Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's Internets - "The trouble is, you think you have time." - Jack Kornfield

With Government Abuses, The Problem is the Power, Not the Person - Hit & Run : "'s important to remember that the problem lies in the existence of the power that's being abused, not just in the individuals doing the abusing.

...The magic phrase "national security" is often invoked to justify these transgressions — often in transparently convenient ways (Attorney General Holder claimed the AP had put "lives at risk" with the story that sparked the scrutiny, even though John Brennan had said there was no such risk.) But intrusive surveillance is increasingly wielded in routine criminal investigations with no appeal to a supposedly higher purpose that trumps constitutional protections.

...It's a joy watching government officials dodge questions, insist on blissful ignorance of the world's evils and invoke their right against self-incrimination. Such great theater. But, at the end of the day, disposing of those officials without doing anything else just clears the way for a new crop of power-abusers and useful drones effectively identical to the last batch, though with a slightly different list of targets for mistreatment. We should get rid of the abusers sure, if only to remind the next batch that there can be consequences. But it's much more important to get rid of the agencies and powers that are inevitably abused, year after year, so that we don't have to act surprised, yet again, that we can't trust government officials to use power with restraint."

"An assistant to Egil Krogh, a member of Nixon’s administration imprisoned in the Watergate scandal, explained, “If we hyped the drug problem into a national crisis, we knew that Congress would give us anything we asked for.” (Epstein, p. 140)"

"Heavyweight Josh Barnett has been a man without a home since the fall of Strikeforce. He picked up his last win in the promotion's final event against unkown big man Nandor Guelmino. Following that fight and the transfer of much of Strikeforce's roster to the UFC, there's been a lot of speculation about where he'd fight next. After early negotiations with the UFC went awry, no news had developed regarding where Barnett would fight next. However, MMA Junkie broke the news Tuesday night that Barnett had re-signed with UFC in a multi-fight deal..."

"Swaziland's Civil Aviation Authority has threatened to fine witches who fly their broomsticks higher than 150 meters. An official with the agency said broomsticks are covered by the same law that bans kites and toy helicopters from flying too high."

Cant Stop the Signal.
"So the question for today is: Will 3D printing do for physical objects what the Internet has done for communications? To wit: What will happen to patents and trademarks? Will this lead to a vast decentralization (right down to home-workshop level) of manufacturing of everything from toasters to automobiles? How will governments and mega-corps fight against the technology (as you know they will)? Will there be a huge burst of creativity as high-tech “tinkerers” get their hands on ever-more-affordable printers and open-source plans? Will innovators get screwed over by opportunists? Will there be greater prosperity as the price of thousands of objects drops? Or higher prices and political repression? What products will be most changed? Where will we be with this five years from now? Ten? Twenty-five?"

"I do not smirk.  But if I did, this would be a good opportunity."

Labels lie.  Eat real food.
"Amazingly products with wheat flour etc. as their main ingredient are labeled “low carb”. And when they’re analyzed it turns out they contain between 4 and 8 times more carbs than the label claims. For example, one product didn’t contain 7 grams of carbs as listed on the label, it was really 53 grams."

Man of Steel beginning to look rather kick-ass.

"In speech after speech, administration officials cite their authority, ostensibly granted by Congress, to target “associated forces” of al-Qaida worldwide. It’s a way to ensure the drones hover, monitor and eventually strike al-Qaida’s permutations nearly as quickly as they pop up. Only a few problems: that term never appears in the foundational piece of legislation authorizing the war on terrorism, known as the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force or AUMF. And in any event, it’s an ambiguous term...

All his aspirations to date for closing Guantanamo involve moving such detainees to U.S. prisons where their detention would continue. Lawyers argue that calling this indefinite detention is inappropriate. The detention will last, they say, until the war on terrorism ends, much like how prisoners of war are detained without charge until hostilities cease. They’re right, but it’s an academic distinction: the administration cannot conceive of what an end to hostilities looks like. Administration lawyers are even launching a trial balloon to say they have power to detain individuals even after hostilities with al-Qaida end...

To date, the Obama administration hasn’t talked about rolling back any of the emergency powers it enjoys. Those powers, and the rebalance of liberty and security they represent, have already outlived Osama bin Laden. The basic inertial forces of American politics position them to outlive al-Qaida. Just two years ago, cabinet officials talked about being ten or 20 kills away from strategically defeating al-Qaida. Now senior Pentagon aides talk about a war that will last ten to 20 years. 

“Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” Obama said in his second inaugural address. Rhetoric like that is cheap, and arguably cynical, considering Obama’s geographic expansion of the war on terror. If Obama wants his speech tomorrow to surpass empty rhetoric, he can at least acknowledge that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war powers, either."

"Three aspects of an ingestible substance that can be considered harmful are (1) its potential to debilitate, (2) its effects on one’s health, and (3) its potential to kill via an overdose. 

(1) Like the stimulants, caffeine and cocaine, heroin is not a debilitating drug. That is, moderate usage does not interfere with one’s functioning, e.g. driving ability. This is in contrast to alcohol, in which one’s performance is directly hampered. Extreme usage can interfere just like with caffeine and cocaine, e.g. too much of a stimulant can make it difficult to focus and even cause hallucinations. However, even heroin addicts can moderate their usage so that they can work unimpaired and avoid withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, heroin addicts can and do have successful professional lives in such diverse fields as surgery and law enforcement.

(2) Long-term heroin addiction is relatively harmless to one’s health. Like caffeine addicts who “need” their coffee in the morning, the side-effects are minimal. Heroin’s long-term side-effects can include constipation and impotency. This is in contrast to alcohol and tobacco which destroy the liver and the lungs respectively. 

(3) Like caffeine, it is difficult to fatally overdose on heroin by itself. (It is easy to overdose when using heroin and alcohol in combination.) The popular image of a dead heroin user with the needle still in his or her arm is misleading. A fatal heroin overdose is usually a long process that takes over an hour and it can be countered within minutes by an antidote. This antidote is Narcan. It is so tightly regulated that strict limits on its usage have caused overdose deaths even when paramedics were present. Narcan is not dangerous or addictive which leads one to believe the government wants heroin users to die...

Lastly, heroin withdrawal – unlike alcohol withdrawal – is never fatal."

"A tenet of the drug war is that “hard” drugs are so pleasurable that once tried, most people cannot resist them. This fiction is propagated by the media which showcases in the words of Dr. Stanton Peele, “extremely self-dramatizing addicts,” while ignoring the vast invisible majority of recreational drug users – the unaddicted.  The truth is that illegal drugs’ addiction rates are not nearly as high as they are popularly portrayed. As can be seen below, of the millions of Americans who have experienced the highs of crack, heroin, and methamphetamine only a small percentage have used them in the past month. Even if the ludicrous position is taken that every person who has partaken in the past month is an addict, the addictive power of these substances is clearly overblown."

From Jack Kornfield’s "Buddha’s Little Instruction Book" actually.  But still.

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