Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Natural Awesomeness


Very, very cool.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Senator Snowe,

I met you several times while I was a TSA screener at the Portland Jetport (I was there during the attempt to "rightsize" our crew into oblivion, thank you for stepping in), and as a contract screener before that, performing occasional hand wand screenings on you and your heels in the old co-ed days :), and always found you to be pleasant and reasonable (which cannot be said about everyone I met at the checkpoint). Your reputation as a sensibly moderate senator also encouraged me to write to you with this concern.

My positive impression of your character is why I am confident that you will agree with me, when I propose that this country is in need of a law or constitutional amendment that prohibits the government from ever limiting the secure, private ability of the population to communicate via any means, most particularly electronic means, including cell phones and the Internet, encrypted or not. In the same way that the 2nd Amendment ensures that the government can never disarm the people, now that the people's voices can finally be heard beyond their own town councils, we need something which prevents the government from ever again keeping them in the dark or silencing them.

Recent events in Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere have shown the danger of government having their hand on the Internet's and the cellular network's "off switches", and it is a much larger danger than state-run media. With the Internet, people who take the time to look have more access to the truth than ever before, regardless of what the media or government publishes, and more access to each other than ever before, which gives them the power, for once in history. Internet anonymity and solidarity encourages speaking out about injustice and mobilizes loud, international public support like nothing ever seen before, and scandals like clerical abuse or war crimes or other miscarriages of justice can then be investigated independently, instead of being buried in-house. State-run or corporate-owned propaganda media become obvious, irrelevant, powerless and laughable when they are no longer the only source of information. The Internet is a Hot Line to the horse's mouth.

Recent events have also shown the beginnings of the Internet's true, vital worth, and its potential to do more for the poor and oppressed and uneducated of humankind than any previous advancement since agriculture. It is the ability of a poor, uneducated person inside the depths of some hopeless place to first realize that not everyone has to live like he does and that neither should he, then the ability to let the world know his plight, and then the ability of the world to hound and shame that nation into doing what's right. At no point in history have we had this kind of access to information with which to make our own proper judgments, or the chance to demand this level of accountability from governments, and it is a precious thing that has only just been born, and it needs nurturing. Imagine how long a regime like North Korea's could last, had their people free, unfettered access to what the rest of the world sees. Ten minutes, maybe? Imagine how much longer President Mubarak would have remained in power without the Internet. Would Saddam Hussein have left, had Twitter been around in 1990?

A recent story here about the FCC splitting the Internet into different systems based on fees immediately rang an alarm bell in my mind (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-21/net-neutrality-ruling-the-fcc-splits-the-internet-in-two/), because if there are two separate Internets, a slow, spotty cheap one for the little people and a smooth, fast expensive one for the big players (you know it will work that way, it always does, look at the difference in customer service between residential and corporate-class internet or phone service), it will leave the influence-less bulk of the people kept in the dark and more vulnerable than ever to the rich special interest/government partnership that we all know runs Washington. Wall Street and churches run the far right, unions and professional victims run the far left, and they both run the rest of us down in their dash for the cash. We are in the middle of yet another mess that is not of our own making, and we are tired of it. And we are living in a time when the people are demanding more power and control over their own lives, not less, and more and more of us are not willing to take no for an answer any more, as the recent demonstrations and elections have illustrated to any who are paying attention.

If there are two separate Internets, it would be all too easy for the government or corporations to shut things down for the little people under the pretense of needing all the bandwidth for some emergency, while corporate or government interests continue to be free to run things as they see fit. Simple economic pressures like weather could easily give the same result without malfeasance, as you know where the bulk of the maintenance budget will go. You also know who will get service and who will not if there's an earthquake.

Perhaps you think that's paranoid. I'm sure some folks said that about the 1st and 2nd Amendments too, but I think it is perfectly in line with the basic principles of this country. It's not about suspecting any particular administration or group of people of nefarious intent, or claiming that there is a high probability of tyranny if we don't watch them every second. It's about doing your best to make nefarious deeds impossible for anyone to commit, so that no one tries, and saves us all the bother. The TSA can't trust that every sweet lil' cookie-baking grandmother, or Senator or pilot for that matter, has good intentions. Nor does it try to guess the relative likelihood of any of those people exercising such bad intentions, instead it does its best to eliminate the possibility of anyone at all exercising bad intentions. The Constitution doesn't trust that the basic goodness of American politicians will prevent tyranny in government, it does its best to ensure that tyranny is impossible to commit, and ensuring Internet freedom and “hands off” from the government is perhaps the most important example of that to ever come up, given the immense power it gives the ordinary citizen. We should not now trust to that goodness alone to protect the true, vital core of modern freedom of speech, which is not flag-burning and political insults, but the freedom to share thoughts and ideas and complaints, and to organize, and to demand change and not stop until we get it. We're tired of waiting for change to come from another politician like we've been doing forever, and with little to show for it except change for the worse. This is the only way for the people to be as loud as the special interests, and it must be preserved and reinforced.

Honest, sincere democratic government should be in favor of this on general principles anyway, because freedom and speed of communication also lets them know the will of the people much more efficiently than at any time in the history of the country (they do still care about the will of the people, don't they, some of them at least?). They can have a virtually nationwide referendum on any subject within hours of asking the question. And whether they like it or not, the people have found their voice, and will use it, and will not give it up without a fight. This is their right of all rights. It is a lesson that both parties and the traditional media need to learn, if they hope to exist past 2012.

People greatly admire the lonely, brave soul who broadcasts for the people on his ham radio from the darkness of some oppressed population, never knowing when charging boots will smash in his door. How much more would they admire a Senator who ensures that it is literally impossible for her people to ever need to resort to ham radio again?

We should automatically strive to lead the world in democracy and freedom and individual rights by default, to lead by supreme example, should we not? If we wish to inspire more nations to demand democratic reforms, to urge this growing wave of democracy to spread further into the world, to universalize education for anyone who can read based on demonstrable facts instead of limiting it to those who can pay, to keep this traditional idea of American “goodness” alive, and to not appear to be hypocrites, should we not be taking every opportunity to expand, clarify and cement forever our own freedoms? Imagine if their had been bloggers in Vietnam in 1962. The Cold War would have ended by 1970 if we had had the Internet, and saved how much in lives and resources? And yes, I'm going to subject myself to Godwin's Law and ask, what would have happened in Europe in 1936, had there been an internet? Anne Frank's diary would probably have been published while she was still alive (if it had even still needed to be written).

What better legacy for you and Maine to give the nation and the world, than to have written the "Snowe Amendment" (has a nice ring to it), to finally and irrevocably shift the real power to the people by ensuring that they finally, always have the right to speak out as loudly as do the special interests, to communicate and connect freely and privately, and to inspire even more people to take their destinies into their own hands as have the people of Egypt. The real, meaningful, historic opportunities to advance the cause of democracy and equality, and to assault ignorance and poverty and prejudice, are few and far between these days, and you should seize this one with both hands.

Thank you for your time,


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yo, Charlie Sheen. When porn whores say you look like shit, you know you have a problem


"People don't seem to get it.... Guy can't have a great time and do his job also?"

Apparently not, since your show is now on hiatus while you dry out. Again. Who doesn't get it?

Those whiny crew members complaining about losing their salaries because you're wasted all the time, what ingrates, huh.

How stupid do you have to be to still be doing coke in 2011?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Russia becomes a cargo cult


MOSCOW – Russia's parliament on Friday aims to pass a law creating color-coded terrorist threat alerts, a measure rushed forward in the wake of the Moscow airport bombing that left 35 dead and raised questions about the country's ability to handle attacks.

They're building a Homeland Security Headquarters out of bamboo and palm fronds as we speak.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Should pit bulls be a controlled substance?

Wed Jan 26, 3:30 am ET

New York – Parents of a boy fatally mauled by a pit bull want lawmakers in Texas to make it a felony to own one of the dogs. Does the breed deserve its bad reputation?


I've met three pit bulls, one old sweetie I knew well and loved, one I met briefly that seemed calm and friendly, and the third one was BIG, and uncontrollably aggressive, protective and territorial, and its owner admitted that she couldn't hold him when he went after someone. And she was not by any means a tiny woman, and he went after most everyone. To the point where when I showed up just as she was taking him outside to pee, I had to wait in my car until he was locked in the bedroom again before I could come in the house. And it was the same owner who had the sweet, gentle pit bull that I loved, so it wasn't anything she did. But this big one was simply uncontrollable.

I got bitten once in Navy housing by a nondescript yellow mutt who ambushed me from hiding as soon as I got within his chain's radius, and the sullen owner had the nerve to say it was because it was a "Southern dog", lol (it got put down later for biting a kid). Idiot. And as a raised-by-collies dog lover, normally I'd say that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Or I'd like to be able to say that. But the pit bull reputation didn't come about just from rednecks not playing with them enough.
You can't ignore the high attack numbers. And you can't just ignore the facts that they were (and continue to be) intentionally bred to make them more aggressive, and that it would take many, many generations to re-breed them to get rid of that aggression, and that's only if every breeder cooperated. The history of the breeding of many of their blood lines leaves them with a default aggressive gene no matter how any particular puppy is raised now, and without a concerted effort to dilute those bloodlines and rehabilitate the breed, the bad breeders will always have a head start in breeding bad dogs. It takes a more educated and diligent owner to raise a pit bull safely than it does a golden, because goldens want to love everybody. It's HARD to make a mean golden. While pit bulls really are closer to pumas than they are golden retrievers in the care that must be taken, because they can live peacefully for years, having not yet encountered a trigger, and then go off on someone without warning because of some Pavlovian trigger planted in their genes 100 years ago, like some particular cowbell sound they traditionally used to start the fights or something, the equivalent of a red cape to a bull. They're not a dog that you can risk just teaching to sit and throwing tennis balls for them and consider that training. And regardless of how "unfair" or unfortunate or sympathy-inspiring it might be for the breed to be singled out, they are animals who if improperly raised are dangerous, not oppressed humans with legal "rights". They were already unfairly singled out when people started raising them to tear each other to bits, and they need reprogramming, like the rogue killers in those super-soldier, you-made-me-this-way-with-your-experiments movies. They are unable to change their own instinctual behavior, so it's entirely up to their owners to protect the rest of us from their potential for violence, and not just apologize after an attack. And it's up to the breeders to start reversing the aggressive breeding. I'm not saying destroying them or prohibiting their purchase is the answer, I don't know what the answer is, but you can't ignore that they are fundamentally different from other breeds, made that way on purpose, and that must be taken into account both in deciding whether to buy one and in any legislation proposed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A few of the old questions

1. Chicken or the egg? Stupid question, egg of course. Laid by some bird that was one chromosome away from being a chicken but didn't quite have the nads to get there. Chickensh-wait a minute...

2. Who'd a-thunk it?
"It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.
A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot"
is not an anti-global-warming parody. I watched Richard Harris sing it on YouTube to make sure.

3. Apparently the 12 Oscar nominations for "The King's Speech" are not for Obama's State of the Union speech. Forgive me, I thought the Nobel probably set a legal precedent. Sorry.

4. Does a tree falling in the forest alone still make a sound? Of course it does, dumbass. Is whether a tree can actually exist, or only the idea of "treeness", really that important a distinction to make when your car plows into an oak at a hundred and ten? Did you really pay money to study that crap for four years?