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Jun. 17th, 2013 @ 08:24 am Tap It
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls. Which saves them the inconvenience of getting a rubber-stamp from a secret court.

At the same time, the U.S. is now supplying weapons to Islamist groups allied with Al Qeada in Syria. And has made little or no effort to get the terrorists responsible for the attack in Benghazi.

So in order to find a needle in a haystack, our government is not only adding more hay, but simultaneously sharpening or ignoring known needles.
Jun. 10th, 2013 @ 08:00 pm Yes, we scan

Politically, this NSA thing is an unusual situation. There is Bill Maher and Greg Gutfeld on one side, and Michael Moore and Rand Paul on the other. So I'm only going to quote Andrew Sullivan's response to David Simon's essay, We are shocked, shocked…, which like both Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto is very well-written and persuasive.

And when we stumble onto a government program that is clearly legal under the Patriot Act, when not a single case of abuse can be specifically found, when it only looks for patterns and algorithms, and would have to go to a court to do any more, are you not more relieved than creeped out?

No, because there is a clear potential for abuse. Dismissing it as "meta-data" or "just a bunch of numbers" is silly, because if the numbers had no meaning then there would be no purpose in collecting them.

And arguing that it's legal is premised on the absurd notion that the law can't be wrong.

There is a lot of authoritarian overreach in American society, both from the drug war and the war on terror.

But those planes really did hit those buildings. And that bomb did indeed blow up at the finish line of the Boston marathon. And we really are in a continuing, low-intensity, high-risk conflict with a diffuse, committed and ideologically-motivated enemy. And for a moment, just imagine how much bloviating would be wafting across our political spectrum if, in the wake of an incident of domestic terrorism, an American president and his administration had failed to take full advantage of the existing telephonic data to do what is possible to find those needles in the haystacks.

Just for a moment. Imagine.

Yes, please, imagine my absolute inability to give a rat's ass.

The chance of being killed by a terrorist in the U.S. is around 1/20,000,000. While the chance of being struck by lightning in a lifetime is 1/10,000. Yet, no politician wants to build a Faraday cage over the entire country. Except maybe Newt Gingrich, after we put a Carl's Jr. on the moon.

The chance of a surveillance request being rejected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? 3/10,000.

The number of terrorist attacks PRISM has prevented? Zero.

Last I checked, heart disease was the number one cause of death. So if saving lives is the issue, we would be better off getting rid of the NSA and DHS, and use that money to put an AED on every street corner and teach CPR in High School. Progressives might favor rounding obese people into camps. Which, from a standpoint of epidemiology, would still be an improvement over what the government is doing now. And no less Constitutional.

There is too much authoritarian overreach from both the drug war and the war on terror. And it needs to stop. For all I know, expressing this opinion will put me on the government's short list: Grown Ups Who Can Do Second Grade Math.
May. 14th, 2013 @ 02:53 pm Let's not talk about sex
Virtual Affect: grumpygrumpy
It's been a tough week for the First Amendment. The IRS admitted to targeting groups based on their political affiliation. Then after The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request concerning the warrantless snooping on citizens' text messages, the most transparent administration ever released this ridiculously redacted document consisting of a 15-page black box. We also learned the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, we hear more and more about how the White House story -- falsely blaming a YouTube video for the attack in Benghazi -- was completely bogus, while the person who made the video still sits in jail.

Yet, the worst is this fucking letter from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education to the University of Montana.

The letter states "sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature including verbal conduct". And that if the listener takes offense to this sexually related speech for any reason -- no matter how irrationally or unreasonably -- then speaker may be punished. So any discussion about sex is essentially prohibited by Title IX, as long as someone doesn't like it. Even the most civil academic discourse about safe sex, birth control, rape, same sex marriage, etc., is "harassment" if anyone who hears it claims they were offended. This includes:

Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person.

Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.

Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.

Yes, asking out the wrong person is now a punishable offense by order of the federal government.

Further, the letter explicitly states that it is intended as "a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country." Since the mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding and all speech regarding sex. By mandating such broad campus speech codes, it makes virtually every college student in the U.S. guilty of sexual harassment.

While I doubt this will receive much press with everything else happening, at least some people are paying attention. According to Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) which has been leading the fight against unconstitutional speech codes on America's college campuses since its founding in 1999, "The Departments of Education and Justice are out of control. Banning everyday speech on campus? Eliminating fundamental due process protections? Ignoring its own previous statements? They even misquoted the Supreme Court. This cannot be allowed to continue. FIRE will use all of its resources to oppose this menace to our constitutional freedoms and to free speech and academic freedom on campus."
Feb. 2nd, 2013 @ 05:44 pm "We Demand A Plan That Can't Work"
Virtual Affect: blankblank
In response to Sandy Hook, Mayors Against Illegal Guns decided to have celebrities tell us to Demand A Plan To End Gun Violence. I'll pass because I have no idea why I should listen to a bunch of people just because they are famous. Their realm of expertise is show business, not criminology. Nor do I have any idea why anyone would listen to Mayors Against Illegal Guns about preventing crime, when they have been indicted at a higher rate than legal gun owners. Although perhaps that's slightly better than listening to actual children. But for the rest of us serfs who can't afford their own armed security, lets see if the Newtown school shooting could have been prevented by their list of demands:
1. Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America
2. Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
3. Make gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for “straw purchasers”

Firstly, the shooter never purchased a gun. He stole the guns he used from his mother. And she passed a criminal background check which was already required when she bought them.

Secondly, banning assault weapons wouldn't have prevented the shooting because it didn't. Connecticut already has an assault weapons ban. And the shooter did not use an assault weapon. While the capacity of magazines he used has not been released, it's irrelevant because taking a couple of seconds to swap magazines would have had no effect on shooting helpless children. Then again, no weapon ban could effect the ability to kill helpless children. He could have used a shovel, or turned that shovel into an AK-47.

Thirdly, gun trafficking already is a federal crime, and "straw purchasers" face a felony conviction of ten years and a fine up to $250,000, per gun. Which any sensible person would consider a "real penalty". Regardless, his mother purchased them legally for herself. Then after the shooting, the store where she bought them was raided by the BATFE for some bullshit reason.

So none of these demands could have possibly made any difference -- even if one accepts the absurd premise that someone intent on mass murder is interested in obeying the law. People with good intentions -- who only want to be able to defend themselves -- often don't obey gun laws. In New York City, there are around 60,000 legal guns, and an estimated 2,000,000 illegal guns, largely because the laws are so strict it is easier to get an illegal gun.

But for sake of argument, lets take a few aspirin and pretend that criminals obey laws. After Virginia Tech, activists focused on closing the "gun show loophole" when the shooter did not purchase a gun at a gun show. Nor did he use an assault weapon or "high-capacity" magazines. Yet, it was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. history. Neither did the Columbine shooters. Although I would be surprised if any of these celebrities could define an assault weapon. Here, Mayor Bloomberg pretends he doesn't know the difference between semi-automatic and fully-automatic:

I find it impossible to believe that Bloomberg, who is the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, could honestly be that ignorant on his main issue. Then again, he said that tanks fire nuclear bombs. In this silly editorial, the author links the definition of an assault rifle on Wikipedia, then proceeds to completely ignore that definition. Regardless, if you aren't interested in the facts, then you aren't interested in solving the problem. Some people have gone so far as to defend their ignorance as some sort of perverted virtue.

Hours after the Newton shooting, before anyone knew exactly what happened, legions of gleeful anti-gun trolls started posting snarky comments on the right-leaning and pro-gun blogs. They expressed much more sarcasm than sorrow, and seemed happy that these children were killed in a way they could exploit. If it were a bomb or fire they could have cared less. It's not just that these people don't like guns, they also don't like people who like guns -- sticking it to the people they hate in their perceived culture war.
It’s also mildly amusing/disturbing how closely all the nerdy, medicated, spree-killing geeks resemble the progressive pundits who are caterwauling for unilateral disarmament of the citizenry. They look nothing like the fat and hairy—yet unmistakably male—Georgia hilljacks who milled around the gun show in Gainesville. And although I’m supposed to fear those “angry white males,” I felt far less hostility emanating from the convention floor than I do whenever I’m around leftist girly-boys.

From the other end, Mike Huckabee said, "We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem." Which was quickly mocked by the left as right-wing lunacy. But if you forgive the Christian language, he had a point. Unlike most gun violence, school shootings aren't over drug money. And it isn't just a mental health issue. Crazy doesn't cut it. No one could murder innocent children unless he was spiritually lacking. In the past, people might have said "the devil made him do it." Now it's easier to point to an inanimate object rather than try to fathom why anyone would ever do such a thing.

So you have two groups of people who want to blame guns. Those who are being deliberately dishonest, and those who are not thinking past justifying their emotions. Ironically, the parents of of the children who died aren't asking for more gun laws.

When laws are enacted based on falsehoods or feelings, you get laws that make some people feel safer without making them, in fact, safer. The Reagan Administration banned "plastic handguns" because it made some people feel safer, even though such guns didn't actually exist. It was like a ban on unicorns.

President Obama recently signed a list of 23 executive orders that probably won't do any good, or make things worse. His administration is also asking for another assault weapons ban and a limit on "high-capacity" magazines. While that is unlikely to pass Congress, it won't do any good either. Just ask what Joe Biden has to say. It's common sense, that as long as guns are guns -- machines that fire metal objects at sufficient velocity -- then they are going to be effective in killing people. When someone is robbed or murdered, how many rounds the criminal had left or what kind of gun he used doesn't make any difference to the survivors.

The NRA proposed putting armed guards in schools. Keeping in mind that we're already dealing in stupid to consider school shootings a significant problem in the first place, and that statistics don't apply to events that are so rare, let's do some rough calculations. There are about 132,000 elementary and secondary schools and 6,700 colleges in the U.S., so at $50,000 a year, that's around $7,000,000,000 a year. From this page, only 66 people were shot dead by other people at schools from 2000 -- 2010. Most of them involved only one victim, and 32 of those deaths were at one incident, Virginia Tech. Even if we make the irrational assumption that having an armed guard could have prevented all of those deaths, that's around $106,000,000 per life saved. While I would hate to put a dollar amount on human life, that money could probably save more lives spent elsewhere. Even if one were only concerned with gun murders, that would be better spent hiring more police. For example, there were 506 homicides in Chicago last year, but so far only 30% of those have been solved.

Although the other extreme, trying to ban the presence of guns by merely declaring schools Gun Free Zones is absurd. According to one source, the average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police is 14.29, and the average number of people killed in a mass shooting when stopped by a civilian is 2.33. Besides Tucson, every mass shooting since the law was passed has occurred in a gun free zone. The Aurora shooter investigated several movie theaters until he found one that didn't allow guns.

There also has been discussion of Hollywood movies and video games. Perhaps they have some small influence on gun violence. However, no one makes a bigger show of violence than government, with its gratuitous drone strikes, foreign military intervention, militarization of police, and ridiculous overuse of SWAT teams. If you insist on having a War on Drugs, then people are going to get killed. An estimated 260 million people have been killed by governments in the 20th Century. When a five-year-old girl is interrogated for three hours for a "terroristic threat" after she told another girl that she was going to shoot her with a Hello Kitty bubble gun, or when first-graders are suspended for pointing fingers like guns, or when a six-year-old girl is expelled for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, schools aren't in any position to complain about "bullying" or anyone else's use of force. It's no surprise that Chicago has a gang problem, when its politicians act like gangsters.

So what plan would work? Besides leading by example and treating people with dignity and compassion? Nothing. There is no solution because there isn't a problem to solve. School shootings are extremely rare, and there is no evidence they are increasing.
Jan. 16th, 2013 @ 01:33 pm Citizens Against Senseless Violence
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

Dec. 24th, 2012 @ 11:30 am Stay classy, Piers Morgan
Virtual Affect: disappointeddisappointed
Nov. 1st, 2012 @ 09:55 am Stay classy, MoveOn.org
Virtual Affect: blankblank
Language may not be "safe for work".

Content may not be "safe for democracy".
Sep. 9th, 2012 @ 06:56 pm my face hurts, but my palm is ok
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

Aug. 18th, 2012 @ 10:11 am disarming arguments
Virtual Affect: calmcalm

Lately, there has been much discussion about guns. There would probably be more if it weren't for the upcoming election. And like the Presidential race, most of the arguments on either side are pretty dumb. As some of you might know, I'm against bad arguments even for positions I support. Which seems to annoy nearly everyone. So here I go again on my own.

1. Most people who are against guns, are against guns because they don't like guns. Most people who are for guns, are for guns because they like guns. Whether you like something or not is based on emotion, not reason.

2. The people who want more gun control don't know about guns. The people who know about guns are against more gun control. In order to create some sort of gun law that has any chance of working as advertised, it would need to be written by someone who is both into guns and wants more laws against them. That person does not exist.

3. Anyone who argues that assault rifles should be banned, or that assault rifles should remain legal, is either lying or can't google. Assault rifles have been essentially banned since 1986. Either way, it doesn't matter. A select-fire rifle is only useful for suppression fire (which is a strictly military application), and no one has ever committed a crime with a legally-owned assault rifle in the history of the United States (the National Firearms Act of 1934 heavily regulated all automatic weapons before assault rifles were even invented).

4. Pro-gun advocates promote a fear-based narrative that sees other people as potential criminals which is why they should be allowed to have guns. Anti-gun advocates promote a fear-based narrative that sees other people as potential criminals which is why other people shouldn't be allowed to have guns. While the overwhelming majority of people, regardless whether they own a gun or not, will never commit a violent crime.

5. Anyone claiming there is significant correlation between the severity of gun laws and the amount of crime in different geographical areas of the U.S. is blowing gunsmoke up your ass. Sure, one could include suicides and legal interventions to make places with fewer gun laws seem more violent. Or one could ignore demographics, population density, etc. to make places with more gun laws seem more violent. Or vice versa. Regardless, the numbers are crap because they ignore a multitude of possible other causes. And trying to compare different countries is even more tenuous.

6. The effect of increased gun control on criminals is limited to an extremely tiny minority: previously law-abiding citizens who then commit crimes with guns. The effect of decreased gun control on non-criminals extends to a vast majority: law-abiding citizens who wouldn't commit crimes with guns anyway. Either way, within the same geographical area, adding more gun laws has had no effect on crime, and reducing gun laws has not shown a significant decrease in crime.

7. If the purpose of guns is to kill people, then almost no one (besides the police and military) is using them for their intended purpose. In the U.S. about 80 million people own about 300 million guns, and that number has been increasing. And there about 10,000 gun murders every year, and that number has been decreasing. Which would be .01% of gun owners or .003% of guns, with those percentages declining every year. If the purpose of guns is to prevent crime, then most gun owners aren't doing that either, with estimates ranging from only 160,000 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year. Which averages more than the roughly estimated 338,000 violent crimes a year committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun, but both pale in comparison to guns' most popular use: shooting billions of paper targets.

8. Almost all gun murders -- around ninety-percent -- are committed by convicted felons who can't legally own guns. Most of those are criminals shooting other criminals who no one likes anyway, so law-abiding citizens would be quite unlikely to intervene even if they were armed and somehow present. So fewer legally owned guns or more legally owned guns would have little effect on the murder rate (although it could have an effect on other crime). Considering most of these murderers with illegal guns are drug dealers who could not settle their differences in court regardless of how they might be armed. And gangs will never require permits or run background checks. Any substantial reduction in murder would require changing drug laws not gun laws.

9. Rampage killings make headlines only because they are extremely rare. Arguing what if the killer couldn't get a gun, or could have been stopped if someone else had a gun, is fairly pointless. Either way, it's a hypothetical chance something might have curtailed something that almost never happens. So even if adding more gun laws could "do something" it's not worth the cost of enforcement or the risk of unintended consequences. It's not even worth the legislative effort. While the worst mass murders by single perpetrators used bombs, arson, or crashing aircraft. In the U.S. there were only 50 spree killings involving firearms in the last 25 years, resulting in 377 fatalities. That averages only about 15 deaths per year, or approximately half the gun murders in an average month in Chicago, which is just one city in the entire United States where guns are already quite illegal.

10. Whether you like guns or not, that's OK. All the statistics and generalizations in the world are irrelevant if it's your life. And your life is your responsibility.
May. 4th, 2012 @ 06:46 pm Adam Yauch 1964 - 2012
Virtual Affect: sadsad
Adam Yauch, MCA of he Beastie Boys, organizer of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, and co-founder of the the boutique film label Oscilloscope Laboratories, died today at the age of 47 following a long battle with throat cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Dechen, their daughter, Tenzin Losel, and his millions of fans throughout the world.

Jan. 2nd, 2012 @ 08:33 pm "Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies"
Virtual Affect: impressedimpressed

If you have any interest in American politics, this insightful essay from Glenn Greenwald is a must read:
The simple fact is that progressives are supporting a candidate for President who has done all of that — things liberalism has long held to be pernicious. I know it’s annoying and miserable to hear. Progressives like to think of themselves as the faction that stands for peace, opposes wars, believes in due process and civil liberties, distrusts the military-industrial complex, supports candidates who are devoted to individual rights, transparency and economic equality. All of these facts — like the history laid out by Stoller in that essay — negate that desired self-perception. These facts demonstrate that the leader progressives have empowered and will empower again has worked in direct opposition to those values and engaged in conduct that is nothing short of horrific. So there is an eagerness to avoid hearing about them, to pretend they don’t exist. And there’s a corresponding hostility toward those who point them out, who insist that they not be ignored.

The parallel reality — the undeniable fact — is that all of these listed heinous views and actions from Barack Obama have been vehemently opposed and condemned by Ron Paul: and among the major GOP candidates, only by Ron Paul. For that reason, Paul’s candidacy forces progressives to face the hideous positions and actions of their candidate, of the person they want to empower for another four years. If Paul were not in the race or were not receiving attention, none of these issues would receive any attention because all the other major GOP candidates either agree with Obama on these matters or hold even worse views.

Although I agree that Ron Paul "advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial." I seriously doubt those claims are sincere, since since I don't know of any liberals or progressives who have ever practiced any of them.

And I strongly disagree that BHO would support "stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities" than Ron Paul. Just like I doubt anyone detained at Guantanamo looks like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Still, whether you agree with its conclusions or not, it's extremely informative with a wealth of links to other articles.
Dec. 16th, 2011 @ 01:19 pm they attack us here because we attack them there
Virtual Affect: awakeawake

Many pundits are spinning that Ron Paul lost last night's debate because he wouldn't start a war with Iran for no reason.

While I still don't think Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination. Regardless, I would like to see the Neocons make this an issue. His position is a foreign policy that both classical conservatives and anti-war liberals should support. It's the policy the majority of our own troops support. Unfortunately, almost everyone on the left who protested the wars under GWB shut up after BHO got elected, even though their actions are indistinguishable.

Nor do Democrats seem the least bit concerned about the indefinite detention of American citizens authorized in the NDAA. So it seems that all of their ranting about habeas corpus when Bush was in office was only because Bush was in office.

By allowing these wars to bankrupt our country and erode our own freedoms the terrorists win.
Dec. 14th, 2011 @ 12:26 pm Writer's Block: B.Y.O.B. Holidays
What is your must-see holiday movie? One random answer will win a $50 Amazon gift card. [Details here]

Die Hard
Dec. 9th, 2011 @ 03:51 pm Writer's Block: Starstruck
Have you ever met anyone famous?

Not counting musicians?

As a small child I met Isaac Asimov, who was very nice. When I was in High School I was waiting behind Robert Guillaume at the National Air and Space Museum, but when I tried to talk to him he seemed very annoyed. I met Mark Walberg at a rave in Boston, but I didn't know who he was at the time. We were talking for awhile, and then when I was back with my peeps, they were like "You know him!?" Then back when I worked for this club promoter in NYC, Drew Barrymore was very friendly. Also, on separate occasions, I've also walked by and sort of waved at Carol Alt, Luis Guzmán, and Kathryn Erbe (who seemed oddly threatened by the intensity of my male gaze). Sorry, if I missed anyone, but you aren't reading this or know who I am anyway.
Nov. 8th, 2011 @ 12:32 pm good luck with that cookie
Virtual Affect: cynicalcynical

We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.

Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.

Sign it here:


Nov. 5th, 2011 @ 05:01 pm the more you know

no really
Oct. 31st, 2011 @ 08:13 pm links of the living dead

Two PhD's from the Zombie Research Society discuss the neuroscience of zombie brains.


Then there is this speculation on the pharmacology that might have been used in Haiti.

Finally, there are several different occurrences of "zombie ants". One is due to a fungus, Ophiocordyceps, and another a fluke, Dicrocoelium dendriticum, that must have evolved independently.
Oct. 30th, 2011 @ 11:54 am the media is the mess

Here is a Bad Lip Reading of Herman Cain:

And this is an actual campaign video:

But I'm not sure which one is more surreal.
Oct. 12th, 2011 @ 06:16 pm California Bans LED Gloves and Pacifiers?

Can you ban a style of music? California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma learned the hard way that doing so might not be so easy when she tried to ban electronic rave music.

"We found out later on that, Constitutionally, you can not ban a type of music," said Ma. "Plus, I, like my opponents said, I didn't really know what was going on."

Despite the inability to ban rave music outright, Ma was able to squelch aspects of rave culture like LED gloves and pacifiers by keeping the pressure on event organizers with Assembly Bill 74 (formerly the "Anti-Raves Act" ), which became law on Oct. 9, 2011 when CA Governor Jerry Brown signed it.

The Assemblywoman first became concerned with raves when a 15-year-old girl named Sasha Rodriguez died at the popular Los Angeles rave, The Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC).

I had thought the passage of time had "banned" raves, but I see the problem here. For Dead White Girl Laws to work, the dead girl has to be white.

Anyway, I would write more about this, but I want to go get some laudanum before the cotillion.
Oct. 11th, 2011 @ 08:24 pm no experience necessary
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed

This is a video taken at Occupy Atlanta, one of the many spin off protests modeled after Occupy Wall Street, where some pseudo-Marxist finger-wiggling "decided" not to let John Lewis speak.

He's not good enough for your protest? Seriously? Let's put aside that he's been a Democratic member of Congress for thirteen terms, and specifically spoke out in solidarity with OWS. John Lewis is a civil rights hero. During the 1960's, he was arrested over 40 times in non-violent protests. After the police fractured his skull while leading a march, he stopped to appear before television cameras to call on President Johnson to do something, before going to the hospital. Later, he was nearly beaten to death by an angry mob, after the KKK fire-bombed the bus he was riding, and broke a wooden crate over Lewis' head. After that, he he helped organize a another bus, which landed him 40 days in jail...

Sorry, South Park hippies, but he is a "better human being".

Just from watching this video, I've gained a newfound appreciation for drunken mobs and fascist dictators. I also think I could come up with a better hand sign.
Oct. 10th, 2011 @ 07:05 pm rabble, rabble!!
Virtual Affect: curiouscurious

As I'm sure you've heard, there is this ongoing Occupy Wall Street protest going on in Zuccotti Park in NYC. I haven't actually gone down there myself because I have a life. Granted it's not much of a life, but it keeps me busy.
The hodgepodge Lower Manhattan encampment known as Occupy Wall Street has no appointed leaders, no expiration date for its rabble-rousing stay and still-evolving goals and demands. Yet its two weeks of noisy occupation has lured a sturdily faithful and fervent constituency willing to express discontentment with what they feel is an inequitable financial system until, well, whenever.
They claim to represent the 99% that have less money than the top 1%, and "oppose the growing power of the ruling class". But they don't know what they want, or know how to get it. And no one else does either, yet Ezra Klein did such a nice job of aggregating links into some sort of primer, maybe he could get a job writing for the Occupy Wall Street Journal.

Overall, the mainstream media seems much more sympathetic to a movement that smells more anti-capitalist than anti-government. No one has accused them of being racist or compared them to Nazis. No one has even pointed out that almost all the OWS protesters are white. Still, many bloggers have made fun of them -- mostly for looking ridiculous -- which is very easy.

Now, as a general rule, I'm for anything where hippy chicks get naked. Everyone has the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. It's one of the founding principles of our democracy. The problem is that they aren't petitioning the government so much as they are expressing dismay at the current state of affairs, without a redress in sight.

If "This is what democracy looks like!", then it's not a workable model, as they want politics without policy:
An agenda—and an organization, and some kind of leadership that could speak and be spoken to—would violate these rules. Distilling things down to a simple set of demands would be hierarchical, and commit a crime of exclusion. Having an organization with some sort of leadership would force some to speak for others, the crime of representation.

Granted most liberals are not that painfully neoliberal. The Obama administration is wonky with all sorts of over-reaching policy -- which most liberals generally support. Both the Tea Party and OWS seem to be against many of the same things such as TARP and corporate welfare. One important difference is that the Tea Party folks were unified and organized. Which enabled them to demonstrate democracy in action. They influenced a major party and elected their candidates to office. So for all their progressive appeal, I don't see Occupy Wall Street getting the same results with the Democratic party.

How long will this demonstration last? Unfortunately for them, Wall Street isn't in San Diego. Even though it's 79°F now, it can get very cold in New York. And tents and open fires are illegal. So while people might continue to gather there for some time, I don't think they will be living there 24-7 much longer.

"Bringing the government in to run Wall Street is like saying, “Dad burned the dinner, let’s get the dog to cook." -- P.J. O’Rourke
Oct. 8th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm Bad Lip Reading
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

Oct. 7th, 2011 @ 12:02 pm France Bans Ketchup

In an effort to promote healthful eating, protect French culture, or demonstrate batshit socialism, the government has banned ketchup from cafeterias in schools, colleges, and government buildings.

With one exception, it may be served with French fries, but French fries may only be served once a week. And it's illegal for French schoolchildren to bring their own lunch.

Christophe Hebert, chairman of the National Assn. of Directors of Collective Restaurants, declared, "We absolutely have to stop children from being able to serve those sorts of sauces to themselves with every meal. " Or face the guillotine?

On a completely unrelated note, I found this great blog about frogs. I've known since the mid-nineties that frog populations have been declining, but did not know why up until now. Apparently, it is due to a fungus -- Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis -- which has been devastating amphibians globally.

Oct. 6th, 2011 @ 08:28 pm Writer's Block: Remembering Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs once said, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." He inspired a generation to Think Different. How has the legacy of Apple's co-founder influenced your life?

Well, my first computer was a Macintosh 512KE in 1986. I upgraded it to a Plus, then replaced it with a 660AV, and added a Quadra 650 in the studio (I needed the Nubus slots for Digidesign hardware). Later, I replaced that with a 8100/110. After using System 7 from 1994 to 2003, I moved to OS X on a 1GHz TiG4, and then the MBP I'm using to type this now.

Yes, I used the same operating system for nine years. Not only was it extremely stable, but surprisingly backwards compatible. In fact, a few of the programs that ran on my 512KE, still worked fine -- without any updates -- 17 years later. During that time, I wrote articles and made advertisements, started several internet forums, communicated with thousands of people, and even ran my own music business. OS X still uses a very similar interface. So the legacy of Apple's co-founder influenced my life the most by building consistent and reliable computer systems for over 25 years.
Oct. 3rd, 2011 @ 07:37 pm just no

Snow White as a warrior on horseback? Really? I'm no expert here, but allow me to explain.

Snow White was something about a princess who survived several assassination attempts, and seven midgets with a small mining concern.

Joan of Arc was a schizophrenic cross-dresser who fought for France in the Hundred Years War.

While Kristen Stewart, the fairest tomboy of them all, would be perfect for either role. They are not the same story.

I do not want James Bond with zombies, Westerns with space aliens, or Terminator, The Musical!

Write something original, and stop mixing up stuff at random like some monkey bartender. Mash-ups are for fourteen-year-olds posting on YouTube. You are grown-ups who make movies for a living. Enough already.
Oct. 1st, 2011 @ 05:30 pm Writer's Block: World Vegetarian Awareness Month
What's your favorite vegetarian meal?

Sep. 22nd, 2011 @ 07:11 pm Writer's Block: Desert island
List three books that have changed your life:

1. John Locke The Second Treatise of Civil Government
2. Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
3. Douglas Hofstadter Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

Which aren't necessarily the same three books I would pick if I were stranded on a desert island. I haven't looked at any of those in decades.
Sep. 16th, 2011 @ 11:59 am Writer's Block: Lucas for a day
If you could write the next Star Wars movie, what story would you tell? It could be anything: a sequel, prequel, or anything in-between. Describe your adventure in 300 words or less. Our favorite story will receive a Star Wars saga Blu-ray gift pack! [Contest Details]

Well, the real issue is that you can't -- unless you get permission from George Lucas -- because copyright laws have been expanded so much, they're now contrary to their original purpose:

Aug. 16th, 2011 @ 02:31 pm he has a point
Virtual Affect: cynicalcynical
Cut to prevent auto playCollapse )

Then again, there is never even a mention how this two-term governor is never mentioned.
Jul. 26th, 2011 @ 10:46 am echo chambers
Virtual Affect: cynicalcynical

I found it a bit refreshing to hear Nick Gillespie on Real Time with Bill Maher. Not that Nick is particularly funny, but he made points their regular Republican or Democrat guests aren't used to dismissing. So I'm thinking he probably won't be invited back.

I know that many people on the right only watch Fox News, read right-wing blogs, and listen to radio pundits with whom they already agree. Although they may censor themselves, they don't shy away from confrontation. If I drew political cartoons, I'd picture them in front of their computers with a Bible in one hand and a gun the other, daring people to try to prove them wrong. Of course, they know "God says so" isn't something that can be disproven.

I also know that many people on the left only watch MSNBC, read HuffPo, listen to NPR, etc. The difference is that they generally evade confrontation -- usually by snarking loudly to avoid discussing the actual issues. Unfortunately, the source of their irrationality isn't left in almost every hotel room in America for me to read. While I suspect it's something as supernatural as what the religious right believes, it's so occult I honestly don't know what it is. And maybe they don't either.

Worse, is this lame tendency to hide from disagreement entirely by only allowing participation from people who already agree with them. Some time ago, a painfully academic Liberal who kept going on about same sex marriage, banned me from his journal. I tried sending him a couple of friendly emails, but he refused to respond. While I was being perfectly civil, as far as I could tell his only argument was that if I didn't agree with him I was a homophobe. My point was -- which history has proven correct -- if you stop insisting on changing the law through the courts rather than the legislatures, you wouldn't alienate the secular right, South Park conservatives, Tea Party folks, etc. who would otherwise support you. This has been demonstrated, first in largely conservative Vermont, then in New York where a bunch of rich libertarians put up money for votes. Of course, he was "so sick of having to share the planet with those people," he'll never realize how his own bigotry hurt his own cause.

This desire to cloister themselves from controversy seems much more common on the political left. Perhaps it's because those on the right believe more in "free speech" or having a fair fight. Perhaps it's because those the left are so ensconced in the fuzzy blanket of identity politics they can rationalize that anyone who would disagree with them must be racist, homophobic, or misogynist -- which seems to be their response to absolutely everything. I don't know. Some sites, such as the insane Pandagon, go as far as to block IP's so that people who posted unwanted comments can't even read them. The irony is that it isn't the insulting and trollish comments that get deleted. Those often remain, as they make the people who post them look bad, and provide a side-show. It's polite and plausible comments that get deleted. Although it's possible that some right-wing websites might do the same thing, I've never heard anyone on the left ever complain about that.
Jul. 14th, 2011 @ 12:00 pm 3D Printer
Virtual Affect: impressedimpressed

Just to give credit, adman posted a link to this in xkcd_rss

Imho, the most amazing thing is that the moving parts actually work!
Jul. 3rd, 2011 @ 12:53 pm the non-invisible hand

Now that Seal Team Six took out Osama Bin Laden, and French intellectuals are no longer raping our African criminals, it's time for America to face its greatest threat, little girls selling lemonade:

So it's a good thing acting director for Montgomery’s Department of Permitting Services, Jennifer Hughes, had the strength and courage "to do what government is charged with doing, which is protecting communities and protecting the safety of people,” and fine them $500 Who knows what could have happened if one of these pint-sized hooligans added too much sugar, or god forbid, accidentally used a lime?
Jun. 29th, 2011 @ 09:36 am Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever
Virtual Affect: awakeawake
Jun. 23rd, 2011 @ 10:25 am bilingual and busted
Virtual Affect: amusedamused
I don't know if this is fake, but even it is, it's worth watching. Because there aren't enough cat videos on the internet.

Jun. 14th, 2011 @ 08:55 am Writer's Block: Coming soon: Hansel & Gretel the tactical role-playing game
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed
Which of your favorite childhood stories would you like to make into a game? What kind of game would it be?

One upon a time, there was a girl named Little Red Riding Hood. She went to go visit her grandma who lived in the woods. Because old women tend to live alone in deeply-forrested areas.

She was greatly amazed to see how her grandmother looked, and said to her, "Grandmother, what a big suit you have!"

"It was my idea."

"Grandmother, what a big clipboard you have!"

"To the cloud!"

"Wait, what? That doesn't even make sense. You're not my grandma! You're another Xbox survey disguised as a writing suggestion."

So Little Red Riding Hood drew her .357 magnum, and shot him in the nuts.

The End.

Jun. 12th, 2011 @ 05:31 pm Writer's Block: Does this job come with a crown?
Virtual Affect: goodgood
If you could rule any country, which country would you choose, and why?

I'm going to pick Australia because they read and write English, and I hate wearing a tie.
May. 26th, 2011 @ 01:08 pm A Renegade History of the United States
Virtual Affect: curiouscurious
An interesting perspective into the "top-down" view of history, and how much ethnic stereotypes have changed (eg. Irish were known for music and dancing, Jews were considered the greatest athletes).

May. 9th, 2011 @ 05:49 pm the internet filter bubble
Virtual Affect: cynicalcynical

Mar. 31st, 2011 @ 12:58 pm this needs to be a first-person shooter
Virtual Affect: geekygeeky

Mar. 30th, 2011 @ 08:23 pm Location: I'm not at the Bronx Zoo.
Virtual Affect: amusedamused


Feb. 16th, 2011 @ 06:05 pm Watson defeats puny humans
Virtual Affect: impressedimpressed

"Alex, I'll take Rise of The Machines, for $500"

"The answer is, 'These meatbags just got pwnd''.

"Um, uh, what is humanity?"


Feb. 11th, 2011 @ 07:02 pm blog like an Egyptian
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

Is Mubarak still president?

Dec. 17th, 2010 @ 12:13 pm Writer's Block: Immerse yourself in an online sport.
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed
If you could immerse yourself in an online sport and get a real workout, what activity would you want it to be?

It would involve chasing marketing dweebs with a chainsaw for trying to pass off their ham-handed XBox survey as a writing suggestion.
Dec. 15th, 2010 @ 01:22 pm stay classy, Fox News
Virtual Affect: sillysilly

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem Are Having an Anchor Baby

I'm no maritime attorney, but isn't it illegal to use an infant to moor a boat?

Although I probably shouldn't have used the word "moor" in a sentence about Spaniards, but it's not like these things have a delete key.
Dec. 12th, 2010 @ 12:14 pm Writer's Block: Best video of the year
Virtual Affect: surprisedsurprised
What's the best music video of 2010?

They still make music videos?
Nov. 5th, 2010 @ 06:51 pm Super Sexy CPR
Virtual Affect: amusedamused

Super Sexy CPR from Super Sexy CPR on Vimeo.

Nov. 2nd, 2010 @ 10:04 am Writer's Block: Vote early, vote often
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed
Do you vote for a candidate based on issues or do you do you follow the party line, and why?

I vote for whoever hasn't rang my phone. This goes double for robocalls.
Oct. 19th, 2010 @ 05:15 pm looney tunes
Virtual Affect: cynicalcynical

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland comes with this warning:

PG For Fantasy Action/Violence Involving Scary Images And Situations, And For A Smoking Caterpillar

Maybe it should come with a warning about pointless busybodies who overuse capital letters, but a smoking caterpillar? Seriously? Are parents actually concerned that will make their children smoke? Then get rid of the caterpillar entirely, otherwise your child might eat everything in sight and turn into butterfly. This is like how that purple whatever with a purse was going to turn their kids gay. Has there been a sudden uprising of paunchy homosexuals of with tacky handbags? I grew up watching Bugs Bunny almost every day. Yet, I've never dressed up like woman. Or lived in a hole in the ground. I don't have a speech impediment. I never even tried to kill a bird with explosives. What were my parent's thinking?? Oh yeah, that they're just cartoons.
Sep. 30th, 2010 @ 09:35 am Writer's Block: Wishful Banking Features
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed
Paying bills, depositing checks, finding an ATM … what are all the banking things you wish you could do on your cell phone or iPhone?

This isn't a writing suggestion. It's a marketing survey.

For shame, LiveJournal, for shame.
Sep. 23rd, 2010 @ 11:31 am Writer's Block: You and me and baby makes three
Virtual Affect: annoyedannoyed
Do you think having children is a fundamental human right? Should there should be any restrictions?

Well, I think parents should restrict themselves when it comes to other people's kids.

For example, Katy Perry's appearance on Sesame Street has reportedly been scrapped after parents complained the her dress showed too much cleavage for children's television.

I'm no physiologist, but the idea that breasts are a danger to children is utterly absurd considering their intended purpose.

Also, when I was kid, Sesame Street used real sets, not computer-generated crap.