Sep. 5th, 2015
I just posted about it under a Slashdot article about Facebook's education efforts, because it ties in with charter schools—nevermind. Anybody who might read this already knows or can figure out the connection.
Jun. 20th, 2015
10:49 am - Yet another call for gun control.
Even though I know nobody reads this, I still feel compelled to post publicly.
The national news is running non-stop coverage of the Charleston shooting. There will be a renewed call for gun control as a reaction. Lots of people will make impassioned pleas to get the guns out of the hands of “bad guys”, and mass outrage at how “guns are everywhere” and they “permeate our society”.
Everybody is going to talk about how the murderer would not have been able to kill so many people if he did not have a gun. That is a meaningless argument. Remember, we do not get to choose a world where “bad guys” do not have guns! That is simply not an option. We have spent decades fighting a War on Drugs, and we have not been able to reach a point where people cannot get drugs. We have passed wildly restrictive and authoritarian laws giving the police massive unchecked powers in the hopes that they would be able to get rid of drugs, and they have not been able to get rid of drugs. We have increased sentences for drug possession to ridiculous heights, and still millions of Americans are willing to acquire, use, distribute, and sell drugs. We have given the police carte blanche to search people and vehicles just by citing a vague suspicion or getting a trained dog to behave as its master wants it to, and still drugs are available in every state and county in this country. We have given police the ability to seize money, cars, houses, and even bank accounts without going to court to prove anything at all and without any appeals process in the hopes the deterrent would help get rid of drugs, and it has not worked.
You do not get to choose a world where “bad people” do not have guns! That is simply not an option. It cannot be done, it is no more possible than choosing a world with no gravity or choosing a world where global warming is not happening. Guns are a fact and they will always be here. The only choice we have is whether to try prohibiting guns in a vain effort to pretend they do not exist. I will remind you again that the only Constitutional Amendment ever passed that restricted people’s rights instead of expanding them was the Amendment that prohibited alcohol. It was such a fucking disaster for our country that it is also the only Amendment ever to be undone, reversed in another Amendment a few years later. And we have lived half a century under a draconian and totalitarian system in an effort to prohibit drugs, and it has failed just as miserably.
There is simply no choice to “get rid of guns”. It is impossible. It will never happen. The only choice we have is whether to live under a strict authoritarian regime imposing prohibition, or not. That is it, that is the only choice we have. And given that choice, I don’t see how anyone could choose yet another prohibition given our nearly a century of historical proof that it is massively expensive, guaranteed to be a horrible failure, and requires tearing apart most of the freedoms this country was founded upon.
Jun. 1st, 2015
10:10 am - Call your Senators
I just called both of my Senators and asked/begged them to not vote for the Freedom Act. It is just a veiled way to restore the status quo of the USA PATRIOT Act, and we are better off leaving that shit dead.
I don't know what will happen on Tuesday. But at least I communicated my desires to my Senators.
Call your Senators today. It took me two minutes to call them both.
May. 31st, 2015
Patriotic Americans, rejoice! As of two hours ago, a few small parts of the Orwellian USA PATRIOT Act have expired! There is now no pretext for the New Stasi of America to record and index everybody you ever talk to, when you talk to them, and for how long. Right now the Section 215 provision is gone, expired. (Of course, they will still continue doing it under Executive Order 12333, but there's nothing we can do to change that. Only Obama can change that, and all he has to do is sign a piece of paper. He won't because he has Wormtongue whispering in his ear and there is no Gandalf to break the spell.)
This is a huge victory for patriotic Americans, because this removes a key justification that the Gestapo's surveillance network used to spy on you. Yes, you. They were not spying on Jihadi John. They were not spying on North Korea. They were not spying on the Taliban. They were spying on you, David Smith in Seattle. They were spying on you, Dani in Australia. They were spying on you, Karen in Chicago. They were doing it for purposes of monitoring the public for signs of unrest so they could stem it, to prevent another Occupy Wall Street or Tea Party movement from forming. "National Security" means whatever it takes to maintain the current power structure, regardless of whether that power structure is supported by the public or authorized by the highest law in the land.
If you think that the aforementioned definition of "National Security" is good, then I have news for you. You are not a patriot. You are a nationalist. In short, that means you have no regard whatsoever for the principles underlying the nation, you simply devote yourself to the nation as it currently exists with no critical thought or reflection.
And if anybody is stupid enough to claim they are not interesting enough to be spied on or that their lives aren't private, I have one simple retort. Please post a video of your own mother explaining her favorite sexual positions and then demonstrating them explicitly. If that gives you pause in any way, then you now understand the meaning of the word "privacy". Unless you go through with this and publish the video widely, then you are invoking a right to privacy and you should shut the fuck up with the excuses.
(Somebody else suggested making the apologists publish their e-mail passwords and let anybody and everybody go through their e-mail. I think this is too easy, it does not cut to the core of what privacy really means. Your mother having sex, and you publishing it for the world, that cuts to the heart of the matter. Though the e-mail version does have the benefit of allowing anybody in the world to impersonate you, which is one of the key aspects of privacy that most people fail to realize. Remember, the NSA hacks many of its targets by impersonating a friend and sending them malicious links, or impersonating facebook or twitter or linkedin and serving pages with viruses in them.)
Mar. 27th, 2015
For instance, asked whether agencies are collection geolocation data on American citizens, Wyden said, “I know the answer to that question, I asked that very question [during an October 2013 hearing], I did not get an answer to it, and you can draw your own conclusions from that. And I’m going to keep asking it” until officials come clean.
Translation: The U.S. intelligence agencies are recording everywhere you go while carrying a cell phone. They are storing records of all your movements in massive databases. Previous disclosures have shown these databases of American communications and movements are shared with local law enforcement as well as the IRS, DEA, INS, FBI, and pretty much any other government agency that has power over your life in some way. This is surveillance, which is the most invasive form of search possible.
The Stasi tried to do this. We universally regard them as evil for doing it. Why is it not evil when the exact same behavior manifests elsewhere?
09:35 pm - domestic propaganda
The not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group called "United Against Nuclear Iran" is a propaganda front organization for U.S. intelligence agencies. It is engaged in deliberate propaganda efforts against U.S. citizens. This is flat-out illegal.
The Obama administration just immunized this group from all legal consequences for their actions. Remember that every time you see Fran Townsend talking on CNN. She's part of a secret propaganda program by the U.S. intelligence agencies that illegally targets U.S. citizens.
Nov. 25th, 2014
03:25 pm - grand juries, addendum
First, a correction. I said my step-father had hundreds of published stories to his name. Upon reflection and remembering the multiple scrapbooks into which he snipped and saved his articles daily, I am pretty sure that should have been “thousands”.
Second, I am not the only person to make this observation. Nate Silver’s famous data-analytics website has a much more extensive article on the matter.
Nov. 24th, 2014
09:52 pm - grand juries
I have not listened to the Ferguson grand jury announcement. I have not read the released information from it. I am not well-familiar with the facts of the case.
What I do have is nearly a decade living with a step-father who was a local news correspondent for a fairly wide-circulation regional newspaper, with hundreds of published stories to his name. As part of that, he became best friends with virtually every sheriff and cop in the area and spent a lot of time talking to them and sitting in the courthouse.
A grand jury is not a check in our modern legal system. It is a formality. As lawyers across the nation will tell you, “a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.” This is accepted fact in all legal circles. If a prosecutor does not get a grand jury to indict somebody, it is because the prosecutor did not want an indictment. The prosecutor controls the grand jury. When selected, the judge literally says, “Prosecutor, this is now your grand jury.” After that the grand jury hears only what the prosecutor wants them to hear. There is no defense present. The grand jury is not told all the facts of each case. The prosecutor cherry-picks facts to present to the grand jury in order to get an indictment. It is common practice for a particular grand jury to return indictments for 100% of the cases presented to it (grand juries hear hundreds of cases before being dismissed).
If a prosecutor does not get an indictment out of a grand jury, the prosecutor did not want an indictment.
Nov. 5th, 2014
03:20 pm - gun control
Advertisements before the vote.
“Vote for common-sense restrictions, to close this [one gaping] loophole and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Headlines after the vote.
Gun-check law will be among the most strict in the U.S.
Gun-safety advocates deliver post-I 594 message: We’re not done
The Center for Gun Responsibility promised to bring “a robust legislative agenda” to Olympia come January. “Yesterday’s victory is the beginning, the beginning of a movement to curb gun violence,” said the Rev. Sandy Brown, a retired Methodist minister who chairs the group.
As I pointed out in a previous post, this is not about public safety. This is about disarmament.