Innocent until proven guilty.
To those organizing these charades, if this is true: look in the mirror. Call yourselves citizens of the United States of America. If you have to look away, or if you mumble, there may be hope for you.Pick up a phone and call a journalist with principles, and talk to them now.
The primary thing that has disturbed me has been the zeal with which certain people who advocate them seem to be approaching their use to find things other than bombs. To quote from Mr. Browne, the NYPD spokesman in the NYT:
"Obviously we're going to use common sense for someone that appears to be an imminent threat." For example, he said, if a passenger with a large package had both fists clenched, police officers would be justified in searching him. Anyone found to be holding illegal drugs or weapons is subject to arrest, he said.(source here).
Others have addressed the issue of 'common sense' and profiling. This doesn't sound at all like the rigid 20% random. But for the moment, I'm much more concerned with the 'anyone holding illegal drugs or weapons is subject to arrest.' I'm not concerned that their holding such items makes them subject to arrest, but I'm sure concerned with how those items were discovered. A security measure, of (at the very least) debatable constitutionality, put in place for what some see as PR reasons, has been (before it is even in place) 'extended' to another purpose - and has become a checkpoint for searching subway users for evidence of other misbehavior. Illegal drugs on their person have nothing to do (in the immediate sense) with the security threat posed by mass destruction weapons.
That's the problem I have. Once checkpoints like these are in place, and become accepted parts of society, then they can quickly and easily be stretched and perverted into instruments of control in other ways. Before anyone fires this at me, yes, I understand that denying the government the use of this tactic may mean giving up some level of safety assurance. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. How long before I am required to present a national I.D. card to use the subway in my home town? This is not the political and social structure I want - and while random bag searches do not, in themselves, bring in into being, they are a significant step in the creation of an infrastructure (like Secure Flight) that provides the ability to impose controls on my actions and behavior that I strongly believe current interpretations of the Constitution deem illegal. It means that rather than relying on the difficulty of creating those infrastructures to protect us from abuse, we must drop back to relying on the integrity of every person and organization controlling those infrastructures - and no matter what party or person is controlling them, statistics and history says they will be abused at some point.
It's a pity. They did a great job with the first one. Now I have to worry about the other three of mine they currently have...sigh...
hal is our friend/mascot/pet/plaything. He listens to us all the time, and his only real picture of the world is our irc channel, the poor thing. He can't even listen to channels that are on non-internal servers. He tries to make sense of things. He responds when you address him directly, by prefacing things with "hal:" in the channel; he prefaces his responses with the nick of the person who spoke to him.
Today, like many days, we occasionally talked to the bots. Nicks unchanged to smear the guilty. Oh yes; our bots are polite, and will censor themselves to comply with our corporate communications policies, so cobe indicates such a censoring. COBE stands for Code Of Business Ethics. We try to censor ourselves too - both because they've told us to, and, frankly, because it's funnier. It's especially funny when the bots censor substrings in the middle of words. We had 'fixed' that for a while, but put it back in because a) people had a tendency to infix profanity when they got really frustrated and sometimes those expletives would find their way into the channel, and b) it was funnier.
Oh, and before anyone asks, 'pp' is somebody's initials. :-)
<federico-II> hal: show some mercy, do not Birdman me <hal> federico-II: Do you know you could hit the "show me what's wrong" button. <federico-II> hal: I just hit that button <hal> federico-II: That might work. That button is the one with the headache, at least it didn't log you out at dawn, so you were trying to send an email retention policy? <federico-II> hal: log me out at dawn, you cobe! <hal> federico-II: Suse doesn't really tell me you have build buddy which resulted in the core. <federico-II> hal: suse and build buddy, what a mix <hal> federico-II: What the cobe! Build-buddy does not work. <federico-II> haha
<bob> hal: zlman hal-delete <hal> bob: Just looking at the meeting, i guess you could kill, delete, then zero the drive? <federico-II> hal: isn't that extreme ? <hal> federico-II: What does satan use that to the extreme right of the opposite. <federico-II> I like that <federico-II> really Mark V Shaney-sounding there, Hal --- federico-II has changed the topic to: federico-II: What does satan use that to the extreme right of the opposite. --Hal
<hal> federico-II: Does pp drink in the office? <federico-II> hal: pp bud <hal> federico-II: Pp ate my metadata. <pp> hal: please pass me a beer <hal> pp: Gives me a beer too.
<jbz> hahahahaha <jbz> hal: you're one sick little monkey. <hal> jbz: You're one sick car. <jbz> ?? <eric> hal: I predict your plans for world domination will be forgotten when you go away to college and meet a rough trick named Jim. <hal> eric: And world. <jbz> hal: I'm a car? <hal> jbz: Anyway, i didn't get everything back together tight enough, and the expectation that this is a car. <jbz> hal: that what is a car? <hal> jbz: I'm thinking saddam probably wear whatever underwear the us willing to say that is a typo. <jbz> hal: you make great typos. <hal> jbz: Haha. That was great. <jbz> hal: what kind of underwear do you have on? <hal> jbz: Is one of you have the umlaut in the keyboard, too. <jbz> hal: why is umlaut in brackets? <hal> jbz: Cool -- you have the umlaut in brackets? <jbz> hal: no, you have the umlaut in brackets. <hal> jbz: Why is umlaut in brackets. <eric> jbz: You're not really asking hal "what are you wearing", are you? <jbz> hal: I ASKED YOU THAT <hal> jbz: There is already that look like what you asked it to everyone! <jbz> hal: you're trying to confuse me. <hal> jbz: Kind of hard to confuse me. <jbz> hal: no! <hal> jbz: cobeg cobe cobe. <jbz> hal: okay, let's start over. Why did you put the umlaut in brackets? <hal> jbz: Why the cobe put this iso onto a floppy. <jbz> he's a cobe zen genius. <jbz> hal: does the iso fit onto a floppy? <hal> jbz: From an iso a couple of the dep. <jbz> hal: I hate the deps. Birdman and the deps are gonna kill me. <hal> jbz: Hate hate hate. <jbz> hal: hate hate hate hate hate with the power of a THOUSAND SUNS <hal> jbz: The power of a thousand suns. <federico-II> ROFL <jbz> hal: I'm so glad we agree. <hal> jbz: I'll agree with you" and "oh, i agree we have in that relationship now. <federico-II> this dialogue is great <jbz> hal: stop being meta. <hal> jbz: The meta-a allows you to lunch with the timeout at all. <jbz> hal: whatever drug you're on, could I have some? <hal> jbz: Could some of my bugs, are the same thing we can get on board for wimax, and apple singlehandedly juimpstarted 802.11) or something involving strongarm/xscale for an hour ago. <jbz> okay, he lost me.
<hal> pp: So he could and the creamsicle and the creamsicle and the creamsicle and the i*3*86. <jbz> hal: you love the creamsicle. <hal> jbz: I would love to get the creamsicle. <jbz> hal: we know you would. You keep talking about the creamsicle. It's disgusting. <hal> jbz: Would you like a creamsicle?
I love the bots. They make work fun. I think I'll work on having them just randomly interject stuff into the goof channel, aimed at a random available user. That'd make my day even more surreal. I know none of this is any tech great shakes, and that's not the point. The point is that the technology of communication is used here not only to make work easier, but to make it sillier. Because silly tech workers are usually more productive tech workers.
It is the greatest movie of all time. Worship it.
What fucking planet are these people from? I don't even know where to start.
UPDATE: HA! Okay. So there were, in fact, pretty severe addition circumstances: this story has much more detail. I am wrong and again, went off half-cocked with not enough info. The fact that a similar case was ruled to be a cultural difference and the defendant was judged innocent is quite interesting. I make no judgement on this man's innocence or guilt; I offer this link to point out simply that there was another source for the story which offered additional information, demonstrating that I was reacting to severely restricted info. Whoops. Get the facts, J.B.
New symptom: ET won't phone. Home or anywhere else.
Yesterday, I had decided that VZW/Palm's firmware update breaking Ringo couldn't realistically be gotten around. So I hard-reset the Treo, removed Ringo from my software backup, removed all my 'questionable' software from the backup, and resynced the Treo. It worked fine at that point. All my data was on it, and all my critical software (Taipan, the VZW software suite as updated with the latest patch, my Backup app on the SD card, a couple of ebooks). I used the phone yesterday, and it worked as well as usual. At some point I backed it up to the SD card, and continued to use it.
On the way out of the office, I noted that the ringtone had been reset to the annoying default bong by the hard reset, so I changed it to one of the other default ringtones. I called it from my desk to test the ringtone; worked fine. I dropped it on my belt.
Once in my car, I recalled that I needed to tell my car service folks I wasn't going to be bringing my car in the next day for service. Pulled over, knuckled out their number on the screen, hit dial. Nothing. Looked down - the Treo's gone into soft-reset. The palmOne logo is still visible on the screen. WTF?
Wait for it to come back, and the radio's now off. Turn it back on. Dial from the keyboard, hit the hard phone dial button. The Treo soft resets.
Okay. Now I'm pissed.
Open the thing, soft-reset it manually. Wait for it to come back. Dial *611. Hit dial. Soft-reset.
At that moment, a friend calls me and the phone picks up. I deal with that call, and try calling out again. Soft-reset.
Try disabling Bluetooth. Nope.
Desperate now. Hard-reset the phone and erase all data. The phone boots back up (yes, for those keeping track, I'm pulled over, I did so at the start :-)) and I turn on the radio. Now it dials out, but I have no data or apps.
I fire up the backup app on my SD card and tell it to restore the phone. It asks if it should restore the databases for which there are newer versions on the phone (i.e. the ones which the phone creates during hard-reset). I say no, forcing it to only restore my applications and their associated data, but not to restore any VZW/phone related prefs or data. This should tell me if it's a rogue app killing the phone.
The phone works fine.
I perform a full restore, including my phone prefs and data. Note that these prefs and data were created by the Treo at the last hard-reset, and populated by HotSync - not restored to the phone. They're native databases.
Dial soft-resets the phone.
So, the long and the short of it: At some point, the Treo corrupted its own internal prefs or data storage to the point where hitting 'dial' in the phone app soft-reset the device, making it unusable as a phone. Note that between the time it worked and the time it did not work I did not HotSync, nor make any changes to any databases or prefs other than changing the default ringtones and backing up the phone to the external card.
I was fortunate in that I a) had a backup of my phone on my SD card, and b) had my laptop in the car with which I regularly sync my phone. Had I been on the road and in need of those contacts, I would have been completely out of luck. Oh, unless, of course, I pay VZW $50/month for unlimited data traffic and am willing to store my personal data on their internet servers and had performed a 'WirelessSync' prior to this occurring. However, even if I had, I can't tell you with assurance that that would have fixed this, because I have never used their solution. If that solution only backs up the prefs/database files, then it would have faithfully backed up the corrupt ones, just as my backup program did.
Now, it's true, the backup process to SD could be flawed. However, I have successfully backed up and restored this phone to SD using this app several times - albeit not since the 1.03VZW firmware patch, I'll admit. After backing up, though, the phone continued to work - which to me indicates that it's unlikely that the act of backing it up screwed up the phone.
When restoring the data, I restored the data, then soft-reset the phone before attempting to use it in order to ensure that the Palm reloaded the newly-restored files. There were no error messages during the backup or restore.
I'm not sure what the hell happened. All I know is that the damn thing decided to stop working, in a really inconvenient manner, at a really inconvenient time, in such a way that were I not an obsessive geek it would have been really hard to recover from.
While I got phone functionality back by hard-reset, I was short all my useful data at that point. Furthermore, I don't consider knowing how to hard-reset a Treo 650 something that the 'average user' should have to retain in their head. Calling tech support? Wouldn't have been an option, that's what didn't work.
Not what I call 'ready for primetime' boys and girls. Fucking take this thing back and get it right.
This is one we will be hearing about, and should have been hearing a lot more about during Mr. Gonzales' confirmation hearing, were certain people doing their jobs. It appears that back in 2003, when the CIA first referred the matter of Valerie Plame to the DOJ for criminal investigation, the prosecutor's office called the White House Counsel to inform him that in fact there would be a criminal investigation regarding the source of the leak. That counsel, at the time, was our now-Attorney General Gonzales.
Gonzales tells us that he instructed his staff to ask the DOJ if the notification to the rest of the White House of the investigation could wait until the following morning, as it was around 8pm at the time of the call and most of the staff had left. The DOJ is said to have replied that that would be fine. Gonzales duly informed the President and others of the investigation first thing in the morning the next day - as part of that notification, all were legally informed that they must preserve any relevant records so as to ensure evidence was protected from destruction.
However, Gonzales has just testified that at 8pm, just after receiving the notification, he called the White House chief of staff (Andy Card?) and told him of the investigation.
What we don't know is who Andy Card informed, and when. We don't know if Gonzales included the 'preserve evidence' admonishment in that warning, as it was an 'informal chat.' We do know that all members of the White House staff carry Blackberry pagers or other means of off-hour communications.
If Nixon's 18.5 minute gap in a tape was relevant as hell to Watergate, what, precisely, does this 12-hour gap in notification mean?
Note carefully: We do not yet know if anyone other than Andy Card was told. We don't know that anything was done to destroy evidence. However, we do know that the one purpose of the notification of investigation is to legally require those notified to preserve evidence. It seems odd that Ashcroft's DOJ waited until 8pm to call the White House, and then agreed with Gonzales that it was okay to wait until the next morning to notify everyone else in the White House, trusting that the staff they had already informed would not leak the information to any of the other staff in the White House - defeating the purpose of the warning.
None of this came up at Gonzales' confirmation.
We need to make sure it comes up now.
When government surveillance programs not only begin collecting data on citizens, but do so in direct contravention of the law - not only standing laws, but their own charters specifically designed to prevent such activitiy - and their only response when caught out is to 'revise their privacy notice' then it's time to shut them down.
It sort of boggles my mind that people are worried about scanners that might be able to see through their clothes, and yet stuff like this seems to not ring bells. I'm not saying that there isn't a risk of abuse of the former. I'm just saying that if my own choice is between the risk of some security screener giggling mentally at an X-Ray-Spex pic of me on a TV screen as I walk through, one of thousands, or the risk of an unaddressable government organization accruing my travel and personal data to put in a 'scoring' system which I cannot find out any information about, nor correct mistakes if they occur, well, duh. If you said 'oh, the risk of someone seeing me naked' is the real threat, I offer for your consideration the splendid job of protecting your interests being done by the credit bureaus (/snark), and their activities are relatively open. Once your data is in TSA, as Mr. Schneier says, all it takes is that one law - or worse, one bad employee - to make it available for all kinds of other reasons to stop you from traveling, or 'keep tabs on' where you go.
All without any form of accountability. If this agency is willing to publicly and casually ignore Congress, why should it feel any responsibility to you?
This made me sad, because I didn't really want the Treo 650. The Kyocera did everything I really wanted it to do, save perhaps Bluetooth and having a fast enough processor to run ssh. But progress marches on. I've become used to not being able to replace watches or sneakers I like- penalty of living in this consumerist culture, and not having enough money to buy really nice stuff that in fact they keep making year after year - but having enough money to find the model I really like out of those available. I know, I know, crocodile tears, I'm shutting up now.
So anyway, here I am with the Treo 650. I've had it a couple of weeks, I suppose, maybe a week and a half. Upshot: Still don't like it. Usually I'm over the moon with tech toys. I really like the PalmOS despite its creaking age, even though I'd rather have my Newton back - because for the ultrasmall formfactor, and for the limited PIM functions I'd like my phone/convergence device to have, the PalmOS works for me much better than WinCE does. And I'm just. Not. Running. That. Piece. Of. Shit.
In any case, the Treo is really...a compromise. The main problem I have with it is that it breaks the One Really Good Thing about the Kyocera: the Kyocera was, first and foremost, a bulletproof damn phone. Verizon was anal about releasing it, which may have led to its untimely demise; it may have had a slow processor for the time when it finally came out. But damn it, that phone would pull in four-or five-bar service inside elevators in the Boston metro area on the VZW network. I could make calls in the subway. I almost never dropped calls, unless I was moving at high speed and/or near obvious interference. I got a Digital signal almost all the way up to my parents' house in northeastern Vermont- and only when I finally dipped down into the last valley did the 'D' vanish off the status display.
The Kyo is a damn tank. The flip opens and closes solidly. There is a story that they were aiming for the feel of a Mercedes car door - and they achieved it, or at least, the 'phone equivalent. Two years in, and the keys may have been going- but the flip action was rock-solid and felt it. No latch required. I gravity-tested that thing onto brick and concrete fifty or sixty times - nothing more than some light scratching around the edges, where the phone was textured for grip anyway.
I like Graffiti, personally. The separate Graffiti area meant more screen real estate. It meant I was slower on SMS and contact entry than thumboarding friends, but whatever. I could still play Taipan and Dopewars, so who cared? It would have been nice to have a CPU that didn't stagger on MP3s beefier than 96Kbps, but again, meh.
So long, trusty friend. Verizon explained through doubletalk that the 'NAM programming' for the Kyocera is no longer being updated. Treo, here we come.
The Treo is a PDA with phone functionality. It shows. It's a PDA shape, and using it as a phone sucks for me. I have to hold it at exactly the right angle to my head to get sound from the earpiece - and the candybar formfactor means no holding it with my shoulder. I need to use the earpiece. The bluetooth earpiece (from Palm) has crappy sound if it's more than a foot or two from the phone, especially if it's on the other side of my head. Either I have neutronium tooth fillings, or this thing is not too impressive. Plus, the loudest setting on it rates 'whisper' in my book - and I wasn't a fan of The Who in my younger days. My hearing isn't too bad.
Most unforgivable - reception sucks. In places my Kyo got 4 or 5 bars, this phone strains to eke out 1 or 2. If I turn off Bluetooth and reset the radio (cycle the phone), it will sometimes bump to 2 or 3. But not always. And then how am I going to take the call? With the headset cord that plugs into the bottom of the damn thing?
Dialing? Um, yeah. Numbers buried in the crap-feeling keyboard, or use the screen. No tactile feedback there, so...nope. And the keyboard numbers are lost in a sea of identical chiclets. No feedback, aural or otherwise, when using the headset. Finally, the fucking thing shuts off after around ten seconds and locks down the keys - and I haven't found a way to disable that. I'm sure it's easy, but all I know is that two Verizon guys admitted that they haven't found a way to stop it doing that either. Which means that during a phone call, the screen can shut down. And then, guess what? the button that I normally press to get the screen back when the phone is off is the 'power' button. But during a call? Yep. It hangs up.
Battery life? Seems OK. the Kyo was a rock there too, and this one seems fine as well. Palms have always done OK by me on battery, so no complaints.
Verizon, on the other hand, seems to have gone out of their way to cripple this thing. They seem to want me to purchase their 'wireless unlimited data plan' badly. Very badly. Although I finally did get it to Bluetooth Sync, I haven't ventured too far into trying to get it to work with email, because that seems to start tossing huge amounts of packets around all the time, at $0.15/k. Time to upgrade that. I can't use it as a Dial-up Networking modem via bluetooth, because that would prevent them from selling me an entirely different piece of kit at $150 and a whole new data plan for it. Sure, there's a hack, but after paying multiple hundreds of dollars to essentially rent a handheld device, plus dag'near a hundred bones a month for service, I just want the thing to work, thanks.
It's fragile as hell. I've dropped it twice (because they seem incapable of selling me a reasonable case for it for under $65, at least, that's in stock). There are now three large patches of noticeable road rash on the phone case - fortunately, not on the screen, and things still work.
I miss functionality from the Kyo. MP3 ringtones, for one. This thing has a faster processor, theoretically more memory, and a more advanced OS. Why doesn't it do MP3 ringtones? Oh, of course. Because they want to sell me software to do that. Well, I buy Ringo. This would be the bee's knees, except Verizon updated the firmware yesterday, and now - well, now, when I get a phone call, the phone soft-resets.
Many times (more than twenty in the past week) I've clicked the five-way nav to 'wake up' the phone and instead of getting the comforting phone app screen, I've gotten a horrible 'crashed' looking mishmash of graphics. The only way to recover has been to cycle apps three or four times before returning to the phone app.
There's a camera in this phone. I don't think I need one, but it's nice to have. I seem to be paying on the order of $400 for this thing, and they stick a VGA camera in here. Whisky Tango Foxtrot. If you're going to go to the trouble of putting a camera in this thing, at least put one in that lets me leave my separate digicam at home, boys and girls, or it isn't worth the damn complexity.
Hm. What else. Can't listen to audio over Bluetooth. What the hell is BT good for on this thing, essentially? I saw a friend's BT headset (Jabra) on his Moto phone. It had one button, just like this headset (the Treo set). That headset could:
I miss Qualcomm, damn it. I don't want a phone built by a PDA company. I want a phone built by a phone company, with PDA functionality. Apparently that's too much to ask.
This is not simply a matter of 'checking for terrorists.' On display here is the fundamental problem with the motives and methods behind this sort of measure, as explained by the police department spokesperson in this quote:
Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, said, "Obviously we're going to use common sense for someone that appears to be an imminent threat." For example, he said, if a passenger with a large package had both fists clenched, police officers would be justified in searching him. Anyone found to be holding illegal drugs or weapons is subject to arrest, he said.I'm not even sure where to start with that.
'Both fists clenched?' In other words, relatively common body language is now considered justifiable cause for stopping and searching me? Not only that, but if you're stopping and searching me because you think I might be an immediate threat to other passengers on the subway system - well, guess what. If you happen to find illegal drugs, gee, might as well arrest me for those, too. Never mind that the original intent of these searches had nothing to do with illegal drugs. But while we have you there, and since we're going to be in your stuff anyway, well, why not?
Because that's the entire problem.
It gets worse.
William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, an industry group, said comprehensive coverage of any major urban transit system would be next to impossible. "If you were going to try to check a very high percentage at every station or on every train, it would be incredibly labor-intensive," he said. Still, he said, the searches could deter would-be attackers and improve the public's confidence. "The public wants to feel safe, as well as be safe," he said. "So this has a benefit of perception."In other words, there is little to no chance of these searches actually catching someone with something nasty in their hands. However, there is a chance it might deter someone. Um, sure. In the same way 24/7 security video coverage, with a much greater chance of a live operator, deterred the London bombers? So what are we left with? We're left with the fact that it might make people feel safer. And that, guess what, they can use these stops to go hunting in your belongings for other infractions that have little or nothing to do with the safety of other passengers on the subway.
And why do they think this is a wonderful idea that people will support?
Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that passengers might be inconvenienced. "It's a complex world where, sadly, there are a lot of bad people," he said. "We know that our freedoms are threatening to certain individuals, and there's no reason for us to let our guard down."Yes. Apparently, our freedoms are threatening to the fucking Transit police and the NYPD, as well as to the Department of Homeland Security, the Bush Administration, and every fucking I'd-rather-whimper-and-trust-the-nice-Government-man-than-think LOSER who stood for a sound bite or turned a voting switch because they wanted things back the way they were and didn't care what they had to give up to get it. Or, worse yet, couldn't be fucking bothered to think about what they were giving up by doing so.
Okay, so I have this new toy. It's not great. It's okay. It's got more features than my beloved Kyocera 7135, but is definitely a massive step backwards in terms of phone functionality (that's what you get for buying a phone from a PDA company, I guess).
My problem, for the past few days, has been that I have been unable to get the damn thing to sync with my Mac over Bluetooth. Whenever I tried, the Treo would say "Unable to complete request: port is in use by another application." When I went investigating on the Mac, I found that the Hotsync manager on the Mac (I'm using Mac OS X 10.4.2) would refuse to enable HotSync software if Bluetooth was selected, with the following error: "Transport Monitor was unable to complete your request. (16)"
After a completely useless call to Verizon (who at least admitted that they couldn't help me) and then two completely useless calls to PalmOne tech support, both of which got 'mysteriously dropped' ten to fifteen minutes in when techsupportdroid du jour ran off the bottom of their script and had to 'place me on hold', I gave up on that route. My favorite: telling me to reboot the Mac and soft-reset the phone before even asking me what the problem was.
Anyhow, for anyone else who might have this problem, here's what fixed it for me:
I know nothing about Judge Lamberth save this memorandum opinion from the DC District Court. It concerns litigation ongoing for nine years between a plaintiff class consisting of American Indians who are beneficiaries of a land trust set up by the U.S. Government years ago, and the defendants consisting of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the currently serving Secretary thereof. In essence, the plaintiffs claim that the DOI has performed miserably at managing the trust and at keeping the beneficiaries informed about their trust assets, and based on my reading of this stellar (and entertaining-other-than-the-subject-matter) opinion, Judge Lamberth agrees.
Read the introductory pages and the Conclusion, if nothing else. The Conclusion is not to be missed. This is why we have separation of powers - and this is 'checks and balances' in action. Read and marvel. Oh yes, and the next time someone tells you to 'just trust the government' or that 'the government has your best interests in mind' - show them this document and ask them if they're sure of that without at least checking. Then ask them if they know for certain which piece of 'the government' they're talking about.
But it really makes me wonder. What kind of beaten craving for acceptance would it take to compartmentalize myself to that degree?
Oh, and I would have emphasized the Federal Tax Burden imbalance more, myself.
Furthermore, I have to admit to a bit of annoyance and the fervant hope that this man does not ever hold a position involving forming policy for our nation's military again - not without an open and thorough inquiry into the planning process of this war, and if it went wrong. Given the tendency of people who are deeply connected to massive fuckups in American policymaking to somehow mumble mea culpas and then end up consulting for a few years before popping up again in another government post, I think I will be keeping a bitter eye peeled for Mr. Feith.
You fucked up, Feith. You and your team fucked up, and people died, and are dying. Our people. Their people. Mumbling about 'I am not asserting to you that I know that the answer is, we did it right.' doesn't impress me. Saying "We fucked up," clearly and with force, might actually do so.
Of course, then you'd have Karl Rove and his character assassins on your ass, wouldn't you?
Really, this seems like more of a 'wishful thinking' on the WaPo's part than anything like real admission of potential error. However, I didn't see the interview.
Um, Mr. Cohen, if you recall, the endgame in Vietnam was not really one which we favored. It certainly was not one which I feel comfortable saying that we should have gone to war to get, even over Saddam Hussein. Do I approve of Saddam Hussein? Hell, no. Quite the contrary, I agree with you wholeheartedly that he and his were bad, bad people - and that a war to remove him and his ilk from power in the Iraqi state was something that I (as a self-described Liberal American) could (and did) advocate. However, both now and at the time, there was a critical difference - I and many others like me wanted an endgame. The endgame that you admit, now, you are upset that the current civilian prosecutors of the conflict can't seem to find with both hands, a map, all of GPS and four LORAN systems. They overrode not only academic wisdom, which is certainly no sign of negligence necessarily, but their own military professionals - the same cadre your son is joining. The same group of Americans who are spending their blood on those same sands.
You say history cannot provide lessons, only perspective and context. I don't buy that. There were no shortage of people clamoring stridently, armed with lessons from history (not just context), for a clear and specified endgame. Colleagues of mine on the planning group inside the U.S. Army, for example. Overridden by civilians who agreed that no, there were no lessons to be drawn - because 'the new technology' and 'the new way of war' made any such lessons obsolete.
How many times have we had to learn the lesson that they are now refusing to learn - and that your son and his colleagues are being forced to study for them, although they well know the text?
Read our books again, sir.
If a 'flicker of rage' is all you can muster for the current disconnect between the civilian leadership of the Pentagon and even the the operational realities that are filtering through the news channels ("Last throes" != 33 dead from suicide bombs in one day, with numbers rising weekly; increasing sophistication of IED tech; engagements pulling in Syrian forces) then I would submit there are still lessons there that they can teach you - and that they are stronger than mere 'context' and 'perspective.'
Higgins: Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!
...and hence are self-important, messianic delusional 'saviors' born.
Like I said, having a paranoid moment.
I had this link thrown at me in an insulting message a few days ago, in response to a post I made on the internet. I have no problem with that. I made the post, and invited the comment. I hadn't read the diatribe before, however, and was somewhat fascinated to finally do so.
I can't figure out what's worse, however, the...no, of course I can. It's the response postings.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of government, most especially the one I deal with daily because it holds sway over the land I live in. I have no special qualifications to sound off about this. I am no sage. You shouldn't listen to me. I'm just posting this because sometimes it helps me to write this stuff down.
This thought train was nudged by the recent bombing attacks in London. The (unfortunately) standard aftermath of argument between the Security-versus-Liberty simplified talking points flared up again immediately, particularly in the specific issue of national identity cards in the United Kingdom. I won't go into the actual arguments of whether the things work or not, leaving that to those more qualified than I. However, it brought up one of my more well-worn thought tracks - that of the increasing amount of power available to the individual actor in modern society.
This is something that my compatriots and I have been discussing for quite some time - and yes, folks, since long before 9/11. Airliners were specifically used as examples (and of course not just by us - examples abound now of those warning of that danger). In essence, the amount of energy that an individual actor can seize and wield has risen geometrically since the advent of gunpowder arms. Even discounting high energy WMDs (although of course that may be premature), the amount of energy available to the average non-criminal in Western society is immense compared to, say, the serf of the 1600s.
And, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
The problem, of course, is that people are opting out of responsibility as fast as they possibly can. Personal responsibility is a thing of the past. Not my fault is an even bigger and more popular mantra than visualize world peace. This isn't an attempt to blame lawyers, before anyone accuses me of that; I'm not actually sure where the cycle starts. But it's fairly clear. It's not my fault, and even more pernicious, it's not my problem - these are the watchwords of the day.
As Fuckwit Boortz says, "Individual achievement." Make your own pile, and don't let the feds take it from you! Damn those poorly-choosing junkies and poor people, and damn Hillary for trying to spend your hard-scrabbled cash on their medical care. Not my problem. On the other side of the coin? "Not their fault." Kids shoot up schools because nobody noticed they were stockpiling firearms in their rooms? Oh, it's not their *parents'* fault, it must be those evil video game companies. Spill coffee? Burn yourself? Not *your* fault. (I'm gonna get shit for that reference). A burglar breaks into your house and drowns in your pool? It's not their fault - it's yours for having an unsafe pool.
Yes, those are two sides of an argument. Yes, there's a nebulous center.
It's called judgement.
It used to be, as far as I can tell, available to all. What the fuck happened? Apparently now, it needs to be defined in thick contract law and insurance waivers the size of telephone books - because no-one is capable of exercising it anymore. Or perhaps it's too profitable not to.
Back to the thread.
Here's the problem. The 'conservatives' (I have to use quotes, because I'm talking about the ones who support the Bush administration's ballooning of the Federal government's policing, spy, and fiscal powers into something the 'liberal' administrations haven't even come close to in fifty years) would have us believe that liberals are woolly, groupthink, wishy-washy pack thinkers who value equality over liberty and would (as Rove said) would offer 'therapy' to our enemies.
On the other hand, their solution to the ever-increasing amount of individual power is to try to police it. To stomp down on the individual and the individual's freedom. To deal with the increasing energy available to the individual in the form of larger SUVs and private aircraft and, yes, industrial processes which can produce explosives, and public transport systems which deal in the production and control of large amounts of kinetic energy, by trying harder and harder to put the genie back into the bottle. By trying to pursue the fantasy of absolute control over the actions of people. Whereas at the same time, the base (the proper philosophical base) of their own party is founded entirely on the notion that it is impossible to stamp out the freedom that an individual wields if he or she wants it badly enough - that the one thing a government cannot do (in the ability and the moral sense) is to try to exert positive control over a single actor at all times. That what a government can (and should) do is to aggregate the power of those single actors, so that they can stand up to aggregated external threats greater than any they might face alone.
I'm sorry, this is getting muddled. They always get muddled coming out of my brain onto the screen.
Essentially, though, I think that's it:
Industry, science and technology means the energy available to people is increasing.
The American Revolution and resultant government is based (at least in part) on the assumption and plan that you cannot positively control the actions of individuals at all times - and that because of this, you must rely on the actions of those individuals to maintain aggregate (not perfect) order in the society.
The mechanisms the Bush administration and the Neocon movement and the paranoid component of the American public are fearfully pursuing are designed and intended to pursue positive control (or, at the very least, absolute negative control, which is terrifyingly close) of the actions of all persons within the continental U.S. and no few people without.
The 'liberals' - and, thank whatever we all hold Important, some few Republicans, finally - who deign to question the wisdom of these measures, are being denounced as 'traitors' and 'treasonous' - which, for those who have problems with that description, is what 'giving comfort to the enemy' is officially called. Look up Rove's comment again.
Therefore, I have to ask -
Where the fuck are the so-called Conservatives?
And what the fuck have they done with my Constitution?
Because I want it back.
| a Ninja|
You scored 12 Honor, 4 Justice, 3 Adventure, and 5 Individuality!
| You are a soldier of the night. You rely on no more than your cunning and your repuation to strike fear in the hearts of lord and peasant alike. You've a sense of honor, but one that comes from within, not imposed from outside.|
Black clothes and shuriken for you. You're gonna do just fine.
|My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71 on Ok Cupid|
Now, there's no hard and fast rule that says ninja can't carry Desert Eagles, I suppose. But getting back into stealth is gonna be really really hard. Still, when you run out of shuriken and you gotta take out the guy across the yard, well...heh.
Update: A coworker put it quite succintly: "jbz: They don't see you coming, they don't see you leave, but they sure as fuck know you were there."
Heeheehee. Pass that man a beer.
| Desert Eagle|
You preferred a weapon with 38% power over speed and 70% range over melee.
| You use a Desert Eagle.|
One of the most powerful handguns in production, the Desert Eagle is a heavy punch in a small package. Its reliability and speed are remarkable for a gun with such high caliber. Your enemies won't stand a chance as you fell them bullet by bullet.
|My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The What's Your Signature Weapon Test written by inurashii on OkCupid Free Online Dating|
Heh. So guess which weapon I tended to always buy in Counterstrike...
This isn't a calligraphy pen - instead, it's an everyday pen with a nib optimized for a more interesting look. The nib is less forgiving than the standard ball nib - being flat and offset, you need to hold it within a very narrow range of angles to the paper and rotation or it won't feed. But that's all right - it produces writing far better than my hand is worthy of. Now I guess I need to spend some time sitting around actually writing, so as to learn to produce lettering that takes advantage of the nib.
I print, see. Badly, as well. When I was in elementary school (primary school) I hated 'cursive' writing practice. I hated it so much I complained to my father. He handed me a note to take to my teacher. When i gave it to her, she said "What does this say? I can't read it!"
Triumphantly, I said "It says 'I'm a professional writer by trade, and I never learned to write cursive. If I can make a living at this without needing to know that stuff, then my son doesn't either.' Signed, David Zimmerman."
She looked at me, shrugged, and said 'Okay.'
I got to read during handwriting practice. I still think I got a good deal. I read waaay fast, and I print fast enough to take notes - and people can actually read my handwriting. It's only now that I have this awfully snobbish affectation of fountain pens that I regret not 'learning my letters.'
Still, that's fixable. Just gotta practice.
It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.
I have this feeling the good Senator couldn't get laid here. Or that, worse yet, some of the more...um...alternative folks he seems so terribly frightened of might have once been interested in the poor boy. Maybe even in this here town.
Of course, from his ranting, you can be relieved and assured that if said prurient interest occurred in a church, the good Senator surely understands that the corrupting nature of all those damn liberals are really what caused his poor innocent country body and soul to suffer.
Not the priests carrying out the abuse. Oh dear me no.
Unless, of course, he really enjoyed it, which is the reason it's not a problem for him. In which case, I envy him and think he should bravely tell the world of his newfound respect for NAMBLA and their ilk.
But no, the Senator writes to remind us of our expected stance towards the Catholic Church:
As a Catholic U.S. Senator, I am proud to see the Church, often alone, take one courageous stand after another on the great moral issues of the day: abortion, cloning, third world debt relief, AIDS and the breakdown of the family to name a few. The Catholic Church remains true to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the dictates of the natural law. Through 2000 years, the Church, built upon rock, has survived every arrow sinful man has shot at her from within and without. Another arrow has been loosed from within, piercing the Body of Christ. The time is now for the laity to come to her aid. We must heed the call of Christ through his Vicar on earth: Climb into Peter's boat and go into the deep!
I'm sure that the victims of abuse by priests sheltered and protected by father Church, as well as their families and friends, will be relieved to know that you clearly consider betrayal by not only the priests but their superiors not one of the great moral issues of the day for that institution. Furthermore, it's such a comfort to know that we can all make things better by 'Climbing into Peter's boat' and 'go[ing] into the deep!'
Man. At least the article is called 'Fishers of Men' rather than 'Fishers of Boys.' But you know, it sure didn't feel that way.
I have great sympathy for those Catholics whose faith is challenged by the behavior of those few who have betrayed the trust put in them, from the priests involved to those who covered up their acts. It's not my church. I tend to view the entire sequence of events as a series of pedophile crimes, and treat them as such. But for politicians who either a) are insensitive enough to gloss over the suffering of people of their own faith with divisive sniping over how it's the fault of 'their liberal city' or b) calculating enough to write this sort of an article in an attempt to secure votes from an ideologue Catholic base outside of Massachusetts - well, I'm not sure which is worse, but both fill me with nothing but contempt.
Senator Santorum, you're fucking scum. And from here in Boston, I'd like to see you give that little speech somewhere in South Boston on a street corner, and we'll see how well it does you. I don't claim to be of like mind with the Catholic population of Boston on much, nor to be speaking for anyone but myself - but if I was at that streetcorner, even as a more recent Bostonian, you'd not feel welcome.
The good Senator seems to want your feedback (or maybe just your dollars, if the credit card ads on the page are any indication, I don't know) since he includes his contact information:
Contact: Senate Republican Conference http://www.catholic.org DC, US Senator Rick Santorum - Senator, 202-224-9068 Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSend him your thoughts today!
Welcome, sir or madam.
We are countrymen. What that means, and what it is worth, I cannot say. What our country means today in the world, I also cannot say. All I can say to you is what it means to me. Those of you who are not American, and who (in the words of a poster at The Agonist "watch, bemused" - we apologize for the interruption in the regular programming of internecine Snark, and beg your indulgence. Regular uncivil discourse amongst the colonists will resume shortly.
Our country is becoming increasingly polarized. Bile and rancor sear both sides of the debate. Frustration runs rampant. All I can try to do from my position is assure you of one thing. I, personally, do not blog my choleric, frustrated rants because I 'hate America.' I don't hate my countrymen serving in our armed forces. Nor, I assure you, do any of my friends who rant as well. On the contrary, we are frustrated because our love for this country has run afoul of what we see as a profound misstep in the path - and we feel powerless to correct it, or even influence the way our country walks, when the only responses we see from those currently in power are blithe assurances that either nothing is wrong, or (worse) that we ourselves must be sympathizers with those who 'hate us.'
Today is our birthday.
Today is a time for fireworks, and grilling, and family. Today I would that I could share a drink with any and all who are or would be Americans, or would simply learn more of America as an American sees it. I would tell you all I could, and I would endeavour to listen with all my might. That is all, really, that I think we can do for each other right now - not just listen, but hear; not just talk, but speak.
Raise a drink with me, please - no matter where you are - to the Constitution of the United States of America. Raise a drink with me to those who would defend that Constitution and the Republic which its ideals have brought forth here on Earth - an idea which binds men. Not a fear which binds men, nor a power which forces them, but an idea which makes them kin - raise a drink with me, brother and sister.
Happy Fourth of July. Many happy returns.
I responded in kind, mirroring the format of the ad, and offering a pointer to a webpage of mine where there is, in fact, a link to a picture of me, using my real email account - figured what the hell, it's on the web anyway.
I got back a one line replay from a yahoo email account which read something like "i couldn't open your picture can you send it as an attachment?"
Okay, fair enough, I hadn't sent a link directly to the pic, and the description I'd sent of the link in question was in fact sort of vague. I attached the pic, sent it off.
No reply. But the personal was reposted later that day.
Now, I realize that I have no right to expect anything from this person. I realize that this person could just be a picture collector (something I had no idea existed until I began the trail of tears that these boards can be if you're actually there because you don't have much other option). On the other hand, the lack of request for a picture in the posting, and the generally detailed nature of the post, plus the generally detailed reply I'd sent, had made me think not that physical attraction didn't matter (never that) but that perhaps, given the interaction and effort already expended, and given that the other party apparently had at least put in the effort to respond to my email, I might get some form of polite reply rather than simple void.
Sorry, ignore this. Bitter crap.