Saturday, January 27, 2007

War and Politics

Stop the Cannon Fodder by Charley Reese:
"There are two concepts all of us have to struggle with. One is our individuality. The other is the mass.

Individual soldiers who survive combat often come home to realize that all of the horrific and heroic actions they took don't mean anything. Vietnam, for example, is ruled by a communist government. Nobody but a historian even remembers what World War I was all about, much less the 10 million young men who died fighting it. World War II and Korea are likewise fading from public memory.

It's poignant to realize that each human being, unique in the entire universe, has at best only a short life. If left in peace, he can experience childhood, youth, middle age and finally old age. But all too often, governments come along, lying to beat the band, and persuade youth to become part of the mass and fight in a war.

...Iraq is an artificial country created at the end of World War I by British colonialism. It has always existed because a powerful central government, wielding its authority in the most savage manner, has forced it to hold together. That is the only history Iraq has. Can any honest American say that 10 years from now, Iraq will be a peaceful and prosperous country with many monuments to the Americans who liberated it? No, if Iraq exists, it will exist the way it always has – with a central government wielding its power in a savage and bloody manner.

...When the enemy is in American surf, when his foot is on our soil, then we will all fight and gladly die in defense of our country. But it is time to stop supplying cannon fodder to an imperial government pursuing God-knows-what secret schemes in distant parts of the world."

Comics are Everywhere.

Boing Boing: Vegas cops launch "Sin City" recruitment campaign:
"The Las Vegas police have redesigned their recruiting ads so that they look like a scene from Frank Miller's Sin City"

Another victory for the war on drugs.

It'll make you feel good, you know, 'cause it's all moral and righteous.

Weblog Entry - 01/27/2007: "Another victim":
"My step-mother has been battling stomach/colon cancer for about 2 years. She did the chemo thing and we thought she'd beaten it last August as tests came back clean. She eventually winds up back in the hospital and this time they tell her that there's nothing they can do except make her comfortable until she dies. The cancer is just too aggressive and chemo won't do a thing to stop it.

...I wish I could suggest medical marijuana to my step-mom to help both with pain cessation and to suppress the nausea, but she's been so brain-washed by the state, that she even told the doctor that she didn't want morphine because she was afraid she'd get addicted to it. He eventually convinced her to not worry about it, but how bad is the propaganda when a woman that has no chance of living past a couple months is afraid of becoming addicted?

Never thought I'd say it, but my step-mom is a victim of the War on Drugs."

The BAT-BLOG and youthful nostalgia

Recently came across the BAT-BLOG and one of the things they feature are old toys from back in the day... at least for me. Coming across those toys from my youth was quite a trip down memory lane...

The key component was the MEGO dolls [before the days of "action figures", natch]... the core of my pre-teen comic book toys... I had, if I remember correctly, Batman, Robin and maybe the Riddler and the Joker. My memory's terrible, but that seems right...

And I may not have had this Batcave exactly, but it was definitely a version of it. I remember the plastic laminated cardboard in all its fold-out glory. A Christmas present, I think.

Though the more I look at it, I'm certain that was the actual one I had. I remember the battery powered BatSignal that served as my own personal flashlight for a while.

This, on the other hand, I distinctly remember owning. Albeit briefly. I think it was also a Christmas present, but here's the rub... I think I only had it a few months before I left it out in the driveway, and dad accidentally backed over it, crushing it in all its glorious plastic construction. That was a sad day indeed, Bat-fans.

I had the Corgi Batmobile [which would fire little missiles, which I promptly lost] and the Batboat, but don't think I ever had the Batcopter.

And this very cool "blow the bridge up" set I never had, but I remember the ads and coveted owning it very much.

Remember your first time?

Okay, it's the NY Comic Con, you foul minded degenerate.

Turning cops into the military. Yeah, that'll turn out well.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Military Giveaways Continue
In my research into the rise and overuse of SWAT teams, I found that the single biggest motivating factor behind the surge has been a Pentagon program in place since about 1990 that offers up surplus military equipment to local police departments free of charge. Literally millions of pieces of military equipment have been transferred this way, and are now being used in domestic policing. Having a bunch of military equipment lying around becomes an excellent motivator to form a paramilitary SWAT team, even if the community the police department serves doesn't really need one.

Actually, they're mostly used in drug raids. The other problem is that this equipment was designed for warfare -- for the killing of foreign enemies. It's now being used against U.S. citizens. It's also a further blurring of the important line we draw between the military and domestic policing...

Give police military equipment, train them in military tactics, and tell them they're fighting a "war," and it isn't at all difficult to see how some officers would adopt the "win at all costs" mentality of a soldier, instead of the community servant mentality we expect of police officers. All of which gets us results like this - Botched Paramilitary Police Raids.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Subverting the stupidity.

Plus a cool comic book riff. Brilliant.

Man dressed as The Joker gets ID card | The Register:
"A Dutchman dressed as the unpredictable master criminal The Joker from Batman managed to get himself a national ID card, despite supposedly stringent new rules which outlaw grins, funny faces, and head coverings from passport pics.

To avoid confusing facial recognition scanners, travellers in Europe have been ordered not to look too happy in their passport photographs. Eyes must also be open and clearly visible, and there must be no sunglasses, tinted glasses, or hair across the eyes. In the Netherlands, these rules were introduced last August."

Hat tip - Newsarama Blog

The irony is just too profound.

[Beat Army]

11AM Too Bad We're Really More about Following Orders

Professor to group of peers grading cadet exams: Wow, now this kid's going to grow up to be a serial killer.

US Military Academy, West Point
Highland Falls, New York

via Overheard in the Office, Jan 25, 2007

Commentary on the current state of hip-hop.

Bad hip-hop leastways...

Warning - obscene language, etc, etc... no clicking for the faint hearted or easily offended.

"Ya'll Should All Get Lynched" - NYOIL

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Must start meditating again...

Independent Online Edition > This Britain:
"...studies have shown that the mind can rise above it all to increase almost everyone's happiness. Mr Ricard, who is the French interpreter for Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, took part in trials to show that brain training in the form of meditation can cause an overwhelming change in levels of happiness.

MRI scans showed that he and other long-term meditators - who had completed more than 10,000 hours each - experienced a huge level of 'positive emotions' in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with happiness. The right-hand side, which handles negative thoughts, is suppressed.

Further studies have shown that even novices who have done only a little meditation have increased levels of happiness. But Mr Ricard's abilities were head and shoulders above the others involved in the trials.

'The mind is malleable,' Mr Ricard told The Independent on Sunday yesterday. 'Our life can be greatly transformed by even a minimal change in how we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world. Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time.'"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Good one, Bob.

When you leave a comment on a blog on Blogger, you generally have to enter a confirmation code - random numbers and letters arranged in a box.

When I went to leave a comment on the thread on Robert Anton Wilson's blog noting his passing, imagine my surprise at my confirmation code - vrp23.


For those late to the R.A. Wilson game, via Wikipedia:
Robert Anton Wilson's book, Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati, lists 23 as a cosmic number with strong connections to arcane magic and synchronicity. Numerous people have claimed to see '23's everywhere (the 23 curse) prior to enormous success and fruitfulness.

In many other of Wilson's works (especially The Illuminatus! Trilogy) 23 is given special importance. Many Discordians use this number for any number of purposes.

To leave a comment on Warren Ellis' site about the same topic, the code was 3293.

And of course the man died on 1/11/2007.

Which is plainly 1+1+1+2+0+0+7 = 12, and of course, 1+2 = 3, invoking the magical, mystical 23.


"The Universe Wants to Play." - Hakim Bey

God Bless You, Grant Morrison.

Son of Batman Versus The Anti-Christ.


Wizard Entertainment:
"The heart of that despair is Damian, Batman’s son with Talia (of Ra’s al Ghul fame), who survived Morrison’s first arc leaving Batman with much to ponder. Damian will end up playing a prominent part in the new year.

“I was going to kill the kid [in Batman #658], but I just couldn’t do it,” Morrison admits. “He ends up playing a big role because I really like the character.

“Issue #666 [in the summer],” he laughs, “is Damian grown up as Batman of the future fighting the Anti-Christ.”

From the Batman of the future, Morrison will segue into the Batmen of the past, a.k.a. the Batmen of All Nations, a.k.a. the Club of Heroes, an international team of Batman-inspired heroes who debuted in Detective Comics back in the 1950s.

“To me, it’s just what would have happened if these guys had been around and the stories of them had been getting told all through the ’80s, so they’ve been through deconstruction and reconstruction,” the writer says. “It was kind of neat looking at what could go wrong with Batman. The Italian guy who was a mature type film hero has become this big, fat guy who loves eating and trades on his past glories as The Legionary. The Knight and The Squire are still active but it’s a grownup Squire and The Knight has his own Squire. The Gaucho has become a serious Argentinean superhero who is well respected—he’s the real deal. Wingman, who Batman trained in the past is now really pissed off, and doesn’t want to admit that Batman ever trained him because he wants to make his own way."

I would never ever leave the bed if I had something like this.

Boing Boing: Work from bed with the Ergopod:
"The Ergopod 500 is a clever system for supporting a PC, mouse, keyboard and work-areas, intended for use by heavy computer users, particularly those with special physical needs. One of its many adjustable modes is a 'work supine' and 'work in bed' version that gives you everything you need in easy reach from the comfort of your own bed"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

CEA to RIAA - "you make yourself look evil."

That's the Consumer Electronics Association to the Recording Industry Association of America.

And the lawsuits against the little kids don't help either.

Or thinking that technology is somehow going to conform to your outdated business model... but I digress...

Boing Boing: CEA to RIAA: you make yourself look evil:
"Shapiro countered: ”I don’t make you look evil - your lawsuits against old people around the country make you look evil. You’re very good at paraphrasing things I never said.”"

The lengthier explanation, via Wikipedia -
"There is much criticism of the RIAA's policy and method of suing individuals for copyright infringement, notably with Internet-based pressure groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Boycott RIAA and FreeCulture... There are some suggestions that the RIAA begins legal proceedings without any knowledge of whether they have engaged in copyright infringement or not. Brad Templeton of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has called these types of lawsuits spamigation and implied they are done merely to intimidate people.

The RIAA has been criticised in the media after they subpoenaed Gertrude Walton, an 83-year-old grandmother who had died in December of 2004. Mrs. Walton stood accused of swapping rock, pop and rap songs. The RIAA in 2003 attempted to sue Sarah Seabury Ward, a 66 year-old sculptor residing in Boston, Massachusetts. They alleged that she shared more than 2,000 songs illegally. The RIAA dropped the suit when it was discovered that she was a computer novice. The case was dismissed, but without prejudice.

In a Brooklyn case, Elektra v. Schwartz, against RaeJ Schwartz, a Queens woman with Multiple Sclerosis, the RIAA's Lawyers wrote to the Judge that they were in possession of a letter in which "...America Online, Inc., has confirmed that Defendant was the owner of the internet access account through which hundreds of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings were downloaded and distributed to the public without Plaintiffs’ consent.” After the defense received a copy of the letter, it turned out that the letter merely identified Ms. Schwartz as the owner of an internet access account, and said nothing at all about "downloading" or distributing".

The RIAA has also been criticised for bringing lawsuits against children, such as 12 year old Brianna LaHara in 2003. The RIAA also attempted to sue Candy Chan of Michigan, for the alleged actions of her daughter, 13 year old Brittany Chan. Under the threat of a possible defendant's motion for summary judgment and attorneys fees, the RIAA withdrew the case Priority Records v. Chan. When the court ruled in favor of the mother, dismissing the case, the RIAA proceeded to sue her child...

The RIAA's recent targeting of students has generated controversy as well...

One wife is more than enough, thanks.

Shoot, this is as clever as when the Catholics sold indulgences.

[Indulgence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

The Dilbert Blog: Religious Loophole:
"I just saw in the news that Shiite Muslims in Iraq are engaging in a practice called mutaa, or “temporary marriage,” for the purpose of sex. A Shiite man can have more than one wife, so whether he is married or single, if he wants to buy some sex, he arranges a secret and temporary marriage. It could last for a few hours or a few years. Some Shiites believe it’s all sanctioned by Islamic law. Among its many benefits, it is seen as a humane way to care for widows. I think it’s obvious that God would support this concept...

According to the Washington Post story, a temporary wife only costs $4 per month plus living expenses. I hesitate to mention this because I know that some of my frugal male readers are already considering converting to Islam and moving to Iraq: “On one hand, there’s an 80% chance of being killed within a week. On the other hand, those are VERY reasonable prices..."

Hi Marvin!

12PM I Can't Compete with That!

Boss: No, trust me. The last thing you want to do is bring your spouse on a company Las Vegas trip. You'll be divorced by the time you get home.
Salesman: Oh, really?
Boss: You know, because of all the drugs... and hookers.
Salesman: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.

9633 South 48th Street
Phoenix, Arizona

via Overheard in the Office, Jan 22, 2007

Andy Griffith hates America and emboldens the terrorists.

"Salient comments from Sheriff Andy Taylor regarding one of the bulwarks of a free society: lawyer-client confidentiality, now under attack via provisions in the (sic) Patriot Act."

How sad is it that I remember this episode? God, I'm old.
Well, at least I watched it when it was on TBS reruns.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Headline of the Day - "Samurai saves Police in UK"

Lee Van Cleef unavailable for comment.

[Didn't get the joke? Yes, I am a child of the '80s, thank you.]

Mysterious samurai saves Police in UK:
"A samurai sword wielding vigilante has come to the rescue of two Police officers when they were attacked by an armed gang in South Shields, England.

A group of men had forced their way into a house and were ransacking the place when passing plain-clothes officers were alerted by a woman inside screaming.

The criminals outnumbered them and were armed with a hammer, knives and chains and attacked the Police officers.

As one of them stabbed at a Policeman with his knife, a mysterious do-gooder appeared from nowhere and attacked him with a samurai sword.

One of the burglars began running away but was stopped by the stranger who struck him on the arm with the sword."

Free Me - Goldfinger

See, the distinction between a religion and a cult is brutally clear... In Doubt We Trust:
"There are two clear-cut and empirical lines between a 'cult' and a 'religion': [a] membership (voters) and [b] bank account, [b] being a function of [a]. If a group has enough members to influence elections, it will also have a large bank account, and these two factors will guarantee that the politicians, the cops and the corporate media will treat it with respect, as a 'religion.' With few members and little money, the same group could be called a 'cult' and treated accordingly, even to the extent of toasting, roasting and charbroiling, as in Waco.

This line remains obvious and visible to all observers. The only problems arise when people try to draw a less 'materialistic,' more metaphysical distinction between one gang of True Believers and another. Materialistic questions can be answered, e.g., 'Does that matchbox have any matches left in it?' Metaphysical questions about 'mind control' or any other immeasurable 'entity' or 'essence' cannot be answered, and the best that can be said is that arguing about them has provided a certain amount of intellectual entertainment, or combat, for a few thousand years. At least for those who enjoy that kind of pastime. Sort of like chess, you know."

More rational law enforcement.

Boing Boing: Man tasered for wearing baseball cap at city council meeting:
"Twenty-two-year-old Charles Littleton of Saginaw, Mich. was tasered for refusing to leave a city council meeting because he defied a rule banning men from wearing hats. "

"Matthew McConaughey Explains That He Forgot His Friend's Dr. Pepper"

Via the urbanely humorous McSweeney's.

Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Short Imagined Monologues:
"Rich. My friend. Mi amigo. I must, say at this moment. That I—have forgotten your soda.

This is not a story of hardship. This is a story of loss; it is a story of remorse. You may ask yourself, was the weight of the responsibility of picking up Wendy's in time for Heroes a burden on my shoulders? Or was the responsibility of picking up Wendy's a weight for us all? I did not know if it would be a weight. I believe this was not a weight. Everyone had their heads and hearts in the right place. I went through the drive-through purely... All right.

...In the beginning, I began to tell this story. You, El Rio, were a little wary of the story I was about to tell. I heard some words. I heard "dick," and I heard "you dumb-ass." In fact, I heard that twice. But we opened the bag together and we will share the Frescatta Italiana as well as my Big Bacon Classic.

...All right.

I discovered in myself, Richard, that the true path to enlightenment begins with the first look in the mirror. Yeah. That path being that I cannot return to the Wendy's on Gilmer and recoup the loss of your Dr. Pepper in time for the first commerical break. Neither in mind nor in body. This will give you a resonance that says, "My thirst is unquenched. And it is good."

...All right, all right."

You gotta appreciate folks who can keep their jobs interesting...

12PM Signs Your Cabin Pressure May Be a Bit Unbalanced

Flight attendant: ... We don't expect a change in cabin pressure, but if it does occur, a designer oxygen mask will be released in front of you. Secure the mask on yourself first, then, if you are traveling with children, put a mask on the child with the most potential, then put a mask on the other one...
Mother passenger: [Gasps, horrified.]
Flight attendant: ... This is a non-smoking flight, but if you do decide to smoke, we will have you reseated on the wing of the plane where you can watch our feature presentation of Bye Bye Birdie or Gone with the Wind...

Southwest Airlines flight from Kansas City, Missouri, to Tampa, Florida

Overheard by: Jessica
via Overheard in the Office, Jan 19, 2007

This week's PostSecret...

Is all sorts of illuminating. Favorites for this week... more at the link.

(PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.)

Oh North Carolina, sometimes you're so easy to not miss...

And I really liked their hush puppies too.

Rolling Stone : Pork's Dirty Secret: The nation's top hog producer is also one of America's worst polluters:
"...Smithfield's pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs -- anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.

...From Smithfield's point of view, the problem with this lifestyle is immunological. Taken together, the immobility, poisonous air and terror of confinement badly damage the pigs' immune systems. They become susceptible to infection, and in such dense quarters microbes or parasites or fungi, once established in one pig, will rush spritelike through the whole population. Accordingly, factory pigs are infused with a huge range of antibiotics and vaccines, and are doused with insecticides. Without these compounds -- oxytetracycline, draxxin, ceftiofur, tiamulin -- diseases would likely kill them. Thus factory-farm pigs remain in a state of dying until they're slaughtered. When a pig nearly ready to be slaughtered grows ill, workers sometimes shoot it up with as many drugs as necessary to get it to the slaughterhouse under its own power. As long as the pig remains ambulatory, it can be legally killed and sold as meat.

The drugs Smithfield administers to its pigs, of course, exit its hog houses in pig shit. Industrial pig waste also contains a host of other toxic substances: ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals. In addition, the waste nurses more than 100 microbial pathogens that can cause illness in humans, including salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptocolli and girardia. Each gram of hog shit can contain as much as 100 million fecal coliform bacteria.

Smithfield's holding ponds -- the company calls them lagoons -- cover as much as 120,000 square feet. The area around a single slaughterhouse can contain hundreds of lagoons, some of which run thirty feet deep. The liquid in them is not brown. The interactions between the bacteria and blood and afterbirths and stillborn piglets and urine and excrement and chemicals and drugs turn the lagoons pink.

Even light rains can cause lagoons to overflow; major floods have transformed entire counties into pig-shit bayous. To alleviate swelling lagoons, workers sometimes pump the shit out of them and spray the waste on surrounding fields, which results in what the industry daintily refers to as "overapplication." This can turn hundreds of acres -- thousands of football fields -- into shallow mud puddles of pig shit. Tree branches drip with pig shit.

Some pig-farm lagoons have polyethylene liners, which can be punctured by rocks in the ground, allowing shit to seep beneath the liners and spread and ferment. Gases from the fermentation can inflate the liner like a hot-air balloon and rise in an expanding, accelerating bubble, forcing thousands of tons of feces out of the lagoon in all directions.

...As Smithfield expanded, it consolidated its operations, clustering millions of fattening hogs around its slaughterhouses. Under Luter, the company was turning into a great pollution machine: Smithfield was suddenly producing unheard-of amounts of pig shit laced with drugs and chemicals. According to the EPA, Smithfield's largest farm-slaughterhouse operation -- in Tar Heel, North Carolina -- dumps more toxic waste into the nation's water each year than all but three other industrial facilities in America.

...One day this fall, a retired Marine Corps colonel and environmental activist named Rick Dove, the former riverkeeper of North Carolina's Neuse River, arranged to have me flown over Smithfield's operation in North Carolina. Dove, a focused guy of sixty-seven years, is unable to talk about corporate hog farming without becoming angry. After he got out of the Marine Corps in 1987, he became a commercial fisherman, which he had wanted to do since he was a kid. He was successful, and his son went into business with him. Then industrial hog farming arrived and killed the fish, and both Dove and his son got seriously ill.

...Dove and other activists provide the only effective oversight of corporate hog farming in the area. The industry has long made generous campaign contributions to politicians responsible for regulating hog farms. In 1995, while Smithfield was trying to persuade the state of Virginia to reduce a large fine for the company's pollution, Joseph Luter gave $100,000 to then-governor George Allen's political-action committee. In 1998, corporate hog farms in North Carolina spent $1 million to help defeat state legislators who wanted to clean up open-pit lagoons. The state has consistently failed to employ enough inspectors to ensure that hog farms are complying with environmental standards.

...Looking down from the plane, we watch as several of Smithfield's farmers spray their hog shit straight up into the air as a fine mist: It looks like a public fountain. Lofted and atomized, the shit is blown clear of the company's property. People who breathe the shit-infused air suffer from bronchitis, asthma, heart palpitations, headaches, diarrhea, nosebleeds and brain damage. In 1995, a woman downwind from a corporate hog farm in Olivia, Minnesota, called a poison-control center and described her symptoms. "Ma'am," the poison-control officer told her, "the only symptoms of hydrogen-sulfide poisoning you're not experiencing are seizures, convulsions and death. Leave the area immediately." When you fly over eastern North Carolina, you realize that virtually everyone in this part of the state lives close to a lagoon.

...Epidemiological studies show that those who live near hog lagoons suffer from abnormally high levels of depression, tension, anger, fatigue and confusion.

...Smithfield is not just a virtuosic polluter; it is also a theatrical one. Its lagoons are historically prone to failure. In North Carolina alone they have spilled, in a span of four years, 2 million gallons of shit into the Cape Fear River, 1.5 million gallons into its Persimmon Branch, one million gallons into the Trent River and 200,000 gallons into Turkey Creek. In Virginia, Smithfield was fined $12.6 million in 1997 for 6,900 violations of the Clean Water Act -- the third-largest civil penalty ever levied under the act by the EPA. It amounted to .035 percent of Smithfield's annual sales.

...The biggest spill in the history of corporate hog farming happened in 1995. The dike of a 120,000-square-foot lagoon owned by a Smithfield competitor ruptured, releasing 25.8 million gallons of effluvium into the headwaters of the New River in North Carolina. It was the biggest environmental spill in United States history, more than twice as big as the Exxon Valdez oil spill six years earlier. The sludge was so toxic it burned your skin if you touched it, and so dense it took almost two months to make its way sixteen miles downstream to the ocean. From the headwaters to the sea, every creature living in the river was killed. Fish died by the millions.

...North Carolina, where pigs now outnumber people, has passed a moratorium on new hog operations and ordered Smithfield to fund research into alternative waste-disposal technologies...

These initiatives, of course, come comically late. Industrial hog operations control at least seventy-five percent of the market. Smithfield's market dominance is hardly at risk: Twenty-six percent of the pork processed in this country is Smithfield pork.

Safer and safer with every passing second.

Boing Boing: TSA refuses to screen air cargo:
"U.S. Congress to the TSA: 'Please screen the cargo that goes into planes. We'll be safer.' TSA response: 'No.'

We're safer if they DON'T screen the cargo, I guess, and focus their energies on taking away water, yogurt, and semi-gelatinous pie. "

Blood. Bath. » Blog Archive » Hillary Clinton Commits Political Suicide:
"We are about to see a live political evisceration like no other — Hillary Clinton, in full knowledge that there are bastards out there who have been waiting for her for years, is going to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination:"

Caution, thinking ahead.

The Dilbert Blog: Flip-flopper Season:
"For those of you who do not follow politics, flip-flopping is what happens when an intelligent person revises his opinion because the situation changes or new information becomes available. Flip-flopping goes by many other names including: rational behavior, thinking, and not being a frickin’ idiot. No one wants that sort of loser to have the nuclear codes.

The typical voter says to himself, “If a candidate goes off and starts using information and reason to make decisions, there’s no chance he’s going to agree with me.” No one wants that..."

Wrapping the world in bubble wrap "for the children" pisses me off.

Life's tough. Get a helmet.

The continued Disneyfication [and not the Disney of "let's kill Bambi's mom" that I grew up with, where there was still a modicum of harshness, but the Disney of making everything as generic and innocuous as possible in the culture] is leading to the continued soft-headed weakness of the youth.

Like the man says, "children need the darkness" or they'll end up being woefully equipped for the world.

The Austin Chronicle Screens: Once Upon a Time in Spain: Guillermo del Toro on fairy tales, fascists, and everybody's new favorite movie:
"First of all, fairy tales, at their inception, when they were an oral tradition, were not meant for kids. They were oral folk tales, and they were mostly told to adults. And it is really quite later, when they are collected by the Grimms and so forth, that they started being read to children at all. You can read the texts by [Bruno] Bettelheim or Vladimir Propp or any of the people that truly enjoy and have cataloged fairy tales and their function in our society, and most of them agree – as do I – that fairy tales are sort of spiritual parables that allow the kid to understand the world. And children need the darkness. ...but all the fairy tales of yore, when you emasculate them, you are really creating a false sense of the world for the child. When everything has to be sanitized to the point of making Disney look tough, that's doing the children a disservice, you know? Because really, by today's standards, Disney is a tough guy! Everything has been emasculated to the Teletubby level, and I really think that fairy tales help to prepare the kid for the harshness of the outside world."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

"Many police officers are asking the question: if prohibition didn't work for alcohol, why are we in denial about it working for other things? LEAP is a major initiative now, and gaining steam. Check out for more.

Filmed and narrated by Mike Gray
Produced by Common Sense for Drug Policy"

See if you can catch the absolute lack of concern for American civil rights in the following...

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Gonzo Con Law:
"Attorney General of the United States Albert Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended."

I'd call such parsing "Clintonian," except that to do so would undermine the seriousness of it all. When Clinton fiddled with the meaning of "is," he was hedging about a blowjob. Gonzalez is getting cutesy with 300 years of human rights jurisprudence, and the very foundation of modern criminal law.
In other words... Government of the United States to the American people - "Fuck you."

"...reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." - 10th Amendment, Bill of Rights, US Constitution.

You know, it'd be nice if they at least pretended the United States was still a constitutional democracy.

LAist: DEA Raids Eleven Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Today, City of West Hollywood Not Amused:
"Five Santa Monica Blvd. medical marijuana dispensaries were raided by the feds today...

'The state of California voted to allow marijuana for medical purposes,' says West Hollywood City Councilmember Abbe Land. 'The City of West Hollywood along with other cities across the state have established regulations to govern the dispensing of medical marijuana, so that people whose lives depend on this drug can be assured of safe access to their medicine. The DEA should spend their time going after dispensaries that are not operating in accordance with local ordinances, as well as unscrupulous doctors who write illegitimate prescriptions,' she continued.

'Today's actions again demonstrate the skewed priorities of the Bush administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,' says West Hollywood City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang. 'Providing safe access to medical marijuana for those living with serious and often painful illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and other terminal diseases is something this City supports. We have worked closely with our community to insure these establishments operate safely and comply with the spirit of Proposition 215 adopted by the voters of California"

Pay. Attention. The Universe contains mostly maybes.

Robert Anton Wilson Interview:
"...the paradoxes in quantum mechanics don’t just exist in quantum mechanics. They exist in every area of knowledge...

The world is moving into a new era in which we’re beginning to realize every instrument creates a different reality-tunnel. Every brain is a different instrument. The instruments we make, to do science, turn out to have the same limitations as the instrument we started with — which is our own brain. Every instrument reveals a partial reality: a yardstick doesn’t tell you the temperature; a Geiger counter doesn’t tell you the weather. Every instrument has its limitations. Every brain has its limitations.

...The models that don't change are religious models because they’re defined so that they can’t be tested. Some people find great comfort in this, but I don’t find any comfort at all in a model that cannot be tested. our language, er, there’s a natural tendency built into the Indo-European family of languages to divide things into “either-ors"... It’s a terrible shock to us discover something which the Orient discovered 2,500 years ago, or more, which modern science has just discovered in this century; namely, that most of the universe consists of maybes. There are very few things that we can hammer down into definite yesses or nos.

...You’ll find most religions that are based on the yes-no thing have a distinct tendency to go to war whenever they get the opportunity. Jonathan Swift said, “We’ve got enough religion to hate each other but not enough to love each other.” The history of Christianity has been the history of continuous warfare over yesses and nos by people who can’t conceive that the universe contains mostly maybes."

More forgiving than I could be...

A voice from Gitmo's darkness - Los Angeles Times
JUMAH AL-DOSSARI is a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain. This article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified by the Department of Defense.

...At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life. They have deprived me of sleep, forced me to listen to extremely loud music and shined intense lights in my face. They have placed me in cold rooms for hours without food, drink or the ability to go to the bathroom or wash for prayers. They have wrapped me in the Israeli flag and told me there is a holy war between the Cross and the Star of David on one hand and the Crescent on the other. They have beaten me unconscious.

What I write here is not what my imagination fancies or my insanity dictates. These are verifiable facts witnessed by other detainees, representatives of the Red Cross, interrogators and translators.

...I know that the soldiers who did bad things to me represent themselves, not the United States. And I have to say that not all American soldiers stationed in Cuba tortured us or mistreated us. There were soldiers who treated us very humanely. Some even cried when they witnessed our dire conditions. Once, in Camp Delta, a soldier apologized to me and offered me hot chocolate and cookies. When I thanked him, he said, "I do not need you to thank me." I include this because I do not want readers to think that I fault all Americans.

But, why, after five years, is there no conclusion to the situation at Guantanamo? For how long will fathers, mothers, wives, siblings and children cry for their imprisoned loved ones? For how long will my daughter have to ask about my return? The answers can only be found with the fair-minded people of America.

"Suffering is an experience of the mind."

...from the new book, A Thousand Names for Joy, by Byron Katie:
All suffering is mental. It has nothing to do with the body or with a person’s circumstances. You can be in great pain without any suffering at all. How do you know you’re supposed to be in pain? Because that’s what’s happening. To live without a stressful story, to be a lover of what is, even in pain —that’s heaven. To be in pain and believe that you shouldn’t be in pain— that’s hell. Pain is actually a friend. It’s nothing I want to get rid of, if I can’t. It’s a sweet visitor; it can stay as long as it wants to. (And that doesn’t mean I won’t take a Tylenol.)

"I never thought I would find someone I could love so much," he said, "and someone I could spar with too."

Mixed martial arts... bringing people together to love and punch and choke each other out.

"Love packs a punch" via the LA Times:
AT a gym tucked away on a grungy block above Sunset Boulevard, 18 heavy punching bags swing slowly from a rack of steel girders, like carcasses on butcher hooks.

A barefoot man with a soft face begins to stalk one of the bags, breaking the silence with two jabs and a thunderous kick. Soon, he is joined by a lanky woman with black, spiky hair and her mother's name, Rhea, tattooed in Gothic script on her left wrist.

They turn on each other, striking with fists, feet, knees and elbows. Her breath quickens. "Suck it up," he tells her. She kicks him, hard, on his neck. "That's better," he says. Then she leans in and gives him a tender kiss.

Here, in the bosom of one of America's most violent sports, love is blossoming.

...Theirs is a new, Spartan existence, draped on the fringes of an emerging sport and far removed from the glitz of the sport's upper echelon. It is embodied by Toby and Roxy: an inseparable couple, college-educated, articulate and ripped with muscles.

...And they train together, whaling on each other to prepare for their next fight, hoping to escape the minor leagues of their sport — "waiting," Toby said one recent afternoon, "for someone to find us."

..."I never thought I would find someone I could love so much," he said, "and someone I could spar with too."

As for Roxy, "I needed to find a man who is tougher than me," she said. "And I did."

Their training sessions can be harsh and aggressive. One recent afternoon, Toby was overseeing sparring sessions when he admonished a fighter who was pulling his punches against Roxy.

"Don't give her any breaks!" he yelled. "Don't be a sissy!"

Some days, it's a bit much for Roxy, who was so meek in high school that her basketball coach ordered her to foul more often.

"I forget that he is a natural fighter," she said, still nurturing a large, yellowing bruise on her shoulder, the remnant of one of Toby's kicks. "I wouldn't call myself a natural fighter. But this is in his blood. I don't particularly like sparring with him. His whole persona changes. It's like fighting with someone that I don't really want to know."

He seems unfazed.

"She loves it," he said with a grin. "You know she does..."