Archived entries for politics

This petition appeared on the White House’s We The People section on Monday.

Make, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), a legal form of protesting.

With the advance in internet techonology [sic], comes new grounds for protesting. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), is not any form of hacking in any way. It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any “occupy” protest. Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.

As part of this petition, those who have been jailed for DDoS should be immediatly [sic] released and have anything regarding a DDoS, that is on their “records”, cleared.

They make a curious argument about their preferred method of attack. DDoS attacks, after all, are the virtual equivalent to a sit-in protest, albeit one that you can’t call the in police to stop. Those kind of attacks don’t do any real damage to a website, and they aren’t violating any laws since they’re just banging away at the public side of a website.

But, an important counterpoint is that for a DDoS attack to be successful against most large websites, the DDoS’ers need to have control of thousands of systems. One lone PC isn’t bringing down PayPal. And, generally, the method of accessing and controlling those systems are completely illegal.

Which brings us to question if a form of protest can be legal if it is dependent on an illegal action to pull off. Sort of like the Mexican drug cartels buying anti-pot legalization ads (which may have happened in this last election cycle).

Personally, I’m fine with DDoS attacks as legal protesting, provided you’ve got an army of real people behind computers furiously mashing away at the F5 key. But, if you’re using malware to bot-out the machines of unwilling participants? Not so much.

Post Script: The guy that submitted this is probably utterly mortified that he misspelled technology, and is probably being hacked to all hell by the FBI and NSA right now.

He will work it hard for America. Work it so very, very hard.

Work it up into a frothy mixture of – ah, never mind. Too easy.

I’m going to get all metaphorical on your asses. You all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, right?

Well, Goldilocks is going to be a stand in for conservative American voters.

And the three bowls of porridge are going to be represented by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Except none of them are going to be “just right”.

First up you’ve got Mittens “Poor People Are Just Fine” Romney. He tries to make $10,000 bets while live on national television, pays taxes at a lower rate than I do while earning millions more, thinks poor people are cozy with their safety net, and wears magic Mormon underwear (because he is one). He’s probably going to be the nominee unless something goes horribly wrong. But, he won’t win because he’s too out of touch with the common man and he’s not an Evangelical Christian. And if he can’t get the people out of their pews to vote, he won’t even matter.

Rick Santorum, however, will get the people out of their pews. But only those people, and then only those that are so far gone they think that the “gay agenda” is a real thing and don’t mind their children getting pregnant because he’s made it illegal to buy condoms. The rest of the conservatives will look at him and his horribly corrupt record and decide that he’s gone too far off the reservation to ever be allowed near the nuclear launch codes.

Finally, you’ve got Newt. Good ol’ Leave-’em-on-their-death-bed-Gingrich. Newt’s biggest problem is himself. He’s got the history of royally fucking up the Contract with America over Clinton getting a BJ, of leaving not one but two sickly wives for a younger mistress, and changing religion for both of them. And he also comes off as the kind of rarified egotistical prick that should only exist in movie scripts. Women hate him, minorities loathe him, and without either of those voting blocks, there’s no way you’re getting elected.

This is seriously the absolute WORST group of candidates the GOP has put up in my life.

Mark you, I don’t want the Republicans to win, but holy crap, I at least want them to not put up three idiots.

This was my response as I watched the South Carolina primary results roll in on Saturday:

@ZacharyWhitten Ever wonder how much it costs to buy a state primary? Newt’s SuperPAC bought South Carolina for $5 million.

Which is pretty much exactly what happened.

Well, that and the religious conservative voters of South Carolina apparently bought into Newt’s crocodile tears over his sexual escapades being brought up again. I will give his team credit, though. They did manage to turn what I was sure was a bullet to the head of his campaign into something used to rally the base.

But, back to the Super PACs!

First off, what is a Super PAC? Well, a PAC stands for Political Action Committee, and are legal entities created as means to raise funds from groups that are normally forbidden to donate money directly to candidates. Unions and corporations, for example. This money is then used to bolster the messaging of a candidate or cause, since direct donations are limited to a paltry few grand. Every politician out there has a PAC, as does every big special interest group like the NRA. They’re legal loopholes that are the main reason it is so damned expensive to run for office. The only real check on them is that they have to disclose the people who are giving them money, and what they are spending that money on.

PACs get much more complicated than that, but that’s the framework you need to understand the next part.

So what’s a Super PAC?

Simply put, they are maybe the most damaging thing the Supreme Court has ever done to American democracy. Super PACs spin out of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United case back in 2010, in which the Court said that according to the letter of the law, corporations and unions were essentially people and their spending of money during elections constituted free speech, which was ensured and protected by the First Amendment. Oh, and that they didn’t have to tell anyone about where the money came from or what they spent it on. Only catch was, they were still forbidden from donating to candidates or working directly with them on how to spend that money.

And what do they do with this new-found freedom of monetary expression?

They create the Super PAC.

A giant, money hoovering political black hole that can accept limitless donations and spend that money however it damn well pleases, so long as it doesn’t directly give to the candidate or collude with them on what the Super PAC is going to spend it on.

Well, the Super PACs aren’t giving the candidates money, but they are sure as hell colluding with their campaigns. Romney Super PAC’s plastered the whole world with anti-Newt ads before the New Hampshire primary, then he claimed ignorance of them during the debates…at least until the after commercial break when he referenced the content of one of them.

In South Carolina, Newt’s money came from a billionaire casino magnate that is apparently hoping to buy himself a president. He gave the Super PAC a check for five million, and the Super PAC blew it all in South Carolina. I think I heard somewhere that the average South Carolinian would see or hear the Super PAC’s anti-Romney spots sixty times in the week leading up to the election. Over ten times a day. It was the political equivalent of carpet bombing the whole state with their messaging.

But, lo and behold, it worked.

Newt’s Super PAC bought a victory in South Carolina, and prolonged the Republican primary a few weeks more.

This whole campaign I’ve been calling Mitt Romney that, but last night at the final South Carolina primary debate, Newt took the title from him and beat the everyone in the room to death with it.

This is what I’m talking about:

For those just joining the crazy circus, it broke on Wednesday that Newt’s second wife was going to say in an interview that Newt had asked her for an open marriage…since he’d been banging his Congressional aide for the previous 6 years.

Now, for a man who’s trying to recast himself in the armor of righteous morality, this is a real news story. It isn’t a personal attack or something that over steps a line. We knew he cheated, for years, and then divorced his wives while they were deeply ill. That’s already out and can never be shut away again.

I will admit that ABC timed their release of the story for maximum effect, but do I think that’s politically motivated as Newt would have you believe? Of course not. The only motivation of a television network is money, and you get money by selling ads during highly rated programming. It’s hard to draw a bigger audience than with a sex scandal involving a political figure.

Which brings me to what really blows my mind about this.

Newt is well aware of this fact because, you know, he impeached a president over a blowjob.

That’s right, boys and girls, that swine-faced mound of pasty flesh up there nearly brought down the government of the United States because of a sex act between two consenting adults. But God forbid anyone be allowed to treat his illicit dalliances in the same way.

I won’t even go into the his tirade against liberal media because I don’t have that much time.

That video is the kind of double speak that would make George Orwell absolutely turgid.

Well holy crap. Didn’t see that coming.

Turns out that Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa Caucuses by 34 votes, not lost it by 7 as we previously thought.

It doesn’t really change anything since Romney’s going to lock the nomination on Saturday, but it makes Santorum’s performance so far even more surprising.

It is a brave new world we live in when people aren’t afraid to vote for a frothy mix of feces and lube.

And now he’s out, too.

Or will be by the time I finish writing this. Which is weird, considering he was all gung-ho at last night’s Republican debate. But, hey, when you’re the homophobic lovechild of George Bush and Ronald Reagan you can do whatever you like, right?

I’m a bit surprised that he’s out before South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, but I’m sure he’s seen better polling data than I have, and what I’ve seen painted a pretty grim picture for his chances. Last numbers I saw had more people undecided than voting for him. Which for a strongly religious state he was projected to sweep (you know, before real people started voting), is utterly ruinous to a campaign.

My secret hope was that Perry would stick with his bumbling idiocy until the convention, but sadly that looks to not be true at all. Now all that’s left for him to do is throw his support behind Rick Santorum and cement the evangelical vote against Romney and his magic underpants.

Oh, Rick Perry, I hope we don’t forget you like you forgot that third government agency you’d shut down.

Edit: Huh. Perry backed Gingrich. Didn’t see that coming, either. Been a morning full of surprises!

…And things didn’t so much change for the rest of the night.

Note, this was the first graphic CNN put up for the New Hampshire primary. With 19 people reporting in.

Yep. 19 people. 0.00143% of the New Hampshire population. Which, near as I can figure, means CNN took a straw poll of the people they had working in their press trailer and put those numbers up.

Anyway, like I said, the standings didn’t change for the rest of the night. New Hampshire’s was Romney’s to lose, and he didn’t. He ended the night with just under 40% of the votes, which because of wacky New Hampshire primary rules aren’t just Republicans – but anyone who wants to brave the freezing cold grayness to vote.

I had kind of hoped that Huntsman would’ve done better than a weak to middling third, since he’s probably the least frightening one of the bunch, but he’s pretty much finished now. Question is if he’ll be an also-ran or share the ticket with Romney as the VP nom. Gingrich and Perry are all but done at this point unless they get the South Carolina religious conservative miracle they are hoping for.

Romney was pretty bullet proof in the last few days of this primary. His opponents ignored him in the first debate, then ganged up on him to little effect in the second. The only story that got any traction was how he presided over the liquidation of several companies while working at Bain Capital. The basic narrative goes that Romney killed businesses and fired people to line his own pockets. Which, while totally and completely true, is sort of like blaming a snake for its venom. Bain has investments in the tens of billions, and they are in the business of increasing that number by any means necessary.

To me, the real story here isn’t about how Romney did his job and people lost theirs, but how fucked up the system we live under is. Whole companies get blasted into nothingness by a single swipe of red ink all so the bottom line looks a bit tighter. There’s no compassion, no morality, just profit. Which is exactly the sort of thing that Romney would bring to the Oval Office. Well, that and a whole lot of hypocritical reversals of opinion.

Just an aside…but, Bain Capital? Really? That’s like naming your company THE DEVIL WORKS HERE, LLC. Also, it is a Batman villain. Way to go, guys.

The interesting thing shaping up on the horizon is how the bottomless money pits of the SuperPACs are being used. Gingrich is being kept on life support by the billionaire gambling magnate backing his SuperPAC, and Romney is using his to rip into his opponents in a way that he couldn’t directly. Frankly, I’d have expected the money to be having a bigger impact on the race, but it really isn’t. I’m shocked to say this, but it looks like you can’t buy an election with SuperPAC money. At least not a primary. We’ll see if this holds true in South Carolina or not. Gingrich is spending 5 million there. His last hurrah, basically.

Next up is South Carolina on the 21st, then Florida ten days later. Question right now is if Romney can clear the field before Super Tuesday, or if some one else will be stupid enough to waste their money running against him. I’ll be shocked if this makes it to Illinois or Texas. I’ll laugh my ass off if it makes it California.

I’m working up bad puns for next week’s election post, since I think I’ll be talking a lot more about the SuperPACs then.

“Now, Zach,” you might say to me, “you talk a lot of shit. You say a lot of bad things about people in the public eye. Things that would be incredibly rude if said to their faces.”

“Yes, yes, I do.” I’ll admit. “But,” I’ll say, “I only do it after they’ve said something first.”

Do you know the old adage “It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt”?

The same goes with political speech, especially hateful speech.

Today on the way home to pick up lunch, I stopped my radio on a talk radio station, foolishly assuming it was some kind non-biased news summary, I left the dial where it was. (Remember when that was the sort of thing you could take for granted?) Over the next few minutes, I was bombarded with pure, uncut, unmitigated hate speech.

“Homosexuals are a disease vector. Their illness is a sign of their unholy lifestyle. They are all on drugs.”

These were all things that the pundit on the radio was sending out over the public airwaves, and there was no one stopping him. He was free to say completely untruthful and inflammatory things on airwaves that you and I own.

And I utterly lost it. I screamed bloody murder there at the stoplight. Screamed so loud the lady next to me rolled up her window thinking I was probably some kind of mental case.

But, no, I wasn’t the mental case. The fucking morally-righteous-but-really-moral-bankrupt asshole on the radio was the mental case.

Those are the sort of people I talk shit about.

Because they fucking deserve it, and because they did it first.

That’s what you call them, right? Iowans?

Sounds like a race of elves from Lord of the Rings. But don’t tell this guy I said that.

So, 8 Iowans were the difference between Rick Santorum (ubiquitous link to the Google-joke of his name) winning by losing coming second to Mitt Romney and winning by, you know, actually winning.

But thankfully a .000266% difference in final votes meant that Mitt Romney is the guy that won the Republican Iowa Caucus, but completely lost the news cycle to the guy with the anal sex joke last name who wasn’t supposed to win anything at all.

And why wasn’t he supposed to win anything at all?

Because he’s the sort of skin-crawlingly horrible human that makes even staunch conservatives a little uneasy to be around him.

He’s done things like say that homosexuality is on par with incest (he earned the homonym of his name for that one and probably lost his Senate seat because of it, too):

“[I have] a problem with homosexual acts, as I would with what I would consider to be acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships . . . if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery.”

He’s also declared all forms of contraception to be against God’s will:

“It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Oh yeah, and he thinks that privacy is a made-up, non-Constitutional concept:

“[The] right to privacy…doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution.”

If his social stances weren’t horrific enough, he’s also spineless and in the pocket of big businesses – like when he tried to abolish the National Weather Service and hand over all of its functions to Accuweather, one of his biggest campaign contributors.

So, yeah, Rick Santorum, a slimy fecal matter smear of a human being was eight votes within of pulling a come-from-behind (most over used headline joke so far!) win in the first primary election of 2012.

And to those eight Iowans, I have to say thank you. Thank you for voting for one of the great hypocrisy machines in modern politics instead of Santorum. I can suffer through the news cycle of the next few days so long as I know all his bragging doesn’t really mean anything.

As for the rest of the Republican field, Ron Paul came in third and Newt finished fourth. That’s fine for Paul – he won’t be winning anything, but it really is a hit to Newt who was hoping to carve out some space between him and the rest of the pack.

On a completely thrilling and unexpected note, they are said to be readying Michele Bachmann to drop out of the race. Which is great, because for a “Constitutional Conservative” (her words, not mine) she knew pretty much nothing about the Constitution, and was also batshit insane.

Oh lord, we’re only just getting started with this, aren’t we?

Some backstory before we get into this.

In addition to all the state, local and federal elections going on, there are also 184 state ballot measures (as of this writing) that people will be voting on November 4th. They run the full political gambit, from general budgetary funding measures to more high profile issues like California’s legalization of recreational pot use and Colorado’s declaration of a fertilized egg as a legal “person”.

Those two ballot measures are probably more meaningful, in a broad test-case sense, than the inevitable bitch slap the Democrats are going to take from the right – Republican or Tea Party.

The California pot issue isn’t what I want to talk about, but it does have some interesting implications if they can save their budget while at the same time lowering their crime rate and prison populations.

What I do want to talk about is the Colorado ballot measure that specifies the moment a sperm and an egg legally become a “person” with full legal rights and not just a group of cells with potential.

Yes, boys and girls, I’m going to talk about abortion. So, you might as well start drinking.

First off, let’s talk about me. Personally, I wish there was never the need for another abortion. I wish all pregnancies were wanted, complication free, and all children were born to parents who loved them, nurtured them and could provide for them.

I also wish I had a space ship and could explore Mars.

Too bad the latter wish is more likely to happen than the former.

I don’t like abortion, I don’t encourage people to have abortions, but I’m not going to push external morals on some one in a situation I could never understand. I am Pro-Choice. Which is distinctly different from Pro-Abortion, a fact that seems to escape an alarming number of people.

So, that out of the way, let’s turn back to Colorado and Colorado State Amendment 62. The text of which is as follows:

Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term “person” shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.

Beginning of biological development of course being the moment a sperm has fertilized an egg. Which would make any act to destroy said fertilized egg tantamount to, you know, murder.

And since the wording of the amendment is so broad, it also knocks out things like fetal stem cell research, and any method of birth control that doesn’t operate on the front end – ie, condoms only, the Morning After pill is out.

62 is being supported by groups like Personhood Colorado, which do touching and subtle ads like this one.

Wait, I’m sorry, did I say touching and subtle? I mean blatantly wrong and disturbingly unhinged. The Supreme Court hates liberty and freedom? Obama as the angel of death? A fucking “abortion industry”? That makes billions? Nixon was a baby hating liberal? I…what? What the hell was that?

And let’s not forget their wonderfully surreal radio ad where they compare abortion to slavery.

That’s right, the same bunch of white people in Colorado that called the first black president an angel of death also said abortion is akin to slavery. Progressive, aren’t we?

Thankfully, these crazies have no chance of winning. The last time this measure came up in Colorado it was beaten 3 to 1, and this one isn’t expected to do any better.

No, they won’t win. They’ll just get to go around yelling about things that aren’t true for another election cycle, tearing down the walls of cogent discourse, making the other side have to yell just as loud to be heard. And in doing so, they’ll gain ground by pulling their opposition down to their level, by giving themselves more ways to point across the way and go “Look! See! They’re crazy!”

Yeah, well, you’re the one that made me that way.

Thanks to Stephanie for pointing this out.

Picked up this lovely nugget from Tim this morning.

(CBS/AP) Texas’ State Board of Education – following a long history of throwing itself into “culture war” issues – is set to vote Friday on a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books.
The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian beliefs and practices.

“Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts,” reads a draft of the resolution, which would not be binding on future boards that will choose the state’s next generation of social studies texts.

The measure was first suggested to the board this summer by Odessa businessman Randy Rives, who lost his Republican primary bid for a seat on the panel earlier this year.

The conservative-leaning and heavily evangelical Christian board pushed the item to a vote.

…..

Don McLeroy, who is serving the final months of his term after also losing in the GOP primary, said he believes even current textbooks still reflect an anti-Christian bias.

“The biggest problem I saw was their overreach not to be ‘ethnocentric,”‘ McLeroy said of an Advanced Placement world history book approved in 2003 and still in use. “It’s a very, very, very, very biased book. Christianity didn’t even make it in the table of contents.”

McLeroy is one of the most outspoken of a group of board members who have pushed several conservative requirements for social study textbooks used in Texas, including that teachers cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

“It’s that great idea. That radical idea of Judeo-Christianity, that man is created in the image of God. So if you have world history books that downplay Christianity – Judeo-Christianity – and it doesn’t even make it in the table of contents, I think there’s a great concern,” McLeroy said.

The Texas Board of Education is full of loonies that like to rattle their cages and toss excrement at anything that happens by. If you read the full text of the article, you’ll find that two of the people sourced (like the Rives fellow mentioned above) are now lame ducks, and this is the last gasp of the damned. Which in all likelihood, is the first good thing the Tea Party’s ever done.

That’s a guess on my part, but the only people beating incumbent Republicans in primaries are Tea Party Republicans. So, go figure.

It also points out that the text books they are censuring are now out of print and unused, and that the resolution is completely non-binding.

Makes one feel like this country is in an arms race to beat out the Islamic republics for who’s got the most religious integration/bias at a governmental level.

Back in April 2009, just before Tax Day, I wrote a rather hasty one-off tirade about the Tea Party. Called, rather uncreatively on my part, “Fuck you stupid idiots and your fucking #teaparty“.

Ahem. Needless to say, I wasn’t going for the subtle. I thought then, and I still think now, that the Tea Party is a hodgepodge of bad ideas with no direction and no mandate. The only reason it’s managed to reach this point is because certain media outlets have been using their considerable influence to give them legitimacy.

(The same media outlet that’s been recently outed as spying on private citizens and government officials in England to generate news leads. Personal freedoms? Pfft!)

On the whole, I think the whole thing reeks of “I’m taking my ball and going home” now that Washington is trying to play a different game than they were for the first 8 years of the 21st century.

(Which in, full disclosure, I’m not thrilled about. Obama really hasn’t hit anything out of the park and has proven his inexperience time and time again. I refer to him as President Pussy now.)

The last time that I wrote about the Tea Party, I pointed out that one of their main support groups in that nascent stage was the American Family Association. Which I called then, and still call now “One of the great moralist cesspools in America.”

And what should I hear this morning on NPR as I’m getting ready for work? This:

Tea Party Supporters Debate Movement’s Direction

Morning Edition is taking a closer look at the groups that make up the Tea Party. Steve Inskeep talks to Toby Marie Walker, lead facilitator for the Waco Tea Party, and Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association. Walker says the Tea Party’s issues need to remain strictly fiscal. Fischer says that if the Tea Party doesn’t incorporate social issues into its agenda, it runs the risk of dividing the conservative movement.

Listen to that. Listen to the AMA open its maw, put the Tea Party between its teeth and growl “If you fuck with us we will KILL YOU. We made you, we can end you just as easily.”

It almost makes you sad for the Tea Party. This lady, who I’m sure has some legitimate, if misguided and probably far-fetched, complaints with the government is basically being beaten with an inch of her political life by a crazy man who thinks that homosexuality is criminal, all Muslims are dangerous and that you should have to be of a certain kind of Christianity to hold office.

And you know the saddest part? He’s right. All the Christian Right has to do to kill the Tea Party is say that they are trying to erode the morality of the country and the Tea Party is done. Just like that.

That NPR bit? It wasn’t a conversation about the Tea Party, or a friendly debate. It was a knife to a throat, it was a threat to play along or else.

So, not only do I say Fuck the Tea Party, but I say Fuck the American Family Association doubly so.

You’re hate mongers that are scared of change and sex and the rest of the world. And I’m not.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.

-Gil Scott Heron, 1971

One of the most repeated phrases in modern counter-culture wasn’t entirely true event when it was first written.

The Democratic Convention of 1968 in Chicago, when the police took to beating anyone they could swing a club at while people chanted “The whole world is watching.” was broadcast live. And that happened three years before the poem.

Since then, technology has stripped away any truth from that idea.

When I was younger, I watched the Berlin Wall come down, I watched tanks shelling the Russian Parliament building. Both on CNN. And maybe you can say I wasn’t seeing the whole of those respective revolutions. Instead, I was seeing the nice parts, the photo-op bits, cleaned up for mass market consumption. You could rightly make a case that the dirt and grit and people dead in the street was kept quietly out of view.

But that’s not true any more.

Thanks to the ubiquity of video capture devices on mobile phones, and the ubiquity of mobile phones, and the ubiquity of the Internet, anyone anywhere is an eyepiece for the world.

Last summer the world watched Iran shudder as civil unrest took hold in their major urban centers. I watched police storm into buildings, drag people out and beat them, seemingly without purpose. But the image I’ll never forget are two dead eyes, black and round, staring up at nothing, one socket filling with blood. That was Neda Agha-Soltan. A beautiful young woman that would become the face, name and martyr for the Iranian Green Movement.

And now events are repeating a year later, but in another part of the world. Thailand is moments away from complete civil war as the landed power elite are challenged by a populist uprising. And just like last summer in Iran, they now have their own martyr. Another young girl shot in the head by a sniper’s bullet, her blood spilling out into the street. We don’t know her name yet, but I won’t imagine it will be long until we do.

I won’t be linking you to those videos, because I think that seeing a person’s real, violent death is something that you should have to choose to see, not inadvertently click on.

But the Revolution is in fact being televised. And while there aren’t pictures of pigs shooting down brothers.

There are videos of governments shooting young girls.

From the Guardian.uk.

A dog that has been seen at nearly every demonstration in Athens over the last two years has turned up again during the recent protests against new austerity measures

There are 14 more pictures of the dog at the link above, from what appear to be 14 different protests. It’s Old Yeller for the anarcho set.

I’m curious what the full story is behind the dog. I’ll let you know if I find out more.

That’s Larry North. An pink butterball of a man from East Texas who planted dozens of pipe bombs in mailboxes. Because “he was disenchanted with the federal government” and “he was disenchanted with an individual who he perceived that had wronged him”

That’s David Stone, leader of the Hutaree Militia.

These are his people:

This is a panel from Garth Ennis’s comic Preacher.

In which the preacher Jesse Custer, whom the book is named for, confronts a group of Klu Klux Klan members.

An Irishman’s graphic novel ode to the American cowboy mythos says this better than I ever could.

Just a quick run down of why the Supreme Court’s decision today will change, oh, everything about American politics.

First, the news:

Read this article from the LA Times.

Now what it means:

Corporations can spend their own money on advertisements of any fashion for political campaigns. An unlimited amount of their money, at that.

Before there was a prohibition on direct advertisement, and a limit on the amount that could be donated to campaigns. Now that’s all gone.

And it’s all gone ten months before the 2010 Congressional midterm elections.

Here’s what will happen:

Corporations will saturate all forms of media with endorsements or indoctrinations of political candidates. The smart money is on most of the corporations lining up behind Republicans, and burying the Democrats under a tsunami of negative advertisements.

Theoretical example (probably not, honestly):

John McCain is the single largest recipient of money from the telecom industry. They broke it up between dozens of companies, and donated to dozens of PACs. But, still, he got more money from them than anyone’s ever gotten from them before, and I think more money from a single interest group than anyone’s every gotten before. But they could have given more, lots, lots more. And he’s up for re-election this year, so they’ll be able to. Expect them to dump millions upon millions into advertising against net neutrality. But it won’t look like advertising against net neutrality. It will look like advertisements talking about how John McCain is defending the stability of the technical and telecom sectors of the American economy, and how everyone else is a dirty digital pirate with no morals.

Corporations will be able to flood the airwaves with so much crap that candidates on the receiving end will spend all of their time trying to answer the attack ads. They’ll never be able to get out from under it to craft their own message, which means their opponent will get to define them, and there won’t be a damn thing they can do about it.

Welcome to Corporate America, where corporation are king makers.

The Bizarre Silver Lining:

Television will probably see a huge boom in advertising because of this, which means that the broadcast stations will actually be able to afford new dramas instead a billion hours of reality TV. Plus, people who work in advertising, like me, will see an increase in business. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that some grumpy old me in bathrooms decided to sell America to the corporation, give you all the finger, and my industry a blank check to slander people for political gain.

And I hate to paraphrase a Republican, but Healthcare died on Tuesday, Campaign Finance Reform died today, and we’ve still got one day left in the week.

That’s Newtons formula for acceleration, the converse of his formula for force, F=ma.

The variables are a for acceleration, F for the force applied to the object, and m for the mass of that object.

Of course, there are a lot more equations that can explain acceleration in more detail, and account for its varied forms (dynamic, constant, centripetal, etc), but this is the one I’m going to use for today’s random thought.

The speed of events in the world is increasing. That’s an irrefutable facts. Things are happening faster, everything, anything, what ever you can think of, it happens faster than it did a century ago, a half-century ago, a decade ago, maybe even a year ago. This is the acceleration of modern life.

We’ll refer to it as aml.

That leaves two parts to the equation, the force and the mass.

The force, is, at the root, the advancement of our knowledge. Both in the breadth of what we know, and the depth of what we know about what we know. The rule of thumb for knowledge is that what we know is doubling every ten years. So, linear growth. That’s not to say that we’re going to make twice as many brilliant discoveries as we did in the last last decade, because a lot of what we’re learning is pointless mundane shit. We’re learning tons about how people interact with digital devices right now, but that’s not going to solve the world’s problems or give us limitless clean energy. It will just make the next generation of iPhone more attractive than last year’s model. But, there are some real advancements, and they compound on existing knowledge.

Discovering lighter alloy metals makes airplanes faster and more fuel efficient, so they can travel farther for less money. Discovering new ways to increase the density of batteries increases the usefulness of everything from electric vehicles to laptop computers to vibrators. And I don’t even know where to begin with the Internet. Things are moving so much faster every year that it is only a matter of time before the entire industrialized world is blanketed under a sheet of high-speed wifi. Right now, from my $99 iPhone, I can download an app that lets me call Korea, for FREE, over the Internet. For less than the price of a nice pair of sneakers, I can talk to some one literally on the other side of the planet.

We’ll call our force the force of knowledge.

Fk

That leaves mass.

The average weight of a human being is around 160lbs. That’s taking both men and women into account. All of the force of knowledge built up by the summation of human existence, and it only has to move less than 200lbs.

I’m not meaning that as a piss answer, either. The reason that Gutenberg printing press was such a big deal was because it enabled more people to have copies of a book, in most cases a Bible. Give a missionary a Gutenberg Bible, a direction and send him off to spread the Word. He’s dead? Eaten by cannibalistic Slavs? Oh well! Print another Bible and get another acolyte!

It only takes one person with an idea to tell another person about that idea. From there, you’ve got the magnifying effect of word of mouth. Bloggers are the modern day Gutenberg presses. They are the individual advocates of ideas that spread them to the masses, who in turn spread word about that blog. Professional news sources are turning more and more to individual bloggers for editorial and news content. Just like a missionary wandering into a town, a single blogger, at the right moment in time, with the right thing to say, can change the world for everyone.

So, for our mass, let’s go with the mass of a human.

mh

Making our final formula aml=Fk/mh

The acceleration of modern life is equal to the force of knowledge divided by the mass of a human.

And the point and impetus to all of this?

The Massachusetts senatorial election last night. Where a Republican swept the Democrats out of a seat that had been under their control since World War II. There is potential for this to be the harbinger of a Democratic slaughter come the 2010 midterm elections. I’m not going to go down the political rabbit hole right now, but I do wonder what is going to happen as the political pendulum speeds up. Just this time last year we were all screaming our undying love for Obama (ok, those of us not decrying him as a demon Muslim socialist), and now we’re already predicting his ideology’s imminent doom. If changes in the political wind can happen this fast now, what happens as they get faster and faster? What if the country can go from Red to Blue to Red in a single week? Or day? Or hour?

Think about this economically, too. The economic collapse of the last three years is more or less over, and we’re digging out from under it right now. Three years it lasted, on the outside. The Great Depression? Oh, about a decade. It might have lasted even longer if the war hadn’t happened. This is entirely due to the speed at which financial transactions can happen now. No more waiting for wires from across the Atlantic. You can have real-time satellite connections to any bank in the world from any place in the world. Give me a satellite phone on the top of Mount Everest and I can apply for a Visa card. There’s an entire business model that revolves around banks of supercomputers making billions of stock transactions a day, buying and selling on marginal increases and decreases in the value of the stock, slowly but surely inflating the market with machine trading instead of human trading. Which is only possible because of the speed at which information moves these days.

What makes me wonder what’s going to happen as things keep speeding up, but our biology doesn’t. Eventually things happening so fast are going to have a detrimental affect on us. We’ll be overloaded with information and be completely unable to function because we’re drowning in data. You can’t decide if the choice keeps changing, you know?

Just something to muse about. The math of change. The formula for progression.

aml=Fk/mh

Accelerate.

Put this up on the new RebuildGovernment.org site a few minutes ago. Rough idea for targeted tax shelters to encourage growth in rough areas.

I just came out of a dry-run presentation by one of the commission educators, and there wasn’t enough room on the form for a full break down of my suggestion.

From what I learned today, there are at least two tax districts required by law when a metro government is established. But two is the minimum, there could be hundreds of tax districts if the city saw fit. Which if there were, would present the metro government with a very interesting chance to develop blighted neighborhoods without just dumping money on them.

Allow me to explain.

Say the metro area was divided into a hundred or so tax districts. Each of these districts start out at a base line of tax. However, after studying data for a period of time, the metro government decided that there were areas that could use an economic kick-start. These would be areas affected by blight, crime, or some other combination of detrimental forces. The goal of the kick-start would be to drive people to this area both for residential and commericial purposes.

The kick-start could be delivered in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

-Passively. As the taxes for the metro area as a whole go up, kick-start areas are excempt from the taxes for a certain period of time or until an economic threshold is reached. People who can prove residency in these areas will pay less than those in other areas, making this a more attractive place to live and do business.

-Actively. Taxes are dropped for areas targeted for a kick-start, and partially raised for the wealthiest areas to balance the books. This will make the targeted areas more attractive to people that might be looking to locate to a new area.

The community could get directly involved with the proccess, as well. Neighborhoods could petition to be granted kick-start status. Home owners and business owners could work together to ensure an improved future for themselves specifically, and by doing so, improve the rest of the city over all.

I’m sure there are other iterations and shapes this idea could take, but it would be a way to both improve the city, and avoid the oncoming fight between the city and the county over old tax issues by fragmenting the metro area into something more than an us versus them.

Thoughts?

You can’t beat the Patron Saint of the Internet’s summation of what’s happening behind closed doors in Korea right now, so here it is straight from BoingBoing.net – Cory Doctorow on the ACTA Copyright Treaty:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama’s administration refused to disclose due to “national security” concerns, has leaked. It’s bad. It says:

  • That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
  • That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet — and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living — if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
  • That the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
  • Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM)

You should be asking yourself what this all means right now, and here are a few of the broader strokes:

-Say good-bye to things like YouTube, Vimeo and The Hype Club. The legions of people required to check every item for copyright infringement and the even large legions of lawyers required to protected the company from the hailstorm of lawsuits means that they are financially impossible to maintain. User posted content on a network the user doesn’t own is now a poison touch to a parent company, compared to the Midas touch it was just a few years back when web2.0 broke big. Also, things like RapidShare, MediaFire, etc are dead because of this. Hell, it could go as far as MySpace and Deviant Art pages.

-I wrote a few weeks back about Google’s DMCA takedown of thepiratebay.org index page from their search results, but what I edited out of that article is in hindsight something I should have left in – that the only way to kill large torrent and file sharing sites is to kill the views that they sell ads on. It was too tangential in the context of that bit, but it fits perfectly here. You see, the reason this treaty is going after the ISPs is because they can’t get Russia and China to do a damn thing about people pirating Western IP. And since you can’t yell at some one who won’t talk to you, you have to find a way to hurt those that they do talk to. In this case, the easiest target are the ISPs that bring traffic to pirate servers. The burden is getting shifted off of the actual pirates to perfectly respectable ISPs that are doing nothing more than respecting net neutrality.

-Lastly, I can’t find any proper wording on this, but I think this is a treaty. If so, a treaty requires the majority of the Senate to approve it. If you think this is complete shit – which it is – call or write your Senator and let them know.

Between this and the targeting of Net Neutrality, this has been a shit time for the Internet.

MORNING EDIT: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has their summation of the leaked memo, which now appears to have come from the European delegation. The biggest bomb shell in their piece? The ACTA is qualified as an “Executive Agreement” because it will not alter current US law. Which I think might be technically true only in the sense that current US digital copyright laws are about as vague and obtuse as you can get. If you squint at them hard enough, I’m sure you could scry that fucking a cat would keep your files safe from those evil media pirates.



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