Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today's Internets - "Always remember: that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Until it does eventually kill you." - Warren Ellis

"(262): Did I really drink that whole bottle of Jack Daniels last night? 
(505): Heroically."

"(202): She thinks I'm afraid I'm gonna get caught in one of my lies and some of the girls I'm fucking will find out about each other. But it would be a relief to offload a few from the old crop and work in a few newbies into the rotation. The organization could use some new blood."

Good note - Warren Ellis' Notebook
"useful social note: combo-punching real people in the face still doesn’t make them turn into a shower of gold coins"

You're doing it completely wrong, North Carolina.
"Count the overwrought responses to this incident. Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C., called police out due to what appears to be a water balloon fight (overwrought response number one). Police arrested seven of the students (overwrought response number two) and threw a teen apparently not involved at all to the ground, necessitating medical treatment (overwrought response number three)."

"Lying to people makes them your master, by lying I might as well have declared I was subordinate to them as I was afraid of showing the truth..."

"The nightclubs in the city's Amemura area, known as "little America" on account of its trendy vintage shops that stock large amounts of US clothing, started being targeted by the authorities recently. Under laws known as Fueiho, which govern "adult entertainment" (and date back to the 1940s), any establishment which allows its customers to dance must obtain a licence. For years the authorities turned a blind eye, but three years ago they began raiding establishments which did not have the licences. These licences come with a few requirements: the club must close by either midnight or 1am (in other words, just as things are getting going) and have 66 sq m of unobstructed floor space in the main room. Anyone who has been to Japan knows that the vast majority of bars and clubs simply don't have that amount of room for a dancefloor because space is at such a premium, especially in the country's big cities...

The same moral panic that led to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Actin the UK started to envelope Japan in 2010. But instead of legislation that took clubbing from the unregulated, illegal rave scene and helped plonk it into the mainstream, the Japanese authorities seem intent on using the outmoded Fueiho regulations to kill off bars and clubs where dance music is played altogether. Yet the moral panic that has overcome the authorities seems to only stretch so far. They have failed to see the hypocrisy in effectively banning the act of dancing in Osaka's nightclubs – partly because of issues of taste – while still allowing Amemura's lap dancing clubs to operate a few hundred metres down the road..."

You may enjoy this post-ironically, as intended, or in the original manner.

Dug the music, too.

Well played.
"J. Peter Zegarra, a California doctor, has been publicaly reprimanded by the state's medical board after he told a patient to practice oral sex on her husband. The patient had expressed concerns her gag reflex would interfere with an upper-gastrointestinal endoscopy, according to CBS affiliate KOVR.  The patient, an unidentified woman, complained that the Sacramento-based colo-rectal surgeon told her to practice oral sex on her husband "twice a week" prior to the procedure as a way of allaying the reflex."

"Our culture has accepted and perpetuated powerful and pervasive negative assumptions about aging. Many of which are false...

“What you believe is the most powerful predictor of what you will achieve.” What if you are an older gym rat, one who’s never been to the Masters Nationals or wasn’t quite lucky enough to have a friend who helped guide you to bodybuilding success in your later years? You might believe, just as the first judge I talked with did, that meaningful muscle-building progress is not possible because of your age. If that is what you believe, then that is how you will train—tentatively and with a kind of fatalism, certain that your best days are behind you...

Even if you are a young bodybuilder, you may still have fallen prey to a negative assumption. Let’s say that somewhere along the line in the pursuit of your sport you accepted the label of “hardgainer.” From then on your training likely suffered as much from the belief in that label as from any actual genetic disadvantage. As far as muscle hypertrophy and aging are concerned, I have yet to see a scientific study that has placed a definitive age limit on the human body’s ability to generate muscle. In addition, I, and many others, have seen considerable muscle growth well into our 60s. So don’t fall victim to poisoned perceptions. Train with passion and perseverance, and find out for yourself what your own potential might be—at any age."

"THREE SCANDALS — shifting explanations about the attacks in Benghazi, the targeting of conservative political groups by the Internal Revenue Service, and the administration’s secret inquiry into the Associated Press — dominated politics last week. All self-inflicted wounds, they threaten to upend Barack Obama’s second-term agenda as the inevitable investigations, denials, revelations, and resignations divert attention from everything else. But the real story here is less about misdeeds than it is about power. Consider how these three scandals mesh with other stories of the day: Escalating drone strikes, bullying investigations of targets such as cyber-genius Aaron Swartz, the shelter-in-place commands in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings, the rush to a never-ending surveillance state, and the like. The impression one gets is of government at all levels consolidating power unto itself and of a government that is ever more willing to use that power. It makes for scary stuff, stuff that has the potential to reset our politics...

We’ve comforted ourselves in all of this with the belief that, while government might potentially have all of this power, it would rarely use it or that, when it did, its use would be well-intentioned and circumscribed. Plus we had rules and systems to stop any abuse: The Bill of Rights, the due process clause, oversight by the media and courts, the two-party system, and strong procedural requirements. What the Benghazi-IRS-AP scandals suggest — and what victims of drone strikes and people such as Aaron Swartz might testify — is that these protections are inadequate. Rules can be bent or ignored, people are venal, and in the pursuit of what government officials think are good ends, any means become acceptable. Power, as the saying goes, corrupts, and absolute power — and surely, we’re getting close to that point, aren’t we? — corrupts absolutely."

Cant Stop the Signal.
"When high tech gunsmith group Defense Distributed test-fired the world’s first fully 3D-printed firearm earlier this month, some critics dismissed the demonstration as expensive and impractical, arguing it could only be done with a high-end industrial 3D printer and that the plastic weapon wouldn’t last more than a single shot. Now a couple of hobbyists have proven them wrong on both counts. One evening late last week, a Wisconsin engineer who calls himself “Joe” test-fired a new version of that handgun printed on a $1,725 Lulzbot A0-101 consumer-grade 3D printer, far cheaper than the one used by Defense Distributed. Joe, who asked that I not reveal his full name, loaded the weapon with .380 caliber rounds and fired it nine times, using a string to pull its trigger for safety. The weapon survived all nine shots over the course of an evening..."

The War on [Some] Drugs [Users] is made up of nothing but propaganda and lies.  
You know that, right?  
Science trumps politics.
"Researchers asked drug-harm experts to rank these illegal and legal drugs on various measures of harm both to the user and to others in society. These measures include damage to health, drug dependency, economic costs and crime. The researchers claim that the rankings are stable because they are based on so many different measures and would require significant discoveries about these drugs to affect the rankings. Note that alcohol (despite being legal more often than the other drugs) is by far the most harmful; not only is it the most damaging to societies, it is also the fourth most dangerous for the user. Most of the drugs were rated significantly less harmful than alcohol, with most of the harm befalling the user. The authors explain that one of the limitation of this study is that drug harms are functions of their availability and legal status in the UK, and so other cultures' control systems could yield different rankings."
"Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis", by David Nutt, Leslie King and Lawrence Phillips, on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. The Lancet."

Oh look, more lies.
"The wonderful Retro Report (which revisits popular news stories of the years gone by and follows up on their claims) has posted a great, 10-minute documentary on "crack babies," concluding that the promised crack baby epidemic of kids with gross deformities who couldn't attend regular school never materialized. The documentary says that the entire phenomenon was extrapolated from a single, preliminary study, and that most of the "crack baby" effects were actually the result of low birth weight."

Timeline Photos:
"It will hurt. You will think about giving up several times before seeing results. You will be tempted by cravings. Some of your friends will judge you. Some people will call you obsessed. You will eventually wake up in the morning and feel lazy to train. You will sometimes lack motivation. There will be pain. A lot of pain. Your mind will try to trick you. But you gotta remember, everything you need to overcome all of the above is inside you. It's a lonely journey and only you are able to fight for yourself. There are no opponents but your mind. There will be a time when you will have to choose between being a warrior or a loser. It's your choice. #staystrong"

Of course.

Of course.
"There have been at least 45 (and up to 92) drone strikes in Yemen since 2002 according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, all but one occurring since President Obama took office in 2009."

Of course.  In the immortal words of George Carlin, "They don't give a fuck about you."
"In 2010, The New York Times uncovered systemic abuse within units meant to help wounded Army soldiers transition through months-and-years-long treatment and rehabilitation. Today, The Colorado Springs Gazette has a profile about one of the soldiers who stood up for Warrior Transition Units back then. The abuses exposed by the Times weren't fixed and Jerrald Jensen ended up becoming a victim himself. After questioning the mistreatment in the system, he was nearly given a less-than-honorable discharge, which would have cost him long-term Veteran's benefits — a pattern that the Gazette has found happening over and over among the most-vulnerable wounded Army men and women who need the most care in order to rehabilitate from their service injuries. The treatment described here is disgusting, all the more so when you compare it to Jensen's service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exposing this kind of crap is why journalism exists."

"It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined - in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week's controversy over the DOJ's pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general...

New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ's attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News' chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests - something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington - and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for "espionage"."

"Perhaps the most chilling aspect of the U.S. Department of Justice "investigation" of Fox News chief correspondent James Rosen isn't the intrusive tracking of his movements and contacts — although that's disturbing enough — but the basis for the criminal charges he may ultimately face. At its heart, the allegation that Rosen broke the law "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” is based on nothing more than meeting with and asking questions of government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who told him the non-shocking information that North Korea could very well respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. That's right. Meeting an official and asking questions, which is what journalists do, is interpreted as criminal conspiracy. Taken with the already brewing scandal over the snooping of Associated Press phone records, we're looking at a full-fledged assault on the free press..."

"The idea that the national security apparatus must be in a constant state of emergency has become routine in the United States. Even for rather routine things like what we used to call "trade embargo." So routine, that even though this particular national emergency was put in place before the Syrian Civil War, it is being used nevertheless to deal with said war. You'll also notice the national emergency is being determined as a necessity because the Syrian Civil War is "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." Unusual. Extraordinary. One has to wonder what the government would call an actual land-based invasion of say, Delaware for instance...

The paranoid state of constant emergency has become the norm in the America's new national security state. Always hyper-ready...always in a state of emergency...no matter where and what happens no matter how many thousands of miles from our shores. If Syria meddles in Lebanese politics, that is a national security emergency for the United States. A threat to all we hold dear, including civilization itself. If Iran farts in our general direction, that too could be considered a threat to the American Way of Life."

An excellent documentary.
"The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis's narration. The series was first broadcast in the United Kingdom in late 2004 and has subsequently been broadcast in multiple countries and shown in several film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies..."

"Cooperation: Humanity’s Norm Humans cooperate. This has been true as far back as we can see and it remains true. Left to their own devices, most people tend to get along. One of the great proofs of this – and one that I’ve never seen presented – is the fact of ancient trade. Like smuggling, long-distance trade is also mostly absent from the history books. Some references do exist, of course, but grossly out of proportion to trade’s importance. Humans always trade – at all periods of history and with every reachable group. People trade without ceasing, reaching out to distant peoples who look different, speak differently, live differently and worship different deities. And they have done this since long before the dawn of history...

Cooperative trading began thousands of years before there were states, treaties, or any other such institutions to “protect property rights.” For as long as humans were humans, they gathered up valuable goods, figured out how to transport them, and took off to find far-off strangers to trade with. On the other end, strangers were welcomed. They were not routinely robbed (though that did sometimes occur). The people on the far end took their goods, asked about other goods that could be obtained, and made deals to exchange their surplus goods in return. Soon enough, young men were making the trek in reverse. Trade flourished and life on both ends improved..."

As soon as power is attained, principles are discarded. 
"The Whiskey Rebellion, or Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. Farmers who used their leftover grain and corn in the form of whiskey as a medium of exchange were forced to pay a new tax. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton's program to increase central government power, in particular to fund his policy of assuming the war debt of those states which had failed to pay. The farmers who resisted, many war veterans, contended that they were fighting for the principles of the American Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the Federal government maintained the taxes were the legal expression of the taxation powers of Congress."

Are you a liberal imperialist? - by Stephen M. Walt | Stephen M. Walt
"Are you a liberal imperialist? Liberal imperialists are like kinder, gentler neoconservatives: Like neocons, they believe it's America's responsibility to right political and humanitarian wrongs around the world, and they're comfortable with the idea of the United States deciding who will run countries such as Libya, Syria, or Afghanistan. Unlike neocons, liberal imperialists embrace and support international institutions (like the United Nations), and they are driven more by concern for human rights than they are by blind nationalism or protecting the U.S.-Israel special relationship. Still, like the neocons, liberal imperialists are eager proponents for using American hard power, even in situations where it might easily do more harm than good.

...while I often sympathize with their intentions, I'm tempted to send all liberal imperialists a sampler cross-stitched with: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." At a minimum, that warning might help them be just a bit more skeptical about the wisdom of their advice. But I'm lousy at needlepoint, so instead today I offer my "10 Warning Signs that You Are a Liberal Imperialist."

#1: You frequently find yourself advocating that the United States send troops, drones, weapons, Special Forces, or combat air patrols to some country that you have never visited, whose language(s) you don't speak, and that you never paid much attention to until bad things started happening there.

#2: You tend to argue that the United States is morally obligated to "do something" rather than just stay out of nasty internecine quarrels in faraway lands. In the global classroom that is our digitized current world, you believe that being a bystander -- even thousands of miles away -- is as bad as being the bully. So you hardly ever find yourself saying that "we should sit this one out."

#3: You think globally and speak, um, globally. You are quick to condemn human rights violations by other governments, but American abuses (e.g., torture, rendition, targeted assassinations, Guantánamo, etc.) and those of America's allies get a pass. You worry privately (and correctly) that aiming your critique homeward might get in the way of a future job.

#4: You are a strong proponent of international law, except when it gets in the way of Doing the Right Thing. Then you emphasize its limitations and explain why the United States doesn't need to be bound by it in this case.

#5: You belong to the respectful chorus of those who publicly praise the service of anyone in the U.S. military, but you would probably discourage your own progeny from pursuing a military career.

#6. Even if you don't know very much about military history, logistics, or modern military operations, you are still convinced that military power can achieve complex political objectives at relatively low cost.

#7: To your credit, you have powerful sympathies for anyone opposing a tyrant. Unfortunately, you tend not to ask whether rebels, exiles, and other anti-regime forces are trying to enlist your support by telling you what they think you want to hear. (Two words: Ahmed Chalabi.)

#8. You are convinced that the desire for freedom is hard-wired into human DNA and that Western-style liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government. Accordingly, you believe that democracy can triumph anywhere -- even in deeply divided societies that have never been democratic before -- if outsiders provide enough help.

#9. You respect the arguments of those who are skeptical about intervening, but you secretly believe that they don't really care about saving human lives.

#10. You believe that if the United States does not try to stop a humanitarian outrage, its credibility as an ally will collapse and its moral authority as a defender of human rights will be tarnished, even if there are no vital strategic interests at stake.

If you are exhibiting some or all of these warning signs, you have two choices. Option #1: You can stick to your guns (literally) and proudly own up to your interventionist proclivities. Option #2: You can admit that you've been swept along by the interventionist tide and seek help."

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