Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Undiscovered Country

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is now out. Unfortunately, it was released right in the middle of my course of classes. I've decided to wait until Christmas break to dive into San Andreas. In the meantime, you can read Gamespot's Review here.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Crusade on the Holy Land

I decided to check out what was up with the wingnuts over at World Net Daily. It's usually good for a chuckle, but I especially liked their book review of Beyond Iraq. Over at Amazon, there's an interesting little theological debate going on in the comments section for Beyond Iraq.

I found an interview with the author of Beyond Iraq , Michael D. Evans, and here's a taste of his viewpoint.

The church is the only moral compass for the nation. It is a measuring stick for the behavior and attitudes of a nation...a light on a hill. Not only is it a moral compass, but the church possesses the most precious gift of all - hope - the true cure for the empty souls of tens of millions of children of Islamic fundamentalists attempt to recruit as human bombs.

God has called the church to be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. It is not a request; it is a command and a challenge, and a promise, as well. The church has a Great Commission.

Had the church fulfilled the "Judea and Samaria" portion of the command, 9/11 would never have happened. Born-again, Bible-believing Arabs don't blow up innocent people, Christians or Jews. This is the breeding ground from which has grown the H-bomb (human bomb.) Any attempt to root out global terrorism without plowing the soil in which it grows will only serve to spread the seed of terrorism even more quickly.


Mr. Evans thinks the real problem is Islam and we just need to extinguish that religion. What's more, he finds so much in his Bible readings to encourage his little delusions.

I'm concerned that if Bush is re-elected that fuckwits equivalent to Mr. Evans are going to continue to guide our foreign policy.

In my last post I referred to Jonathan Dimbleby's article outlining some rational steps to improve the world.

But what hope is there when we have morons like Evans calling for a new series of Crusades? Religious morons like Mr. Evans are a greater threat to the US than Osama Bin Laden.

World Poverty, Global Warming, and the War on Terrorism

If you're having a lousy day, go ahead and read Jonathan Dimbleby's piece in the Guardian on what he claims are the intersecting issues of world poverty, global warming, and the war on terrorism.

If you're having a great day, well, go have another beer and forget about our problems for one more day. Because we are well and truly fucked.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Criminal Justice Military-Industrial Complex (Article Evaluation)

I just finished reading an article titled The Militarization of Policing in the Information Age by Kevin D. Haggerty and Richard V. Ericson, published in the Journal of Political and Military Sociology in Winter, 1999 (Volume 27, pages 233-255, no link to article available).

The authors provide a fascinating analysis of the directed technology transfer of military technologies to the police. The authors are both Canadian academics and assess developments in Canada, Great Britian, and the US.

While several US cities have embraced [surveillance] efforts, the UK has been the leader among western nations in their attempts to surveil the city. It has reached the point that a city dweller in Britain can now expect to be caught on film every five minutes. Such efforts have a clear military lineage. For example, the British leadership in this area can be traced in part to the several decades of experimentation with electronic counterinsurgency and antiterrorist city planning conducted in Belfast by the British Army. (citations omitted)

The end of the Cold War caused many defense contractors to seek civilian markets for their products and thus qualify their product line as "dual use", thus creating an additional Defense Department funding justification, opening up civilian and police technology funding sources, as well as creating a vast secondary market.

This has given the police many new surveillance and data mining tools to play with. The social implications of these new forms of police surveillance are of great interest to me. The authors write in their conclusion:
The introduction of such communication technologies into policing is no t the harbinger of a totally controlled society. What we appear to be witnessing is the emergence of a society where both surveillance and the public knowledge of such surveillance is increasingly the norm. It is this reflexive public appreciation of surveillance which can introduce a dynamic interplay between the watchers and the watched. Even as the optics of these new technologies become more refined, people search out spaces (both physical and informational) beyond official scrutiny and attempt to creatively turn the gaze back upon the official watchers. (citations omitted)

If you have the time, I suggest reading the whole article. It's available from your local library through the magic of InterLibrary Loan (ILL).

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Random RFID Update: RFID to merge with cell phones

Nokia has a prototype phone that is RFID-enabled.

Selected quote:

RFID's addition to Nokia phones is inevitable, according to some industry veterans. During the past few years, cell phones have been tricked out with any number of different wireless antennas--global positioning systems, Wi-Fi, infrared, Bluetooth and soon ultra wideband--in order to increase the phone's usefulness.


Chipping people with RFID is one of my favorite topics, largely because of my not-so-secret desire to become a cyborg. Of course, who needs to chip people if they allow themselves to be tracked by their GPS and RFID enabled cell phones?

Lament for a Small Planet: Overpopulation

There are too damned many people in the world. Jonathan Watts reports that the Chinese population is expected to peak at 1.46 billion around the year 2035.

Then in 2050, India's population is expected to peak at 1.6 billion.

How are we going to feed all these people? WWF is reporting that we are already running an ecological debt.

The Living Planet Report 2004 shows that humans currently consume 20 per cent more natural resources than the earth can produce, and that populations of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species fell on average by 40 per cent between 1970 and 2000.

"We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate," said Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International. "We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth's ability to renew them." |Link|


I hope the human race continues long after I'm gone. But I have to wonder if we're going to last much past 2050. And I'll count myself lucky if I stick around until 2050.

Ian Sample suggests 12 fragiles pieces of our environment that are most likely to suffer catastrophic climate change in the near future.

Of course, the world will keep spinning....with or without us pernicious, self-important monkeys.

Hopefully China will use its excess population to colonize Mars. That would at least be interesting....

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Risk Compensation

Wikipedia has an interesting entry on risk compensation and risk homeostatis. I was exposed to the idea in high school during policy debate where we called it danger homeostatis and ran it as a disadvantage.

I really hope the bioengineers and geneticists are successful in creating better, smarter humans because I am so unimpressed with the majority of the human race.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Lessons for a Small Planet: The Foolishness of the Copenhagen Consensus

If you have been following the Copenhagen Consensus project supported by the Economist magazine and Bjorn Lomberg, Tom Burke does an excellent job of demolishing the assumptions behind the Copehagen Consensus.

Selected quote:

Cost-benefit analysis can help you choose different routes to a goal you have agreed, but it cannot help you choose goals. For that we have politics. People disagree about priorities and they do so on a huge variety of legitimate grounds. When they do so, they are not arguing about value for money, but about the kind of world they want to live in.

It is a vanity of economists to believe that all choices can be boiled down to calculations of monetary value. In the real world, outcomes are not so easily managed. A stable climate is something we might now call a system condition for civilisation. That is, it is something without which civilisation is impossible - though it is not, of course, itself a guarantee that there will be civilisation.

The messy world we live in is one in which an unstable climate will guarantee poverty for untold millions. But it is equally one in which, if we fail to solve the problem of poverty much more quickly and cleverly than we are doing at present, we will continue to destabilise the climate. The Lomborg argument that we can delay one until we have solved the other is a cruelly false prospect.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Higher oil prices rekindle interest in Green Energy

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on Ron Scherer discussing the growth of renewable energy sources globally. And guess what, Europe and Canada are way ahead of the ol' US of A.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

CIA sitting on report critical of Bush Administration

According to the LA Times' Robert Scheer, CIA Director Goss is quashing a report ordered 2 years ago about intelligence failures leading up to 9/11.

Quagmire Watch: US Bombing Mosques

Bombing mosques does not strike me as a sign of progress.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has issued a report called the Military Balance which finds fault with the Bush administration's rationale that it is bringing terrorist together in Iraq to decimate them

The report dismissed claims by US officials that the influx of jihadists into Iraq brought more terrorists into a smaller "killing zone". The al-Qaida movement was unlikely to concentrate forces in any one country, the institute said, adding that the 1,000 foreign fighters estimated to be in Iraq were a "minute fraction of its potential strength".

The institute's director, John Chipman, said yesterday: "The outcome of the US-led international effort to bring stability to the country is far from certain as the most powerful military power in the world struggles with a multi-faceted insurgency."

He said it could take five years before Iraq's own security forces were able to guarantee stability themselves. |link|

Boycott Sinclair Media's Advertisers

Note: I posted this piece over at the Bellman, this is a cross-posting.

Zwichenzug has already alerted Bellmaniacs to the partisan actions of Sinclair Media in showing Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal right before the election. There's more analysis at Common Dreams.

Sinclair Media has fired its Washington Bureau Chief for speaking out against this open campaigning, according to Julian Borger.

Luckily, someone has created an easy way to fight back! You can sign the petition or email their advertisers en masse or selectively.

I suggest putting the words "boycott" and "Sinclair media" in the subject line.

Vote Early, Vote Often

People really are fired about about this election. A Democrat in Ohio has been accused of giving away crack cocaine for voter registrations and a Republican-affiliated firm has allegedly been destroying Democratic voter registrations in Oregon and Nevada. NPR has a similar (audio) story from Las Vegas.

Voting fraud is as old as voting, of course. Both parties are concerned with voter fraud since the margin of victory in the last presidential election was razor thin, and in the view of many, ultimately hijacked by the Republicans.

Both campaigns are tooling up for the post-election legal turmoil. NPR's All Things Considered has an audio report here.

(I've been listening to NPR more since my new cell phone picks up FM radio.)

Privacy Update: Federal and State Intelligence Coordination goes ahead

The Associated Press has an article about the Terrorist Threat Information Information Center (TTIC). If you remember the Total Information Awareness Project that was killed by Congress, well, this is one of its replacements.

Of course, we knew that this administration had not sworn off data mining. I think data mining in and of itself is harmless if done for a legitimate reason. It is the risk of abuse of the system that is disturbing.

And then there's the Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange.

The Bush Administration's Continued Abrogation of the Constitution

CNN has picked up Jesselyn Radack's FindLaw article on Jose Padilla and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marr.

Jose Padilla was the "dirty bomber" picked up in Chicago and has been held for several years without anyc charges being filed in clear contravention of the US Constitution and the Geneva Accords.

Rotten.com has a quick biography of Jose Padilla. Padilla is certainly not a model citizen, and it strikes me that there are several similarities to Aukai Collins' story in My Jihad.

But that doesn't affect how upset I am by the Bush administration's war on civil rights. If these men have committed crimes, charge them with crimes, but to just pretend they don't have Constitutional rights is immoral, and in my view, illegal.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Bush-Cheney 1984

Slashdot has an update on the state of American liberty.

Teachers ejected from Bush rally for weaing PROTECT OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES T-shirts.

An Associated Press news item about pepper balls being fired into a crowd of peaceful Anti-Bush protesters.

That whiff of fascism keeps getting stronger.

Among the comments at Slashdot, Engineer-Poet said it well when he wrote:

I remember speeches by pols where protest signs held up in the auditorium were taken in stride. Hell, I attended a speech by President Ford which was punctuated by cries of "What about Nixon?" from somewhere off to my right. (This was before I was able to vote, natch.)

I have never, ever seen anything like the reflexive hostility of this administration to normal political opposition. This Bush should expect it; he got into office on a hugely controversial court decision and with fewer votes than his opponent, and has proceeded to embark on an extreme right-wing program targetting access to and even information about birth control, gutting of pollution regulations and the doctoring of scientific information on government websites to conform to a partisan agenda.

Nothing can excuse this. Nothing. And then we read about the arrest and harassment of people whose only act is to register their discontent with the acts of the President, over and over and over.

I have few beefs with the President over the most controversial of his actions, over in a hot, tired and dusty land far away... but the rest of this stuff threatens the very soul of America if it is allowed to continue. So the only thing I can do is to vote the rascal out, as a lesson to him and any who would follow him:

Thou shalt not abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press, or tell falsehoods about the conclusions which our taxpayer-financed research has given us, or let anyone contaminate my air and water for the bonuses of the corporate executive class. Not In My Name.

(And that goes for anyone pandering to the postmodern PC idiotarians on the other side too; throw sops to them, and you've declared yourself my enemy.) |link| (emphasis added)



Thanks to Spammy T for the referral.

How big a threat is terrorism?

The Observer's William Pfaff has an Op-Ed piece discussing how Islamic fundamentalist's goals are a pipe dream.

But he also lays out some ugly truths for Americans:

Osama bin Laden himself has gone from being the patron or financier of the Taliban movement to a fugitive existence in Waziristan. His followers may blow up Americans in the Green Zone of Baghdad. They can reinforce an Iraqi nationalism that will eventually force the US and its allies out of that country, to their humiliation.

But as Gilles Kepel, the French authority on Islamic society, has already said, the Islamist movement is moribund in moral terms, although its military and political energy is not yet exhausted. There is no way in which it seriously threatens the Western industrial nations, other than through sporadic acts of terrorism. And that is the sort of thing Britain endured for many years from the IRA, Italy and Germany during the 1970s and 1980s from their Red Brigades, and Spain from Basque separatists. It is unpleasant, but it is not serious. (This is the lesson the American people refuse to understand.) (emphasis added)


I think he is correct that no matter when we leave Iraq, it will not be as victors. It will go down with Vietnam and Afghanistan in the annals of foolish imperialism and failed states.

But America does need to put terrorism in perspective. September 11th didn't change the world, it merely awakened America to some unfortunate truths about the world.

Academics flee Iraq

The AP's Omar Sinen penneed this cheerful piece about the breakdown of law and order in Iraq.

Selected quote:

``Assassins are targeting Iraqi university professors in a coordinated, liquidation process to force well-known scholars to leave the country and thus hinder the country's reconstruction,'' said Issam al-Rawi, a geologist at Baghdad University and head of the Association of University Lecturers.

Mohammed Abdullah, Baghdad University's slain dean, was shot in the forehead at his clinic by a person pretending to be ill. The former Baathist had been held in high regard as a doctor.

``Why did they kill him? He was loved by all the people around him,'' said his brother, Alaa Abdullah.

Speculation about who's behind the attacks is wide ranging, with some even blaming the United States and Israel, while others say neighboring countries like Kuwait and Iran desire a weak Iraq, sapped of its brain power.

Americans are frequently blamed for violence clearly carried out by insurgents and others on the theory that the current lawlessness has resulted only because the United States invaded and occupied the country.

Like Iraqis from all walks of life, academics are also taken hostage by ransom-seeking criminal gangs.


I'm not a pacifist. Sometimes force is the only appropriate response in my opinion. But I've studied war enough to realize that wars have many unintended consequences.

That is why I feel the best policy is that war should be employed only when absolutely unavoidable.

I am not persuaded that Bush did everything he could to prevent the invasion of Iraq. I am persuaded by Richard Clarke's account in Against All Enemies that Bush came into office intending to invade Iraq.

Friday, October 15, 2004

World rallies against Bush

The Guardian is matching up citizens of the world to write undecided voters in Clark County, Ohio.

Troops investigated in Iraq for refusing a "suicide mission"

Henderson over at the Bellman posted this item . I hadn't been to the Anti-War Blog before. Here is another news item on it from the Air Force Times.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today

This showed up in my inbox today. I don't know who wrote it, but the author is far more succinct than I will ever be.

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy
made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy
when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with
China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but
multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without
regulation.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches
while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy.
Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but
creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A
president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid
defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution,
which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George
Bush's cocaine conviction is none of our business.

[I knew about the DUI...I thought the man just had a cocaine habit, not a conviction...]

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a
conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for
your recovery.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can
tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what
Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people,
we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years.

[I don't usually encourage chain mail...but this is a national emergency...]

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

Mindjack

I've added a new blog on the right, check out Mindjack if you like cyberpunk. Also check out this article by Kevin Maney picked up by Yahoo on a direct neural interface for a paraplegic.

In related news, William Gibson is blogging again. And he's almost as pissed as I am.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Two Americas

The Sandrat sent me the following letter as an email. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but I did find this news item about the Women in Black.

The letter speaks for itself. I edited the letter slightly for apparent typo's.

There has been over the last two years a group of women I am involved with called "Women in Black". periodically they have stood silently in a group in down town Lawrence Kansas. We wear all black with veils holding signs that states the current death toll of both Iraqis and American service people in the Iraq war. Or other appropriate verbage.

A month ago myself and a group of women (some of us part of Women in Black), started a sign blogging group. We wanted to reach people outside of our insular circle of left leaning liberals friends and community. We painted signs denouncing Bush and Bush administration policies and posted them in high traffic areas. We tried to post them at times and places of high traffic.

In our college town we thought "Game days" were the perfect time.Football is big in our college town. So on Game Days, along the side of the hi-way, or at major intersections we put big banners that say things like "Bush Lie 1000's Die", or "Re-Defeat Bush" etc etc.

Then we decided to take it a step farther. I am not a sport person. I have never been to a football game in my life. It's true. I just am totally uninterested. Because of this I have never experienced the "tailgating" phenomena. Tailgating is a pre football game activity where hours before a game fans bring barbecues, RV's Tents and Drink,cook and party, up until the game. It's huge. Here in Lawrence the stadium is in the middle of campus with a large parking lot around it. 1000's of people are there pumping up and partying for the soon to be football game. Yesterday's game was a big deal because it was between Kansas University and Kansas State. A big rivalry.

We, wearing black and veils and carrying our "Bush lies 1000's Die" and "1157 US dead 15,000+ Iraqi Dead"! and other signs. slowly walked through the crowd. It was the most frightening experience of my Life!! Screaming angry people yelling obscenities at us "Cu**'s Bi***'s Whores, Suck my D***, F*** you, Go to Iraq, traitors, whore's!" for 30-40 minutes ( I don't know how long it felt like hours) we walked through the most hostile environment I have ever been in. (And I realize that's not saying much. I live in a pretty safe world.) But this is my town. These people hated us. One group even had a microphone where people took turns calling us "C***'s!" and asking us to perform oral sex for them. At one point I feared for my life. I thought Jesus, in this mob if one person instigates throwing a stone at us were dead.... Was this what it was like to be a Jew in Warsaw in the 30's? These people were scary......And these are Bush's people.

We were silent, we walked silently ! through. A couple of macho guysstood in front of us trying not to let us by and harass us. We walked around. I walk with a cane (because of MS). One guy was holding his flip flop and waving it in the air yelling "flip flop, flip flop" (mind you we had no Kerry signs with us). He stood holding his flip flop and stepped in front of me to block my path. I was looking down just trying to move forward. I looked down at his bare foot blocking my way and it was all I could do to not slam down the end of my cane right through the bridge of his foot...... but I didn't....... I am no saint. I was scared but these people were also pissing me off. After that I started to just chant in my head, "I am strong, I am strong".

There were lot's of "Get a job!" "get a life!". It was Saturday and they were at a football game. Go figure. We didn't react verbally. When people were yelling these obscenities particularly over the microphone it was best to just let them hear themselves echoing down the street. I had to wonder did those silent and watching have doubts about the crowd they were with. Watching these big bulky men yelling at these 8 little women walking silently through a jeering crowd.

Of the thousands of hostile jeers I had 3 positive comments. One women walked along the side of me and said, "you're so brave, thanks for doing this." I appreciated that but boy I didn't feel brave. Another guy, a black guy, took his hat off as we walked passed. He said thank you ladies for doing this. As he said that another man ran up to us swearing and telling us to "get the f*** out of here" The black guy held him back and said something like, "I'm a Vet you don't know about war man, these people are trying to help us." He continued to talk to this guy as we walked on.! He was my hero. Another guy yelled "way to go keep up the good work." Other than that, I feared for us. We got through it. Our friend was waiting for us in a van, we got in and drove away. It took several hours and to drinks for my heart to stop racing. The good news is I might have lost a pound or two through the whole event.

One of the things that impressed me most was the hostility toward us as women. The sexual threats the references to our anatomy. Most comments were very misogynistic. There are some very unhealthy men out there. Not that there wasn't some women out there yelling out at us. Percentage wise it was 98% men 2% women. That's just a guess but most women just watched..... I did have one elderly blue haired lady give me the finger. (That's a little disturbing).

After it all looking back on the day I can't help but think if this is "George Bushes America", "George Bush's people". They can have it.
I'm going to keep working on my own America.

That was my saturday.

I love you all!!

~retta


There really are two Americas. After reading this, I have to wonder how long the Union can hold.

Furious George

Mark Moulitsas of Daily Kos has an Op-Ed piece in the Guardian on Bush's incredibly angry (and out of touch) performance at the second presidential debate.

Kicking the Oil Habit within 50 years

The New Scientist has a special feature on scientific issues at issue in the presidential election.

Of special interst to me is the article In 50 years, we could cure our oil addiction by David L. Chandler.

Selected quote:

[T]he perception that the world cannot do without oil is misguided. True, many of the alternatives, such as wind power, biofuels or a hydrogen economy, appear too impractical or distant to allow an immediate divorce from oil. But a raft of studies, researched and funded not just by advocates of alternative energy but also those with vested interests in the status quo, suggest otherwise.

The potential pay-offs are huge. No more massive subsidies for oil exploration and extraction. No more reliance on troubled regions such as the Middle East, which has 65% of the world’s oil reserves. Huge cuts in pollution and a curtailing of climate change. In short, the strategy is a no-brainer. The only losers would be the oil business – one of the world’s richest and most powerful industries. That industry, of course, nurtured President Bush, whose administration’s policies are widely seen to favour fossil fuels. |Link|


Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bullet Control

Many of you have heard Chris Rock's stand-up rountine on bullet control. I was curiously if anyone had seriously made the proposal. Brendan Healey wrote this article for the John Marshall Law Review on bullet control and it turns out that Senator John Kerry has proposed bullet control previously.

While I am a responsible gun owner and I value my right to keep and bear arms, I agree that reasonable restrictions are necessary to regulate inherently dangerous items such as firearms.

In his book Targeting Guns, Gary Kleck has posited several principles that he believes effective weapons regulation should share. According to Kleck, future regulations should have the following attributes:

1. The controls should regulate long guns at least as strictly as handguns. Their political advantages notwithstanding, controls that restrict only handguns probably do more harm than good . . . .

2. The controls should be popular enough to be politically achievable and to not provoke massive disobedience and evasion . . . .

3. They must be obeyed by a nonnegligible fraction of the violence-prone population, not just by relatively nonviolent, noncriminal people.

4. They should not depend on the hopeless task of producing overall gun scarcity in a nation that already has over 230 million guns . . . .

5. They should avoid the jurisdictional "leakage" problem, whereby strict local controls on gun acquisition are evaded by going to less strict areas . . . .

6. They should address the private transfers of firearms that account for the overwhelming majority of gun acquisitions by violence-prone people . . . .

7. They should not be extremely expensive relative to their benefits.|Link|
(formatting added)



I highlighted number three above because that is the key issue for me. Most gun laws are ignored by criminals. The laws create a society of unarmed victims for violent criminals.

I support a one-week waiting period to buy a gun and mandatory education for new gun owners. I would even support psychological testing to determine if a person was mentally stable enough to own a gun, such as the tests we give to aspiring police officers. The use of force is a serious matter.

But if a person passes all of these tests, then he or she should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Of course, it's already the case that citizens can carry concealed weapons in 35 states without the psychological tests.

Dubya owns a lumberyard after all

If you watched the debate Friday night, there were some odd moments. Bush's invocation of the 1857 Dred Scott decision was perhaps the oddest moment. Ok, so Bush wouldn't appoint judges who support Dred Scott.

Another odd moment was when Bush denied owning a lumberyard. Richard Kahn over at Blogleft did the sleuthing on this one. Bush does own a lumberyard.

Kerry knows more about Bush than Bush knows about himself.

Data mining for votes

The Guardian has this item about data mining tools being used by the Republicans and Democrats to determine swing voters likely to be persuaded to their side.

Shiny as a new tattoo

My tattoo is healing nicely and you can see some images here. Yes, it's a real tattoo and not paint. Tattoos don't have to be black.

My tattoo is a replica of hedera ivy. I enjoy gardening and I really like hedera ivy. I'd been thinking about an ivy tattoo for almost ten years, so I decided it was finally time to act. This was my first tattoo and I wanted a photo-realistic one. It took about 3 hours to do, which we broke up into two sessions.

I'm very pleased with my tattoo, and I was fortunate to find such a talented artist to do my work. The artist is Dan Sartor aka Reverend Dark and you can find his tattoo work here and his artwork here.

In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream

The Christian Science Monitor has an article by Gregory Lamb talking about the dramatic growth of computer viruses and the growing partnership of spammers and virus writers.

Viruses can now enter computers as programs attached to e-mails sent by spammers. Once embedded in a machine, the viruses return the favor. By secretly taking control of computers, the viruses can create networks of "bots," programs that turn computers into "zombies." These computers are then employed by spammers to send out floods of anonymous spam messages.

These spams often include "phishing" scams - e-mails that appear to be from a bank or credit-card company but are really trying to steal account passwords or other financial information. Phishing has victimized some 1.8 million consumers and cost banks and credit-card issuers nearly $1.2 billion in the past year, estimates Symantec, a maker of computer-security software in Cupertino, Calif.

In the first half of 2003, the average number of bot networks monitored per day by Symantec was 2,000. By the first half of 2004, the number mushroomed to 30,000. Each bot network can contain thousands of infected computers.|Link|

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Compassionate Colonialism

I was over at Democracy Means You when I saw this political cartoon by Sarah Moser called Compassionate Colonialism. I love the image of Bush with the big sword.

Of course, now even Paul Bremer is admitting that the lack of troops in Iraq made the occupation a loser from the very beginning.

What a bunch of incompetents.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Torture is the Unofficial Policy of the Bush Administration

Ever since Abu Ghriab I have suspected that torture was the unofficial policy of the Bush administration. Seymour Hersh's article on Abu Ghraib and his article the Gray Zone are powerful indictments of this administration's handling of the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and the use of torture as a policy tool.

The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror. |Link|


Zwichenzug has posted over at the Bellman an article about how the Republicans are now trying to change the law to allow the extradition of foreign nationals to countries that will torture them (even if they didn't originate there), under the euphemism extraordinary rendition. Upon doing some research, I learned that Rep. Edward Markey along with my representative, Henry Waxman, have sponsored House Resolution (HR) 4674 to ban extraordinary rendition. Check it out on Thomas. Or go read Zwichenzug's original post.

I tend to blame Bush for destroying international law and not respecting human rights, but it is really the current leadership of the GOP who should be blamed, and Bush is merely one of their tools.

I was pissed off about the entire invasion of Iraq. But I have been incredibly pissed since Abu Ghraib. This administration has made the torture of foreign nationals its unofficial policy. This policy has done irreparable harm to international law and has poisoned world public opinion against the US.

The real kicker is that torture is totally unreliable, and the torture at Guantanamo Bay probably hasn't led to a single useful piece of information.

The Guardian is also reporting that US claims of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region are greatly exaggerated. I think this is a clever ruse to make people think that this administration gives a damn about genocide, to divert attention from the debacle in Iraq, and to lay the groundwork for bombing yet another Muslim country.

I agree with Arkangel when he wrote: I don't just want to beat the GOP -- I want to end them. I don't care how many decades it takes -- I want to end them.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Florida Electoral Fraud 2.0

Jimmy Carter gives an excellent overview of why the 2004 election in Florida is likely to be stolen by the Republicans.

While Carter doesn't mention Diebold by name, those diabolical partisans for Bush are working hard to inject more volatility and fraud into the voting process. Learn more at Black Box Voting and Verified Voting. Black Box Voting has a downloadable book in PDF on their site that does an excellent job of laying out a history of vote fraud and how vulnerable computerized balloting systems are to fraud, especially those without a paper audit trail.

Thanks to Spammy T (an implacable defender of the republic's virtues) for some of the above links.

Random RFID Update: IBM plans for RFID and the sign of the beast

IBM is devoting $250 million dollars and 1,000 employees to develop RFID systems and middleware.

Sensor and Actuator Solutions [a division of IBM] plans to release new WebSphere-based RFID middleware product to collect, integrate and manage data obtained from RFID tags and readers from customers' distribution centers and stores before the end of the year. The goal is to eventually sell systems that can provide real-time virtual views of the complete shipping process, so that customers can pinpoint the exact location of goods at any stage of the journey from central warehouses to retailers' shelves. Since launching its RFID division a year ago, IBM has made steady commitments to the industry. It's also used RFID technology to improve operational efficiency in the company's Fishkill, New York plant. |Link|


In the tagging humans category, this story tells of BBC Science producer Simon Morton getting chipped.

Earlier I mentioned Michael Kannelos' article on RFID chipping of humans. Since I mentioned Kannelos' article, the comments section over on CNET has gone crazy with all of the Christians talking about the number of the beast.

As RFID chipping becomes more common, it will be interesting to see how the Christian resistance pans out.