Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Today's Internets - "I've gotten increasingly agnostic as I've gotten older, and increasingly wary of ideologies, including my own." - RAW

"RAW: I've gotten increasingly agnostic as I've gotten older, and increasingly wary of ideologies, including my own. So if you tied me to a lie detector, with a gun to my head, I would have to say, most of the time, I'm somewhere on the libertarian-anarchist continuum. But I distrust myself. I distrust being rigidified and getting dogmatic, so I keep challenging my own assumptions and looking at alternatives. Knowing how dumb I am, I don't want to become another dogmatist. I saw what happened to Ayn Rand and sweet Jesus forbid it should happen to me."

"Jeremy Scahill, National Security Correspondent for The Nation, is the author of the best-selling new book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and the writer, producer and subject of an award-winning documentary of the same name, which goes into wide theatrical release this week. Scahill sat with Reason's Matt Welch for an extended conversation about the book and movie, which thoroughly investigate the way America conducts its covert wars in the post-9/11 world, and how Barack Obama's embrace of drone strikes, rendition, and targeted assassination have cemented the policies of the Bush Administration which declared the entire world "a battlefield."

The author of Go the Fuck to Sleep provides a booklet on jury nullification and how it can help stop the Drug War:
"Author’s note: I confronted Bloomberg once at a Gracie Mansion BBQ, where I asked him to reconcile his administration of record marijuana arrests with his own admission of personal use and enjoyment. He hemmed and hawed. I asked why he wouldn’t arrest himself for the past use, and he said “That’s not how the law works.” I said, “So, really you’re just saying ‘I got away with it.’” At that point he said, “You and I have nothing in common,” and walked away from me. True story. –RC"

"Author Adam Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortes's "children's book for adults," Go The Fuck To Sleep, was a viral sensation. Starting out as a Facebook post, the book blew up online thanks to a pirated PDF that went viral. Soon, Mansbach and Cortes had found a publishing partner, had an audiobook voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, and found their hilarious creation atop's best-sellers list. Now the illustrator of Go The Fuck To Sleep hopes to put a different subject to rest: the war on drugs. Yesterday Cortes released Jury Independence Illustrated, a roughly 20-page booklet delving into the problems of skyrocketing non-violent drug convictions."

Free booklet here - Jury Independence Illustrated

"Juries do not only decide guilt or innocence; they can also serve as checks on unjust laws. Judges will not tell you about your right to nullify—to vote not guilty regardless of whether the prosecution has proven its case if you believe the law at issue is unjust. They may tell you that you may only judge the facts of the case put to you and not the law. They may strike you from a jury if you do not agree under oath to do so, but the right to nullify exists. There is reason to be concerned about this power: nobody wants courtroom anarchy. But there is also reason to wield it, especially today: if you believe that nonviolent drug offenders should not go to prison, vote not guilty. The creators of the television show "The Wire" vowed to do that a few years back ("we longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war," wrote Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price and David Simon). And the illustrator of the children's book that has every author banging his head against his desk and every parent cackling just wrote a sweet if somewhat simple guide to nullification."

"There is an argument that posits that all human beings are is vessels made of information (DNA) and naturally selected for the storage and replication of information. Everything we say, do, wear or make is a form of information, a meme, to be copied by others with variation and selection. Information is king and we are but subjects. That being the case then the handing over of the replication and transmission role to computers could, in a dystopian fantasy such as the one I was dreaming up for a radio play, result in the rapid obsolescence of human beings. Computers process, copy, select and transmit more information than we can and they do it faster. Increasingly, we help them along by buying into the reduction of information; by retweeting and reposting pieces about "scroungers" and "fundamentalists" and "corrupt politicians" and by accepting the boundaries defined by these reductions as the ones within which we’ll frame our arguments ("Are the unemployed scroungers or not?" rather than "Is it useful to make a judgement on any human being purely on the basis of his or her employment status?")."

"Here in Thailand generally nobody knows what the speed limit is, and I have never seen a radar gun in over a decade. I know they do exist in some places, but apparently not in Chiang Mai, where I live. I have also hardly ever seen a speed limit posted. Consequently I don’t know what the speed limits are either. If you do get stopped by a cop for some infraction, you can actually talk to them. If the cop is male, and you are an attractive woman, you can tell them you were in a rush to visit your dying mother in the hospital, and chances are he will just let you go. Or you can tell the cop you are in a real hurry and ask if you can pay the fine right on the spot. Often the cop will  greatly discount the fine based on your cock and bull story how poor you are, and then he will slip the money into his pocket where it will safely stay to support his meager salary. Some people call this corruption. Others call it a convenient arrangement which benefits both parties."

"Because that’s the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren’t monsters, they’re liars. I can’t imagine how scandalized those critics who were relieved to have something that was mild enough to not excite their kids would’ve been if they’d stopped for a second and realized what was actually going on. The very first rule of Scooby-Doo, the single premise that sits at the heart of their adventures, is that the world is full of grown-ups who lie to kids, and that it’s up to those kids to figure out what those lies are and call them on it, even if there are other adults who believe those lies with every fiber of their being. And the way that you win isn’t through supernatural powers, or even through fighting. The way that you win is by doing the most dangerous thing that any person being lied to by someone in power can do: You think."

"(954): He gave me twenty cool ranch tacos and declared, drunk, "Look, I do good""

"(615): I have good news and bad news. Bad news, she's not in porn. Good news, I found porn."

"In an interview with Charlie Rose that aired last night, President Obama said that despite his defense of the NSA's recently revealed surveillance programs, he continues to believe "we don't have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security," which he called "a false choice." Still, he said, "that doesn't mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program or any given action that we take." The first example he gave was telling:

 "All of us make a decision that we go through a whole bunch of security at airports....When we were growing up, that wasn't the case, right? You ran up to the gate five minutes [before your flight]. It's been a while since I went through commercial flying, but I gather the experience is not the same. That's a tradeoff we make.... To say there's a tradeoff doesn't mean somehow that we've abandoned freedom. I don't think anyone says we're no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports."

I don't know about you, but I never made a decision to "go through a whole bunch of security at airports." I do not arrive early, wait in line, repeatedly display my government-issued ID, empty my pockets, take my computer out, cram my toiletries into a Ziploc bag, remove my shoes and belt, and stand with my arms held up in a gesture of surrender while a scanner looks under my clothing becase I like doing those things, or even because I see them as a reasonable price to pay for the extra protection these rituals of obeisance allegedly provide. I do these things because the government makes me do them. I would welcome the option of flying without all the security theater, despite the extra risk that supposedly would entail, and I suspect I am not alone. Maybe if Obama flew commercial once in a while he would understand that travelers do not necessarily comply with the TSA's arbitrary edicts because they view them as sensible precautions well worth the inconvenience and humiliation.

While I would not say "we're no longer free because we have checkpoints at airports," we certainly are less free than we were before. Otherwise it would make no sense to describe this change as a "tradeoff." The government took some of our freedom, and in return it gave us the illusion of security. Many of us doubt the value of this deal. Are we not allowed to complain about a loss of freedom as long as we have some left? Is that what Obama has in mind when he says "we don't have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security"?

...But at least in both of these cases, there was a public debate that weighed the cost in privacy against the benefit in safety. People could lobby Congress to change the rules governing airport security procedures, and they could lobby their state legislators to restrict or ban the use of DUI checkpoints, because—and this point is crucial—they knew these policies existed. That was not true of the NSA's massive phone-record database or its online surveillance until a couple of weeks ago, and the details of how these programs work remain sketchy. Hence this exchange between Charlie Rose and the president: Rose: Should this be transparent in some way? Obama: It is transparent. That's why we set up the FISA court. That would be the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the decisions of which are shielded from public view..."

"Russell Brand was invited on Morning Joe today to discuss his new stand-up comedy tour Messiah Complex, but the interview quickly went off the rails. And it wasn't Brand's fault..."

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