Before Completion

Order from chaos...while you wait.

27 October

Money changes everything

While running yesterday, I had a money theme going on my mp3 player: Money won't change you, Money changes everything, Money, that's what I want, Money , etc. Money is a big theme in pop music, not as big a theme as broken hearts, but big none the less.

I'm reminded by those songs this AM because I have been following this guy's posts. He is proposing a tongue-in-cheek, at least I hope, eugenics model for a fictional future society. He asked for proposals. It's the comments on the blog that are the most interesting. One proposal is for a predictive market based on observable phenotype variables, which offers a monetary incentive for "desirables" to have more children. To do this, you allow investments in children, and investors are rewarded with a portion of those children's future income. This is pretty much what the human race has been doing forever, raising kids so that they will support you later on, or maybe fight a war for you. It all sounds a bit like a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan scheme for the privatization of social security taken to its extreme. Of course, the proposed eugenics scheme assumes that the market can sort out "desirables" from the rest, Unfortunately, market approaches usually sort characteristics only on excess dollar value so such a scheme defines desirability as possessing surplus cash. Social security type schemes do not. Maybe it's just my Catholic social conscience coming back to haunt me, but it seems to me that a society has a duty to take care of its weaker members and its future. That duty comes about not because of the profit motive but but because of a biological drive to secure the future of the species. You can call that a moral principle, if you like, or just plain old biology. The Western world has been privatized for a long time, by kings, popes, soviets, robber-barons, Goldman-Sachs, choose your owner. That approach is unlikely to work in a world with 10 billion human mouths and rising expectations. We need some better schemes before post-capitalism lets those with excess cash devour everything.
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20 November

Eliminating free speech one student at a time.

I think Glenn Greenwald has nailed the current OWS situation. The protests are being met with force to make Americans think twice about voicing disagreement with the status quo. Who wants to be pepper sprayed just to express an opinion that things aren't going the way they should? Who wants their child beaten with a club just because she wants to complain about the way her future looks? It's safer to stay home. I completely fail to see how a group of students sitting around a campus quad constitute a threat to safety. Perhaps, University of California Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi could explain that. So far she hasn't.
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18 November

OWS

I just think it's interting that many US citizens feel it is necessary to take to the streets in large numbers in order to get the attention of those in power. My guess is that those in power, govenment at various levels, businessses, etc. are paying attention but don't get it and will react without integrety.
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09 January

The Shootings Mean That We Must Support My Politics

This essay sums up some of the reaction to the horrible shootings in Arizona. Go to the forums of any left-wing web site and you'll hear it. Go to any right-wing site and you hear it. Let's all join hands and blame each other.

Maybe, I dunno, people speaking in public should try to be a tiny bit more constructive and little less inflammatory. There are a lot of people with guns who have trouble holding firmly onto reality.
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08 January

Nancy Smith

My friend Nancy Smith, 78, has been sentenced to 6 month in federal prison for trespassing at a protest at the School of the Americas (SOA) aka Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC). The SOA has trained tens of thousands of Latin American military and police, many of who have been accused of human rights violations. What I find particularly disturbing about Nancy's case is the severity of the sentence for what was essentially a symbolic act of protest. It's telling that Nancy worked for NGOs in some of the most repressive places on earth, Somalia and Taliban Afghanistan, and was never harmed, but here in the Land of the Free she is sentenced to prison for a nonviolent symbolic act. I don't know if this country is still the land of the free, but as long as there are people like Nancy, it will be the home of the brave.
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07 December

Wikileaks Today

A little less than a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that a "new information curtain is descending across much of the world." She also said "In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all," But that was about China. It's different now.

Wondering what to do to help. This says it better than I can.

I wonder what's in the Wikileaks security file. Given the current government and corporate freak out, lost of folks must be very worried.

From that lover of freedom Joe Leiberman

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested that the U.S. Department of Justice should charge Julian Assange with espionage and said that federal prosecutors should conduct a "very intensive inquiry" into the question of whether or not news organizations had committed a crime by publishing leaked documents obtained and distributed by WikiLeaks.

This sounds like Joe is trying to intimidate the news media just like he did to Amazon.
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Privatization of Suppression of Dissent

Just as prisons, military, security, and a number of other function that were formerly the domain of governments, the actions of PayPal, Amazon, and MasterCard, among other against Wikileaks show that suppression of dissent and other unpopular actions has been privatized. Court actions and laws are no longer needed to suppress unpopular ideas. They can be eliminated by corporate fiat.
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06 December

Laws no longer matter

Wikileaks has not been convicted. It has not been outlawed. It is a legal organization. While leaking secret documents is a crime, publishing them is not. No one except Pvt. Manning has been convicted of anything. Yet, PayPal, Amazon and now MasterCard have taken it upon themselves to cut off Wikileaks' access to their services. Here in the US, we often talk about the "rule of law." In the past, many business, universities and public institution would not serve people because of the color of their skin. Now, many corporations will not serve people because of their politics, despite the fact that nothing that Wikileaks is doing is illegal.Are we now in a situation where corporations are enforcing the laws that the government is unable to enforce?

At our Quaker Meeting on Sunday, there was a discussion about the American flag. I have a great respect for the flag as a symbol and I love this country's ideals, the land, and the people. However, I'm becoming more and more fearful of and angry at the corporatocracy that it is becoming. I really thought the Bush years (9/11, illegal wars, Guantanamo, Abu Grahb etc.) were a low point for this nation, but I fear we're headed for darker times.
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07 September

Burning the Koran

...to a CD. With the idiocy going on these days about burning the Koran, it's interesting that the top download at the Internet Audio Archive is the Koran.

The US seems to have gone Muslim crazy. First the mosque controversy and now book burning. Personally, I think burning a Koran, Bible, I Ching or any book is reprehensible, but is protected by the 1st amendment. It may be stupid, but having the right to be stupid is a good thing. If we defend the right of Muslims to worship in their own mosques near the site of the former World Trade Center, I think we also have to defend the rights of morons to express themselves in ugly ways. Unfortunately, all burning someone's holy book will do is upset people and prove nothing except that you can do it. It serves no good purpose and will infuriate more weak minded people to take other destructive actions. The best thing would have been to ignore this Rev. book burner. He's an attention whore and has now succeeded getting the world's media to look at his antics. He's the balloon dad, but not as clever.

BTW, it seems that Mayor Bloomberg agrees with me or I agree with him.
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09 August

Google and Verizon - embrace and extend net neutrality

Maybe it's too soon to tell, but the alliance of Google and Verizon seems a bit fishy to me.

Fifth, we want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they donít interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.

Sixth, we both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers.


This sounds quite a bit like a tiered net and a lot like cable TV with its premium channels and pay-per-view. It sure doesn't sound like net neutrality.
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03 August

Ground Zero Madness

I really should restrain myself and not comment on this, but really what the hell is wrong with these people? Sarah Palin called on "Peaceful Muslims" to "pls refudiate" the project via her Twitter feed. She was soon joined by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's call to prevent the building of any mosques near Ground Zero "so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia" Even the the Anti-Defamation League has gotten into the act. First of all, the mosque isn't at ground zero, it's a couple of blocks away and the people involved with mosque aren't the ones who caused 9/11. They say their aim is, "steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions." Interestingly, Blake Hounshell in FT calls on George W. Bush to speak out against this madness, arguing he's the only conservative left who can speak out against this insanity. Does the conservative movement really want to be identified as a bigotry movement?
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29 July

The New Normal

This pretty much sums it up: there is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration. ACLU, Establishing a New Normal
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28 July

Wikileaks - Deja Vu all over again?

Wikileaks recently released over 95,000 formerly secret documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Obviously, this has caused quite a buzz in the news media. Boing Boing and Dan Gilmore are expecting backlash from those who keep secrets. Me too, I guess. However, from what I've read about the documents, are there really surprises? The following aren't surprises, even to someone like me who doesn't pursue war news in depth: the war is going badly; lots of civilians are killed; US troops commit war crimes; Taliban and Al Qaeda are even worse; the Pakistani ISI aren't really our allies, but often work for the Taliban etc. Haven't we been hearing this for the last couple of years? Maybe that's why support for this war is declining rapidly.

The Whitehouse response is interesting. It's along the lines of That's so 2009. Things are better now and Pakistan is our ally. Yeah, right.
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15 July

Your guide to the new FISA reality

You can find a flowchart of the new vs. old FISA laws at the Ketchup and Caviar blog. One of the more interesting aspects of the law is that it removes the requirement that there be probable cause that the foreign subject whose communications are being intercepted be a suspect of any kind. Basically, the law allows dragnet surveillance of communication between Americans and non-Americans. Knowledge of who talks to whom, even without details of the communication is extremely valuable to government and business. Supposedly, one of the functions of the great firewall of China is to accumulate data on who talks with Chinese citizens for economic analysis. Would the US government use a law supposedly designed to catch terrorists for economic analysis? Would elements of the US government feed data about who competitors talked with to their friends in business, particularly, since oversight is weak or non-existent? Nah, couldn't happen here.
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09 July

Telecoms get a "Get out of jail free" card, constitution gets shredded

Glenn Greenwald expresses this much better than I can.

Today, the Democratic-led Senate ignored those protests, acted to protect the single most flagrant act of Bush lawbreaking of the last seven years, eviscerated the core Fourth Amendment prohibition of surveillance without warrants, gave an extraordinary and extraordinarily corrupt gift to an extremely powerful corporate lobby, and cemented the proposition that the rule of law does not apply to the Washington Establishment.

I actually expected this to pass. Both parties seem agree that the US should become a police state, with corporate interests and government paranoia trumping constitutional rights. I am particularly disappointed in Sen. Obama's performance. I had started to buy into his rhetoric about positive change and the idea that he was a different kind of politician. I'm old enough to know better, but hope springs eternal. I have reverted to my usual level of cynicism about politicians and consider Sen. Obama just another one, like the others.

The ACLU plans to fight.

In other news: The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. Coincidence?

I don't usually agree with Fox News, but they got this right:

But thereís a reason why this Congress is such a failureĖitís because they donít care, are obsessed with irrelevant petty squabbling, and apparently have contempt for the American people. If they didnít, out of simple respect for the people, all Democrat and Republican leadership in the House and the Senate would apologize and resign en masse.

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