yet another example of the how impossible it is for ordinary people to be on guard against all the dangers presented by third-party technologies. Now just watch: as rapidly as the photocopier companies rush to add automatic data overwrites or encryption to protect product users, Congress (at the behest of the FBI, CIA, and NSA) will rush to pass the Photocopier Data Retention Act of 2008 to ensure that terrrorists, child-molesters, money-launderers and other Villains du Jour can't erase their Kinko's records.
(Thanks to Nuclear Druid, who posted the linked article at TCF.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:56 AM CST [Link]
"THE TRANSACTION COSTS OF LIFE ARE SOARING." This is one of the best -- and certainly scariest -- pieces from Wendy McElroy in a long time.
She's right; thanks to government, many things that were once quite simple -- walking into a federal building, getting a drivers license, crossing into Canada, running a business (to mix my own examples with hers) -- are now becoming so difficult that we must either spend excruciating efforts to do them or resign ourselves to not doing them at all. This imposition of vast bureaucracy into ordinary activity is the very definition of Everyday Stalinism. Freedom of choice and movement are slowly ground away -- destroyed not by tyrannical edict, but by a steady carborundum effect of bureaucracy, "security," and excess legalistic intrusion into daily life.
Wendy's essay was inspired by a friend's sudden difficulty doing something he'd done many times before -- attempting to visit family in Canada. This above all scares the pants off me. How long will it be before the bars of our cage are complete? Before only those favored and given permission by government are "allowed" to escape the growing tyranny?
Posted by Claire @ 09:24 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
NOW THERE'S A SPLENDID IDEA! And not just for Mayan priests, either.
"Get thee behind me,
Posted by Claire @ 06:40 PM CST [Link]
RADLEY BALKO CALLS IT the least surprising news of the day. Those Armed and Famous celebrities raid a wrong house.
It is, of course, merely an isolated incident. Proper procedures were followed. Authorities shouldn't be held accountable if mistakes were made giving the appearance of wrongdoing.
Posted by Claire @ 09:26 AM CST [Link]
Monday, March 12, 2007
"HALLIBURTON WILL MOVE HQ TO DUBAI." Now doesn't that sound like a headline from The Onion? But it's apparently the straight skinny.
If Halliburton were merely a freemarket oil-field services company wanting to be near its best markets, dandy. Dubai is the world's hottest place for energy deals & who can blame a profit-making entity from wanting to be where the profit is? Dubai is low-tax heaven for big biz. If Halliburton were just another company, who could argue? (Although the attractiveness of Dubai would still look like another strange, sad sign of America's foolish downfall.)
But for a company that's been rubbing butt cheeks with the president of the U.S. for all these years to say, "Screw you, U.S.A.! We're happy to take your Pentagon billions without accountability. But now the grass looks greener in Dubai. We're going to take our corporate payroll and run!" ... well, I'm sorry. That just beggars imagination. And announcing this flight right in the middle of a war that was basically custom-created by the U.S. government to serve their corporate interests ... man, that takes brass.
So will Dubya and his Pentagon (with the aid of Democrat congressthings, whining and posturing but complying) continue to throw unaccounted mega-billions of your dollars and mine at this soon-to-be foreign-based corporate entity? How far can politicians take their fraud of protecting American interests?
Posted by Claire @ 09:10 AM CST [Link]
CHARLOTTE CAROLINA, having gotten mad, now seeks to get even. But can one insignificant woman battle the entire force of the Nanny State -- not to mention the vast bulk of one bloated congressthing?
Posted by Claire @ 08:01 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, March 11, 2007
IT APPEARS THAT THE ATF isn't the only outfit whose "firearms experts" -- aren't. Twenty-seven years of criminal cases now called into question ...
(Thanks to LS, who knows all about phony firearms experts.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:00 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, March 10, 2007
CAN AMERICA BE SAVED FROM STUPID PEOPLE. No, that's apparently not a question (no question mark). It's the title of a new book by Dave Duffy, editor and publisher of Backwoods Home magazine.
Every time I get a new issue of BHM, the first thing I turn to is Dave's editorials. Next, I gobble up any of John Silveira's myth-debunking articles of historical or scientific inquiry. John's articles are always eye-openers, but they require the labor of heavy concentration. Dave's editorials, on the other hand, are quick, pleasurable reads -- yet stay in the mind, sometimes for years after.
Can America Be Saved from Stupid People is a compilation of the best of those editorials from the last 15 years or so. Read one or two before bedtime each night or with your morning coffee and you'll find yourself smiling or contemplating or delving into your own memories. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 09:57 AM CST [Link]
Friday, March 9, 2007
"THE TROUBLE WITH TASERS." CrunchGear investigates why Taser is so eager to sue medical examiners and scientists who question the safety of its products.
That's one of the troubles with Tasers. The article (thanks, EA!) is fine as far as it goes. But it also makes one classic assumption that buys straight into Taser's own marketing propaganda: that a non-lethal (or more correctly, less-lethal) weapon is always a welcome alternative to a firearm in a police officer's hand. That would be true if officers were using Tasers only in situations where they might once have used a firearm or a club. But we're seeing waaaaay too many instances in which cops are using Tasers instead of politeness and human reason.
Although not Taser related, This latest misuse of SWAT tactics from Ohio shows the same mentality. Police in civilized countries don't treat innocent people this way. Police in civilized countries don't use military tactics as a first resort in ordinary law enforcement -- ie. a shoplifting and fencing case.
Free people don't accept lame, bureaucratic -- and typical -- explanations that the most heinous behavior by police is acceptable as long as "procedures were followed." (And police in civilized countries don't Taser people merely for questioning or non-violently resisting "authority." Or Taser people who are having epileptic seizures or suffering insulin shock.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]
HANS HUMMEL ANSWERED MY QUESTIONS from yesterday's blog entry about custom ways to prepare Hi Mountain jerkies. I've pasted his response below.
He also mentioned that while he had received about 600 "drop Zumbo" emails during the Big Outrage, he got only about 30 "thanks yous" after severing his sponsorship. That's sad and doesn't speak well of the other 570 letter writers. But on the plus side, those 30 thank you notes were an inspiration. And I know for a fact that at least a couple thank yous arrived with orders. Even better. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 09:19 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 8, 2007
GOOD PRODUCTS; GOOD FREEDOM-LOVING PEOPLE. Back when the Jim Zumbo bomb exploded, you might remember that Hi Mountain Seasonings was one of the first sponsors, just after Remington, to sever all ties with the hunter who called his fellow gun owners "terrorists."
Zumbo has since expressed sincere remorse and made a revival-style change of heart. He's been given new chances, including one from one of my own publishers, S.W.A.T. magazine. (You can follow the entire saga via discussions here and here if you haven't already been Zumboed to death.)
I'm glad of that. But dropping sponsorships in the wake of his original blurt was the right thing to do.
Hans and Kim Hummel, owners of Wyoming's Hi Mountain Seasonings, not only distanced themselves from Zumbo's anti-gun prejudice with speed and style (and at a considerable hit to their small-business budget since they must redesign and reprint all their packaging and package inserts). But when they responded to my emails I learned they're also passionate freedom lovers, regular readers of Wolfesblog, and dog fans to boot.
So I figured I had many reasons to give their products a try. I made my first two batches of Hi Mountain-seasoned beef jerky yesterday & am glad to share my experience with this fine little company and its products. (At least one other Wolfesblogista also made a Hi Mountain purchase and hopes later to blog about that.) [more]
Posted by Claire @ 11:20 AM CST [Link]
THE DEADLY TRUTH ABOUT ADHD DRUGS. A very good article by Evelyn Pringle at Counterpunch.
And speaking of political drugs ... Retta Fontana at Strike-the-Root has a pretty good take on how reliance on politics resembles alcoholism.
Posted by Claire @ 10:23 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
A CONGRESSTHINGIE wants to "close the loophole" that allows Bank of America to offer secured credit cards without SSNs. She wants to require "secure forms of identification" so that the "integrity and security of our financial institutions will remain intact." Uh huh. Of course it's only aimed at those other people (illegal immigrants). Move along, move along. Nothing here that concerns you.
Okay, I know it's a damnfool question, and I'm merely showing my dinosaurish age and outlook by asking. But why does an alleged Republican in Congress believe it's a "loophole" for a bank to be free to choose its own customers?
Posted by Claire @ 08:01 PM CST [Link]
YET ANOTHER REASON WHY OUR PRESENT TECH-RELIANCE without extensive failsafe systems is folly:Do you want to trust some unknown server in an undisclosed location to store your company's entire history, let alone your personal one?
Given how many people answer yes to this question, I could easily imagine my Googler friend's baby growing up in a world where people trusted all their data to mega-storage companies like Google, Yahoo!, and SixApart. I imagined a future where some catastrophic event -- EM blast, super El Niño, virulent worm, massive political insurrection, whatever -- took out half the world's data storage.
It's possible such an event could be as destructive as the 1929 stock market crash. Money would be lost, and whole careers based on creating and analyzing online data would be trashed in an instant. Famous bloggers would be left with nothing -- their bodies of work, years worth of brilliant observations stored on anonymous corporate servers, would be obliterated. And their letters would be lost to future biographers. There would be no old trunk full of correspondence to sift through and discover new angles on great cultural commentators. That trunk would be a Gmail account; its contents would be zapped into nothing.
This from tech guru Annalee Newitz. She's wrong on only one point: comparing such an "event" to the crash of 1929. It could be a lot worse than that.
Posted by Claire @ 12:04 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
GET 'EM WHILE YOU CAN!
Blogispondent Ian here. The German FG-42 was the first successful modern EBR. It was designed for the German Fallshirmjaeger (paratroops) after an early debacle that nearly caused the German military to abandon paratroop units altogether. The troops went into combat armed with only pistols and submachine guns, and had their rifles and heavy weapons dropped alongside them in canisters. Well, in one of thier only major operations - an attack on Crete - the troops and their weapons canisters were widely scattered, and pretty well routed by the much more heavily armed British defenders.
Enter the FG-42.
Posted by Ian @ 12:10 PM CST [Link]
THE MENTALITY OF A TORTURER. This account of how one educated, thoughtful American became a torturer is long but worth reading. Although some sadists clearly relish torture (like John Yoo and like the former prison guards described in the article), the notion of an ordinary person becoming an "accidental torturer" jibes all too well with other descriptions (like those by John Conroy in Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture).
Posted by Claire @ 10:12 AM CST [Link]
AH, ROMANCE. From the man's perspective. The man in question being Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.
Posted by Claire @ 09:43 AM CST [Link]
Monday, March 5, 2007
Oregon community reins in its police for minor infractions
Raving Reporter Thunder here (again).
Sunriver, OR has reined in its police force. Now, police there can only stop drivers for what the state calls traffic crimes, such as drunken or reckless driving.
Now, if we can only get this to become a trend.....
Posted by Thunder @ 12:50 PM CST [Link]
IN THAT BENIGHTED LAND FAR FROM HARDYVILLE, Charlotte Carolina wakes up from darkness.
Posted by Claire @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]
United States is the world's largest hedge fund
Raving Reporter Thunder here.
The polticians' mouths are writing checks the US can't cash. It's gone from being the world's creditor to the world's biggest debtor.
Posted by Thunder @ 08:58 AM CST [Link]
THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE will be aired by BBC's Channel 4 on Thursday, March 8. An impressive roster of scientists - experts in climatology, oceanography, meteorology, environmental science, biogeography and paleoclimatology - argue that global warming proponents have confused cause and effect. Atmospheric CO2 is rising because the oceans are warming, releasing gigatons of formerly dissolved gas.
Silver here. I had no knowledge of this program when I wrote that "Global Warming" is a delusional belief system. Director Martin Durkin has done us all a favor by discovering the origin of the disease.
The program traces the current government-funded frenzy to Margaret Thather's state-funded search for an "environmental" reason to build more nuclear power plants, which release no CO2 or other greenhouse gas - an "inconvenient truth" that most environmentalists pointedly refuse to acknowledge.
The argument that global warming elitism is dooming African economies to strangulation with the most expensive forms of energy, while discouraging or forbidding the construction of large coal-fired power plants to provide abundant, affordable electric power is sure to provoke some howls of outrage.
One doesn't have to follow the money very far to realize that global warming is nothing more than a new argument for global control - giving the state license to dictate energy use, and hence quality of life, to all 6 billion inhabitants of Earth.
Perhaps the most important lesson is that science, unlike politics, does not depend on consensus. Votes don't matter, mandates don't matter. Science seeks to discover how our world and our universe works, and its history is full of examples of isolated dissenters who were ultimately proven correct.
In the review article 'Global Warming Is Lies' Claims Documentary director Martin Durkin predicts that "in five years the idea that the greenhouse effect is the main reason behind global warming will be seen as total bollocks." I hope he is proven correct, and that the state-sanctioned religion of environmentalism never recovers from that defeat.
Posted by Silver @ 06:30 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, March 4, 2007
CLOSING THE "TAX GAP." HA HA. Here's the lead of an ABC News story:Think of the uses of $300 billion, the annual gap between what taxpayers owe and what they pay. It would more than cover the federal deficit for a year or the extra money President Bush wants in 2007 and 2008 for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pardon me while I roll around on the floor spitting tea through my nose. The latter is a major reason not to close the infamous "tax gap," if such a thing could actually be said to exist. Pay for more slaughter of innocents? Oh, thank yeeew so veddy, veddy much but NO, thank you!
The former point is simply a joke. Cover the federal deficit? What kind of moron can even pretend to believe such a thing in this corrupt political age? Cover the deficit? Hell, any extra money collected would just go to fund the Health Care for the Children of Moronicly Irresponsible Parents Act of 2007, and be used as an excuse to add a few tens of trillions more to the national debt while the deficit just kept swelling like a ... government deficit.
How come we can figure this out and high-paid "journalists" for major media networks can't? Every year now they start in with these articles around March. Now which celebrity tax scofflaw will they parade out just before April 15 rolls by?
Posted by Claire @ 08:21 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, March 3, 2007
SHOCKING! THE HERETOFORE PEACEFUL SWISS have invaded Liechtenstein.
Whatever is the world coming to? ;-)
Sure wish our international crises could be this benign. They would be if the U.S. government could mind its own &^%$#@ing business.
Posted by Claire @ 09:49 PM CST [Link]
Friday, March 2, 2007
POSTED IN HONOR OF Silver's recent blog entry regarding further Boston PD over-reaction and Bruce Schneier's continuing accounts of security hysteria worldwide.
Originally found here courtesy of TC from a Higher Plane. ADDED: Punctuation-corrected poster supplied by volunteer Fussitarian proofreader, EB, going above and beyond the call of any possible duty.
Y'know, on that most recent incident, where the Boston PD blew up a device installed by their fellow tax-receivers of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation ... this could be the beginning of an encouraging trend. One government agency does something, another comes along to destroy it. If they keep this up, we might get limited government even without trying.
Posted by Claire @ 01:04 PM CST [Link]
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"
Raving Reporter Thunder here.
In a typical example of how the government works and its disdain towards the citizenry, post offices across the country addressed the problem of long wait times by removing clocks from their lobbies.
It is touted as a standardization measure, but even the post office's Dallas spokesman alluded to the real reason:"We want people to focus on postal service and not the clock," said Stephen Seewoester, Dallas spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
I guess they think we're all stupid.
Posted by Thunder @ 09:13 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 1, 2007
YOU CAN FEEL VERY "SECURE" IN BOSTON if having police shut down the city so they can "detonate" children's toys and random metal boxes is what makes you feel "secure." (The bomb squad generally prefers to "disrupt" their targets with explosive-driven water cannons.)
Silver here. The morons who disrupted the city for a day over Lite Brite signs of Mooninites are at it again. Last time they extorted $2 million from a private firm; this time it won't be so profitable. Today the Boston Bomb Squad blew up a traffic counter. They decided that a vandal-resistant cubical metal box, chained to lamp post, with cables that lay across the street was such a threat it had to be blown to bits on the spot.
It DOES have all of the criteria the Boston PD and Mayor "Mumbles" Menino used to define a legitimate threat: a box, with wires, and perhaps a battery inside. So does a discarded VCR, or any iPod, cell phone, Walkman, MP3 player, pager, or Abu Ghraib protester. That's right, the BPD used the same charges of a "hoax" device to arrest a hooded man standing on a milk crate with wires attached to his body.
Some people say these fools are overreacting. I think they just like to blow stuff up. Most boys do, most outgrow it. The ones that don't can always pursue their dream job on the bomb squad.
Seriously, these boobs have now cried wolf so many times that they will be widely ignored should a real threat arise. The authoritarian mindset can never admit a mistake, never grasp the limits of power, and will never realize that their own actions can diminish their ability to control other people's lives.
Thanks to Bruce Schneier's blog for the tip, informative commentary on the Mooninite debacle, and a great soundbite:Boston PD: Putting the "error" in "terror."
Posted by Silver @ 01:43 PM CST [Link]
HOW CAN YOU FEEL "SECURE" IN ANY SENSE when perfectly ordinary looking clocks and even staples in your documents may be spying on you?
The spyclock idea is useful mainly in a realm where all trust between people has broken down, and who wants to live in such a realm? (I grant it might also have interesting applications for catching burglars.)
The staple idea (a new product from Swingline) could actually be cool in a society that had more respect for privacy. It's not designed to spy on people, but to help locate missing documents. And who among us hasn't torn our hair out over some Very Important Paper we can't find?
In our present reality, though, you can be certain spy staples will be used not so much to track documents as to track who has sensitive documents and what they're doing with them around the office. Of course anyone with malicious intent could simply remove the staple and get away with heaven knows what. So you can bet RFID-enabled papers will be out by year's end. But of course, anyone with malicious intent could simply copy the document onto non-RFID paper. Which is certainly one reason RIFD powders are now being developed. Just make sure your office buys RFID-containing toner for its copying machines. So the person with malicious intent takes care to make copies at an outside site that doesn't use RFID toner and ...
Do you get a sense that RFID technology is being implemented with too much haste and too little thought?
AFTERTHOUGHT: Markets traditionally supply hard corrections when "haste and too little thought" produce products that don't function well or aren't popular. But it occurs to me that increasingly the buyer of the RFID spy-product and the
victimuser of the product aren't the same. Those most affected by spy products are those with the least say over them. What kind of market distortion is this going to create? Something akin to the distortions we're so used to with government "services," where even the most egregiously bad ideas live damn near forever and where "unintended consequences" become the norm? Heaven help us all.
(Thank you to the people of CASPIAN for the leads.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:13 AM CST [Link]
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