Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

I hope my reader(s) had a jolly solstice and that worked out for you. I may not be back until New Year. Happy Holidays of whatever kind. Get a UNICEF calendar and celebrate whatever you can. Jah, mata ne. Aloha.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reincarnations

These people have long seemed to be related by an accident of rebirth.



Mao is George Washington.



Kurt Vonnegut is Mark Twain.



Bill Clinton is FDR.

Bucky Fuller was Benjamin Franklin (and should be back again soon).


I don't mean that they resemble each other physically, but psychically. If not literal reincarnations, it may be that the corporeal form draws off and strengthens an underlying multidimensional rhizome which gives rise to a new physical form when the previous one is gone.

The Case for Withdrawal from Iraq

Anthony Arnove states the case for ending the US occupation of Iraq as logically as anyone possibly could in this article.

Rather than stemming civil war or sectarian conflict, the occupation is spurring it. Rather than being a source of stability, the occupation is the major source of instability and chaos.

All of the reasons being offered for why the United States cannot withdraw troops from Iraq are false. The reality is, the troops are staying in Iraq for much different reasons than the ones being touted by political elites and a still subservient establishment press. They are staying to save face for a U.S. political elite that cares nothing for the lives of Iraqis or U.S. soldiers; to pursue the futile goal of turning Iraq into a reliable client state strategically located near the major energy resources and shipping routes of the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves, and Western and Central Asia; to serve as a base for the projection of U.S. military power in the region, particularly in the growing conflict between the United States and Iran; and to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power, and restrictions on civil liberties. The U.S. military did not invade and occupy Iraq to spread democracy, check the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rebuild the country, or stop civil war. In fact, the troops remain in Iraq today to deny self-determination and genuine democracy to the Iraqi people, who have made it abundantly clear, whether they are Shiite or Sunni, that they want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately; feel less safe as a result of the occupation; think the occupation is spurring not suppressing sectarian strife; and support armed attacks on occupying troops and Iraqi security forces, who are seen not as independent but as collaborating with the occupation.

It is not only the Iraqi people who oppose the occupation of their country and want to see the troops leave. A clear majority of people in the United States have expressed the same sentiment in major opinion polls and in the mid-term Congressional elections, which swing both houses of Congress and the majority of state governorships to the Democrats, in a clear vote against the imperial arrogance of Bush's "stay the course" approach to the disaster in Iraq. The public did not vote for more money for the Pentagon (as incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada immediately promised, announcing a plan to give $75 billion more to the Pentagon), for more "oversight" of the war (the main Democratic Party buzzword these days), or for more troops (as Texas Democrat Representative Silvestre Reyes, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has demanded), but to begin bringing the troops home. A clear majority of active-duty U.S. troops want the same thing, as a much-ignored Zogby International poll found in early 2005, with 72 percent saying they wanted to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006.
The full article is much longer. That's just a short clip. If that's too short you could buy the book.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Support the Troops: Bring 'em home (alive). Don't Fund the Occupation.

Recent news reports have suggested that rather than accept the will of the people and the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, and reduce the American bootprint on the face of Iraq, pResident Bush will instead choose to go the John "Nine-Inch-Nails" McCain route and increase the number of American soldiers currently being wasted there. I absolutely agree with Representative Dennis Kucinich, who argues that the Congress must use its budget power to cut off the funding for Iraq immediately. He argues that there is enough funding "in the pipeline" to get the troops out of Iraq. Even if funding is cut, it will be in 2008 when the troops come home. Without this action, the soldiers are unlikely to be back much before 2010, I fear. The Democrats are said to be afraid of the issue, despite the polls and election results, and are expected to back funding the continuing occupation. That will get the Democrats kicked out in two years, even before the troops are out of Iraq, if they can't do it. If they really want to bring the troops home, they have to show commitment and play hardball, at least cutting off the funding and maybe shutting down the government, Newt-Gingrich style, if need be. Apart from the representatives, the American people will have to get serious and make their opinions heard, not through the ballot box this time, but by mass demonstrations that stop traffic and close down entire cities. The pre-war demonstrations were large and passionate, but didn't stop the war, considering that there was a "silent majority" that was anti-Saddam and willing to trust Bush to do the hit. Now that there is a majority that wants out, they may have to make their voices heard again if the government still doesn't move on this.

I have to confess that I was also one of the people who supported military action in Iraq at one point. I supported the war before it started (and up until the occupation forces showed they didn't have a clue what to do). Although I despised Bush, I despised Saddam more. I didn't think that Bush was persuasive; he seemed incoherent, but I did think that Tony Blair expressed my feelings exactly. Unlike some people, I think that a Democrat would have probably done the same thing, (as Blair is an example) but would have been more effective at bringing in the UN and other US allies, and would have withdrawn successfully as in Bosnia or somewhat less successfully as in Somalia, before the situation became really ugly. There would not have been the blatant profiteering.

The Bushies were able to manufacture 80% public support for the war with fabricated documents, cherry-picking findings from the CIA, and outright lies. Now, 70% of the public oppose continuation of the war. 30% continue to support the US staying to kill more Iraqis. That means Bush has lost 50% of the US public. What I wonder is: How can anyone continue to support that?

Looking at where I went wrong, I see two things. First, I believed that if three governments' intelligence agencies were saying something, it was very likely to be true. I now know that the US was cherry-picking, and that British and Italian intelligence etc was also false, wrong, skewed, for various reasons. Applying my renewed faith in skepticism, I notice that the US, Russia, and China all said that North Korea has detonated a nuclear bomb. Their explosion was half a kiloton (550 tons of TNT) while every other country that has tested a nuclear weapon has used 20 kilotons or something more notable in the megaton range. I think the nuclear test was probably a lie, too; it serves the countries that hate the DPRK to say it is a nuke, and it serves Kim to fool people into thinking he has it too, although that strategy occasionally backfires, as in Saddam's case. If the US, China, and Russia tell us a huge asteroid is on a collision course with the earth, or that the sun is going to explode, I won't believe that unquestioningly, either.

The second thing is that I actually thought that Bush's team was capable of doing it right. I really thought they would be competent. They were miserable failures at everything. We really cannot trust them to do anything right, and everyone realizes it after Katrina. I suppose that the first George Bush's successful restoration of the erased nation of Kuwait, and actions by Clinton to stop genocide in Europe influenced me to think it was possible for an organized force to reduce suffering by righteous violence.

I realized something was wrong when the United States began talking about having elections a few years down the road. They should have been polling people as they rolled through towns and put the most-respected and least-despised non-Saddam-affiliated person in charge immediately, within hours or days. I also thought it was strange when they began patrolling the streets and announced that every person must turn in their gun. Given the widespread gun ownership in Iraqi society, the impossibility of (an invading army) disarming everyone, and the impossibility of a few occupation troops maintaining order, I would have expected them to order all able-bodied males between, say, 20 and 65, to form neighborhood defense committees of 10 or 15 people, and to take charge in patrolling their own neighborhoods. Perhaps the US would ask them to register with the US post in their vicinity and inform them of each defense committee's chairman, so the US could reimburse them with a small stipend. That didn't happen. I also would have thought they would have people come in with their old ration cards, any other identifying documents, 2 or 3 people to vouch for their identity, and that the US could take scans of people's fingerprints on a USB scanner, upload the identity to the networked database, and issue an new national ID card with a biometric so elections and the like could get underway. Giving a person $100 to show up and get a new ID card would be relatively inexpensive with only 23 million people in the country. That would also allow them to start weeding out the criminal prisoners which Saddam had released. The biometric would mean even if the card were lost, stolen, destroyed, or transferred, the ID would remain. By asking for witnesses and family contacts, a social network database could have been built up.

I am not a military expert, and these are just things I assumed would happen without thinking much about it. When the odd declarations such as disarming the entire population came out, I briefly wondered if it was some advanced military tactic beyond my comprehension, but time showed it to be the sheer idiocy it first appeared to be.

By the time of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, I figured that was the load of bricks that was dumped onto the camel's back, that the last American who believed in the war would log off, and that the occupation would end within weeks or months. I am still a little shocked that many people just shrugged and at how long it has taken, actually years since then, to realize that we lost. Saddam lost, too, but America lost very soon after that.

The war should finally be winding down, but it may take a little push. Incoming members of Congress may be afraid that Bush will use his special executive powers given him during the recent one-party-state period to declare congressional opponents "enemy combatants" and have them disappeared, as has been done by many US-installed client dictators and by Hitler, the old Bush family idol. If the Congress knows from their mail and from public demonstrations that the public will back them and will not tolerate the war for another day, the outcome will be the right one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lame excuses from a crippled regime

Of 180 countries in the world issuing currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in both size and color for all denominations. After losing a four-year lawsuit over the matter, the "Justice" Department of the Bush Administration is retaliating against the American Council for the Blind, appealing the ruling with the argument that introducing modifications to the currency would be an unbearable hardship for the US mint and the all-important vending machine industry, and that the burden really should fall on the blind, who can buy and carry currency readers or just use their credit cards. Yes, that is what the US government is actually arguing: "Let Them Use Credit Cards!" and "Let Them Buy Portable Currency-Reading Scanners And Carry Them Everywhere!" (Marie Antoinette Lives!) After all, the (multi-million-dollar) cost to the US government would be equal to several hours of (multi-billion-dollar) Iraq spending. How did Nepal and every other country manage to be able to handle it but the poor little United States just doesn't have enough money? And doesn't the vending machine industry want the business of visually-impaired persons as well? Do they have the luxury of just rejecting potential customers? It is hard to imagine happening in Japan, where Universal Design is well-established. America is left behind even the most regressive countries in the world again. Sometimes I just don't get the United States. I suppose we should be thankful that America is ruled by "compassionate conservatives." If these are the Compassionates, I hate to imagine what Regular (Original? Classic?) Conservatives would be like. Your government at work, fighting the blind. It's hard work. Stay the course.
Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061213/ap_on_go_pr_wh/blind_money

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Today's Reading: Veteran Cherry-Picker Gates (got a PhD in it)

I had just enough time to read this today: http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2006/12/seven_questions_gates.html
by James Ridgeway at Mother Jones, and
this interview with 24-year CIA veteran Melvin Goodman by Daniel Schulman also sheds some light on the new amerikan kriegsmeister.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rummy & Bushie Bolt-on (in the Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology)

Rummy (AKA Donald Rumsfeld, Ronald Dumsfeld) the Secretary of Defense (War Department) may be (almost) gone, but Rummy the alcoholic Japanese chocolate (chocoholic?) bar will live on. Containing 3.7% alcohol, it carries a warning not to be used when operating a motor vehicle. I haven't tried it yet. It may be a more appropriate snack for Mr and Mrs Bush and the Vice-Executioner Cheney.

I wonder if John Bolton (also past the expiration date) can't inspire his own candy bar. Bolton is recognizable as the man with the bushy bolt-on mustache, known domestically as "a kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy", and known in North Korea as "human scum and a bloodsucker". That's beautiful. The North Koreans understand him, and he understands them; each side recognizes themselves in the other. They each have their second-generation dynastic dear/deer leader, and they both share the same fear-based way of ruling. For that reason, Bolton was actually pretty good at dealing with them, if you overlook the fact that they refused to talk with him. Bolton couldn't even get the approval of enough US Sedators in the Repuglicant-controlled Senate, let alone those outside the beltway, and had to be satisfied with just being W's personal emissary to the U.N., yet he brazenly displayed UNITED STATES on his desk as if he represented the United States. He is now politically doomed.

Kiss-up or Bushie would both be good names for a snack, and he looks a little like a confectioner, so having his face on the label would be no worse than the Colonel. (But it ain't fingers he's lickin'.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rock on in Peace, James Kim. (To Build A Fire)


It's too bad about James Kim. I have been getting a CNET music newsletter from him for 2? 4? 5? years, so I almost feel as though I know him. The last one I got was November 8, because, coincidentally, I unsubscribed on November 11 and deleted all but the last newsletter to reduce the clutter in my inbox. It is hard to imagine that James would be navigating out in the Oregon wilderness without a GPS navigation unit. On the other hand, maybe he did have one, and that is the reason he got into that situation. I hear that you cannot really keep one on the dash of your car in the US because it will immediately be stolen, so maybe it is more trouble than it is worth. I really empathize with his feeling of trying to help his girls; it would be hard to just stay put in the car for days and days. I wonder why, if they could burn tires, they couldn't collect some wood and get it on fire, or even a tree or two, or if they rejected that idea on principle. I might hesitate to waste a tree to save my own selfish ass, but if it were for the children, viva el towering inferno. But maybe the trees were not flammable, i.e. snow-laden, etc. It seems that if there was a way, he would have found it, but I can't help but wonder what really happened. My condolences to all who really knew him.

Update 2006-12-12: I saw part of a report on Paula Zahn, usually my least favorite cnn presenter, before I had to leave to go to work. I understand now that after days of rain and snow, there wasn't much dry material around to set alight. However, James was able to get the tires on fire. Maybe he drained some oil from the car. I understand he had a lighter and some magazines. I think they put a lot of hope into the smoke from four burning tires, and imagined that it would draw the attention of rescuers. When it didn't, they must have lost some hope. I still wonder if they couldn't have used the heat from the tires to dry out some more branches, or get a tire burning in a dead, hollow tree and start a whole tree or log burning. Either that wasn't possible, or didn't seem like the right idea at the time.

He was right to stay in the car. But how many of us could stand to stay with two small kids who are hungry, crying, bored, unhappy, etc? After 2 hours, 4, 24, 48, you would flip. Most of us would probably set off on the first sunny day for help. He waited as long as he could but finally broke down and felt he had to do something other than just watch things deteriorate. Strictly speaking, maybe it wasn't the most survivalistically correct move, but it is moving because he did it for love and really didn't mind taking a chance and dying.

Nobody can say what they would have done unless they have actually been in this identical situation.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Typhoon Durian (Reming)

Some news reports have said that a thousand or several thousand people may have died as Typhoon Durian hit the Philippines. Travelers to and residents of Southeast Asia will know that nobody wants to be hit with a durian, but it still makes a silly name for a typhoon. In the Philippines, this typhoon was called Reming. Despite the high death toll, the news is eclipsed on CNN by two other World stories: the re-election of Venezuelan President Chavez in a landslide, and a Saudi sleeper cell story. On BBC, the typhoon doesn't even make the top 10 world stories, but not just through the fault of the editors, but because few readers are clicking on the story to read it. Perhaps the media are lagging behind the curve because they have nobody there to report, and thus nothing to say. Even if anderson-cooper, wolf-blitzer, or lou-dobbs are flown in to the area to report in a few days, they have no context to interpret what they are seeing anyway.

I went to fLIckr to see if anyone had been able to enter the disaster area, take photos, and leave again to a place with electricity and upload the photos. Not likely, right? But I found the flickr page and blog of Paranaque photojournalist Linus G. Escandor II, which satisfied some of my curiosity about the situation. I could appreciate the ups and downs of his day as I read about being sent to a beauty pageant early one day and photographing a victim of a gunshot to the head later in the day. It's a large-scale disaster in a beautiful country of beautiful people. …!
He does some great work.

Prove to me that the media isn't Working for the Man!



This happened over two weeks ago but I am going to post it anyway since it is one of the most racist and intolerant moments you are going to see on the mainstream media for… well, probably for a day or two. This one was from CNN, the corporate news network. Basically, the interviewer (Glenn Beck) asks the Congressman (Keith Ellison) to "prove to me that you are not working for our enemies!"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fiddy Bullets in NYC

On Saturday, November 25, five police officers in Queens fired fifty bullets into a car carrying 23-year old Sean Bell as he left a bachelor's party. He died. He was to be wed later that day. This story has been extensively reported in the media, and I have little to add but to refer you to Democracy Now, which you can read or listen to. I suggest you subscribe to the podcast. Al Sharpton said exactly the right things. I would point out that these things always seem to happen in America, never Belgium or Singapore, although there is an American tradition of air-dropping bombs on weddings in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also seems to me that if the Al Capone school of policing is being employed, the police may have other resemblences to the famous criminal. Face it: New York City cops are notoriously crooked and some of these may have had a reason to off Mr Bell, but we will have to wait and see if it was complicated by corruption or just simple brutish incompetent fatal gun violence by the peace officers. Premeditated murder, or just murder on the impulse of the moment? I made the above collage, unable to resist the symbolism of the number 50.

Zoomclouds (I really don't know clouds, at all.)

I set up an account at Zoomclouds back in May(?) or June(?), but couldn't use the cloud because it refused to live in the sidebar, and kept sprawling all over the main column and making it unreadable. Later it occurred to me that if I wanted to have it, letting it live at the bottom of the body wouldn't be so bad after all. Having previously given up on it, I hadn't made a note of the password. Clicking on Forget your password? at login produced this message:

Request a new password

Still working in getting the "Forgot your password" thing to work. If you 've really forgotten your password, give us a few days until we get this thing to generate a new one for you and send it to your mailbox.

Pardon our dust!

and months later, the same message. That's pretty lame, and either annoyingly charming or charmingly annoying, but I guess they are focused on what they do best. Or maybe not, since their site seems barely alive. I made a new account and stuck the script at the bottom of the body main column. To my surprise, the biggest item in the tag cloud is not "monkey" but "god". That's funny since I don't believe in gods but hadn't been proselytizing that position very much (until lately). Eris didn't even show up, but phrases I used once, such as "2 men" did. It is at least partly nonsensical, but I like that (glitchy tech) because it reminds people not to depend on technology too much. Gibbon, squirrel, eel, and monkeys (plural!) made the list, but no other members of the animal-based verbal lexicon which I was developing for the use and amusement of zoo employees and non-employees alike. Where is "snackology"? Matcha is there, but not snackology? Some of my other lexical tendencies were revealed. "Apparently" I "guess" I can now "reveal" that "I don't know" very much. (But you already know that!)

So this is the new Blogger Beta…

I updated my blog to Blogger beta as they have been nagging me to do at login, so this is my first post in the new system. It's not so different. New post and other things move one click back, to the dashboard. There are also labels. No more Republish Entire Blog or Republish Index, because it just happens. Now I have to log in with my Google ID, too, not Blogger. I also tried to update the blog Template to the new Layout format for a refreshing change, and it was refreshing, but lost too much in the translation, so I switched it back. Instead of comprehensible html, or potentially comprehensible css, Blogger Beta's Layout format uses its own dialect of css which has been deconstructed by a handful of people and is described on Blogger support somewhere, if you google around. I would lose not just fonts and colors, as they warned me, but the current Nasa sun gif, (recently inadequately dressed) weather pixies, tag clouds (which have found a place to live without screwing up the page at the bottom of the body), all scripts and most images that are outside of posts. I would have to learn Blogger beta's unique css in order to recode those things back in, if that is even possible. I wonder if there is not some attempt to control the content and constrain it to mostly google-centric objects and widgets. For anyone setting up a new Blogger blog, it will be the layout format by default, so that is what you will get. For the person who is afraid to open the Template tab and tweak the html, the new drag-and-drop Layout editing will be easier. For advanced coders who can deconstruct and hack the Layout format language, it may be better, too. For those of us who are in between those two extremes, it seems that it is better to switch to Blogger beta, but not to change the Template to a Layout at this time, in my opinion. I am sure that Google has more improvements in the pipeline, so this may change.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Milk of humankind(ness) unveiled

Breasts were in the news again recently as a nurse-in was held to demand the rights of nursing mothers to breast feed in public. I can't really imagine why someone would object to human breasts. How can you keep them a secret, anyway? It's not enough to be anti-woman and anti-human, this is downright anti-mammalian. You might as well just step forward and reveal yourself as a shape-shifting reptilian if you are going to criticize an innocent mother giving breast milk to a baby! Let the Men In Black deport you back to your quadrant!

On reflection, I realize that reptilian shape-shifters would not reveal themselves from their positions of social power by the blatantly reptilian act of criticizing mammalian breast exposure. The culprits must be another subset of the population. Perhaps they are speculators hoping to gain economically from anti-breastiness. Make people insecure about revealing their own breasts, so they buy formula. Is Nestle the hidden hand behind this whole uproar? Would these same people object if it were not a real breast, but a perfect simulacrum, the iLact8, which looks, feels, tastes, and lactates exactly like a real breast. Introduced by Steve Jobs in conjunction with Disney, the iLact8 could be worn outside the clothing, attached to a business suit with velcro straps. That would weaken the bond of baby and mother. Looking exactly the same, what advantage would it have? Why is real bad and artificial good?

In a related news story, European governments are considering laws to ban the veil. Supporters cite the need for face-to-face communication, the need to see the face for identification purposes, and other excuses. Just scratch the surface of this story to see the hate behind the lie. Do we say these same things in regard to trick-or-treaters, skiers, surgeons, burn victims, people with amputated noses, hideously disfigured persons, and other people who wear masks for other reasons? No. To be fair, let's consider the KKK. As uniformed members of a terrorist organization, they should be detained as illegal combatants if anyone should. Women wearing veils are not necessarily proclaiming membership in a terror organization, such as the Neanderthal Atomic Terror Organization. At the very least (or most?), you may need to pass a law that would require them to reveal their face to law enforcement for identification purposes. Alternatively, a veiled person could carry a biometric ID linked to a fingerprint or palm print, while the officer could be issued with a reader to check the ID against the person. There are culturally sensitive ways to handle this. It is the responsibility of politicians to find these ways and protect the rights of all the people, not to aggravate divisions in society and use the majority as a wedge to power their political engine. The cost is a thousand-year war of civilizations. Just leave people alone. Do we really want to go out of our way to piss (a(nother) billion) people off?

In conclusion, more women should wear veils and breast-feed in public. Just assume the veiled one is hideously deformed either physically or psychically, if it helps you to leave them alone. Nestle, eat your heart out. May the parks, fields, offices, and public transit abound with veiled, topless, breast-feeding women.

C. A. Beard

A commentator to my last post left several interesting remarks. It's great when the comments are better than the original post. Instead of replying as a comment, I will comment here because I am making some new links.

One point was the idea that the government has done so many wrongs, that we should focus on the actual documented wrongs, rather than waste time on as-yet-undocumented conspiracy theories. In other words, we could talk about slavery, or the US overthrow of democratic governments in Central America, Iran, Greece, and so on instead of speculating as to whether the Bush misadministration destroyed the WTC. That seems like a good point, and it is valid. However, I can see two big problems with it. One problem is that today's conspiracy theory is tomorrow's documented fact, and to stop observing, hypothesizing, popularizing, and testing these hypotheses would reduce the likelihood of investigating and collecting enough forensic evidence to settle the question one way or the other. A second problem is that since this event is driving the current political climate, it is more relevant and urgent to determine whether this event is best explained as perpetrated by Arabs with Box Cutters or the Conspirators for a New American Centurion. If the cause is found to be within a vast right-wing think-tank, this discovery would completely change the prevailing political climate.

The commentator in California also mentions that most political events are actually economic ones. I think it is useful to look for that, to follow the money, but some political acts are really political acts, not reducible to economics, such as the right-wing populist laws regarding God, guns, and gays. I don't know that making children pledge allegiance to gods or banning gays from marriage really was done to economically benefit anyone. It was done to manufacture consent among the Base.

Finally, the commentator introduced me to the work of Charles A. Beard. Somehow I missed him in my education, probably just a sick day. Googling around, I found a few choice links related to him.

Charles A. Beard: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
link to download site
http://ideas.repec.org/b/hay/hetboo/beard1913.html

alternate, closer link to online txt and doc
http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/beard/

wiki entry for An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Economic_Interpretation_of_the_Constitution

go to amazon to read a review or find a cover for the text files
http://www.amazon.com/Economic-Interpretation-Constitution-United-States/dp/0029024803/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product/105-9661843-6202808

wiki entry for Charles A. Beard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_A._Beard

History of the United States
by Charles A. Beard and Mary Ritter Beard
txt and html
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/16960

McMaster U (Canada) "a large number of significant texts in the history of economic thought"
http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We're from the government, and we're here to help (rob, bind, torture, kill, and deceive) you.

The Wikipedia entry for the WTC Controlled Demolition Hypothesis is very well-researched. This will be around at least as long as the JFK conspiracy theories, such as "It was Johnson", which are going on 60. I hope we get some resolution someday, the forensic evidence that will allow the true story (whatever it is) to be written. Seventy-four percent of Americans believe (according to a 1998 CBS News poll) that there was a cover-up in the murder of JFK; ten percent believe Oswald acted alone. At the present time, about a third of Americans think 9-11 was an inside job. We know they lied to get us in a war. How many times does someone have to lie, cheat, and steal before you suspect them of murder and framing someone else for that murder as well?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Annals of the Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: Air Crunky

Air Crunky awadate matcha chocolate looks like it could be really good, but it is way too sweet.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Archives of the Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: American Soft Matcha Cookies

These are the American Soft Matcha-Chocolate Chip-Macadamia Nut cookies, just like Gramma used to make, if your Gramma was a tripped-out hippie who mistook her Japanese roommate's matcha (抹茶) for flour, perhaps due to wearing dark green sunglasses to hide her dilated pupils. The green texture takes some getting used to, but will appeal to the ecologically conscious. We taste-tested these right next to some macadamia-nut choco-chip cookies from Starbucks (matcha not included) about six months ago. That probably wasn't fair. These looked small and sickly next to those, and had a soft, and somewhat additive-heavy taste. There was something mysteriously familiar and nostalgic about them, that became clearer when my co-investigater used the word "PlayDo" to describe them. By themselves, though, when not being compared to a Starbucks cookie or PlayDo, they really weren't too bad, and I would consider eating them again if I were eating non-fresh snacks. They also may be worth keeping in stock as earthquake survival food, if the expiration dates are a year or so out… (I don't remember). Now you can eat your tea and drink your corn (just like your nightmare hippie Gramma used to tell you to do).

Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: Corn Tea Field Notes

I have been looking for ginseng tea, but I can never find it anywhere. It has dropped out from the top ten tea drinks to somewhere below the top forty, with lots of English teas and herb teas covering the shelves of the stores. I couldn't find ginseng tea, even in the Korean stores, so I decided to settle for corn tea -- also a yellow vegetable -- and try that. It's cheap, too.

Corn tea is nothing like corn soup. It has a roasted toasted flavor, but isn't like corn flakes or doritos, either. It tastes a lot like mugi-cha 麦茶, roasted barley tea, (which is a popular summer drink in Japan) but with a naturally sweeter, corn-like flavor after the first mugi-cha-impression.

It's no substitute for ginseng tea, but not bad. I wonder if the ancient civilizations of central america also discovered this drink.

The Korean name for it is oksusu-cha 옥수수차. The packaging you can see has added Japanese to the Korean for marketing to the one or two million Koreans in Japan and anyone else in Japan who might like to drink it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OUR MAN PERV


"Our Man Perv" makes love in 47 languages!
He's a Karate Champion, Brain Surgeon, Swordsman and Nuclear Physicist…
He's the top Master Spy of all time, with his Cigarette Lighter containing 82 Death-Dealing Devices, his 2 Man-Eating Dogs, his 4 Luscious Playmates and his Love Nest –Built-For-5………
(Actual text from OUR MAN FLINT movie poster. It fits Perv, too, especially the Nuclear Physicist bit.)

Update 2006.11.21: Produced by Richard "Stone Age" Armitage.

UCLA Campus Cop Taser Mania

I was thinking: I suppose it is possible that they will find that the campus police were just doing their job, and the fault lies in the police's rules of engagement. In other words, the victim may have found a bug in their software. If the police rules are not well thought out to match possible realities they may encounter, the overly restrictive instruction set could lead to seemingly inappropriate behavior. By resisting passively, saying he would leave, but just slapping away the police hands and insisting that they not touch him, the victim may have prevented them from Plan A) quietly escorting him out, B) carrying him out, forcing them to go to C) tasering the person until they stop resisting. It is hard to see how Plan B would be impossible, though, if he were handcuffed already. I can't really explain the cops' behavior, but that might be close to one of the possibilities, and I half-expect some kind of excuse like that which would place the blame on an administrator who issued rules of engagement that didn't work in this situation. Even if this excuse were true, you would think they would break away from the training manual when what they were doing became obviously objectionable to all observers. But I guess that is the point of military and police training: not to react as a human being with empathy to another's situation. I am writing this without having heard any news on it for the last few days, so my opinion is as valid as the opinions of the space shuttle astronauts or Antarctic researchers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

University of Kalifornia, über alles.

I was shocked to see the video of a UCLA student getting tazered at Powell Library. It was especially disturbing because I happen to be a UCLA graduate. Powell Library is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and although its library is not one of the better ones, I used to drop into Powell library in the late afternoons sometimes to read the New York Times. At that time, there were chairs in the rotunda, the afternoon light came in through some windows high on the wall, and you could sit in a comfortable chair to read the papers while listening to the acoustics of the echoing footsteps and voices and appreciating the architecture. (I hope my recollections are accurate, because my memories date from a time when the present students were pre-schoolers.) In contrast, the University Research Library on the north end of campus was uglier and less conveniently located although it had the main collection. It must have been shocking even for the students who were doing some studying to have the very calm, dignified, cultured, quiet, deep atmosphere of the library broken by the screams of a student being tortured by campus police.

There is absolutely no excuse for tazering a student in the library. Had the student been armed with a gun or knife, threatened the officers, or violently resisted them and assaulted them, I could see it as one possible way to stop the assault. The real situation was completely to the contrary: the student had already been handcuffed before the police assault began (unbelievably, but true according to the accounts that I read). It is also not appropriate to assault him in retaliation for his nonviolent resistance. The officers could have gently picked him up and removed him, if they are authorized to physically enforce the removal of people without identification; there were several officers present, so they have no excuse. Finally, the repeated tazering is dangerous and completely inexcusable. This comes close to attempted murder. In conclusion, the UC police were completely wrong, wrong, and wrong. Several people should spend a few years in prison. Experts in civil rights and the public need to review the training and procedures that are being taught to law enforcement personnel, for the University system and Los Angeles county, too.

What is perhaps even more shocking than the assault is that some people are defending the officers, saying that they have a right to do it just because they are in authority. I think that looks bad to the whole world. You do not hear of this happening in Japan or France or London. Consider the history of policing and note that the tazer has not been available for most of the time to most officers, in most of the world, hence they could not lazily resort to it, but might have to use their greatest weapon, their minds and powers of persuasion to try to effect law-abiding behaviors and preserve the public peace. These officers were doing anything but preserving the peace; "Peace Officers" sounds like a sick joke in reference to them. Most of the time these officers do not even need to be armed, really. It looks like these officers were bullies who were bored with their quiet jobs and just itching for a chance to use their tazers. Nobody else who was there interpreted the situation as calling for the use of force that was seen.

The victim claims he was singled out for attention due to racial profiling. Mostafa Tabatabainejad is a 23-year-old Iranian-American. There is a large and affluent ethnically Persian community centered around the Westwood area of Los Angeles where UCLA is located.

I think I first saw the story starting to pop up on Google news and read it here but it is no longer there. The story was posted at this educator's blog , where he cited Bitch as his source. Truthdig, YouTube and Daily Bruin have the video. The LATimes published a report.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Week After: Restoration or Escalation?

It was an interesting week last week. After getting out the boat and helping America vomit, the body politic was cleansed of dead political animals and their toxins as Democrats took control of the Congress, and then the Senate, with the defeat of George Felix "Macaca" Allen. The colonic cleansing of the country followed, with the removal of war criminal Rumsfeld from the Pentagon bowels by the "head" of government. Rummy, we hardly knew ye. You were a known unknown. Unfortunately, the replacement was expected to be by former CIA director Robert Gates, a key figure in the Iran-Contra deal and thought to be a negotiator who helped the deal to release the hostages on the eve of Reagan's installation.

The monkey boy king has said he is looking for new ideas for Iraq, now we see a new pattern emerging. Gates can use his contacts in Iran to ship weapons to the the mullah-fakirs again. With inflation and all, the weapons they want will be U.S. nukes this time. (Nobody does it better. ) The Iranian nuclear program will provide excellent cover, so that when they test one to see if the U.S. sold them duds, everyone will think it was homebrewed. With "America's Nemesis!" Daniel Ortega once again in power, Gates can return to funding death squads to terrorize small Central American nations, and kill and rape them until they let United Fruit and Somosa run the government again. A faked crisis and successful invasion of any small, easily-conquered country will give the military a much-need boost to morale, and divert attention away from failures, as the Grenada invasion diverted attention away from 400 dead Marines killed by the bad judgement of the iconic 80s chickenhawk Jellybeans Reagan. The crack operations that the CIA used to run can be scaled up with Langley's new control of the Pentagram, with the resulting crack-fueled stupor and crime leading to a rightward swing and pacification of the increasing U.S. domestic dissent. In exchange for the favor to Iran, the U.S. asks that they take Iraq off our hands, slipping 600,000 of their own agents into the country to shape things as the U.S. pulls out, and they agree to keep things cool and not make the U.S. look bad. Gates' skills will also be useful in avoiding future "gates" – along the lines of Watergate, Iran-Contra-gate, Abu Ghraib-gate, 9-11-gate, memo-gate, Katrina-gate, Gates-gate, and the whatever-gate of insert-your-own-gate-here-gate. The guy is a fixer, in other words, sort of a Johnnie Cochran for the misAdministration.

In other news of the enema was that the man who is currently posing as the American ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, may not be approved and allowed to become a real ambassador, even by the lame duck congress which is being shown the door. Mr. Bolton was not approved by the full U.S. Senate, as required by law, but was instead a rare "recess appointment", requiring only the approval of the un-pResident himself, his wife, and White House dog Barney. I wonder how they expected the world to recognize him as a representative of the United States, when the United States itself had not yet recognized him in that role. This is the way to influence the U.N. and push them in the direction of ignoring and hating Americans.

I was a little surprised that the new House majority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, sat down to eat lunch with the pResident and Vice-torturer Cheney. I may be paranoid, but I can't forget the experience of Viktor Yushchenko, who was served dioxin soup when he sat down with his political enemies, very nearly turning his Orange Revolution into an Agent Orange assassination before it even started, and seriously defoliating his face. (Agent Orange is a product of Monsanto.)
(Chilling "Nancy for lunch" photograph by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.)


Not everybody is happy about the Democratic tendencies and the Repugnicants loss of power. Some people are worried that the Bushies will not quietly watch their power decline and be walked off to jail. Ted Rall is worried. Also at Smirking Chimp: Cindy Sheehan.

Speaking of paranoia and conspiracy theories, while browsing through anti-black-box-voting site The Brad Blog, I followed a link to http://www.truth911.net/ and watched some of the videos linked there. There are some allegations that I should have been paying more attention to. I wouldn't dismiss them out of hand; they are worth discussing and debating. These are things that you would feel a lot better about if they could be expertly refuted, but that is not happening. Here are some links:
September 11th Revisited is perhaps the most riveting film ever made about the destruction of the World Trade Center. This is a powerful documentary which features eyewitness accounts and archived news footage that was shot on September 11, 2001 but never replayed on television. Featuring interviews with eyewitnesses & firefighters, along with expert analysis by Professor Steven E. Jones, Professor David Ray Griffin, MIT Engineer Jeffrey King, and Professor James H. Fetzer. This film provides stunning evidence that explosives were used in the complete demolition of the WTC Twin Towers and WTC Building 7.
http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=4194796183168750014

See how an incendiary flash was launched from the incoming ECM- and explosives-packed JSTARS E-10 that sparked the pyrotechnics of the WTC attack. However, this was just a stage display - it was demolition charges that ultimately brought down the Twin Towers.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4583272800838178987

William Rodriguez, a janitor, reports an explosion in the basement moments before the airplane hits the North Tower. He was in basement level 1 (the basement has 6 sub levels) when the first explosion occured from under him which traveled up the elevator shaft and burned a co-worker in the basement. To learn more about 9/11, visit http://www.truth911.net
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8536008651248732897

A typical excerpt from the longer movie above. MIT Engineer Breaks Down WTC Controlled Demolition. Jeff King goes into detail why the WTC Towers and WTC 7 were brought down by explosives.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1822764959599063248
To summarize, as Charlie Sheen says, the real conspiracy theory is the theory that 19 Arab hijackers did this. Consider that no U.S. airplane had been successfully hijacked for decades, no steel frame building has ever collapsed from fire even when completely gutted top to bottom by fire (kerosene-based aircraft fuel burns around 800 degrees while steel melts at 3000 degrees), and there are numerous eyewitness accounts of explosions and injuries throughout the World Trade Center even before the planes hit. You can see the explosions going on (on floors far below the collapsing part) in the WTC as it falls, as in a controlled demolition. The building fell in 6 seconds, a complete free-fall, not compatible with the pancake theory, which engineers say would take about a second or at least a half second for each floor, ten times longer. The second plane is clearly not a commercial airliner, but is a military plane, as shown in photos of the radar equipment protruding from the bottom and the evidence that it was grey and had no windows. Bush's brother (?) was put in charge of security at the WTC before the attack (can this be true?) and Larry Silverstein bought a massive amount of insurance and admitted on TV to "making the decision to pull WTC7".

It wasn't mentioned in the films, but the "New American Century" folks have been talking about the need for a new "Pearl Harbor" to implement their program since the mid-1990s. This provides the rationale: that they had political goals worldwide and domestically that they believed they could only achieve with a galvanizing event.

One more thing I could add to this: No one seems to remember that when Putin was elected, there had been a campaign of blowing up huge apartment buildings in Russia, blamed on the Chechen terrorists. This meshed nicely with Putin's campaign to get tough on the Chechens. Some people pointed out some oddities in the bombing that made it very hard to connect to Chechens. Then, some FSB (formerly KGB) agents were found planting the explosives in an apartment building. Putin was elected anyway. The bombing campaign suddenly went quiet.

It's not such a big jump from that, to the 9-11 conspiracy. Most of the evidence is circumstantial, but it fits what we already know about the Bush cabal. Some other historical precedents for (the theory of) 9-11 as an inside job are the burning of the Reichstag by Hitler, the Gulf of Tonkin attack, and various other incidents, some only planned, others actually executed, through wartime and peacetime history.
Historical Precedents for 9/11/01

The largest single obstacle to people's acceptance of the fact that the 9/11/01 attack was an inside job is the refusal to admit that the "leaders of the free world" would perpetrate such a cruel and deadly hoax. Yet history provides numerous examples in which governments have attacked their own nations, while blaming a target group.

The closest example in many respects is the 1933 Reichstag Fire. Today it is widely believed that the Nazis themselves set the German Reichstag ablaze as an excuse to suspend most civil liberties guaranteed by the 1919 constitution. While Hitler established himself as dictator, the Communists and other minorities were scapegoated.

There are several examples in the United States of precedents for 9/11/01 as an inside job, in one or more of the following respects.

  • Authorities ignore warnings and allow attack on their own people to proceed.
  • Authorities engineer an attack on their own people.
  • Authorities falsely blame a target group or individual for the attack, and use the incident to violate human rights and justify military adventurism.
  • Authorities destroy evidence and sabotage investigations.
I thought that was well-written, demonstrably true, and what people need to know. An informed and alert citizenry that knows that these things have occured in the past and may occur in the future is the best way to prevent governments from daring to try to manipulate people with such tactics in the future. We also need a media that dares to ask questions.
More at www.911review.com

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Help America Vomit (feel better now?)

Despite a certain predictable noughtian amount of voter intimidation and vote-hacking, the will of the people has prevailed, as independent voters have given up on giving Bush time to pursue his war. In 2004, it was only about 18 months into the war. They could give him the benefit of the vote. Patience has run out with the obvious incompetence displayed during Katrina. Rovian politronics can only swing 5 or 10% of the vote, not enough the pacify the independents and badly-shagged-by-gay-old-party-evangelical born-agins, whose young'uns are dying in Iraq for corporate profits.

The four-year-long experiment with a one-party republicant dictatorship is over. Checks and balances are back. Viva los checks and balances!

The chickenhawk is now officially lame, making feeble quacking noises, with clipped wings and a broken leg or two to stand on.

Repeal the traitorous and un-American patRIOT Act. Restore the rule of law! Let the investigations begin! Restore the Constitution. Incarcerate the traitorous Bushian kleptocrats.

Excuse me. I had to get that out of my system.

Can America now have automatic universal voter registration, like a developed country? Remember the Census, which asked all kinds of intimate questions for the benefit of corporate marketing? The census can be used to automatically register voters, particularly if a current driver's license, passport application, or other document matches up. You should only need to "register" if you have recently moved, and all official records of your residence are out-of-date. It works in Canada, Australia, Germany, and most countries. You might object to some elections commission combing through these databases in order to build an accurate list of voters, but please note that they are already going through these lists in a much rougher way, and for the purpose of deleting voters from the lists! Perhaps automatic voter registration could be one of the first acts of the newly democratic congress. They must have a lot of ideas after 12 years in the congressional wilderness.

Military Commissions Act of 2006

Even the cash-stream media mouthpiece at MSNBC seemed shocked to learn that we had lost the right to know what crimes we are charged with and can now be detained for no particular reason.



Today 10-17-06, President (King) Bush signed a bill that officially dissolved the United States Constitution. This law takes away The Writ of Habeas Corpus that allows for the right to have an attorney and the knowledge of crimes a person being charged with. Also unlawful detention. They hide this within the Detainee Combatant Bill. It allows the President to declare ANYONE, ANYWHERE AN ENEMY COMBATANT, THIS INCLUDES U.S. CITIZENS, FOR ANY REASON ANYTIME. People. WAKE UP!!!! We have LOST OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!!!! TODAY 10-17-06, The Day The U.S. Bill Of Rights Died.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Iraq for Sale

The Robert Greenwald documentary film Iraq For Sale is also online.



Iraq for Sale site.

Via Bob Geiger.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sandinista! and the ugly American media.


I was shocked this morning to hear CBS's Katie Couric (? or whatever her name is) refer to "U.S. nemesis Daniel Ortega". At least, that is what I think I heard her say. Other media called him "an old Cold War enemy". Printed media tends to be less hostile than televised media. I was forced to face the facts: Americans still haven't given up imperialist schemes to dominate Nicaragua.

What did Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas ever do to become the "nemesis" of the United States?
They overthrew a dictatorship. (an American-made dictatorship)
They established constitutional government after four and a half decades of the corrupt U.S.-made-and-supported Somoza dictatorship.
They set up a democracy. Nicaragua has had free elections since 1984.
They raised the literacy rate from 50% to 88%.
They set up a national effort to improve health care.
They expanded civil liberties after overthrowing the dictatorship.

What did the U.S. do to Nicaragua?
The U.S. invaded and occupied the country from 1922 to 1934.
The U.S. killed the popular charismatic leaders of Nicaragua.
The U.S. established a brutal dictatorship to run Nicaragua for 43 years from 1936 to 1979.
The U.S. used the CIA to finance, arm, and train former members of Somoza's National Guard as Contras.
The U.S.-backed Contras mined Nicaragua's harbors, raped, tortured, and killed Nicaraguans.
The U.S. raised money for these death squads by selling arms to Iran and crack cocaine in U.S. cities, through a deal between Oliver North and Manual Noriega.
The U.S. continues to manipulate events in Nicaragua through financial aid and advice to regressive political parties there.

The U.S. owes Nicaragua an apology. We should face the responsibility for what we have done, cease all meddling, and begin to make amends in a new relationship based on equality.

Other colonial powers also sometimes tend to have a condescending and hostile attitude toward former colonies, partly out of shame, like a man who has raped a woman, and is enraged with some form of self-hate when he sees her again. We see this in Japan and Europe, too. Even if the rapist was your grandfather, not you, you need to educate yourself, climb up from your ignorant state, and face the reality squarely and without affectation.

In an ideal world, the newscasters should be the first to find and face reality, but being corporate news networks (cash-stream media or CSM) whores, they will never deliver reality but only twisted reflections distorted by greed, guilt, arrogance, manufactured needs and desires, and those other aspects of the corrupt system… and inner evil wolf. I didn't mean Blitzer, the bastard child of a wolf and one of Satan Klaus's material girl reindeer.

FSLN stands for Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.

More information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandinista
http://www.answers.com/topic/sandinista-national-liberation-front

More

Monday, November 06, 2006

German Researchers Boost Memory with Electrical Stimulation of Brain Sleep-cycle

Metacognitive defibrillation, once only a wackedelic subheading existing in the realm of science fiction and metaphor, is now within the reach of medical science. Actually, it may be more cognitive than metacognitive, at this point, and doesn't rise to the level of defibrillation so much as the voltage of, say, a smoke alarm. The news is that German scientists report that low-level stimulation of the brain in a slow-wave oscillation results in improved memory. Abstract at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature05278.html
To quote a few small words from the abstract:

Nature advance online publication
5 November 2006
doi:10.1038/nature05278; Received 19 July 2006; Accepted 25 September 2006; Published online 5 November 2006
Boosting slow oscillations during sleep potentiates memory

Lisa Marshall, Halla Helgadóttir, Matthias Mölle and Jan Born

There is compelling evidence that sleep contributes to the long-term consolidation of new memories. This function of sleep has been linked to slow ( under 1 Hz) potential oscillations, which predominantly arise from the prefrontal neocortex and characterize slow wave sleep. However, oscillations in brain potentials are commonly considered to be mere epiphenomena that reflect synchronized activity arising from neuronal networks, which links the membrane and synaptic processes of these neurons in time. Whether brain potentials and their extracellular equivalent have any physiological meaning per se is unclear, but can easily be investigated by inducing the extracellular oscillating potential fields of interest. Here we show that inducing slow oscillation-like potential fields by transcranial application of oscillating potentials (0.75 Hz) during early nocturnal non-rapid-eye-movement sleep, that is, a period of emerging slow wave sleep, enhances the retention of hippocampus-dependent declarative memories in healthy humans. The slowly oscillating potential stimulation induced an immediate increase in slow wave sleep, endogenous cortical slow oscillations and slow spindle activity in the frontal cortex. Brain stimulation with oscillations at 5 Hz—another frequency band that normally predominates during rapid-eye-movement sleep—decreased slow oscillations and left declarative memory unchanged. Our findings indicate that endogenous slow potential oscillations have a causal role in the sleep-associated consolidation of memory, and that this role is enhanced by field effects in cortical extracellular space.
That was the whole abstract. Do you think they'd sue? I couldn't find a good line to summarize it and give enough context. I bet that was just one sentence in German. Who would have ever thought of juicing the brains of people falling asleep? Note that they say the benefits appear with under 1 hertz oscillations, and disappear with 5 hertz oscillations, just the opposite of overclocking. Epiphenomena, my foot! Transcranial… spindle… in cortical extracellular space: all are words that you should try to weave seamlessly into today's conversations (and/or written memoranda).

Electronic brain-jacking experts speculate that the memory-boosting procedure will not become a common therapy, due to the unknown nature of the side effects, but may make up an increasing percentage of emergency-room admissions during finals week as medical students experiment in modding their own memories. Other applications of the technology may exist. May all of your nocturnal transcranial epiphenomena potentiate your oscillating neocortical spindle.

Whimsical Wizardry

Some interesting images are available for your viewing at the Wizard of Whimsy, urging the chimpeachment of the unpresident, among other visually-conveyed thoughts.

Cherokee Nation Will Return

I got this e-mail ephemera (huh?) in my inbox the other day (from a non-Cherokee). It seemed like I'd seen it before.

"Native American Wisdom"

An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is
going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight,
and it is between two wolves.

"One is evil--he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride,
superiority, and ego.

"The other is good--he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth,
compassion, and faith.

"This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other
person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his
grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
I read it and fired off a quick "reply to all" as follows:
Dear Dances-with-Wolves Landers,

Thank you for your ancient wisdom.

In my case, my inner poodle is always barking and biting in a fight
with my inner Golden Retriever. What should I do?

Doggedly,
Barks-at-moon-and-bites-off-chicken-heads Wilson



Dear BAMaBOCH Wilson,

In your case, do not feed either dog. Shoot dogs, and get cat instead.

Your old Cherokee wise guy,
Dances-with-Wolves Landers


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Discovery Engines and Music



I was playing around with the liveplasma "discovery engine" –way back in May. I don't know how much it has changed since. (Not much, it seems.) These are some screenshots that I kept on my computer. LivePlasma is a combination of what you could learn from Amazon (what people who bought this product also bought), AllMusicGuide (related artists), the iTunes store (a copy of Amazon), and from file sharing (you can browse the shared files of people who have rare tracks that you like, and discover new music that way, even without downloading or sharing files – but I suppose just doing that is illegal, too??). Wouldn't it be easier to just chat with someone? Yeah, sure, I suppose, once you find someone who shares your taste, but it takes time and I'm lazy and in a hurry.

I like the visualization. It was kinda interesting to see how they mapped out the relationships between the bands. It probably looks different every time you load it. I don't know what the source data is, but the bubbles keep drifting and swimming around. Some bubbles are bigger like gas giants Jupiter or Neptune. Does that represent popularity? And are the colors for time periods?

Speaking of discovering new music, too bad about Tower Records going out of business, but I often wondered how they could possibly stay in business. Nothing to see there but lots of shrinkwrapped plastic CD cases. How are you supposed to decide what to buy? You have to know before you come in. Sure, there are a few listening stations, but they have about 1% of the catalog that is in the store. To have a successful brick-and-mortar store, you should be able to hear all the music in the store. Put the CDs away out of sight. Have listening and viewing stations where you can see the album (and which ones are in store in stock), browse other work by the musicians, link to related bands (a store like Tower should have built a huge buyer preferences database by now), and discover new music that you would want to buy. You would probably have to charge people just to come in and sit down, so maybe serve them a soft drink or coffee, too (waterproof the keyboard, mouse, and headphones). The cost to use it could be about the cost of a CD. If you buy a CD, you get (some of) the money back, it is like a deposit or incentive to go ahead and buy something since you paid to use the facilities anyway. Let customers buy single tracks and combine them to put together their own mix on a CD, too. Limit the time to an hour or two. Prohibit computers or capture of the audio served in the store.

Such a system is a big change from the Tower Records kind of store. They probably could not have successfully transitioned to such a model. This kind of store will probably emerge from internet cafés or music coffeeshops rather than from the old music stores, once the old style stores have fallen away.

I think the price of music still needs to fall. I can see it falling from 99 cents to something like 10 cents a track. I would buy ten times as much music if it were ten times cheaper. I would buy an album a day for a dollar, and spend more on music than I spend now, when it is expensive and shrinkwrapped and locked away unlistenably. I can listen to hundreds of songs on the radio, and realize that I don't have one of them, although I may like them all. Let me buy them, cheap. It will be worth it. They used to let us all listen to everything for free on the radio, and never worried about it. For most people, that was good enough. I never bought popular music for years since I could hear the Beatles any time I turned on a radio. Free mp3s may be a problem, but at least they promote the artist and sell concert tickets and even CDs (for the better quality). Cheap music files would seem to make more business sense, given the economics of production, reproduction, and distribution (which have all gotten cheaper).

Artists will always make good money from concerts. In the future, instead of a hundred millionaire musicians, there will be many thousands who make $30,000, $50,000, $200,000 a year. Eventually, I can see music going for a penny a track. Instead of selling a million, sell one-hundred million. Make it cheaper to just buy it than to go to the trouble of making an illegal copy.

The music industry should stop acting as if they have a monopoly. Anyone can "record music" or make a recording now. They are not needed for distribution, either. Their position is like that of ancient "scribes", who had no real professional role in the world once everybody could read and write. Become a teacher.

One possible function for the music industry is to release DVD-like multitrack recordings which users would then tweak with their own remixes. The original files would be so huge and holographically complex as to discourage attempts to copy, but the remix files would be small files that would play the music from the original disk in the programmed way. Or they could be a stand-alone music file. If these remixes were to become popular, most of the money would go to the original artist, with a small share for the DJ remixer.

Just trying to be helpful, RIAA. Stop trying to stop the circulation and popularization of music. That is the opposite of your original function! Get creative, why don't you?

Some interesting things are going on here:
http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/index.php
http://ccmixter.org/
http://creativecommons.org/audio/
http://creativecommons.org/

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unprecedented, Unconstitutional, and Uncovered

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election documents the destruction of democracy in the United States, with a focus on the electoral corruption in Florida.

Also available for viewing at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5278.htm
The official web site is www.unprecedented.org/.

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties shows how the Patriot Act has led to the arrest and indefinite detainment of American citizens and non-citizens without trial, illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.


It is also available at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13176.htm

Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War (also titled Uncovered: The War on Iraq) tells the story of the Iraq war through a series of interviews.


You can also find it at: www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6423.htm
The official web site for the film is: www.truthuncovered.com/
Producer/director Robert Greenwald (blog/wiki/imdb) has generously made the raw footage of interviews with former government officials such as John Dean, Madeleine Albright, and Admiral Stansfield Turner available for download and editing at www.archive.org/details/uncovered_interviews.

Greenwald has also produced Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress (2006), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004), and The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron (2003).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Deutchland über iTunes (Ich bin ein Berliner.)



Many people seem to be having problems today as they install an iTunes update and find that their iTunes Music store is turning Japanese, French, German, or a random nationality. Mein store was Deutsch, not American or Japanese, which I would have understood. My hypothesis is that the presence of the Sieg Howdy! album by Jello Biafra with the Melvins, –or perhaps a genealogical analysis– linked me to the German site. You can fix this problem by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, and selecting your country from a pull-down menu. Fixxen sie diese schitt bei downgeschkollen nach ze gebottom auf der iTunes page und zelektink ze korrekt nazionalitie aus von ze choices dar offerten. After a year of university German I still only speak the dialekt of German known as "Hollywood Nazi". Here is a MT Deutsch version: Sie können dieses Problem befestigen, indem Sie unten an der Unterseite der Seite scrolling, und Ihr Land von einem pull-down Menü auswählen. As far as being lucky goes in being misassigned a store, there are few countries in the world with pop müsick as bad as the Germans, in my opinion, although they did have Einstürzende Neubauten and probably a lot of other wunderbar bands like that which I don't know about, so I speak from ignorance.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fetching the album art



I use Fetchart to add art to music which is archived on one hard drive attached to an old slot-loading-dvd iMac (Y2K model?). The first time I ran it, instead of running it from the pull-down script within iTunes, I just started Fetchart. It promptly started fetching art for each of the four thousand or so tracks in iTunes. It was a Thursday. A week later on Friday, when I left it, it was almost finished. I got back to it the next Wednesday and it was done, having taking something between 9 and 13 days to finish. I thought it might have been better if the programmer didn't have it do that as the default. It does make it easy for the people who would otherwise just look at it, wondering how to get started.

Fetchart saves a copy of all the album art it scrapes off of Amazon's XML in a folder located in user/Library/Application Support/Fetchart. Select that folder to be used as a source for your screen saver and you can see all your album art go by as a screen saver. It simulates a deranged robot in the corner who won't stop flipping through your albums.

I know the newest iTunes will fetch the album art, but I prefer the things that Fetchart does; I don't know if iTunes does them. ITunes also collects your personal information to enable that function.

I dropped some of those onto Text Edit, saved the rtfd and reopened it in Pages, resized each to 6 cm to make them equal, exported as (2) pdf, and then resaved that in Preview as jpeg to make a picture of album art for some tracks that I was listening to recently. There probably is an easier way, but that's the state of my ability.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Multi-touch sensor drafting table

Jeff Han at NYU has exactly the right ideas about display and interface. The video of his presentation is well worth watching.
Via WilliamGibson.

What's wrong with Blogger?

Having some problems with Blogger. Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, and Camino are all failing to publish from any computer, so I think the problem is in Blogger. Posts are uploaded, but not able to publish due to, for example:

There were errors. 001 java.net.ConnectException: Connection refusedblog/58/26/6/blues-tea-cha/archives/2006_10_01_blues-tea-cha_archive.html
The Java is choking on something. It's not always the archive or the same post that it chokes on. Maybe the problem is in creating the index? Wakaranai.

Update: I ended up using an ancient application from 2001 called "Internet Explorer" to publish my post last night. My theory is that maybe Blogger tweaked their interface to work with the new IE7 and broke it for a bunch of Mac browsers. I am on Mozilla now, and the problem seems to be fixed.

Pinky and The Brain

I made this (a year or so ago) after Kyle sent me the Deutsch version of the Pinky and the Brain theme song. I know that Karl Rove is usually the one referred to as "Bush's Brain," but still.

The Space Station Wagon

How soon we forget, with space travel now a humdrum everyday occurence, those exciting early days of the Space Station Wagon.


Principia Prophylactica


Some weak-minded people may find this offensive. I assembled this collage to honor memorialize the works of PJP2, who like Reagan, was hailed as a saint when he died, all misdeeds wiped clean. I was (and stll am) offended by the policy of commanding sub-Saharan Africans and other potential AIDS victims not to use condoms. It is even more offensive when preached by those who set themselves up as moral authorities, yet always seem to get it wrong. The Vatican also seems to have an inaccurate view of human nature, which is something else they advertise themselves as being experts on. Ratzinger's more recent policy of "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child, Move the Pedophile Priest around and Shut Up the Victims" is even more offensive, but that is a rant for another day. As the leader of one of the world's oldest and most succesful cults, he has a grave responsibility.
Subtitles for the semiotically challenged and offendees:
Although undoubtedly a seminal figure, it would have been better if what PJP2 was spewing had been contained and not widely disseminated, especially for those who were killed by heeding his order to not use condoms.