WolfesBlogArchives: September 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
SIGH. AFTER ALL THAT ANTICIPATION ... it was better as a TV series.
Most of the core elements that made Firefly so extraordinary were there -- the character interactions, the moody color and atmosphere of the ship, the bitter wit from Mal, and above all the emphasis on free people behaving with outlaw honor while opposing a state that demands perfect obedience. But these elements of greatness were underused or misused -- buried under lots of unoriginal action sequences and cheesy special effects. Oh, and lots of "oh, the ship is shaking apart" stuff straight out of those horrible old Irwin Allen SF movies and TV shows of the early 1960s. You can't just scale up a TV series and call it a movie.
Where my jaw really dropped -- and not in a good way -- was during a scene that should have been both a big climactic triumph and a laugh. This scene is developing and I'm sitting there going, "WTF??? Whedon stole that straight out of Galaxy Quest! And Galaxy Quest did it better." (You may remember: "My ship ... is dragging mines!" Well, it's not mines the Serenity is dragging. But it's sure dragging GQ's creative baggage. And this was definitely a steal, not a tribute by one movie maker to another.)
Still, not a terrible movie. Just not a great, or even an especially good one. I didn't hate it, as George Potter did (warning; strong language). I was just very disappointed and probably won't even remember much about it in the morning. The one truly satisfying element was the revelation of the Reavers' origins. Now that was damed apropos.
YMMV. Most other Firefly fans seem enchanted with the whole film. Keep in mind that I'm a notorious movie snob.
Posted by Claire @ 07:12 PM CST [Link]
THIS IS MY FAVORITE MAINSTREAM REVIEW OF SERENITY so far. Very mainstream: Google News is featuring Serenity reviews this morning, along with reviews of the latest Roman Polanski film. I think this means Firefly has reached the big time.
I'm off shortly to go see it -- though I'm worried about a few rumored plot twists. I've been trying to ignore the rumors for the last couple of months. I don't want what I've heard to be true. Back later.
Posted by Claire @ 12:16 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Friday, September 30, 2005
SciFi/Fantasy (PG-13) • 1 hr 59 mins
(12:45pm), (3:25pm), 6:05pm, 8:50pm
The hazards of living in Hardyville. I was so worried that the nearest x-plex wouldn't show Serenity. If it didn't, I'd be looking at a six-hour round trip. But there it is, just 45 minutes away. Expect me to be playing hooky from work tomorrow afternoon.
Posted by Claire @ 04:47 PM CST [Link]
I WATCHED TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS last night and couldn't help but think about George W. Bush. No, there's nothing political in the movie (which was made when Bush was just a shrub). But still ...
Nightmare is the tale of Jack Skellington, the much celebrated, totally fawned upon king of Halloween Town. All the ghosties and ghoulies worship him, but Jack isn't happy. He's bored with the same old scares. He wants something better, though he can't even imagine what that might be.
Then one day, Jack stumbles into Christmas Town -- and he discovers everything his heart desires. Color and joy, warmth, song, and happy (not scary) surprises.
Jack returns to his dark home and enthusiastically tries to describe the delights of Christmas to the assembled creepy-crawlies, who manifestly don't get it. Jack himself doesn't truly get it, as we see when he conducts a series of scientific experiements on holly berries, Christmas bulbs, and other paraphernalia of the season, trying to discover the essence of their magic. In each case, he destroys the thing he so desires to understand. So, in frustration, Jack decrees that he will simply seize Christmas. He orders "Sandy Claws" to be kidnapped and sets about turning Halloween Town into a Christmas production factory -- with hilarously creepy results.
I kept thinking of GWB and his desire to "spread freedom" abroad and "preserve freedom" here. Assuming for the moment that Bush actually believes that's what he's doing, and that he's not merely seeking wealth and control, he is as far from getting it as Jack and his ghouls were from getting Christmas. In the process of trying to force goodness upon people by war, law, and edict, he only twists and perverts what is good. In the process of trying to promote freedom, he destroys it.
Sigh. If only GWB's results were as amusing as Jack's.
Posted by Claire @ 09:42 AM CST [Link]
THE PENTAGON SAYS there's not enough evidence to bring charges against soldiers who sent pictures of mutilated Iraqi war dead for posting on the Internet. But that they might still punish soldiers for misusing military computers to send those photos. HUH?
Talk about overkill -- They're also considering barring all soldiers from using either personal cameras or computers while in a war zone. Now, wouldn't the Bush administration, with its fetish for secrecy and its desire to depict war in terms only of ribbons, banners, and vague patriotic "sacrifice," love that?
(This from Rational Review News -- with additional thanks to Mary Lou Seymour for her generous heart. RRN is in the midst of a fund drive right now and also has a very good deal on ad sales. So if you can help or are looking for a great place to advertise your product to freedom lovers, go on over.)
Posted by Claire @ 08:09 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP LAST NIGHT. Then I woke up several times during the early hours, each time with the same unendurable image in my mind's eye. While researching for my upcoming Hardyville column, I'd run across a single paragraph describing an unforgivable cruelty to an animal and a human after Hurricane Katrina, and I just couldn't stand it any more. It was more heartbreaking than the images of that bloated, uncaring cop ripping Snowball from a crying little boy.
I can't even stand to describe it this morning. But I have to so you'll know what I mean:
Posted by Claire @ 09:58 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
MORE WAR CRIMES BY U.S. SOLDIERS. In violation of the Geneva Convention, they're apparently sending grotesque photos of Iraqi war dead and wounded to be published on the Internet. Their reward: access to amateur porn. And apparently also the dubious delight of writing "amusing" captions about maimed and mutilated people -- like the caption describing a woman with her leg blown off and her naked crotch visible: "Nice puss -- bad foot."
It's not that we shouldn't see the dead. Better to see war for what it is than to think of it as all yellow ribbons and "Mission Accomplished" banners. But the Geneva Convention forbids displaying photos of war dead for purposes of mockery and ridicule. And trading rotting, blasted bodies for porn as if the whole thing were one big laugh ... well, what kind of person does that? Even if it weren't a war crime, this certainly blows away any notion that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are "heroic liberators" who want freedom for Iraqis. The other day, I scoffed at the idea that abuse of prisoners came from "failure of leadership." But you really have to wonder ... who's in charge over there, and how clueless can the alleged "leaders" actually be?
Badmuggafugga posted this in the midst of an otherwise innocuous and unrelated thread at TCF. The story deserves wider attention.
Posted by Claire @ 04:08 PM CST [Link]
WALLY CONGER DIRECTS OUR ATTENTION TO a spoiler-free review of Serenity from this week's special preview for bloggers. (Alas, I don't live close enough to take advantage of it; but what a great -- and smart! -- thing to do, eh? Inviting bloggers in with mainstream movie reviewers.)
I suspect this reviewer will prove correct; mainstreamers will be as baffled by Serenity as SF fans and Firefly series fans will be in love with it.
Posted by Claire @ 03:44 PM CST [Link]
OH, DON'T WE WISH ...
(This news of Colorado-of-the-heart comes from Rick in Germany.)
Posted by Claire @ 03:29 PM CST [Link]
MURDER AN INNOCENT IN COLD BLOOD. LEAK INFO ABOUT THE MURDER. Which act will get you arrested? Gunner at No Quarters makes some choice observations.
Police should be held to the same standards as anyone else. Plain and simple. No one should ever get a free pass just because he holds a government job.
Posted by Claire @ 08:34 AM CST [Link]
AN IMPORTANT NEW BOOK HITS THE MARKET: Spychips: How major corporations and government plan to track your every move with RFID by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntire.
Earlier this year, I had the creepy pleasure of reading Katherine and Liz's manuscript. I've been dying to tell the world about it but had to keep silent. Now I can urge everyone who cares about freedom and privacy to get a copy of the book. Then get another to wake up a friend or relative.
Before reading Spychips, I felt fairly knowledgeable about radio-frequency ID tags (RFID). RFID chips, as readers of this blog know, are tiny tracking devices that can be attached to or embedded in nearly anything, including human bodies -- and ultimately will be if industry and governments have their way. RFID chips broadcast information about an item and its possessor to any device capable of "pinging" the tag.
I thought I'd been watching closely. But I didn't know the half of what Katherine and Liz reveal in Spychips.
Posted by Claire @ 07:11 AM CST [Link]
Monday, September 26, 2005
THE MEDIA MAY SCARCELY HAVE BEEN AT SATURDAY'S ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATION, as Silver noted. But Jim Bovard was there. He took this photo as the march was breaking up. And took this photo of one of freedom's finest defenders. (It's a large image, but it has to be to accommodate this guy's donut gut; and you really must get a good look at his face.)
Jim writes:I ... biked in and around the march yesterday - the best way to deal with a mob scene.
As I was coming down 17th St. by the Old Executive Office Building (on the other side of the White House from where this photo was snapped), some fat cop comes trotting out into the street, raising his stick like he is getting ready to take a swing at me. I didn't realize that the street was closed - some other cop grunts something about how I had to detour - so I swung off on a street to the right and left 'em in the dust. (Not the cop in the picture but similar gauge).
Almost all the streets were obstructed in one way or another - the cops had their metal sawhorses all over the place - and they were changing what streets were closed at various times arbitrarily, as far as I could tell. These folks don't clearly [know] what streets are closed to all traffic - and yet feel entitled to attack anyone who doesn't obey the secret rules. Sorta of the paradigm for contemporary American freedom.
This was an area where there were almost zero demonstrators around - so I assumed the cops might have felt more freedom of action, unimpeded by the omnipresent camcorders.
It was encouraging to see the level of energy in the crowd. If only there was some way to get the same level of passion in a savvy freedom movement....
Posted by Claire @ 10:20 AM CST [Link]
TORTURING PRISONERS. Whistleblowers who were there say it was routine and "a failure of leadership."The beatings and other abuses served mainly to relieve stress, according to the three soldiers. "On their day off people would show up all the time," said one sergeant. "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport."
The soldiers blamed the abuses in large part on the failure of civilian and military leaders to clarify what was and was not permitted, particularly in light of the administration's position that the Geneva Convention, in which the unit had been trained, did not apply to detainees captured in Afghanistan.
Human Rights Watch issues a report on prisoner torture and abuse by the U.S. and titles it "Leadership Failure."
Where does everybody get this? Are we honestly supposed to believe that people with decent hearts and common sense torture people routinely -- simply because no leader steps forth to say, "No, no!"? Come off it. No doubt there were and are "leadership failures" -- in Iraq, in Afganistan, in the treatment of the 500 endlessly "detained" prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, many of whom are now starving themselves before an uncaring media. Hell, the Bush administration is an ongoing, rolling wreck of a "leadership failure." The concept of political leadership is ultimately a failure, in and of itself. The very notion of expecting "leaders" to determine everyone else's behavior by command and control is obnoxious and ought to be rooted out of the human consciousness.
But however responsible the leaders are for tolerating, encouraging, and especially covertly making policy of torture, the do-ers still have the power to say NO and F**K NO. Individuals who beat or otherwise abuse others for amusement, release of tension, peer pressure, or just because they imagine that's how things ought to be done are warped individuals -- even if they're twisted in a sadly common way. Orders on high might be able to curb their Lord of the Flies devolution. But "leadership" doesn't change their nature or make them any less responsible.
Posted by Claire @ 09:59 AM CST [Link]
SEPARATISM AND SECESSION. A new think tank says those may be the best responses to out-of-control government and mega-corporate power.
Posted by Claire @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, September 25, 2005
DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE, JUST AS OUR MASTERS WANTED
When over 100,000 people gather in protest, and are "allowed" by federal officials to march past the White House for the first time in a decade, you might think it was news. When tens of thousands more gather for the same reason in cities across the country and the world, you might expect to read about it.
But you have to be good at Googlenews or sharp-eyed on Matt Drudge's page to spot coverage of Saturday's protests against the savage, completely immoral and unjustified invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The cowardly, murdering thug Bush fled the capital, once again avoiding any confrontation with what he fears most: the truth. Cindy Sheehan represents just one small nugget of truth, the awful realization that her son was killed for nothing. But she hangs onto that truth with a determination that goes beyond dogged, and so she terrifies and infuriates the pack of liars, killers, and thieves that infest the halls of power. Read her speech.
I wasn't able to attend yesterday's celebration in DC, but I did attend a vigil and meeting in Boston on September 16, as part of the Bring them home now bus tour that culminated in Saturday's massive rally.
Posted by Silver @ 03:45 AM CST [Link]
Friday, September 23, 2005
IN APRIL 2005, a former USDA vet (Lester Friedlander) testified that as a US meat inspector in 1991, he was ordered NOT to report cases of Mad Cow disease. He also said that when private labs confirmed the disease, other USDA vets overruled the findings, ran their own "objective" tests (like the BATFE's, perhaps?), and denied the original results.
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the Republicrats are well-financed by the beef industry, which they spend millions of dollars a year both advertising and subsidizing. No, certainly not.
"Well, who the hell cares about Mad Cow anyway?" grouses a libertarian friend. "It's stupid media hype. Besides, the greenies just want the USDA to do more inspections!"
That whooshing sound you hear is that of a point being really, really missed.
Whether or not you think Mad Cow is something to worry about is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that the USDA forbids private companies from testing their own meat for Mad Cow because "the USDA's own systems are perfectly adequate." ["Adequate" apparently meaning that when the USDA finds evidence of the disease, they look the other way.]
Yes, Mad Cow is probably hype. So what? The point is that the federal government is calculatingly, consciously, willfully ensuring that consumers who are concerned about Mad Cow have absolutely no accurate data with which to make their purchasing decisions. This is no different than the government disarming you while cooing, "That's okay, we'll protect you." And then either leaving you to get mugged, or mugging you themselves. (Kinda like New Orleans, now that I think about it).
Lefties who advocate more USDA involvement in the issue should realize by now that governments -- and their agents -- are corrupt, controlled by special interests, and do NOT have the interest of the individual at heart.
Posted by Debra @ 05:08 PM CST [Link]
YESTERDAY AFTER A TRIP TO THE POST OFFICE, I turned the key in my truck and didn't get so much as a click. Uh oh. But in less than five minutes, a mechanic rode up on his white
horsepick-up truck. He got me started, met me back at the service station (yes, it's an old-fashioned service station, where they'll actually pump your gas and fix your car), replaced a wire on my battery, then waved away my query of "how much?"
This isn't the first time these folks have made my day, either.
An hour later, my friend Pyramid Man showed up and threw himself into three and a half hours of steady, enthusiastic work on the roof of my garden shed. I hate asking for favors and I started out determined to build that shed entirely by myself. But sometimes, [more]
Posted by Claire @ 12:21 PM CST [Link]
IN THE "DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT" DEPARTMENT we have Reporters Without Borders. Bless you, guys, for your Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents. It's written to help people in places like China or Iran, where bloggers might be the only honest media. It not only tells how to set up a blog and make it interesting, but how to do so anonymously and how to get around censorship.
There was a time we wouldn't have needed it here. Download a copy of the .pdf document just in case ...
Posted by Claire @ 11:46 AM CST [Link]
AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD A PROBLEM WITH THE "NO-FLY" LIST! Be glad you're not Cape Air pilot Robert Gray.
Horrible as it is in general to live in these times of the War on Freedom, certain things -- like secret no-fly lists and "detentions" without trial are so blatantly Stalinist, so plainly, obviously unAmerican, that they just smack the mind. Yes, it's easy to imagine that some slavering paranoid security nut deep in the bowels of No Such Agency could wish to impose such things ... but that Congress or the courts tolerate such Kafkaesque horrors for even one second is the thing that really tells you you're not in Freedomland any more.
This man has been deprived of his ability to earn a living and under the New American Way, he's not even allowed to ask why, let alone appeal the decision.
Posted by Claire @ 11:30 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
LIZ MICHAEL HAS MORE COURAGE THAN I DO. Or perhaps it's just more chutzpah. But she says it's time to shoot the bastards. And she names a few target groups.
I admit that, somewhere between passage of the Real ID act and the brutal bureaucratic botch after Hurricane Katrina, I was slapped into the conclusion that this is the time to shoot the bastards. Effective or not, there just comes a day when a man or woman of self-respect can do nothing else.
Public proclamations of intent, however, are another matter. Neither Ms. Michael nor I have picked up arms and marched off to follow Ms. Michael's advice. It's fall and its beautiful here on my hill and I don't intend to die today unless the battle comes to me.
(Found via Bill St. Clair's ever-estimable blog.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:59 AM CST [Link]
DON'T WORRY; THE BUREAUCRATS WILL SAVE YOU."There will be a cloud of smoke above Little Rock soon - of burned food, of anger and of shame that the world's richest nation couldn't organise a p**s up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations.
"Everyone is revolted by the chaotic shambles the US is making of this crisis. Guys from Unicef are walking around spitting blood.
"This is utter madness. People have worked their socks off to get food into the region.
"It is perfectly good Nato approved food of the type British servicemen have. Yet the FDA are saying that because there is a meat content and it has come from Britain it must be destroyed.
"If they are trying to argue there is a BSE [mad cow disease] reason then that is ludicrously out of date. There is more BSE in the States than there ever was in Britain and UK meat has been safe for years."
Posted by Claire @ 09:31 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
HEY, THEY'RE RECRUITING FOR THE PORN SQUAD! Could this be the career you've been waiting for? Well, maybe not exactly."I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
Three weeks ago when I reported the first spurts ... er, shots fired in the new War on Porn I really didn't quite believe it. But "it's twue, it's twue!" (And a Twinkie to anybody who can instantly tell me what movie I just quoted from.)
(Thanks to AZ for news of the weird.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:11 PM CST [Link]
DAVID CODREA HAS SOME COMPLAINTS about the Hardyville Freedom Film Festival. And OMG! I agree with most of them.
Charles Robert Carner's explicitly freedom-oriented 1997 TV-remake of Vanishing Point would have been a fine nominee. As, for that matter, would the original 1971 Vanishing Point.
Amazon.com reviews weren't kind to the remake, but most were upset because it "turned the message of the original upside-down." True, the original was dark, mystical, and nihilistic and the remake is brighter, more concrete, and more upbeat. On its own very different merits (not least of which is a pre-Aragorn Viggo Mortensen), CRC's Vanishing Point is well above average TV movie fare and a bright spot in the media for freedom lovers. And we left it out.
Ah well, there's always more years and more good films. And yes, David, the possibility of write-in votes.
Posted by Claire @ 11:53 AM CST [Link]
HOW TO KILL THE JOB CULTURE BEFORE IT KILLS YOU. Thank you, Dave Gross -- the first person to quote from my new book online. (He may even be the first person to get his hands on the thing; I don't even have my author's copies yet. My announcement of Job Culture's publication last week was premature; Loompanics had listed it in the catalog before it was actually in from the printer. Looks as if those orders are being fulfilled now.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:27 AM CST [Link]
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT. It should be a federal crime to charge a buck "too much" for a gallon of gas during an emergency. But it's dandy fine to charge taxpayers and the children and grandchildren of taxpayers an extra $200 billion or so (plus interest) for political fuel during the same emergency?
Only relief from this latest crime of government gouging: it seems people recognize it for exactly what it is. After Bush's big piece of theater in New Orleans last week, in which he promised hundreds of billions of other people's money, I really feared the public might buy the ploy -- free goodies! government is DOING something! -- and take him back in their embrace. But if the above-linked poll is accurate (always a huge IF, of course), for once Americans weren't fooled.
(Thanks to SJ for the "price gouging" article, which is one of the most informative on the silliness, even if its author doesn't reveal a glimmer of a grasp of the consequences of price controls.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:08 AM CST [Link]
I DON'T EXPECT TO AGREE WITH CLINTONISTA ROBERT REICH, BUT when I read this I thought of an unconfirmed factoid I once heard: that the Soviet military used radios that enabled commanders to convey orders downward, but didn't allow soldiers on the scene to convey their observations and advice upwards to the decisionmakers.Not since the hapless administration of Warren G. Harding has there been one as stunningly inept as this one.[more]
The easy answer to the paradox is that Bush cares about winning elections and putting his ideological stamp on the nation, but doesn't give a hoot about governing the place. But that's no explanation because
Posted by Claire @ 08:05 AM CST [Link]
OUR OWN "RICK FROM GERMANY", who often sends good blogstuff in this direction, has an article on LewRockwell.com this morning. His analysis of the ongoing German election debacle attempts to make sense out of a situation that makes our two recent national election crackups look sane by comparison.
Rick is also a most ardent offshore defender of our own Bill of Rights, with emphasis on the Second Amendment.
Posted by Claire @ 07:30 AM CST [Link]
Monday, September 19, 2005
I'M HEADED ON OVER TO ADD MARKET THEOCRACY TO THE BLOGROLL. Doorintosummer, one of MT's four blogistas, is that most poetic, insightful, and brilliant writer, George Potter.
It's crazy nuts that there's no archive of George's work on the Web. But if you search deep into the Writers Block section of The Claire Files forums, you'll see several reasons why I keep telling George that when it comes to writerly dazzlement I'm not fit to touch the hem of his garment.
Posted by Claire @ 09:47 PM CST [Link]
Q. HOW MANY MEMBERS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION does it take to change a light bulb? [more]
Posted by Claire @ 03:24 PM CST [Link]
TOO MUCH 'COP CRAP'?
Raving Reporter Thunder here.
It seems that the national hysteria instigated by the fedgov about terrorism is clogging up the system. Some departments, such as the sprawling metropolis of Mendon, Mass. spent their sudden influx of federal money to fight terrorism on bioterrorism gear. Only problem is that they now have no room for the officers.
As Claire says so eloquently, "Sigh."
Posted by Thunder @ 09:36 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I THOUGHT IMPS WOULD BE WEARING SNOWSUITS before I ever recommended contacting your congressthing. But do it in the cause of monkeywrenching. Monkeywrenching that could help free many innocent, wrongly convicted gun owners.
The BATFE has NO documented firearms testing procedures. They testify against and terrorize people based on completely arbitrary non-standards. What better way to highlight that than to get your congresscritter to ask for a copy of the non-existent document?
And no, I don't think the BATFE would be a "good" organization if it had standards. And I don't suffer from the illusion that it can be "reformed." I think it would be a "good" (that is, useful) organization if it were stuffed into a cannon and fired into outer space, along with the IRS and most of the rest of the federal government. But since we have to live with it for the time being, let's make it as miserable as it has made us. Kudos to Ian for the post and mega-kudos to one of my few personal heroes, Len Savage, for being one of the few firearms makers with the cojones to stand up to the BATFE. Len's the one who uncovered the lack of documentation and came up with the strategy of requesting what doesn't exist.
Posted by Claire @ 07:26 AM CST [Link]
i'LL BE ADDING THIS ONE TO THE BLOGROLL. Lewlew's Yak Attack blog. Nice going, girl.
Posted by Claire @ 06:53 AM CST [Link]
SERENITY STARS CONFIRM they've been signed for sequels. :-)
(Thank you, SJ.)
Posted by Claire @ 06:50 AM CST [Link]
BLACK HUMOR. How various government agencies would respond to Hurricane Katrina. Kudos to Brad at McBlog and to Mystery Woman for the find.
Posted by Claire @ 06:48 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Gold hits 17-year high
Blogeneur Silver here. My lack of recent blogging has nothing to do with Katrina but rather a plethora of modern inconveniences such as Claire discussed recently.
Gold is beginning to be recognized as money. As I write gold is trading near $455 per troy ounce, and this morning December futures were trading for $458 or $459. These are the highest prices in 17 or 18 years; it isn't hard to imagine gold trading above $500, breaking a 25-year record. If one attempts to adjust for inflation, even at these prices gold is still extremely cheap compared to historical norms.
Many Americans seem to be stupid enough (sorry, I don't know a more polite term) to believe that money can be created from thin air forever. Whether its taking interest-only or negative amortization mortgages, saving little or nothing, or watching Congress flood billions of dollars into the hole that Katrina left behind, few seem to notice, or care, about the source of all this cash.
Most of the rest of the world knows better. Savings rates in excess of 20% are common in many parts of the world, and experience with currency devaluations, hyperinflation, and other unpleasant effects of fiat money is strong in people's memory. India buys enormous amounts of gold for jewelry that is often used as a dowry. China is actively encouraging its citizens to keep some of their savings in gold. [more]
Posted by Silver @ 12:36 PM CST [Link]
NEVER IN ALL THE WORLD DID I IMAGINE I'd end up watching a movie called Kung Fu Hustle -- let alone enjoying it hugely, vastly, wildly, thrillingly, and hilariously. But I Netflixed it last night, and it wowed me.
One reviewer called it a Chinese Sin City. Dunno about that. Although both blur the line between reality and cartoon, Kung Fu Hustle plays its violence strictly for laughs. On the other hand, Sin City is as dark as it gets and goes beyond disturbing in its celebration of vengeful violence..
But it's true that both Kung Fu Hustle and Sin City tell good-guy/bad-guy/tough-guy stories you've seen before, but tell their stories in ways you've never imagined. Both put high-tech computer FX into service to tell wonderfully human stories.
Kung Fu Hustle and Sin City, which I saw a couple of weeks ago, are a pair of truly awesome action flix. Sin City is also an artistic triumph. Both are -- amazingly enough -- largely one-man productions. Stephen Chow directs, produced, stars in and co-wrote Kung Fu Hustle. Robert Rodriguez didn't star in Sin City but he did all that other stuff and wrote the sound track, besides. Better yet: Both these guys are mere puppies, with years of creative potential ahead of them. Hot damn!
Two great films. And I'm not giving anything away when I say that in both of them the good guys win, and win in style. But Sin City is for a noir mood. If you're looking for fun and laughs along with your adventure, I'd put Kung Fu Hustle right up there with Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark as a classic and a DVD keeper.
Posted by Claire @ 09:25 AM CST [Link]
THE EVIDENCE IS UNMISTAKABLE that Hurricane Katrina, although a total (no surprise) failure of government "humanitarianism," is being used as a test scenario for police-state control.
Razor wire to keep homeowners "safe"? Gimme a break. And note that, without ID, you don't go anywhere. And "no photos, no stories"? And that's not to mention "law enforcement" personnel who break the law in ways that leave people more vulnerable than they were in the first place. More vulnerable = more desperate for official "protectors."
But how many will get the irony? How many will get the reality?
Posted by Claire @ 08:07 AM CST [Link]
THE HARDYVILLE FREEDOM FILM FESTIVAL. Yes, it's time once again to polish up the old pickup and head to town. This year we've got 35 freedom-enhancing films in seven categories. View, vote, and enjoy all the politically incorrect buttered popcorn you want.
Posted by Claire @ 08:03 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
GI's Against War
Raving Reporter Thunder here.
I've spent time in the Marine Corps and fully understand what is expected of the troops in war time. I understand the amount of sacrifice that is required of them. I understand the loss of life and limb that comes with fighting a war. And that's why I'm against it.
I have a good friend that was sent to Iraq. Other than illness brought on by the drugs they were forced to take (ironically, to prevent illness), he returned home relatively unscathed. He was all gung-ho for the war when he left. Now that he's back home, he's now against it and understands that the only differences between the Vietnam and Iraq Wars are a.) the foliage, and b.) the music was better during Vietnam.
David Zeigler understands, too and he doesn't want the voices of GI's against the illegal war in Vietnam to be forgotten. Thanks to LewRockwell.com for the link.
Posted by Thunder @ 07:47 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
IF THE OWNERS OF ST RITA'S NURSING HOME have been arrested and charged with negligent homicide, then why are Mssrs. Bush, Brown, Chertoff, and Nagin still running around free?
After all, Bush has even confessed. Even if he hadn't, his negligence, which caused mass homicides, was on media display for all the world to see. What more evidence could you want?
Impartial justice for all. Equality under the law. A nice, simple principle.
Posted by Claire @ 08:19 PM CST [Link]
A FRIEND WAS RECENTLY HAVING A BAD DAY. Except that in her case, the "day" had gone on for weeks with one annoyance or domestic catastrophe piling unsolved atop another until she was beyond the end of her rope.
As I listened to her litany of frustration, it occurred to me that virtually everything biting her was something that was supposed to help her: cellphone, home computer, office computer, Internet connection, insurance company number one, insurance company number two, bank. And how many of our own bad days have been due to such modern inconveniences?
What's worse is that when these tools of modern living go bad on us, there's usually very little we can do except call upon some expert to rescue us. And anybody who's ever struggled through a help-line call or tried to explain a simple problem to a mega-corp bureaucrat knows that the experts are often even more frustrating than the original troubles. (And this is not to mention anyone who ever waited in rising floodwaters for assistance from that ultimate modern convenience, the Nanny State.)
Yesterday afternoon I laid a rock and gravel foundation and started building the floor for a garden shed. The first few hours, trying to level the support beams, I had problems. I'd read the level, lower one end of a beam by half an inch, then check again -- and discover that the bubble's position was unchanged. It didn't make any sense and I was frustrated. But it was a totally different kind of frustration than the ohmigodmycomputer'snotworking! where'stechsupport! frustration. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 12:21 PM CST [Link]
SIGH. SO MUCH FOR OUR BRILLIANT PLAN TO RESCUE TCF from excess downtime. Yesterday, less than 24 hours after moving to a new hosting service, the forums went down. And this time we lost a day's worth of data. We never lost data during earlier downages.
We're looking into real-time mirroring of the site, although this may be a technical challenge beyond our abilities. And I surely hope that ipowerweb.com (the same company that hosts this blog) gets generator backup. Apparently, yesterday's big Los Angeles power outage hit some of their servers -- although not the one holding this blog. In any case, we'll do everything we can on our end to make sure TCF's problems get solved and remain solved. Once again, particular thanks to Bill St. Clair, who has made TCF's recovery and survival his own project. He's been nothing short of a hero this last week.
Posted by Claire @ 10:04 AM CST [Link]
Monday, September 12, 2005
I'M NOT IMPRESSED SO FAR. Debra here. We've had our forums on the new host since yesterday evening. The site itself has been live since approximately Friday. We chose this particular host because of their claims of 99.9% reliability (in a 30-day month, that's less than 45 minutes of downtime). Yet as of about 30 minutes ago, the f----ing site is down.
I tried contacting them via their phone number (also a prerequisite when choosing a host: we want real people!) The line was busy. So I tried their "live chat" support. I waited 15 minutes and got repeated automatic messages that "their support personnel were busy with other customers and they'd be right with me." Finally, I sent an email (both directly and using their contact form). I got the following response:We apologize for the inconvenience. We are aware of this issue and our system administrators are currently working on it. It will be resolved soon. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Please feel free to visit our knowledge database at: http://helpcenter.ipowerweb.com and http://ipwhelp.com for step by step instructions on working with your iPowerWeb hosting account. Should you require additional assistance please do not hesitate to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ironically, the tech's signature line was:
iPowerWeb Technical Support Team
"100% Customer Service! - 100% of the Time!"
Posted by Debra @ 03:59 PM CST [Link]
FIVE NIGHTS IN THE DARK WITH A SHOTGUN. A Katrina survival story that every anti-gunner should read.
And and another one -- which also shows that the militia lives (and has room in it for young women, as well).
Also here's a lengthy article from the Boston Globe that's among the first to try to give a chronology of the disaster. It is, of course, almost entirely a chronology of government failure. I was the most surprised by the content of Louisiana governor Blanco's original request for federal aid. Boy, if that want list doesn't show the cluelessness and avarice of government priorities, nothing does.
(Thanks to SS for the shotgun story and Rational Review News for the chronology and the Algiers Point Militia story.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:41 PM CST [Link]
Sunday, September 11, 2005
YOU KNOW YOUR COUNTRY HAS BECOME TOO MILITARIZED when its new international spin doctor speaks in terms of sending in SWAT teams to control information. (Sorry: Washington Post link requires either registration or Bugmenot.)
And fear not. There was NO problem with federal response to Hurricane Katrina. The sole problem was lack of "message discipline." (Ah yes. Just like the Soviet Union failed to succeed solely because of "wreckers" and "saboteurs.")
(Thank you F42 for reminding me that no matter how crazy I think the U.S. government is, it's always actually much, much, much crazier -- and more dangerously so.)
Posted by Claire @ 01:00 PM CST [Link]
IT APPEARS THAT MY NEW BOOK IS OUT. Simon Jester discovered it before I did. I really like the cover, which was done by some folks with heavy credentials.
Unless they self-pub or reach the top ranks of mainstream publication, writers have no say over covers and are often not even given any say over the titles of their books. I'll admit this title was a surprise to me (mine was "Your Job -- Your Way" or something like that) and is a bit of a mouthful. It definitely describes the book's content, though. I love this cover without reservation. In the past, Loompanics favored covers in the style of underground comix, which I always enjoyed, but which never felt like me. Wow, this one looks very "uptown." And very liberating.
Posted by Claire @ 12:50 PM CST [Link]
HOW REFRESHING TO READ A NICE STORY OUT OF NEW ORLEANS.
(Thanks, Mystery Woman.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:19 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, September 10, 2005
GOOD COMMENTARY BY GEEK WITH A .45 about what the "state of emergency" allows -- and doesn't allow -- gummint to do.
I have to differ on one point, though. Even if a constitution gave some government the authority to disarm innocent people, that government would still have absolutely no legitimate authority to do so. The right to self-defense is a fundamental human right that trumps any constitution, law, or decree. And no "state of emergency" erases it -- only makes it all the more vital.
(Thanks to Rational Review News for keeping on top of this disaster -- and I'm not talking about the hurricane.)
Posted by Claire @ 02:17 PM CST [Link]
SCOTT BIESER CALLS THIS THE MOST IMPORTANT CARTOON OF HIS CAREER. Yeah. One of the most important parts on it is the first date. Not 1776, not 1775 when the redcoats tried disarming the people of Lexington and Concord, but 1774 -- the time of turning useless fury into useful fury. The time of knowing you'd have to resist, no more excuses, no more wait-and-sees. The time of preparing to fight.
Door-to-door gun confiscations and still not a peep out of the NRA/engraved shotgun crowd. The day we predicted. The day others said would never come because gun owners would never put up with it. But ... oh, it's an emergency measure and after all, it probably only affects those other people who can't be trusted with firearms anyway. So this, too, we're supposed to absorb.
But somewhere between passage of the Real ID act and the present, utterly shameful submission to door-to-door gun confiscation, everything changed. Time to keep our own counsel and prepare.
I've always cringed at the expression "Claire Wolfe time." But from now on I'll never argue with anyone who says the time is already here. The only question now is how to be effective. But it's now absolutely imperative to find the way.
Posted by Claire @ 01:13 PM CST [Link]
Friday, September 9, 2005
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT LIFE WILL BE LIKE IN A POLICE STATE ...
When I first saw snippets of that report yesterday, I thought it just might be conspiracy-mongering. It's still just one woman's experience and observation of a
detainee internment centerrefugee camp. But it meshes with everything else we've heard, post-Katrina. (Lots of photos, so you guys on dial-up beware.)
(Thanks to Freedom 42 for the link.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:02 PM CST [Link]
IT'S OKAY TO "DETAIN" AMERICANS INDEFINITELY, decrees a judge why may be the next Supreme Court nominee.
Posted by Claire @ 11:18 AM CST [Link]
CLAIRE HAS MENTIONED THE ONGOING GUN CONFISCATION IN NEW ORLEANS, and I thought I'd post this video coverage of it. Blogispondent Ian here. When discussing this sort of thing, there are always apologists who insist that the cops or soldiers ordered to disarm folks will, with moral outrage, refuse the orders. Don't count on it. They may complain that they don't like it, but make no mistake - they'll be complaining while they "confiscate" every gun they can find.
Anyway, here's the footage from ABC News (approximately 7.2 megs, AVI format):
New Orleans Gun Confiscation
Posted by Ian @ 11:05 AM CST [Link]
MASS CONFISCATION BEGINS. And even the New York Times notices.NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 - Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.
No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.
These are the lead paragraphs of the article -- which never again even mentions the subject and certainly never explains under what authority governments can disarm the poor and middle class while leaving the wealthy and government classes armed.
Posted by Claire @ 06:51 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, September 8, 2005
CONNECT THE DOTS. I haven't independently verified this, but it fits with other tech and political developments. The fedgov and laser printer/copier companies have implemented a system that enables them to identify what machine made a copy -- and possibly ID when and where the copy was made and (coupled with other surveillance info) by whom.
Posted by Claire @ 09:28 AM CST [Link]
A GREAT ANALYSIS OF WHAT HAPPENS AFTER NATURAL DISASTER ...More than a half-century of investigation has established a fairly firm pattern: After the cataclysm, social bonds will strengthen, volunteerism will explode, violence will be rare, looting will appear only under exceptional circumstances, and the vast majority of the rescues will be accomplished by the real first responders—the victims themselves.
... and why why Katrina was one of the rare exceptions.
Beautiful work by Jesse Walker and ths man whose work he cites, sociologist E. L. Quarantelli, a pioneer of disaster research.
Posted by Claire @ 08:49 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
I'M A BIT LATE BLOGGING THIS, but there's still time to take advantage of a very generous offer that gets you good stuff while helping human and animal victims of Hurricane Katrina. This week, S.W.A.T. magazine is donating all income from its online store to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the American Humane Association (or other suitable animal welfare group). Not just the profits, but the entire sum.
At the S.W.A.T. store you can get new subscriptions, subscription renewals, and back issues of the magazine in either paper or .pdf. Thinking of subscribing? S.W.A.T. is going from nine issues (currently) to a full 12 issues next year, so the subscription is a very good deal.
Hm. This is a good time of year to start thinking about gift subscriptions, too.
And just think, you (or your gift recipient) will get to read my (and Richard W. Stevens') "Enemy at the Gate" column every month. Interested? then read on for the rest of Rich Lucibella's offer. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 08:16 PM CST [Link]
I SAID I WASN'T GOING TO COMMENT ON THE POLITICS OF KATRINA any more. But really. George W. Bush -- George W. Bush! -- is going ot head up an investigation into the fedgov's handling of the disaster??? That's like Ken Lay investigating Enron. Or Alan Greenspan doing an impartial critique of the Federal Reserve Board. Or Jeffrey Dahmer being the judge at his own murder trial.
What's weirder is that the media is reporting this with a straight face. Treating it as serious, plausible news. Only NPR's Daniel Schorr gave this announcement what it deserved when he deadpanned about Mr. Bush, "I hope he's not too hard on himself."
Posted by Claire @ 07:37 PM CST [Link]
A FEW BAYOU VETERANS TOUGH IT OUT in New Orleans. Gonna be interesting when these and the people whose stories I linked to yesterday are dragged out by force, as mayor Ray Nagin has ordered. Nuclear Druid has a theory on how this final evacuation will be conducted.
Posted by Claire @ 10:49 AM CST [Link]
MORE ON HAM RADIO AND EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS. After the recent blog entry on emergency communications, a number of ham operators shared their experiences and insights. They sent everything from personal tales to news links about hams helping save victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Although a lot of us tend to think of ham as old-fashioned or totally geeky, in the aftermath of disaster it's still often the only reliable communication. And it can reach worldwide.
One correspondent, DG, found a ton of links. He also investigated rumors that someone in the Caribbean was jamming emergency communications. These turned out to be unsubstantiated. Jamming is possible, but it's becoming harder to do and easier to trace. (UPDATE: For serious radio-teck folk, DG just sent this article on defeating the comm jammers.)
With permission, I'm posting these correspondents' info (either verbatim or lightly edited and sans identifying detail) below. Gulchers, gulch-wannabes, and people looking for the ultimate tool to add to the complete preparedness kit, read on.
Posted by Claire @ 08:41 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
PROOF POSITIVE that some people have too much time on their hands.
Warning, if you don't know Firefly you won't get it.
(A big thank you to Tim Osman who, come to think of it, might have had too much time on his own hands to find a thing like this.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:44 PM CST [Link]
TWO STORIES OF COOPERATIVE -- AND ARMED -- SURVIVAL FROM NEW ORLEANS.Mandel's driver — a hotel employee armed to the teeth — stopped to show her how to use a handgun.
"I told him no," Mandel said. "I didn't want to."
The engineer looked her in the eye, deadly serious. Just blocks away, the people of New Orleans had already started to loot and rob and kill each other.
"He said, 'What are you going to do when they shoot me?'" Mandel recalled.
And ...When night falls, Charlie Hackett climbs the steps to his boarded-up window, takes down the plywood, grabs his 12-gauge shotgun and waits.
He is waiting for looters and troublemakers, for anyone thinking his neighbourhood has been abandoned like so many others across the city. Two doors down, John Carolan is doing the same on his screened-in porch, pistol by his side.
They are not about to give up their homes to the lawlessness that has engulfed New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
Posted by Claire @ 08:51 PM CST [Link]
TODAY ON HIS SURVIVAL BLOG, James Wesley, Rawles begins his evaluation of 19 western states for their retreat/gulching potential. I haven't yet figured out how to link to individual posts on his site, so just look for Tuesday, September 6, 2005 and subsequent days. Sorry, FreeStaters, he considers no eastern states suitable: too much population and downwind of too many potential catastrophes.
Posted by Claire @ 08:47 PM CST [Link]
Monday, September 5, 2005
LORETTA NALL OF THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY almost visits her brother in prison. The harrowing tale of her attempt begins:
"I have a confession to make.
I do not wear panties."
This is another one for those who actually believe "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
Posted by Claire @ 12:29 PM CST [Link]
GOVERNMENT AND THE SIN OF GLUTTONY. There are no parallels between Nero fiddling while Rome burns and George W. Bush telling the incompetent head of FEMA he's doing a darned fine job. None. Of course not. And Nero's assisted suicide by knife has no bearing on GWB's political suicide or his murder of the American republic.In the wake of Katrina if we have learned nothing else we have learned that when America’s bureaucracies purport to be an omnipresent god but cannot deliver, as God, the blessing of well-being, then the knife of Proverbs is poised at the throat of the sluggardly glutton called government. The question is; where and when will be found the helper that brings the knife to bear in its final duty?
After this, I'm not going to blog any more about the politics of Hurricane Katrina unless something startlingly new reveals itself. (I expect Silver might fill that gap.) I've got good stuff in the queue about preparedness and practical lessons learned and I'll focus on that.
But I join Silver in predicting that, come October, we'll finally -- after years of waiting and wondering -- see the beginning of a long, slow, tragic collapse of the U.S. economic edifice. The big Credit Card Surprise might be the immediate impetus for the tip-over. But I think Katrina will be the worm that ate away the last remaining integrity in the economic, cultural, and political foundation.
I'm not guessing that there'll be peace on October 16 and riots in the streets on October 17. I'm thinking it'll take a long, long time even for most people in most places to notice how bad things have gotten. Because of course for a while we'll have the "prosperity" of a building boom in the Gulf Coast, funded by printing-press dollars and your taxes (assuming the feds still have enough strength to pull off that charade). We'll continue to have rising prices of new homes for a while because building material costs will have gone sky high as New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, and environs demand a huge share of all the nation's lumber and concrete. We'll still have GWB cheerleading away, with no regard for reality. We'll still have the artificial prosperity every war engenders. For a while.
But fall has always been the most dangerous time -- both for economies and for hurricanes. And this country's economic foundations have been crumbling for a long, long time. I can't escape the belief that we're not going to recover quickly, if ever, from whatever happens this fall. Because it's happened already and we just don't feel the effects yet. America will still stagger along, with its politicians prating of "freedom" and "democracy" -- and making promises about the prosperity and return to greatness that are just around the corner.
But we'll face some damn bad times. And even or best times will never be what they once were. We'll be lucky if China or India deals kindly with their poor, impoverished neighbor. We'll be lucky if they don't hate us for wounding them as we fall.
Good luck to us all. Focus on getting out of debt and strengthing long-term preparedness. If there's no money to do both, then focus on preparedness skills and organization, not purchases. If there's no money to do either, then focus on skills and mindset -- and realize that a day might come when conditions are so bad that you simply have to shurg and walk away from usurious credit-card debt owed to giant government-collaborating institutions.
Posted by Claire @ 10:05 AM CST [Link]
IN THE FRENCH QUARTER residents who stayed formed "tribes" and helped each other to survive. Rich and poor alike. Now this is an inspiring story of how it can be.
Posted by Claire @ 09:09 AM CST [Link]
ANYONE WHO CAN READ THIS CAN HELP
The Katrina PeopleFinder Project is using Wiki to create a searchable database of missing person reports from all the hundreds of web sites publishing this data.Even an hour or two of your time over your long Labor Day weekend will make a big difference. All you need to help is an internet connection and the ability to copy data onto a form. No other fancy tech skills are required.
It's simple: We'd like you to "claim" chunks of raw data about Katrina victims that we're gathering from hundreds of websites, and then enter that data into an online form so people can actually search through one consolidated database and find information about their loved ones.
It took me less than 5 minutes to register, claim a block of data, and enter a form. They have 10,000 records as of 3 AM. Time for me to get back to work.
Posted by Silver @ 07:15 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, September 4, 2005
BUSH MUST GO
I don't have much faith in the political process. Choosing between thieves and parasites is no choice at all; if voting could make a difference, it would be illegal.
That said, it is clearly time for Bush to go. Paul Craig Roberts makes a good start on some of the reasons in Impeach Bush Now. They include diverting FEMA funds to the insane war in Iraq, despite warnings about the danger of levee collapse that preceded 9/11. Even after 4 hurricanes in 2004 demonstrated the danger, the Corps of Engineers was left with 20% of the needed funding to protect New Orleans. Roberts goes on
The Bush administration is damned by its gross incompetence. Bush has squandered the lives and health of thousands of people. He has run through hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars. He has lost America’s reputation and its allies. With barbaric torture and destruction of our civil liberty, he has stripped America of its inherent goodness and morality. And now Bush has lost America’s largest port and 25 percent of its oil supply. Why? Because Bush started a gratuitous war egged on by a claque of crazy neoconservatives who have sacrificed America’s interests to their insane agenda.
There is more, much more. Lew Rockwell discusses some of the background in his excellent essay The State and the Flood. It is even worse than Mr. Rockwell demonstrates. We have a growing body of compelling evidence that FEMA actively prevented aid and rescue from reaching stranded victims. [more]
Posted by Silver @ 02:02 PM CST [Link]
WAS A "POTEMKIN VILLAGE" * LEVEE REPAIR staged for the benefit of GWB and the media? Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu says yes. And worse:I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims -- far more efficiently than buses -- FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.
But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- black and white, rich and poor, young and old -- deserve far better from their national government.
It's a fact that FEMA told first-responders not to respond, claiming all rescue had to be coordinated by the feds. ("Yes Virginia. Government IS all about control," said Alton Speers as he posted that FEMA news release to TCF.)
But while food, water, and common sense have been excruciatingly slow to arrive, high-tech crowd-control weaponry is on its way in. These "laser beam" sound devices do have the ability to broadcast helpful messages -- but are also for "area denial." That is, broadcasting sounds so painfully that people must flee.
And the mayor of Slidell, Louisiana, had some extremely pungent words about FEMA's variety of "help." (MP3 file) I wish this guy were on our side. We need his spirit.
In the meantime, even the most mainstream of mainstream media can't cover up for Bushevik incompetence this time.
It's obvious that government at every level failed in its promise to protect everybody -- beginning with the city's failure to bus the poor out of the city before the storm and continuing with the five-day-late, unhelpful, and heavy-handed "help" of FEMA. It's too bad that, instead of sensible, nationwide mistrust of politicians, bureaucrats and their false promises, we're likely to get a couple of years of recriminations, accompanied by "improved" government, renewed promises, and hundreds of billions more in useless spending.
Who said it? "The one thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." And the meme that "government is good and necessary" is even more firmly entrenched than memes about motherhood and apple pie. This lesson, the one we most vitally need, we never grasp.
(Several of the links used above were originally posted to The Claire Files Forums by Alton Speers, Kirsten, and Roy Tellason. Thank you, guys. I thought all this info deserved wider exposure. Thank you to Mystery Woman for additional info.)
* It's possible that the original Potemkin never actually built any of the phony villages he supposedly constructed to impress Catherine the Great. If some government agency did perform "Potemkin levee repair" (NOTE: at least one TCFer has questioned that -- and in hindsight he appears to be correct) to fool and impress a president (the same president who proclaimed "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq from an aircraft carrier -- with the San Diego skyline visible behind him) then that makes the U.S. government even more corrupt than that of czarist Russia. Was it a Potemkin levee repair? I don't know. Other information is surfacing about other forms of Bush photo ops. Sure staged photo ops are SOP for politicians now. But IF true these photo ops are cynically playing with people's lives.
Posted by Claire @ 01:30 PM CST [Link]
BOHICA. It looks as if privacy will be the loser in the current DVD format wars. I'd been wondering why the electronics industry should be so very, very eager to change a technology that's this beautiful and wildly successful. I'm sure there are good reasons (higher definition being one). But this explains a lot ...On top of that, consumers should expect punishment for tinkering with their Blu-ray players, as many have done with current DVD players, for instance to remove regional coding. The new, Internet-connected and secure players will report any "hack" and the device can be disabled remotely.
"A hacked player is any player that is doing something it's not supposed to do," Setos said, adding the jury was still out if regional coding would be maintained or scrapped.
I'm not sure how any "consumer" benefits by having a DVD player that's net-connected and constantly monitored by industry snoops. I'm sure they'll come up with something to make snoop capabilities alluring. But if "any player ... doing something it's not supposed to do" is considered to be hacked and is disabled remotely, there will be a lot of screwups and ticked off purchasers.
Posted by Claire @ 10:41 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, September 3, 2005
OKAY, YOU FIGURE IT OUT. Why would Lassez Faire Books carry Enemies Foreign and Domestic while refusing to carry The Black Arrow???
Nothing at all against Matt Bracken, who wrote a very worthy, if flawed, political thriller. But Vin Suprynowicz's Black Arrow is a professional's novel, a larger-than-life celebration of rock & roll, sex, innovative weaponry, tactics, love, Irish warrior women, and freedom. Embrace the one, and reject the other? Don' make no sense to me. Didn't make any to SJ, either, who had harsher words than mine when he discovered it.
UPDATE: I just learned from Aaron Zelman that LFB has also apparently chosen not to order RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone even at a deep discount price. Hm. LFB rejected The Black Arrow because it had S-E-X in it. Aaron and I hardly even mention S-E-X in our novel. Gotta wonder why we didn't make the LFB grade, either, when a couple years ago they featured one of my books as hot pick of the month or some such.
Hey, Vin. I guess next time we'd both better have our characters sit around a university office all day, discussing Austrian economics and the ethics of privatizing garbage collection in Zimbabwe. Then we'll be really relevant.
Posted by Claire @ 02:02 PM CST [Link]
THE OTHER DAY I POSTED A WARNING ABOUT YAHOO WEB BEACONS and how to opt out of them. Enemyofthestate responded:While I certainly share your concern over the 'web beacons' Yahoo has been using for several years, I think it also offers a chance to monkey wrench the database. Before I stopped reading HTML formatted mail, I used to extract the beacon URL's and embed them in comments I'd leave on popular sites like Free Republic and Slashdot. That way every time the article was acessed, Yahoo gets a phoney hit.
I like it. "But for us non-technoids," I asked, "how do you do it?" This friendly enemy then said what to look for and what to do with the nasty little bugs. And offered further info about exactly how these nasty critters are used to invade your life: [more]
Posted by Claire @ 08:46 AM CST [Link]
IN THE CHAOS OF 9-11, THE CELLPHONE SEEMED A MIRACLE DEVICE. In Katrina's aftermath ... not such a miracle. Five days after the storm, people are still unable to connect with relatives in the most devastated areas. Refugees are staggering out of New Orleans as starved for information as they are for food and water. Cellphone towers were one of the casualties of the storm.
Add "secure communications" to the preparedness to-do list. Danhei writes to note that one of the oldest methods can still be a lifesaver:
Posted by Claire @ 08:25 AM CST [Link]
THE FEDGOV HAS PUSHED BACK THE DATES for implementation of its new requirement that everyone have a passport before being "allowed" into Canada or the Caribbean or back into the U.S. But only so that they can develop a cheaper and more widely-used alternative biometric document (read: your drivers license) for those who don't have $97 to spend on a passport.
Very circular, this logic. And let's not forget that the now ubiquitous passport was first developed and put into use by some of the nastiest paranoid control states. The notion that governments have the authority to supervise and authorize their own citizens' motions isn't exactly something Jefferson or Thomas Paine would have celebrated.
Oh, but it's to "stop terrorism." So it must be okay.
(Thanks to SJ for the lead.)
Posted by Claire @ 07:50 AM CST [Link]
Friday, September 2, 2005
THIS IS A CONVOY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT VEHICLES with Texas plates. They've just arrived in New Orleans. WoggleBug, who sent me to this site, asks, "There to help?" Then he answers his own question. "No. To 'protect' federal buildings."
There are many more photos at this site taken by a businessman who has remained in the city trying to keep his operations going and his customers online. While they don't have the drama of the panoramic flood photos the media have been showing, they do give an idea of how people are coping with the chaos -- and what the priority of government is. (Another photo shows police driving around with their firearms sticking out of their windows.) The priority of government is to protect government.
"The policeman is your friend."
Posted by Claire @ 06:23 PM CST [Link]
THE DAY BEFORE 9-11, I WAS HAVING A REALLY, REALLY BAD DAY. I don't remember a single detail of it. Only that it was one of those ultimate annoyning Mondays. You know the ones. The next morning I was still in a snit and getting ready to blather in my journal about it when I clicked onto an internet news source ... and realized that having a bad day is a relative thing.
Now I'm having a bad week. It began on Monday when The Yard Guy showed up four hours late to help me clear a blackberry bramble, then immediately broke an expensive piece of borrowed terrain-clearing equipment. It culminated this morning -- or at least I hope it's culminated -- with a doggie medical emergency that forced me to improvise a tourniquet in the woods and left the back of my truck looking as if I'd committed a particularly sloppy murder in there. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 02:28 PM CST [Link]
Katrina is affecting much of the country. In a town about 20 miles from Boston, I passed lines of 10 cars and more waiting for gas at 2 different stations. Thank God I have a Prius! Even with its wimpy 11-gallon tank it will go nearly 600 miles between fill-ups. It may have to.
Today's Wall Street Journal reports that "Long gas lines were reported in Denver, Indianapolis, Hartford, Conn., Atlanta and Orlando, Fla., among other cities. In Charlotte, N.C., between 13% and 15% of stations had no gasoline and prices have soared as much as 70 cents a gallon in those stations that still have fuel to peddle, said Tom Crosby, a local AAA official there."
Gas jumped certainly jumped around here. I paid $2.99 Wednesday night on my way home from the airport. Thursday it was up to $3.69 in spots. You won't hear me crying about gouging; this is the market at work allocating a now scarcer resource to its best and highest uses. But it is a very bad sign.
I heard Bushimo on the radio saying "Don't buy gas unless you have to." So I immediately found a station with short lines and filled up. I checked at two large hardware stores; the shelves had been stripped bare of 5-gallon plastic fuel containers.
Speaking of market, the manipulation of the stock market is getting extremely obvious, and I can't be the only one noticing. We have the worst devastation of a US city in a century, damages that must total $30 billion and counting, thousands of bodies lying in the street in New Orleans, which is sliding into anarchy and chaos, with firemen being shot at and the National Guard unable to keep order, yet.
Fully 90% of the gasoline and jet fuel production in the NO area is shut down and likely to stay that way for weeks, airlines are cancelling flights for want of fuel, and gas lines are forming. Gold was up over $10.50 at one point in the day, closed up $8.40. New jobless claims are higher than expected, 320,000, when only a year ago anything over 240,000 was viewed as very bad news.
And the stock market lost a lousy 22 points, one-fifth of one percent. It started a steep slide, and suddenly at 11 AM sharp it rallied as if someone had light a rocket underneath it.
Which they almost certainly had. There are reports all over the net about huge positions being taken in index futures, some so large that they theoretically control substantial fractions of the entire market. This has been going on for some time, but the bets are getting bigger, the cheating more obvious. There is just one place that can throw down that kind of money day after day.
The trouble with attempting to control the market's re-allocation of resources in response to new and changed circumstances is that it takes progressively bigger and more violent interventions to achieve the same result. In a year of basically terrible financial and investment news, the stock market has traded within about 500 points of 10,400 the entire time. It's being managed, it has probably been cheated since 2002 or 2003. Eventually the deciet will be revealed. When economic reality asserts itself there is truly going to be hell to pay.
I'm stocking up. On everything. This may not be the big one, but those clouds on the horizon sure look bad.
Posted by Silver @ 08:29 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, September 1, 2005
LOOK WHO'S FRONTING A WEBSITE to protest this month's violent military-style raid on peaceful concert-goers. A global lineup of very heavy academic hitters. I don't think we're just in Utah anymore, Toto.
Posted by Claire @ 02:25 PM CST [Link]
TWO NEW ORLEANS HOTELS ARRANGED BUSES to evacuate their guests. The government comandeered the buses for their own evacuations (See the 12:27 p.m. entry in this constantly updated article.)
Another question: What's the point of encouraging -- and eventually even forcing -- people to enter a "shelter" that has no emergency supplies in it? Then locking them inside? Sure, ideally everybody should have brought in 3-to-5 days supply of their own food and water (not necessarily an easy thing to do). But if the government is going to "comandeer" responsibility for flood refugees, and then not even allow people to leave when conditions in the "shelter" become unendurable, shouldn't government have been prepared to carry out that responsibility?
Horrible as Katrina's aftermath is, and as much as one can only imagine the horrors the rescue workers must be going through, city and state officials always knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Why such scanty preparations -- from unsheltering shelters to levees that can be repaired only by missing helicopters?
BTW, several news sources have now reported that Fats Domino is among the missing -- possibly along with other New Orleans musical monuments.
Posted by Claire @ 01:55 PM CST [Link]
YOU CAN'T COUNT ON THE POLICE. Blogispondent Ian here, and I doubt I really need to tell any of you folks that. But just to make sure it sinks in, consider this news from The Interdictor (a blogger on the ground in NO):Looting: The police are looting. This has been confirmed by several independent sources. Some of the looting might be "legitimate" in as much as that word has any meaning in this context. They have broken into ATMs and safes: confirmed. We have eyewitnesses to this. They have taken dozens of SUVs from dealerships ostensibly for official use. They have also looted gun stores and pawn shops for all the small arms, supposedly to prevent "criminals" from doing so. But who knows their true intentions. We have an inside source in the NOPD who says that command and control is in chaos. He reports that command lapses more than 24 hours between check-ins, and that most of the force are "like deer in the headlights." NOPD already had a reputation for corruption, but I am telling you now that the people we've been talking to say they are not recognizing the NOPD as a legitimate authority anymore, since cops have been seen looting in Walmarts and forcing people out of stores so they could back up SUVs and loot them. Don't shoot the messenger....
Posted by Ian @ 10:56 AM CST [Link]
"WHAT'S IN CLAIRE'S BUG-OUT BAG?" The latest column is now online at Backwoods Home. I wrote this preparedness list just before Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf, checking and adding to my own supplies as I wrote. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 08:29 AM CST [Link]
THE REAL LOOTING ISN'T BEING DONE IN NEW ORLEANS, but in Congress and the White House, as usual. Jim Bovard's account of how the Medicare prescription-drug bill was conned and strong-armed into existence is creepy (but in Jim's hands, also witty) reading.Bush constantly portrayed the issue of new handouts in the loftiest moral terms. In a Florida speech on November 13, 2003, he declared, “The Medicare program is a basic trust that must be upheld throughout the generations.” And because it was an issue of trust, the Bush team was entitled to use deceit and any means necessary to ram the law through Congress.
But there's some good news in health care, too -- especially for you practicing Christians. Regular correspondent SJ reports in with word that SimpleCare is no longer alone as a means of saving medical money. There are a number of voluntary cost-sharing programs that provide a kind of insurance at far less than the cost of the commercial kind.
Posted by Claire @ 07:54 AM CST [Link]
THE NATIONAL GUARD USED TO SANDBAG LEVEES BEFORE THEY COLLAPSED
I grew up in a river city subject to frequent floods, with an extensive levee and floodwall system. Nothing as grand as that of the former city of New Orleans. But before each flood, the national guard would be called out. They would shore up the weakest floodwalls and levees with sandbags. In those days, they used the little ones, the kind one person can barely move, and they would fill and stack thousands. They would assist the crews manning the huge pumping stations with fuel, generators, food and water for the crews. They would patrol the streets and prevent looting.
But not this time. Over 1/3 of the Louisiana National Guard is stuck in Iraq, ordered there by a strutting madman so cowardly he can't face a single grieving mother. They took their high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators with them, last October, and who knows when, or if, those men and those machines will ever return?
Instead we got 3,000 lb sandbags so heavy that only large helicopters can move them - but the helicopters were sent elsewhere, in one more sad example of the inevitable failure of central planning. The remaining National Guard were busy shaming themselves and the nation, searching the poorest refugees for booze and nail clippers before admitting them to a false promise of shelter. Those people are now virtual prisoners, being bused to an abandoned stadium in Houston, and who knows when, or if, they will ever return.
We'll never know if New Orleans could have withstood what may turn out to be a mortal blow. We do know that she faced her darkest hour with both hands tied behind her back, crippled by an uncaring, unaccountable empire of liars, cowards, murderers, and thieves. Instead of a triumphant city arising battered and bruised from a once-in-a-century challenge, we have the image of a body floating prostate, face down in floodwaters.
Posted by Silver @ 03:50 AM CST [Link]
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