Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Highlander Dude

Camera phones don't do so well when both the subject and "photographer" are moving. His jacket says: Highlander/There Can Be Only One.

I guess it's tough being a washed up immortal. The wooden paneled restaurant to the left is the Dominican place where I get my cafe con leche.

Sometimes You Have to Wonder, Why do They Bother?

Then again, I never met a Kiwi I didn't like.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Chaos Theory of Legislation

Thought what they did on purpose was scary?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Your Car Wants Tail


There's something so wrong about this, I just can't figure out what it is. The designer had this to say:

"Thanks Tails" are tails for cars. An organ which express appreciation. To make it easier to understand, it is not expressed by language but by the gesture of tails of dogs. I consider this as an art work only when this is manufactured. This project is progressing with cooperations of car-related companies. The picture is a model which were equiped to "smart" to check the movement and respons of drivers.

Stolen from this excellent site.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Plush Microbes

Gotta love that cute little Rhinovirus!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Comic Book Universe Battles

Ever wonder who would win if Spiderman fought Wolverine? if Buffy fought Xena? Well, wonder no more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Don't Touch that Dial

Seriously. Don't do it.

Big Trouble in Little Holland

flkr photo sharingHolland, my adoptive land, is in trouble, and I think the trouble there is indicative of a wider problem with Western style democracies. The Dutch are having a difficult time maintaining their famous emphasis on social justice and everyone getting along (samenleving) in the face of a growing and increasingly militant Muslim population.

The problem is Holland is complex, so here’s some background.

The Muslim's in the Netherlands come from three main nations: Indonesia, Turkey, and Morocco, and immigrants from each group form distinct subpopulations within the Netherlands that have very little in common with one another. This distinction is the first crucial thing to understand: when the Dutch speak of the "immigrant" or "Muslim" problem, they are mainly talking about people from Morocco along with a much smaller number of folks from a handful of other Muslim nations. The Indonesians and Turks are more often than not second or third generation Dutch by now, and most are fully assimilated.

It's important to distinguish between the related but often conflated problems of "criminality" and an unwillingness of some Muslim groups to assimilate. The Dutch perceive the former as problem with all immigrant groups in Holland including (and some would say especially) with recent immigrants from the Netherlands Antilles. It's difficult to gauge just how accurate a perception this is, especially as, e.g., the Amsterdam police refuse to release crime data by race or country of origin. Still, there is no doubt that crime, especially violent crime, has been on the rise for over a decade, and the, for wont of a better term, Dutch Dutch overwhelmingly blame recent immigrants, fairly or no.

The criminality problem - much of which in my opinion can be ascribed to the usual problems of recent immigrants everywhere: poverty, language difficulties, prejudice - gets conflated with the much more serious one of unwillingness to assimilate because many of the criminals come from the same pool of unassimilated immigrants. Like recent arrivals in many countries, Muslims in Holland have frequently become more fundamentalist in their beliefs and customs. Often poor and lacking meaningful economic and social connections outside their immediate group of fellow immigrants, these recent arrivals have been easy prey for those teaching intolerance. Essentially, Holland now has Muslim enclaves within the major cities that are becoming semi-autonomous entities by claming that their way of life, like all others, must be tolerated.

This means the Dutch must tolerate these groups denying women and girls the rights they enjoy under Dutch law; they must tolerate their artists and politicians being assassinated for speaking their minds about Islam and Muslim culture while Dutch Muslim leaders sit complacently by; they must tolerate calls by these same leaders to do away with secular democracy and replace it with theocracy.

And that's the problem as I see it with Western Style democracies: what do you do with a group of people who would use the very mechanisms that make a tolerant, democratic society possible to create a non-tolerant, anti-democratic one? That was a lot of exposition to reach a rhetorical question, but I think that question has wider implications here in the States, and I’ll get to that in a future post.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Christian Exodus

William Gibson posted this on his blog this morning.

Not such a bad idea, if we can get them ALL to move.

Atlantis Found (Again)

So that's where I left it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bruce Sterling: Science's Next Big Score

An interesting take on social networking analysis. Here's an excerpt:

In the hands of law enforcement officials, social network analysis is like a chainsaw, both useful and dangerous. Saddam Hussein was captured with the aid of link diagrams that revealed his vulnerable connections, not just to the major malefactors in his government but to low-ranking yet highly trusted bodyguards, chauffeurs, and fellow tribesmen. On the other hand, imagine what malevolent authorities with a McCarthyite bent might do with such a tool: "Several Web pages link your site, Volvo Owners for Free Expression, to those of terrorists. Surely this proves something."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

CJR November/December 2004: Blinded by Science

An excellent article about how big media has utterly failed to report accurately on science related issues. As the article demonstrates, this failure has enormous policy implications.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This link

pretty much sums up my views at the moment. Keep in mind I grew up down South.

Coming soon to a battlefield near you: Uranium-sucking tumbleweeds

Example of fact being stranger than fiction #446

Druggists refuse to give out pill

No, of course the Right doesn't want to impose their values on us. They just want to be left in peace to live their lives they way God intends.

Which, of course, kind of sucks for the rest of us who have to share this country with these idiots. Their right to express their moral values ends where mine begins.

I just wonder what happens when you get a Christian Scientist or a Anthroposophist behind the counter. That compound fracture? You don't need hydrocodone for the pain, just a more postive attitude.

Dailykos has more here. Read this: it's going to get just as bad as we imagined.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

For the Lazy Sadist

This little gem came up on an othewise legit RSS feed of mine today and was too funny not to post. I give you, the Robospanker 2003!


But Wait! You say you don't want your inlaws, friends, family - oh hell, anyone really - to know about your little "hobby?" No problem, the Robospanker 2003 converts to a stylish desk:


As Drew Curtis might say, "Still no cure for cancer."

Ernest Partridge: 'Do we still have a democracy?'

"In a free society, where the legitimacy of the government must reside in the consent of the governed, "trust us" is a totally unacceptable response to the citizen's demand for proof of the integrity of his vote. It is doubly unacceptable, when "trust us" is uttered by an employee of a private company, the officers of which have announced their support of a political party and of candidates whose names appear on the ballot."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Found Poetry #3

Sometimes my feelings are so strange
I think they should have another name.
Maybe like a programming object.

nameofperson.feelings("love","little pieces","loop=infinite")

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Big Brother's Little Sister

Well, that's the last time I shop there. And there. And there....

Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Repeat as Necessary.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Stolen from boingboing yesterday. Makes sense to me.



By C. B. Shapiro

I feel bad for the Red States.

Yes, they won the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and most of the state houses. But they still can't have the country they really want because the last few Blue States won't roll over. So I am making a simple proposal:

Secession. Divorce. Splitsville.

Personally, I think we made a huge mistake not letting them go when we had the chance back in 1862. Well, no time like the present to correct an old mistake.

Then, they would finally be free to have the kind of society they've always wanted; church and state can be fused so they build the kind of theocracy they've dreamt of, with Jesus at the helm. Then the new USAR (United States of America Red) can ban books, repeal civil rights, persecute gays and have all the wars they like. They want prayer in schools? More power to them. They can ban abortion and post the Ten Commandments in every federal building in their country. Bring back slavery, if they want. We'll be free to live with our like-minded countrymen who believe in science, modernism, tolerance, religion as a personal choice, and truly want limited government intrusion in our personal lives. Why should each side be driven mad by the other any more, decade after decade?

Call the Culture War a tie and everyone go home.

Of course, we in the U.S.A.B. get the Gross Domestic Product, businesses and universities of California, New York, Massachussetts -- basically the whole Northeast and Northwest (plus Illinois and Michigan if they want to come along). They get Wal-Mart and Duke and most of the Nascar tracks. But they can feel free to import movies, TV shows, financial services, and defense technology. We'll import country music, bibles and Confederate flags.

The two countries will by necessity have open immigration policy: anyone who feels they are living in the wrong country can just move across the border, no questions asked.

Ultimately, why should I have to convince my fellow countrymen that Darwin may have had a point and that the word “liberal” is not equivalent to “godless communist?” And why should they be forced to live in a country with morally corrupt non-believers? I'll stay in the messy, free-thinking U.S.A.B. And to the U.S.A.R. I say…

God bless you all, and see you at the U.N

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Other Half

red blue yellow abstract 1So, here’s the thing: a little more than half the people who bothered to vote (more this time than usual) bought into President Bush the Younger & Co.’s agenda. Not an overwhelming margin of voters, but enough. Yes, they’re very well may have been shenanigans unseen in the voting process, but that’s beside the point. The point is there are plenty of people who agree with enough of what the current regime offers to keep it in power. Not only that, the Republicans and their minders retained and expanded their hold on Congress and, in the near future, the Judiciary.

In short, the Democrats and the progressives who support them got spanked like bad little school girls.

There will be much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Many will say that our side didn’t do a good enough job of educating, of countering spin; we didn’t reveal the bald face lies for what they were. Others will say the wedge issues did us in; screw the gays and the feminists and those pesky stem cell researchers if it means we have no chance at all to get at least some of our agenda back on the table. Still others will blame fear. It’s difficult to argue with a man who honestly fears for the safety of his family, to tell him that the tax cuts for the rich will eventually do more damage to his wife and sons than any terrorist could. And, please, let’s forget about abstractions like civil rights.

And a lot of folks will conclude that the Democratic Party is irrelevant. The problem is that the Democratic Party being irrelevant is irrelevant.

It just escapes us. Over half the country honestly believes that President Bush the Younger is a better bet for their short term physical and economic security than any other candidate. Over half the country also believes that faggots are going to hell, that the only good Muslim is probably a dead Muslim, that they too will one day make enough money that these ruinous tax cuts will benefit them and their progeny. Over half the country doesn’t care that President Bush the Younger stood before them and lied to their faces about Iraq – and they sure as hell don’t care how many Iraqis have died since we invaded. Over half the country says if you’ve got nothing to hide than you shouldn’t mind the government watching your every move. And over half the country doesn’t even notice that this regime has eroded the very mechanisms of democracy itself.

On the web boards and blogs, a lot of folks variously bemoaned and ridiculed the study done just before the election showing how an amazing number of likely Republican voters still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Then there was the “reality-based” passage from that now oft quoted New York Times Magazine article; it was yet another and perhaps the definitive admission that this regime has no concern for objectivity of any kind, much less the moral obligations that accompany understanding the world as it is.

And still we just don’t fucking get it.

We don’t get that we will never, ever convince that other half the country of anything. I recall my high school creative writing classes. Aside from wanting to get in the pants of the girl who wrote very bad stories about horses, the one thing that sticks out in my memory is this: Show, don’t tell. That very bad man who’s your villain? don’t say how bad he is, have him drown some kittens or something.

And that’s what’s got to happen in America before things get better. That half of the country who voted for President Bush the Younger has to see exactly what they’ve done. It’s their college bound teenage daughter that needs to die in a botched back street abortion, their son that needs to come home in a coffin hidden away from public view like some rumor of incest. It’s their father that needs to die a slow, painful and expensive death from a disease curable in other nations through the bounty of stem cell research. It’s their wife that needs to be pulled aside for a cavity search at the airport because of a computer mistake in our surveillance systems. It’s their pension that has to evaporate because the dollar is worthless, the nation is broke and all their church can offer them is prayer.

And nothing, absolutely nothing will change until this happens. We can tack to the “center” or, hell, even the right. We can exorcise the queers and the baby killers and the niggers and the spics, but the other half will never, ever accept progressive values until they feel it, feel it in their very bones as they hold the hand of a dying relative who might have been saved, as they wait in line for what paltry government assistance awaits them in their dotage or enfeeblement, as they watch helplessly while their best friends’ lives are destroyed for speaking their minds.

We should forget about finding “acceptable” candidates, about abandoning the rights of the citizens of our nation, about letting the rest of the world “deal with” our policies. If we want power badly enough to do that, we’re no better than them. We must simply wait for the other half to understand the consequences of their actions. To understand it, they must first live it. And for once, we have a regime in power that will give them exactly the starring role in a reality show that they always wanted.

That doesn’t mean that we just sit back and wait to wear our shit eating I-told-you-so grins. I-told-you-so’s will be small comfort when this happens. We need to keep the faith in the most literal of senses, for there will come a time, and I hope soon, that more Americans than not will realize that an intolerant, violent, and spendthrift nation is not the kind of place they want to live. When this happens, hopefully we’ll have our shit together enough to offer a real alternative. If not, than a lot of folks will either leave or begin to take the Second Amendment at face value.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

"Don't Mourn, Organize"

OK. I read thousands of comments and dozens of Diaries last night and this morning. And you know something? I’m going to forget I read most of them. Just erase them from memory along with the names of those who posted them. Chalk them up to adrenaline crashes, too much rage and reefer and booze.

Because what I found in my reading was a plethora of bashing Christians, bashing Kerry, bashing gays, bashing Edwards, bashing Kos, bashing America and bashing each other. As well as a lot of people saying they’re abandoning the Democrats, abandoning politics, abandoning the country. This descent into despair and irrationality and surrender puts icing on the Republican victory cake.

Why were we in this fight in the first place? Because terrible leaders are doing terrible things to our country and calling this wonderful. Because radical reactionaries are trying to impose their imperialist schemes on whoever they wish and calling this just. Because amoral oligarchs are determined to enhance their slice of the economic pie and calling this the natural order. Because flag-wrapped ideologues want to chop up civil liberties and call this security. Because myopians are in charge of America’s future.

We lost on 11/2. Came in second place in a crucial battle whose damage may still be felt decades from now. The despicable record of our foes makes our defeat good reason for disappointment and fear. Even without a mandate over the past four years, they have behaved ruthlessly at home and abroad, failing to listen to objections even from members of their own party. With the mandate of a 3.6-million vote margin, one can only imagine how far their arrogance will take them in their efforts to dismantle 70 years of social legislation and 50+ years of diplomacy.

Still, Tuesday was only one round in the struggle. It’s only the end if we let it be. I am not speaking solely of challenging the votes in Ohio or elsewhere – indeed, I think even successful challenges are unlikely to change the ultimate outcome, which is not to say I don’t think the Democrats should make the attempt. And I’m not just talking about evaluating in depth what went wrong, then building on what was started in the Dean campaign to reinvigorate the grassroots of the Democratic Party, although I also think we must do that. I’m talking about the broader political realm, the realm outside of electoral politics that has always pushed America to live up to its best ideals and overcome its most grotesque contradictions.

Not a few people have spoken in the past few hours about an Americanist authoritarianism emerging out of the country’s current leadership. I think that’s not far-fetched. Fighting this requires that we stick together, not bashing each other, not fleeing or hiding or yielding to the temptation of behaving as if “what’s the use?”

It’s tough on the psyche to be beaten.Throughout our country’s history, abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, anti-racists, antiwarriors, civil libertarians, feminists and gay rights activists have challenged the majority of Americans to take off their blinders. Each succeeded one way or another, but not overnight, and certainly not without serious setbacks.

After a decent interval of licking our wounds and pondering what might have been and where we went wrong, we need to spit out our despair and return – united - to battling those who have for the moment outmaneuvered us. Otherwise, we might just as well lie down in the street and let them flatten us with their schemes.

Meteor Blades at daily.kos

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Evidence of eVoting Machine Hacking During an Actual Election

From the above article:

It appears that such an attack may already have taken place, in a primary election 6 weeks ago in King County, Washington -- a large jurisdiction with over one million registered voters. Documents, including internal audit logs for the central vote-counting computer, along with modem “trouble slips” consistent with hacker activity, show that the system may have been hacked on Sept. 14, 2004. Three hours is now missing from the vote-counting computer's "audit log," an automatically generated record, similar to the black box in an airplane, which registers certain kinds of events.

Things grow better with Coke

No, it's not what you think. This may be good for poor farmers, but I'd hate to be the PR person assigned to spin this story.

Monday, November 01, 2004