WolfesBlogArchives: July 2003
Thursday, July 31, 2003
THEY WILL SOON BE ABLE TO EXTRACT YOUR DNA FROM FINGERPRINTS. In 15 minutes. Besides:Because the method is so simple and cheap, with far less overhead required than needle-based DNA sampling, experts say this could help make DNA gathering a commonplace activity ...
Posted by Claire @ 10:50 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
SIX YEARS AGO, IN THE SAME BINGE OF BIG-BROTHER LEGISLATION that gave us the Deadbeat Dad's Database (i.e. database of all employed Americans), the SSN-based national-I.D. drivers license, and the unique medical identifier (so far thwarted by Ron Paul and our few friends in Congress), the Congress of the Republican Revolution authorized a pilot program involving our social security numbers and our ability to work.
In the pilot program, applicants would have to get the government's permission before being allowed to take a job. That is, the Social Security Administration would have to approve their SSN. Only after that would Americans be "permitted" to work in their own country.
I hadn't heard a word about the pilot program since viewing the 1996 legislation & was hoping (foolishly, I know) that no news was good news. Tonight that pilot program popped up casually in an NPR report on "Protecting Social Security Numbers." Don't bother with the printed article at this link. It's a bore. But give a listen to the broadcast story linked from that page. NPR and the government are thinking in terms of better ways to "protect" your SSN while at the same time giving more government agencies and private businesses access to your Social Security Administration files, the better to cement your national ID in place. Turn the story upside-down, however, and it contains a few tips for how freedom-loving people can outfox them.
Posted by Claire @ 09:30 PM CST [Link]
CALL IT PIRACY, CALL IT FREE EXCHANGE. Either way, it's amazing to see how individual ingenuity always triumphs over institutional control.
Posted by Claire @ 12:40 PM CST [Link]
DOESN'T THIS MAKE YOU WISH THE SECURITY SCREENERS WOULD GIVE YOUR KNITTING NEEDLES BACK?Despite renewed warnings about possible airline hijackings, the Transportation Security Administration has alerted federal air marshals that as of Friday they will no longer be covering cross-country or international flights, MSNBC.com has learned. The decision to drop coverage on flights that many experts consider to be at the highest risk of attack apparently stems from a policy decision to rework schedules so that air marshals donít have to incur the expense of staying overnight in hotels.
"Experts" schmexperts. It's the long-distance, fuel-laden flights hijack-bombers go for. Well, no surprise. The air marshal thing always did have the smell of a feelgood PR gesture.
Posted by Claire @ 12:34 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
JUST WHEN YOU THINK DARPA CAN'T COME UP WITH ANYTHING WEIRDER: They create this program to pay anonymous "investors" for successfully predicting assassinations and terrorist attacks.
Hm. Isn't this exactly like the "assassination politics" scheme that got poor Jim Bell into so much trouble? Didn't the feds say that was a plan for encouraging -- and financing -- murder and mayhem?
Oh, yeah. But DARPA's intention is to "prevent terrorism," of course. So it must be okay.
(Later: Ah, well, maybe it wasn't okay after all. One day after DARPA announced the program, they cancelled the program. Between this and the infamous Eye-in-the-Pyramid TIA ... well, maybe they need a new PR agency. OTOH, maybe we're all better off because they don't have a good PR agency.)
Posted by Claire @ 01:06 PM CST [Link]
Monday, July 28, 2003
MORE ON PROTECTING OUR DATA. Two observent readers wrote to point out that merely smashing a diskette, CD, or DVD with a hammer (as A. Nonymous suggested yesterday) won't make data unreadable. Both correspondents offered other data-protection suggestions of their own, which you can access by clicking "more." I claim zero expertise in this area, but will be glad to print or point to more good stuff on it, since it's important & fascinating.
Posted by Claire @ 01:48 PM CST [Link]
Sunday, July 27, 2003
FRIDAY I POSTED ABOUT HARD-DRIVE INVASIONS. Now, from A. Nonymous, comes a pair of preventive measures. (Useful if you have the time to implement them before your computer is snatched.) Click "more" to see 'em. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 05:14 PM CST [Link]
NEXT TIME YOUR HOME IS VISITED BY A MULTI-AGENCY, DYNAMIC-ENTRY FORCE, you'll know what the SWATters are saying to each other, as long as you've memorized these hand signals.
Posted by Claire @ 05:04 PM CST [Link]
Friday, July 25, 2003
HOW HARD DRIVE DETECTIVES GET YOUR INFO. Even if you've reformatted the hard drive or planted a program to destroy your data upon tampering.
Posted by Claire @ 01:31 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, July 24, 2003
CONGRESS VOTES AGAINST SUPER-SPYING. TWICE. Last night the U.S. House of Representatives voted to limit "sneak and peek" warrants -- those warrants that let law enforcers enter your house, monitor your computer, and take some of your possessions without notifying you. Last week the Senate voted unanimously to un-fund the Pentagon's Total (Terrorism) Information Awareness data-mining program. Each of these small blessings must still get through the other house and be signed by George W. Bush before becoming law.
It's good to see Congress showing some sense. But this is also typical of the "ten steps forward, one step back" procession toward the superstate. Dreadful laws are passed, dreadful programs put into action. Some small portion of the worst are defunded, modified, or repealed when the public shouts NO!
We get a welcome break. But there's no change of direction. We're so busy rejoicing over our 10 percent (or five percent, or 1/10 of one percent) victory that we learn to put up with the greater cumulative loss of freedom that was contained elsewhere in the 400-page bill or implemented elsewhere in the regulatory morass. Throw the little citizen-doggies a bone and they won't bark while you steal the gold, silver, and the rest of the Bill of Rights.
Geez, I hate being such a cynic. If somebody'll please show me a reason for real optimism, or a reason to trust the intentions and abilities of Congress, I'll jump at it.
Posted by Claire @ 09:22 PM CST [Link]
THOUGH I DON'T THINK MUCH OF THIRD-PARTY POLITICS, this new-old concept from Sean Scallon has some definite points. Hm, front-porch sitting as a campaign tool. Beats racing from state to state and whoring for donor after donor.
Posted by Claire @ 06:02 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
WHILE CONGRESS DEBATES WHETHER TO "ALLOW" DRUG RE-IMPORTATION, you can already purchase a serious variety of U.S.-created pharmaceuticals, without prescription, from Pharma Group, a reliable and discreet European source. Without even asking the consent of a single senator. And that's not to mention all the Internet Viagra peddlers and pharmaceutical-friendly Canadian and Mexican border towns.
Do our August Leaders really not know how irrelevant their "permission" is?
(Caveat emptor, of course.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:38 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
WOW. LOOK WHAT SYMANTEC'S "INTERNET SECURITY" BLOCKS BY DEFAULT. Internet filtering products are pretty notorious for blocking useful (and political) sites, as well as sites that you may not want your kids to visit. But here's what one gun-rights supporter found to be blocked by default when he installed Symantec's Internet Security filter. (This list is from a letter sent to JPFO by a correspondent, who gave permission for his discovery to be publicized):
http://www.wagc.com/ (Women Against Gun Control)
http://www.nraila.org/ (NRA's Institute for Legislative Action)
http://www.saf.org/ (Second Amendment Foundation)
http://www.tsra.com/LottPage.htm (Prof. John Lott's page)
http://www.gunowners.org/ (Gun Owners of America)
http://www.nfa.ca/ (National Firearms Assoc. (Canada))
http://www.mcrgo.org/ (Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners)
http://www.goal.org/ (Gun Owners Action League)
http://www.io.com/~velte/pt.htm (Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights)
http://www.isra.org/ (Illinois State Rifle Assoc.)
http://www.mothersarms.org (Mother's Arms)
http://www.gosc.org/ (Gun owners of South Carolina)
http://www.kc3.com/ (Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed)
http://www.ccrkba.org/ (Citizens committee Right to Keep and Bear Arms)
http://licgweb.dos.state.fl.us/weapons/index.html (FL Department of State's
website with info about concealed carry statues)
http://www.bfpe.state.ct.us (CT state Board of Firearm Permit Examiners)
These are all blocked in the "Weapons" category. It's true (as the JPFO supporter wrote in his letter of protest to Symantec) that a parent can unblock these sites simply by unchecking "Weapons." Nevertheless, they represent pretty strange blocking choices by any criteria. If there are really parents out there who are so rabidly afraid of guns that they don't even want their children to study the political issues around firearms, they're free to designate blocks of their own, in this or most other filtering software. But is Symantec doing anybody a useful service by designating pro-gun political sites as unfit and off-limits by default?
Wonder how many conservative Christian parents install this software without ever realizing it prevents their children from visiting sites that encourage them to protect their rights and their lives? Not to mention scholarly sites about guns and society and even a few state agencies!
Posted by Claire @ 10:51 PM CST [Link]
THE DEFINITION OF TRUE TEAMWORK.
As the Free State Project rushes toward voting day, a hot rivalry has developed between the leading western contender, Montana, and the big eastern draw, New Hampshire. In a few weeks, Porcupines will make their choice. When we signed up, we all also had a choice to opt out of those FSP candidate states we absolutely wouldn't move to. (I think I said no way to Delaware.) Some people opted out of every state but one -- often the one they were living in. That meant the FSP would lose them if the vote didn't go their way.
Now from webmistress Debra -- who's one of the FSP honchos -- comes word of a very classy gesture from the New Hampshire-ites.We have all seen the debates as to our choice of state on our various forums. NH's supporters want most of all to see the FSP be successful. In the spirit of the Free State Project, and in an effort to show support for the Project, the following NH Leadership and friends either already have no opt-outs or hereby drop all their remaining opt-out states ...
Definitely classy, New Hampshire. Definitely. Too many liberty projects have gone blooey because we forget Franklin's warning that if we don't all hang together we'll all hang separately. Hats off -- with panache and a great flourish -- to New Hampshire supporters.
As a westerner to my heart and soul, I've sometimes regretted I didn't opt out of New Hampshire when I joined the FSP. But now ... I'm pretty sure I could get to like the place. Off to meet their challenge and drop the rest of my opt-outs now.
Posted by Claire @ 04:47 PM CST [Link]
ORRIN HATCH IS THE WRONGEST MAN IN THE SENATE. For years, he's been a driver behind one major freedom-stealing law after another (often in partnership with Dianne Feinstein). His laws all seem to focus on one thing: control -- control of what we read (he was co-sponsor of a law to put people away for up to 20 years for writing or publishing books about explosives), how we associate, how we travel, what we ingest, ultimately what we think. He is a modern-day legislative Cotton Mather, combining iron-rod morality with the power of the superstate. And -- shudder -- he smiles and calls it good for freedom.
So when the media first reported that Hatch had sponsored a law to restore gun-rights to the citizens of Washington, DC, I was flabbergasted, momentarily pleased, and then suspicious. I started to blog the "good" news. Then I stopped. There's more to it than what I understand, I warned myself. Aside from the unlikelihood of Hatch ever actually doing anything for individual rights, it was all just too sudden. Hatch? Swooping onto the scene as a crusader for repeal of some form of government coercion? No way! But at the same time I felt guilty for not giving credit where credit seemed due. Are you really not writing about it merely because you think Orrin Hatch is a forked-tongue, cloven-hoofed, red-dyed demon from hell? Even if he may have done something right, just once?
Well, if you've been watching the gun-rights news more closely than I have lately, you've probably already figured it out: Orrin Hatch really is a forked-tongue, cloven-hoofed, red-dyed demon from hell. And a pawn of Satan, which is spelled N-R-A. According to Robert A. Levy and Gene Healy, the Cato Institute mavens who've been shepherding a Second-Amendment lawsuit toward the Supreme Court, the whole thing is just a Hatch-NRA ploy to weaken their case.
What is it with the NRA, anyway? Levy and Healy are kind. They say the NRA simply wants to maintain its clout by ensuring that it will control litigation, if there's to be litigation. But like the "poverty pimps" on the left whose jobs and reputations depend on preserving the very thing they claim to oppose, the NRA wants, loves, and needs ever-worsening disarmament -- and the crime and misery it brings.
This is one of about a zillion reasons I cherish Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The NRA needs bad gun laws to keep its membership and contributions up. Preserving itself as an institution trumps freedom. OTOH, Aaron Zelman of JPFO has told me repeatedly that he'd think it was the greatest possible victory if we were so successful in getting rid of citizen-disarmament laws that JPFO had nothing left to fight for and could go out of business.
(Afterword: For a more balanced view than mine or Cato's, see this Washington Post article about the foofooraw. It's much more fun frothing at the mouth than being balanced, and I still believe the Hatch-NRA combo can never possibly produce anything good.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:45 AM CST [Link]
Monday, July 21, 2003
SNOOP VID-CAMS ON AIRPLANES. "Simon Montfort" :-) sent this item about spy cams on airplanes. Simon's comment: "Looks like 'Little Brother' is growing up."
Indeed he is -- though when you read the article you see that Big Brother is still guiding Little Brother corporate America along the totalitarian way.
Since these cams will ultimately be capable of monitoring your conversation or recording the titles of books and magazines you read (according to info in the article), you really have to wonder how long it'll be before these folks who say "I'll submit to anything, as long as it's for security!" ("Proctology exam before entering the courtroom? Sure!" "Financial profiling before being allowed to check out library books? Okeydokey!") will start feeling restive and resentful under the Big Eye.
Posted by Claire @ 05:03 PM CST [Link]
KNOW ANY YOUNG MEN WHO ARE WONDERING WHETHER TO REGISTER FOR THE DRAFT? Send 'em here. In just five minutes and seven brief points they'll get a lifetime's worth of principles and good libertarian sense. I wish every 18-year-old knew about this.
Posted by Claire @ 04:54 PM CST [Link]
Friday, July 18, 2003
The Do-Gooders are at it again. Outraged by the concept of consenting men and women playing a game of "Hunting Bambi", entities ranging from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar "I Was a Mob Lawyer" Goodman to the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence to the Bureau of Land Management have weighed in on the topic.
"This crosses the line," huffs Mayor Goodman. Goodman, you may recall, gained fame and fortune representing the likes of Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro, Meyer Lansky and Nick Civella. I'm glad he has standards.
BLM Spokeswoman Jo Simpson adds that should they come across such deviants on public land without a permit, "... we would cite them."
Meanwhile, the Nevada Coalition of Protecting Women Against Themselves Because They're Just Too Stupid To Know What's Good For Them called the hunts offensive, dangerous, and exploitative.
Interesting. Let's do a little basic math... [more]
Posted by Debra @ 11:52 AM CST [Link]
HERE'S THE NEWS STORY YOU DIDN'T READ THIS WEEK:
(This article was sent by a journalist who wishes to remain unidentified)
Mass murder in California
Elderly man mows down dozens with automatic weapon
An 86-year old man wielding an automatic weapon of immense destructive power murdered 9 people and wounded 45 others, 10 critically, in a deadly rampage in Santa Monica, California. The dead and injured far outnumber the totals of the infamous Columbine shootings, and represent one of the largest mass killings since the murder of 86 people in their Waco, Texas church in 1993. Police chief Police Chief James T. Butts Jr. characterized the slaughter as "The worst I've seen" in his 30+ year career.
Police say the man had a valid license for the powerful weapon, whose speed and power match anything owned by the police department. Why the elderly man needed such a large, powerful weapon, and why he was granted a license for it, were not disclosed. One police source, speaking anonymously, said
Posted by Claire @ 10:59 AM CST [Link]
AND THIS IS WHAT THE FBI MEANS when it says it investigates every potential threat of terrorism?
Posted by Claire @ 10:50 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, July 17, 2003
GUMMINT KEEPS OUTSTRIPPING OUR PARANOIA ABOUT GUMMINT:Koenig and Dolmas propose what they admit is a radical idea: a "stamp tax." In this, a currency would have to be stamped periodically, and you would be charged for your currency, "in order to retain its status as legal tender. The stamp fee could be calibrated to generate any negative, nominal interest rate the central bank desired." They toss out a few numbers, say 1% a month, to validate your currency. In other words, it would cost you 12% a year to have the gall to save money.
So basically, these unelected morons are contemplating a new law -- "Thou shalt not save, thou shalt spend." And, if you don't, we're going to confiscate your money, via a tax, after we've already confiscated your money via debasement.
When I first opened the e-mail from reader JC "Bear" telling me some Federal Reserve weinies had come up with the above-described plan, I though, "Oh yeah. Another sucker falls for another piece of patriot paranoia." But before I could finish rolling my eyeballs, I clicked on the article from MSN's Money Central. And there it was.
The Koenig and Dolmas referred to are Fed-o-Crats in Dallas, and this harebrained idea is for real. Their stamp-your-cash scheme is far from being federal policy, and even they admit it's probably too radical for the moment. They say it deserves study and possible implementation within the next 10 years. But this scheme sure shows how those guys think. And oh, by the way, this is their plan designed to "cure deflation." Like, getting gummint out of the money-manipulation business wasn't a more sensible answer.
J.C. also sent along a link to the actual proposal and several tips. The tips were good, sensible ones, so I'm pasting J.C.'s message, complete with those tips, behind the "More" link. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 05:39 PM CST [Link]
BACKWOODS HOME'S WEB EDITION HAS JUST PUBLISHED A NEW ARTICLE OF MINE, "The Quisling Effect." And publisher Dave Duffy tells me another article, "Credit Card Monte," will be featured in BHM's upcoming print 'zine. "Credit Card Monte" is about the devious doo doo plastic peddlers do to their customers and how to counteract it.
It's been a long dry spell and some folks were asking whether I was still writing for BHM. (Translation: "Has she flaked out of another publication???")
The three-month break from the Web edition was my own. I was too busy finishing "Innocents Betrayed" and prepping for the Grand Western Conference of the Free State Project to get an article written.
My absence from the print 'zine is more complex. I suspect Dave and his charming, poetic cohort John Silveira weren't quite sure from the beginning how my stuff fit into their magazine. Then late last year Dave asked me to write a comparison between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. I think (although I don't know) that Dave expected me to conclude, "Well W may suck, but he doesn't suck as bad as Bill, especially because he's protecting us against terrorism." That's not exactly the conclusion I arrived at. ;-) Dave bravely printed the article, even though he disagreed with it. Unfortunately, he printed it just as Bush attacked Iraq -- and a lot of readers wrote really furious messages about my, and by extension poor Dave's, lack of patriotism. (I deserve the charge and accept it proudly; Dave, who supported the war, ended up getting tarred with the brush intended for me.)
Anyway, that and other factors have prompted Dave to take the print version of BHM back to its rural do-it-yourself roots. I'll still write politically oriented pieces for the Web edition of BHM. But we're trying to figure out just where my stuff fits into the de-politicized, back-to-basics print magazine. I completely support Dave's decision to take the magazine back to its roots. We've just got to figure how I can go along.
Posted by Claire @ 02:59 PM CST [Link]
IRONIES AND INCONSISTENCIES. Federal "medical privacy" rules are making it difficult for the media to report the names of accident victims. Yet at the same time, a simple call to 911 to report a heart attack or a broken leg lands you in a data-mining system, which is used to link you, your family members, and friends to crimes.
We can debate whether it's a good or bad thing that reporters have a hard time publicizing names of injured victims. (Ghoulish reporters can be a PITA, but remember the less they're able to follow up on private sources of info, the more their reporting will be based only on info from self-interested government agencies, like police departments.)
Whatever we think of reporters, the contrast between these two privacy/anti-privacy policies gives us a perfect example of where we're headed. Our personal lives are being "protected" against private, free-market inquiry, while at the same time they are ever-more-ruthlessly, carelessly, and self-righteously ripped open for the inspection of government.
Side note: Although the CopLink database described above has been implemented only in a few places, the practice of putting innocent and unsuspecting 911 callers' information into a criminal-investigation database is near-universal. In my county, that criminal database is strictly local -- so far. But a friendly 911 operator told me if you're concerned about privacy avoid giving your middle initial or birthdate when making any emergency call. He says it's these two things that make the database searches easy. At least in this neck of the woods. (And of course, depending on what you're reporting and where you're calling from, you can decline to give any personal information at all. But if you're calling from your home number or are the driver in a vehicle accident or are reporting your wallet stolen -- into the database you go.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:45 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
MARY LOU SEYMOUR GOT ADOPTED BY A GREAT DANE, as she describes in this week's Liberty Action of the Week column. ML is a cat person. Taking on a giant dog would be a challenge in any case, but take a look at the condition of the poor stray dog -- if you have a strong stomach.
If ML didn't live thousands of miles away, I'd hug her.
Her LAofW column is about responsible pet ownership and free-market solutions to the appalling problem of unwanted and euthanized animals. It's a good one.
ML's column reminds me of a small revolution that's taken place in the last 10 years. Even if you don't care a thing about animal welfare, this revolution holds hope for every idealistic outsider.
Ten years ago, if you advocated a no-kill philosophy with unwanted dogs and cats, you were part of the "lunatic fringe." Go to a foundation and seek funding for a no-kill shelter and you'd be turned away, possibly with covert eye-rolling and snickers. And rightly so, according to common wisdom. The volume of unwanted animals, so "wisdom" said, would so quickly outstrip your ability to care for them that you'd soon be unable to function.
But the people who advocated no-kill knew they were ethically right, even if the practical problems were overwhelming. And they persisted -- not in preaching it, but in practicing it. Gradually, more and more private no-kill rescue groups arose. And they showed that it could work. And others thought about the moral issues. And the movement grew. And today, if you ask a foundation to fund your shelter, "no-kill" is the magic phrase that opens checkbooks. Powerful, well-financed foundations like Maddie's Fund won't even talk to you if you plan routinely to euthanize healthy, non-aggressive animals.
Millions of dogs and cats are still being slaughtered. Enormous problems are yet to be solved, especially the ultimate problem of ignorant and uncaring humans. There might never be a perfect solution, an end to all arbitrary euthanasia. But the changing of hearts, minds, and practices is well underway and has already prevented millions of deaths. Today animals are given longer chance at adoption, "problem" animals are sometimes rehabilitated, foster-care networks lift part of the burden off of shelters, expanded spay-neuter programs cut down the number of unwanteds born, the Internet matches perfect families to perfect animals across the miles, and volunteers in various "canine underground railroads" transport special-needs animals from coast to coast to families willing to bear the extra burden of an elderly, crippled, mistreated, or ill dog.
Even the government shelters that do most of the killing are gradually changing. The manager of one small city-run shelter told me that, with the help of no-kill rescue groups and Internet services like PetFinder.com, they've cut their kill rate from 50 percent to less than 10 percent.
It's important to note that virtually nobody in government shelters ever wanted to kill animals. One of the horrors of shelter work is that the very people who love animals most are forced to kill them.
It's even more important to note that no part of this humane revolution began in the government shelters -- which were too locked into policy, or law, or "this is the way we've always done things" even to envision the possibility. And the revolution didn't begin among the "respectable" humane establishment, either. All those people knew that no-kill was a pie-in-the-sky notion that absolutely couldn't work. So the whole revolution was created by "fringe-oid loonies" with hardly any resources and damn little hope of success ourside their own little groups.
... Fringe-oid loonies who just happened to be right. And who persisted in acting on their principles, as well as preaching them. And who won out even as the "sensible" people continued to scorn their ideals. Sound familiar?
Posted by Claire @ 11:01 AM CST [Link]
Monday, July 14, 2003
After reading the Reno Gazette-Journal article concerning Bob Eddy's crawfish farm, I submitted the following letter to the editor to both the RGJ and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a Nevada resident, it's the least I can do. ;-)
I'm glad that our fearless leaders are taking the Nevada crawdad threat seriously, as evidenced by the recent closure of Bob Eddy's crawfish farm. Docu-dramas like "Tremors", "Them!", and "Eight-Legged Freaks" have amply demonstrated how such blatant disregard for the laws of man and nature can quickly spiral out of control. Kudos to the Nevada Department of Wildlife for their heroic actions.
Debra J. Ricketts
Posted by Debra @ 05:59 PM CST [Link]
ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC. A sniper opens fire on a crowded football stadium on the first day of the season. The crowd panics and stampedes. A thousand people die ... and the federal government immediately goes not only into gun-banning mode, but into a post-911-type security frenzy that ultimately brings the country FIST (Firearm Inspections Stop Terrorism) checkpoints and brutal demonization of gun owners. The alleged (and quickly deceased) sniper has conveniently used a "military-style assault weapon," and conveniently fits the profile every anti-gunner loves to hate. The loss of freedom looks unstoppable. But is it?
And that's merely the opening of Enemies Foreign and Domestic, the first novel by Matthew Bracken, a self-described "freedom addict." The book is due out the end of this month. You can read a generous selection of excerpts on the Web site and put in your pre-order, as well.
Unlike most freedom-movement novels, this one is loaded with action and populated by characters you'll believe, like, and identify with. Go Matthew! I can't wait to read the whole thing.
Posted by Claire @ 11:13 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, July 13, 2003
WILDLIFE PROTECTION STRIKES AGAIN:State agents raided a "lobster farm" near this rural northern Nevada town, destroying thousands of Australian redclaw crawfish officials said posed a danger to wildlife in the area.
"It looked like the Army moved in here,"Bob Eddy said Thursday as law enforcement officers destroyed the crawfish on his farm about 165 miles south of Reno."They got a court order."
Officials with the state Department of Wildlife said the crawfish, which Eddy was selling as freshwater lobsters, could endanger native species if they escaped into the wild.
Alert reader J.C. sent this article from the Reno Gazette-Journal and asked for my comment. But what can I say? The danger of foreign, not to mention, aquatic, crawfish escaping into the desert and wiping out native populations of rattlesnakes and scorpions leaves me speechless with horror. Thank god the government was there once again to save us.
Posted by Claire @ 10:31 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, July 10, 2003
HERMIT ON THE WATER JUST SENT THIS: Type the words "weapons of mass destruction" into Google, then instead of hitting the regular search button, hit "I'm feeling lucky." An error message will come up. Take a close look at it.
Posted by Claire @ 11:37 PM CST [Link]
WHEN IRAQ-WAR II BEGAN, DAVE GROSS QUIT HIS JOB. He decided he absolutely could not support this war or the U.S. government that was waging it. It did no good to talk against government policies when, more meaningfully, he was contributing $15,000 a year to enable those policies. With that decision, Dave set about to reduce his federal income tax "contribution" to zero -- legally.
Dave set up a blog dedicated to discussion of this process. In the blog, he describes both the philosophical reasoning and the practical aspects of his process. The blog has a good FAQ that describes the basics, as well as many thoughtful entries on the hows and whys of eliminating the income tax from his life.
Dave's not living in dire poverty, not adopting elaborate patriot legal theories, not defying the IRS. He's just taking practical steps to live by his principles. Lots to learn from here.
And Dave ... I salute you!
Posted by Claire @ 12:40 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
EVERYONE WHO SAID THE DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY WOULD QUICKLY EXCEED ITS MISSION was just being paranoid, right?Federal authorities are cracking down on crimes by child predators by pulling together once-fragmented investigative and intelligence resources, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Wednesday.
The initiative, dubbed Operation Predator, will target pornographers, child prostitution rings, Internet predators, immigrant smugglers and other criminals.
The new program described in this article isn't excess or abusive. After all, children need to be secure. And they live in the homeland. So you're still being paranoid if you think this exceeds the department's authority. (Not to mention that if you object to this latest destruction of constitutional government, all your neighbors will think you're in favor of child molesting and kiddie porn. Sigh.)
(Thanks old friend EG for the heads up.)
Posted by Claire @ 07:51 PM CST [Link]
KAREN DE COSTER LAMENTS THE SHORTCOMINGS OF MODERN RELATIONSHIPS on LewRockwell.com today. I don't agree with Karen on all things, and certainly not with all things in this essay. But she pinpoints a key drawback in contemporary relationships.
There is no benefit in getting into a live-in relationship where both parties have to hold down full-time jobs, but one party still has the major responsibility for housework and childcare.
You can blame feminism, welfare, the collapse of patriarchy, male weakness, male rootlessness in an era of feminized values, female ball-breaking, or female self-sacrifice for this state of affairs. Or blame something else altogether. But unless men and women can once again find equal benefit and usefulness within relationships, family life will continue to be the shipwreck it presently is. Millions of men will feel obsolete and uninvolved. Millions of women will look at their neverending labor and lack of partnership and conclude that singleness is less of a burden than togetherness.
Posted by Claire @ 01:58 PM CST [Link]
TWO YEARS LATER, A REPORT SAYS THE U.N.'S PLAN TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF SMALL ARMS in the world is failing dismally.
Oh, darn. ;-)
The report itself -- extremely long and tedious -- can be read here.
According to NPR this morning, the number of small arms worldwide appears to be growing -- with the U.S., the world leader, now having approximately one gun per person and Europe turning out to have a lot more firearms than anyone estimated. The NPR reporter and anchor managed to say all that without typical NPRish tsk-tsking. It must have been tough on the poor things.
Posted by Claire @ 01:31 PM CST [Link]
HOW COME, WITH ALL THOSE SUPER-SMART ADVISORS HANGING AROUND, nobody tells George W. Bush that nuclear isn't pronounced NUKE-U-LER? It's like having Jethro Clampett in charge of a global empire.
Posted by Claire @ 01:08 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
STANDING IN LINE AT THE POST OFFICE YESTERDAY. The clerk and the woman ahead of me were chatting away, old friends, old neighbors. This is a small town and that's what it's always like around here. The customer was writing a check as they chatted.
Then the clerk said, "I have to tell you ... next time you come in, I have to ask you for ID with your check."
The customer seemed surprised, but not terribly.
"Sorry," the clerk continued, obviously uncomfortable, "Orders. As of Wednesday, I have to get ID -- even if I know you. Even from my son or daughter. All our checks are going Minnesota now, and that's the rule."
The customer shrugged. If you can't fight city hall, you sure can't fight the postal monopoly. Never mind how cold, how irrational, how wasteful, how unfriendly, how downright stupid it is to submit to having your ID checked and recorded by someone you've known all your life.
There is NO point to this little exercise of getting ID from your friends except to Impose Procedure, Enforce Compliance, dehumanize relationships -- and of course to get customers' drivers license numbers into one more centralized database. Not one whit will it improve the rate of check clearance. In a town like ours, honesty (if it needs enforcing at all) is best enforced by knowing you have to look the same clerk in the eye tomorrow. Asking old friends and neighbors for their ID will only alienate them (subtly or overtly) and render them less friendly and loyal and ultimately less reliable.
This is a perfect example of Procedure -- Inflexible, One-Size-Fits-All Procedure -- trumping common sense.
To you who live or travel in big, anonymous places, this little development in the Impersonal State may seem like a big ho-hummer. In a world of distrustful strangers, maybe checking ID makes sense. But wherever you're from, this checking the ID's of best friends, fathers, mothers, and neighbors is a perfect example of a meaningless rite to appease the Gods of the Data. Here, in this strange rite, people exist to serve that database, and not the other way around.
Posted by Claire @ 09:31 PM CST [Link]
Monday, July 7, 2003
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AWARENESS! It's too early to tell how useful this will be. But the computer genii at MIT, inspired by DARPA's eye-in-the-pyramid TIA (Total Information Awareness system, now euphemized to Terrorism Information Awareness system), have come up with GIA. The Government Information Awareness system is designed to let individuals monitor government agencies, elected officials and bureaucrats. Not only monitor, but input information about them, which then goes into a database/dossier. (Unlike us, they have a chance to respond to rumors, accusations, and allegations.) The idea seems to be to create the same kind of permanent record on them that they keep on us -- and to re-empower citizens, who have a right to know at least as much about government as it wishes to know about them. Click "more" below for a description, or just follow the above link to the system.
This info came via alert reader DB and was contained in a Wired magazine article that began with a quote from Thomas Jefferson I'd never seen before: "The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Wow. Can you imagine someone once said that about government?
Posted by Claire @ 02:50 PM CST [Link]
JUST A PERSONAL RANT. NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS. But I effing hate passive aggressives. You know these folks. We ALL, god forbid, know these folks. The question is, how does anyone stand them?
In their "nicest" manifestation, these are the people who'll tell you oh they really don't care which movie you go to ... whatever the rest of the group wants to see is just fine, absolutely fine, with them. And only after everybody's got their popcorn and is settling down in the darkened theater to see "Terminator 3" do they make sure to announce in a teeny little humble voice that they really, really would rather have gone to "Legally Blonde 2" instead, but of course what they want really doesn't matter as long as everybody else is happy seeing "Terminator," even if they themselves simply can't stand action movies and plan to be completely bored, not to mention morally offended by the violence, for the next two hours.
A lot of their manifestations are a lot less nice. My own personal childhood was blighted by Mr. Champion Passive-Aggressive himself, whose particular form of the game was to take offense at some tiny little thing nobody else even noticed, then to build up a big, brooding head of steam for a month ... two months ... literally in some cases decades ... during which time if anyone asked him what was wrong he'd snarl, "NOTHING!" The notion of simply talking to the alleged offender about the alleged offense ... well, that would have been unthinkable! After all, that would have meant stooping to their level. Then suddenly one day the dog would poop in the wrong spot or [more]
Posted by Claire @ 01:34 PM CST [Link]
FROM THE DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR CRY DEPARTMENT. CASPIAN, that fierce doberman watching over shoppers' privacy, has discovered that anyone can access "confidential" documents on the MIT Auto-ID Center web site.
This is a delicious irony, since the Auto-ID Center is the spooky institution that's not only building the global infrastructure for adopting universal product ID (virtually invisible radio frequency ID (RFID) tracking tags to be imbedded in literally every product manufactured on earth), but is also charged with convincing us ignorant peasants how useful and "secure" the technology is.
Among the "secure" documents on the site is one that talks about how to "pacify" the vast majority of individuals who hate the very idea of having themselves and their toilet paper use tracked from store shelf to sewer, and another that wistfully hopes we'll all just get over it and become "apathetic" and "resign" ourselves to "the inevitability of it."
To see more of this pernicious elitist drivel, all you have to do (snicker, chortle) is enter the word "confidential" into the Auto-ID Center's search engine.
Posted by Claire @ 12:39 PM CST [Link]
Friday, July 4, 2003
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Make Big Booms! And keep the genuine spirit alive.
Posted by Claire @ 12:16 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, July 3, 2003
WANT TO MOLEST CITIZENS FOR FUN AND PROFIT? Greg Perry writes the dream ad for your dream employer.
Posted by Claire @ 01:20 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
IT'S TRUE THAT LEGAL DRUGS CAN IMPAIR A DRIVER'S ABILITIES. No brainer. It usually even says so right on the package. But since when did cops become qualified to perform detailed medical exams? According to this article, some cops -- who presumably know no more about medicine than thee and me -- are to be conducting 45-minute diagnostic exams on drivers. The police will conclude, on the basis of their findings, whether a person is using performance-impairing drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Geez, will they consult about our kidney stones at the same time? Or advise on our appendectomy?
Are they fully qualified to distinugish between a "drug impairment" and symptoms of illness? If they see "tense muscles," as the article notes, will they infallibly know the difference between tension caused by a drug, tension caused by a nerve condition, and tension caused by being scared s**tless of having cops poking their fingers into bodily orifices? Amazing! Barely trained cops expect to do this perfectly in 45 minutes, when it often takes doctors years and batteries of costly tests to do -- and often still results in a misdiagnosis.
And what about our emotional states? Anger, euphoria, despair, and hysterical laughter could also impair our driving. Are cops going to learn Insta-Psychoanalysis (TM) next year, so they can do on-the-spot diagnoses of all our potential mental impairments, as well?
When they "throw the book at us" in the future, will it be the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy? Or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?
What ever happened to cops simply dealing with behavior that they observed endangering others? Or is that too dull for our newly expert-in-all-fields Super Cops?
Roadside medical diagnosis is new -- but it's also not. In the original European police states of the Enlightenment, the law-enforcement apparatus was considered qualified to judge health, morals, and virtually everything else about the subject people. And subject is the operative word. (In one "civilized" state, in fact, women were required to report the onset of their monthly menstrual periods to the police.)
Aaron Zelman and I wrote about these historic police states (and their eerie reflections in modern America) in The State vs the People. And yes, if you wish you may consider that a plug for the book.
Thanks again to S.
Posted by Claire @ 10:41 AM CST [Link]
WHILE FULMINATING AGAINST UNSAFE GUN SAFETY RULES last night, I didn't question where that one astonishingly UNsafe rule came from. Alert reader Neil Alexander points out that the NRA is ultimately behind it. (Oh, I am soooooo surprised, she says with tongue so far into cheek it's probably pointing into the next county.)
Neil also sent along this interesting debate on the NRA vs Jeff Cooper versions of safety rules.
Nobody who really gets it can possibly be surprised at the NRA's continuing perfidy and political correctness. But I'm still fuming this morning that anyone would preach obviously hazardous habits to the innocent in the name of "safety."
Posted by Claire @ 10:19 AM CST [Link]
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL PLAYER MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARS. You can't have missed the latest tabloid tale. Carlton Dotson, star athlete, is suspected of having shot his roommate and teammate, Patrick Dennehy, to death. The story is that the two of them were out plinking when somebody got mad at somebody and the target became something other than aluminum cans or old stumps.
In one of the zillions of articles on the case, a relative of Dotson's laments, "What are you going to do to keep `em [guns] away from those children? And that's what I call `em, children."
Maybe the fact that so many people think of 21-year-old men as children -- too immature to learn the four simple rules of safe gun handling, too bratty to control their tempers, too uneducated to understand that actions have consequences -- is exactly the problem. I've known five-year-old girls, daughters of dedicated shooters, who knew better than those grown "children" apparently did.
(Speaking of people having difficulty knowing the four basic rules of gun safety, though ... when you plug the words "four rules safe gun handling" into Google, the very first site that pops up has the rules wrong! Instead of "all guns are always loaded," they've invented a dumb, dangerous rule, "ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use it." Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. The meth-crazed weirdo who breaks into your house in the middle of the night will LOVE you for following that "safety rule." It's also a braindead habit to get into thinking a firearm's default state is empty. Sheesh. Check it out. Tell these people they're goo-goo heads.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:08 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
THIS YEAR'S DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS TEACHER is a bureaucrat from the Ministry of Magic:
"Using defensive spells?" Professor Umbridge repeated with a little laugh. "Why, I can't imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. "Surely you aren't expecting to be attacked during class?"
"We're not going to use magic?" Ron ejaculated loudly. ...
[Said Hermione] "Surely the whole point of Defense Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?"
"Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Granger?" asked Professor Umbridge in her falsely sweet voice.
"No, but --"
"Well, then, I'm afraid you are not qualified to decide what the 'whole point' of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer than you have devised our new program of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way --"
"What use is that?" said Harry loudly. "If we're going to be attacked it won't be in a --" ...
"I do not wish to criticize the way things have been run in this school," [Professor Umbridge] said with an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, "but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed .... You have been introduced to spells that have been complex, inappropriate to your age group, and potentially lethal. ... Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your expamination, which, after all, is what school is all about. ... I repeat, as long as you have studied the theory hard enough --"
"And what good's theory going to be in the real world?" said Harry loudly ...
Professor Umbridge looked up.
"This is school, Mr. Potter, not the real world," she said softly.
"So we're not supposed to be prepared for what's waiting out there?"
"There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter. ... Who do you imagine wants to attack children such as yourselves? ..."
From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pps 242-244. With thanks to Hermit-on-the-Water for moving me up from #1181 on the library's hold list. :-)
Posted by Claire @ 02:58 PM CST [Link]
IN OCTOBER 2001, THE DEA SUDDENLY DECIDED to ban hemp-based foods and cosmetics by "jackboot fiat." Now comes word from Webmistress of the Dark Debra that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has said no way to the DEA. The fight for legal hemp products is still far from over, but this is rare good news.
Posted by Claire @ 02:39 PM CST [Link]
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