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'...and now sign here that you will not use this cucumber for licentious purposes...'

Yesterday the Supreme Court™ refused to hear a case about an Alabama law prohibiting the sale of sex toys.

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal on Ban on Sex Toy Sale

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a constitutional challenge to an Alabama law that makes it a crime to sell sex toys.

The high court refused to hear an appeal by a group of individuals who regularly use sexual devices and by two vendors who argued the case raised important issues about the scope of the constitutional right to sexual privacy.

The law prohibited the distribution of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." First-time violators can face a fine of up to $10,000 and as much as one year in jail.
&sdot &sdot &sdot
They [the ACLU] said Alabama has never explained "why sales of performance enhancing drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra and even ribbed condoms are not similarly prohibited."
&sdot &sdot &sdot
The appeals court said it agreed with Alabama that the law exercised time-honored use of state police power to restrict the sale of sex. It rejected the ACLU's argument that the constitutional right to privacy covered the commercial sale of sex toys.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King opposed the ACLU's appeal.

"This case involves conduct that is both public and commercial -- the sale of sexual devices to the general public in commercial retail shopping centers" and at in-house Tupperware-style parties, he said.

King said the law respected "the distinction between public commercial conduct and purely private behavior." He said, "It ... stays out of people's bedrooms."

The fact that the Supreme Court™ has refused to hear this case, taken together with its recent decision to expand police power in conducting searches, should serve as definitive alarums that Murka has passed a point of no return in the erosion of personal liberties. Actually, that happened 13 days ago with the disgusting, outrageous, egregious travesty of justice that is the Lynne Stewart verdict — which I would consider the last nail in the coffin of constitutional rights in Murka. What more proof is needed? Your Uncle Sam is announcing with every new decision, with every new law, that he would far prefer to be considered your Big Brother.

You know, there's one thing I've never understood about those who (self-)righteously proclaim to love Murka the most (as if they had a monopoly on patriotism) because of all the "liberty" and "freedom" Murka offers its citizens. What are they talking about? Where is it? I don't fucking see it (unless, of course, you're wealthy and probably white). Where is this "liberty" and "freedom" of which they speak? I mean, what, after all, is the fucking threat to anybody if Marilyn wishes to purchase a Jackhammer Jesus™ to piston in Suzie's cunt in the privacy of her own home? How is refusing her the ability to buy it in any way indicative of "liberty" and "freedom"? Because now Norman Uptight and his lovely family are free from fearing they'll inadvertently see a string-of-pearls or cock-rings in the shopwindow of Mr. Fetter's Leather Shop in Downtown Birmingham? But no, because Marilyn can't even buy it at a hot lezzie tupperware party in her own home.

I suppose if by "liberty" and "freedom" one means "free to buy automatic weapons" and "free to despoil the land" and "free to commit corporate crime" and "free to foist my religious nonsense on you" and "free to get fired without cause" and "free to buy lots of useless stuff" and "free to get strip searched" and "free to die because I can't afford health care" then Murka, by such a definition, would be that land. (I suppose it's the kind of freedom Saint Reagan meant when he said "Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion.")

So why doesn't the definition extend to what a person does with their own body? or what consensual people do between themselves? It seems freedom applies only to one's ability to interfere with another's freedom, but not to one's ability to pursue their own pleasure, particularly if it involves orgasm, consciousness expansion, or wishing to alleviate one's own suffering, either with drugs or even one's own death. I suppose in Murka one also has the freedom to suffer, but not to alleviate it. (Hey — do you think maybe there's a connection between suppressing pleasure and decreasing personal freedoms, and increased cultural fear, paranoia, neuroses, enhanced security statehood, social control...Nah!)

[The Supreme Court™ also announced yesterday that they'll review assisted suicide laws. You can just bet which way they're going to decide on this issue.

There's a remarkable quote inside this article:

"The court has an opportunity to insure that patients receive truly compassionate care and pain relief by limiting physicians' use of narcotics for healing — not death," David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association, said in a written statement. "We don't need to empower physicians to administer lethal doses of narcotics. We need to empower physicians to administer truly pain-relieving doses of narcotics.

"We need to send a message that even in our darkest hours, life is still worth living, that loved ones will come alongside to help and that doctors will treat pain effectively and compassionately — not with a lethal prescription."

How dare anybody decide such a thing for another human being?! There is no greater injustice, no greater cruelty, than forbidding someone the comfort and solace of knowing they have the choice to take away their own life. Such fucking nerve! Such gall! Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to aid someone's death. It's cruelty beyond torture to prolong an unwanted life, especially one of interminable pain. Suicide is the ultimate symbol of freedom. How dare they try to take that away!]

Freedom is not a zero-sum game: increasing one person's freedoms doesn't take away someone else's. Freedom is like hospitality — it increases the more it is shared and enjoyed.

Murka is deeply schizophrenic, so trapped in doublethink that it somehow easily equates freedom with oppression and liberty with obedience. There's even a new term for it: Ordered Liberty. (Eg: 'liberty is "not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought." Thus, the focus should not be on expanding the horizon of choice for each individual, but rather on understanding which choices are consistent with morality and virtue.' Of course, who gets to define what constitutes 'morality' and 'virtue' is the tricky part. I think I can guess what his answer will be...)

America is becoming a land where one is free to kill but not to party, free to fear but not to hope, free to obey but not to follow the dictates of one's own conscience.

Perhaps I'll let the great American political philosopher, the ex-mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani — who, unfortunately, only got a C+ in his class on Ordered Liberty (but an A for effort!) — have the last word about what Freedom™ means in America: "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."

You know, considered this way, America really is the Land of the Free after all...


Iraq -- The Ultimate Rave Party!

Now it's legal for all you cannon fodder kids to get a great high!

Speaking of new reality creation, the FDA has given a go-ahead to provide MDMA (aka Ecstasy — the Israeli trafficker's drug of choice) to Murkan soldiers to help relieve their combat stress. After all, it must be a bitch for some of the less real Murkan servicemen to have to relive memories of all the mommies and children sub-human ter'rists they've had to kill — even if they did deserve it.

Ecstasy trials for combat stress

American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.

—Like wow, listen to the beat of those Abrams and Bradleys! Boom-Thud-Boom-Thud...
[tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut]—Hey, look at all that red! It's so intense, so beautiful!
—I love you man!

[Hat-Tip to Young Fox at Amsam]

Political Reality Creation 101

It's a commonplace by now that BushCo is not a "reality-based" community.

For those who wish to see it in action the following single article is teeming with wonderful examples of the art of political reality creation.

Bush says Iraq row is over, but warns of dispute over China embargo

BRUSSELS : US President George W. Bush declared that deep divisions with Europe over Iraq had been laid to rest [ding!], but said plans to lift an EU arms ban on China spelled serious trouble for transatlantic ties [ding!].

He also delivered a mixed message [ding!] to allies worried that he is mulling military action against Tehran, saying: "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous." [ding!]

"Having said that, all options are on the table." [ding!]

After back-to-back NATO and European Union summits, Bush was to leave Brussels Wednesday to patch up relations with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia.

Bush hailed pledges by all 26 NATO members to help train the Iraqi forces he says will eventually replace US soldiers [ding!], but signalled that Washington might take punitive steps [ding!] against the EU if it ends the weapons ban on China.

"There is deep concern in our country that a transfer of weapons would be a transfer of technology to China [ding!], which would change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan [ding!]," he said after a NATO summit.

Bush said he was open [ding!] to EU efforts to craft a plan to ensure that the ban does not lead to a significant shift in the quantity or quality of armaments sold to China, but added skeptically: "Whether they can or not, we'll see."

At issue is the European Union's plan to end a ban on exports of military hardware imposed on China in 1989 to protest the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement.

French President Jacques Chirac called for the lifting of a European embargo on arms sales to China, but said the United States and Europe should work together to ensure the conditions were right.

Although Bush did not spell out what punitive measures could be taken, US presidential aides pointed to a sharply worded, non-binding [ding!] US congressional resolution passed earlier this month which warns of "limitations and constraints" on government and industrial relations between the United States and Europe if the ban is lifted.

The US president, who described his mission here as "a listening tour" [ding! ie: "You Old-European faggots better to listen to me!"], unapologetically defended the March 2003 invasion of Iraq even as he thanked [ding!] NATO for taking on the "important mission" of training Iraqi forces.

"We liberated Iraq. [ding!] And that decision has been made, it's over with and now it is time to unify [ding!] for the sake of peace [ding!]," he said. "The key now is to put that behind us [ding!] and to focus on helping the new democracy succeed [ding!]."

As NATO leaders confirmed that all 26 member countries were taking part in some capacity in the training mission, Bush downplayed the relatively small scale of the contributions in favor of their symbolic importance.

"Every contribution matters. Twenty-six nations sitting around that table said it's important for NATO to be involved in Iraq. That's a strong statement," said Bush.

EU leaders also confirmed that they were prepared to co-host a conference on Iraq with the United States if asked to by the new Iraqi government.

Germany is providing training to Iraqi officers in the United Arab Emirates, and one French officer will be involved in the mission to coordinate offers of equipment for the Iraqi army. France has made a separate offer to train police in Qatar.

In the two-day charm offensive [ding!], Bush also met with a wave of world leaders, including a dinner date Monday with French President Jacques Chirac and breakfast with his staunchest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The president also met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and had his first face-to-face meeting with new Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

Bush said he told Yushchenko that NATO's "door is open" [ding!] but that membership is contingent on embracing strong democratic institutions [ding!].

The US president also took up another theme of his visit, a row over the US refusal to join the Kyoto protocol aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming.

"The Kyoto debate is beyond us [ding!]. As far as I'm concerned, now is the time to focus on our abilities [ding!] and research [ding!] and capacity [ding!] to develop technologies [ding!] to make the air cleaner [ding!] so that our people can have the standard of living they expect [ding!], at the same time that we're good stewards [ding!] [ding!] [ding!] of the Earth. [ding!] [ding!] [ding!]"

Meanwhile, around 200 anti-war protesters demonstrated in the western German city of Mainz on Tuesday, on the eve of a visit by W. Bush, police said.

The demonstrators gathered under the banner "Not Welcome, Mr Bush".

Another demonstration against the US-led invasion of Iraq took place in Berlin on Tuesday.

Demonstrations were also due to take place in Wiesbaden, the business centre Frankfurt and the central city of Kassel and a group was also to rally outside the European headquarters of the US military in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.

The president's wife, Laura Bush, visited US troops and their families in southwestern Germany on Tuesday.

She told German television that she was concerned by the protests against her husband's policies.

"Noone likes it when there are protests against them, [ding!] [ding!] or when they are criticised, [ding!] [ding!]" she told ZDF.

She said the protesters should recognise that "people want freedom and no one wants to live under tyranny [ding!] [ding!] [ding!] [ding!] [ding!]."

Germany was steadfastly opposed to the war on Iraq and continues to refuse to send troops there.

Boo-Boo -- The Newest Teletubby!

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'In the beginning, then, was theft', or: The Philosophical Underpinnings of BushCo

I've noted elsewhere that injustice is closer to Nature than justice. Several years ago I pretended to try to write a novel, one of the supposed highlights of which was a conversation between a Corporate Executive and a still idealistic charge of his. The theme of the conversation was that the executive was more in tune with Nature because he understood it better, as proven by his success borne from the clever and ruthless implementation of the simple ethic "might makes right."

The Marquis de Sade was a brilliant thinker who can serve as BushCo's most holy prophet. I believe his enormous, repetitive, and difficult tome Juliette can be considered the Bible of the forces behind neo-capitalism and globalization, best exemplified by BushCo. It is truly a Gospel of Fascism. (Reminder: "Fascism should more properly be called Corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." —Benito Mussolini)

Let us now attend to the words of Fascism's great and holy prophet, Saint de Sade, as spoken through Dorval, a German who explains the origins of his taste while recuperating after the exertions of a felch orgy.

[I know the following excerpt is extremely long. I also know that given our blipvert attention spans it takes a particular kind of gall to dare post something this demanding. But if people really want to understand what the fuck is going on they ought to take the time and trouble to exercise their brains with this because some of the most important thoughts cannot be summed up in economical bite-sized apothegmlets. If this offends you then you're exactly the person I'm talking to.]

And now, the holy man speaks...

An Extended Excerpt from the Writings of Ur-Capitalism's Prophet

Kind friends, by a single feature alone were men distinguished from one another when, long ago, society was in its infancy: the essential point was brute strength. Nature gave them all space wherein to dwell, and it was upon this physical force, distributed to them with less impartiality, that was to depend the manner in which they were to share the world. Was this sharing to be equal, could it possibly be, what with the fact that naked force was to decide the matter? In the beginning, then, was theft; theft, I say, was the basis, the starting point; for the inequality of this sharing necessarily supposes a wrong done the weak by the strong, and there at once we have this wrong, that is to say, theft, established, authorized by Nature since she gives man that which must necessarily lead him thereto. On the other hand, the weak revenge themselves, they put their wits to work, their cunning to use, in order to recover possession of what force has wrested from them, and there you have deceit, theft's sister and likewise daughter to Nature. Were theft offensive to Nature, she would have accorded equal physical and mental capacities to all men; all men existing on an equal footing. Nature would thus have ensured that to every man a fair share in the things of this world fall and would thus have prevented anybody from enriching himself to the detriment of his neighbor. Under these conditions, theft would be impossible. But when from the hands of the Nature who creates him man receives a conformation which necessitates both the inequality of what is allotted to each and hence theft, how then may one persist in ignorance and suppose that nature is loath to have us steal? To the contrary, she so plainly indicates that to steal is her fundamental commandment that she makes theft the basis of all animal instinct. Only by constant thefts do animals manage to preserve themselves, only by countless usurpations do they maintain their existences. And how ever has man—himself, after all, but an animal—been able to delude himself into thinking that what Nature implanted in the very soul of animals can be a crime in her eyes or for him?

When the first laws were promulgated, when the weak individual agreed to surrender part of his independence to ensure the rest of it, the maintenance of his goods was incontestably the first thing he desired, and so to enjoy in peace whatever little he had, he made its protection the prime object of the regulations he wanted formulated. The powerful individual assented to these laws which he knew very well he would never obey. And so the laws were made. It was decreed that every man would possess his heritage, undisturbed and happy; and that whosoever were to trouble him in this possession of what was his would be chastised. But in this there was nothing natural, nothing dictated by Nature, nothing of what she inspires, it was all very brazenly man-made, by men henceforth divided into two classes: those who yield up a quarter of the loaf in order to be able, undisturbed, to eat and digest what was left; and those who, eagerly taking the portion profferred to them and seeing that they'd get the rest of the bread whenever they pleased, agreed to the scheme, not in order to prevent their own class from pillaging the weak, but to prevent the weak from despoiling one another—so that they, the powerful, could despoil the weak more conveniently. Thus, theft, instituted by Nature, was not at all banished from the face of the earth; but it came to exist in other forms: stealing was performed juridically. The magistrates stole by having themselves feed for doing the justice they ought to render free of charge. The priest stole by taking payment for serving as intermediary between God and man. The merchant stole by selling his sack of potatoes at a price one-third above the intrisic value a sack of potatoes really has. Sovereigns stole by imposing arbitrary tithes, dues, taxes, levies upon their subjects. All these plunderings were permitted, they were all authorized in the precious name of right, and where are we today? we observe men take legal action against what? Against the most natural right of all, that is, against the simple right of every man who, lacking money, demands it at gunpoint of those whom he suspects to be wealthier than he. This fellow they call a criminal, and never once do they remember that the first thieves, of whom and to whom no one breathed a word of reproach, against whom no one protested, were uniquely responsible for the crimes of the second—were and are uniquely responsible for the obligation of this second man to find himself a weapon and by force to recuperate what the first usurper tore so unceremoniously away from him. For, if all these thieveries can be perfectly well understood as usurpations which necessitated the indigence of subordinate beings, these same inferiors' subsequent thefts, rendered inevitable by the earlier thefts of their betters, can scarcely be viewed as crimes; but rather as secondary effects ineluctably precipitated by primary causes; and the moment you assent to that primary cause, you forego the possbility of lawfully punishing its effects. To be sure, you may punish them, but only unjustly. If you elbow a servant against a costly vase, if, as he slips and falls, he breaks the vase, you have no right to penalize him for clumsiness; instead, you must direct your wrath upon the cause that drove you to mistreat him. When that wretched peasant, reduced to beggardom by the immense weight of the taxes you load on him, abandons his plow, gets hold of a pistol, and goes off to waylay you along the highway, you may punish him, yes, but if you do, I say that you commit a very great infamy; for he's not at fault, he's the valet your roughness made upset the vase: don't push him about and he'll not break anything; and if you do push him, don't be surprised when things get broken. Thus when he sets out to rob you this poor fellow commits no crime; he's merely striving to recover some of the substance you and others like you had previously snatched away from him. He is doing nothing that isn't completely natural, he is trying to redress the balance which, in the moral as well as the physical realm, is Nature's highest law: the peasant become desperado is perfectly right and what he does, perfectly just. But that isn't quite what I was aiming to prove; however, proofs aren't needed, there's no need of arguments to demonstrate that the weak individual is doing nothing more nor less than what he must when he attempts his utmost to recover things which were once torn from his grasp. What I should like to convince you of is that neither does the powerful individual commit a crime or an injustice when he strives to despoil the weak. I should like to convince you of that, for it is my own case, and I indulge in this act every day. Well, this demonstration is easy enough: theft perpetrated by a strong man is assuredly a better and more valid act, within the terms and from the standpoint of Nature, than the weak man's theft; for Nature prescribes no reprisals which the weak may take upon the strong; these reprisals may exist in the moral form, but certainly not in the physical, since, to take physical reprisals the weak man must make use of physical forces he does not possess, he must adopt a character that has not been given him, in short, he must in some sort fly in the face of Nature. That sage mother's laws unambiguously stipulate that the mighty harm the feeble, since for what other purpose have their powers been invested in the mighty? The strong individual, unlike the weak, never dons masks, he at all times acts true to his own character, his character is the one he has received from Nature, and whatever he does is an honest and direct expression thereof and in the highest sense and degree natural: his oppression, his violence, his cruelties, his tyrannies, his injustices, all these outbursts are of the character instilled in him by the power that gave him life on earth; all these are then simple, straightforward, and therefore pure emanations of what he is, as pure as the hand that engraved the necessity for them in him; and when he exercises all his rights to oppress the weak, to strip and ruin the weak, he therefore does the most natural thing in the world. Had our common dam desired this equality that the weak long to establish, had she truly desired that property be equally shared, why should she have divided the mighty and the weak into two classes? By so differentiating men has she not made her intention amply clear, to wit, that the discrepancies between physical faculties have their counterpart in material discrepancies? Does she not make manifest her design, that to the lion goes the whole share and to the mouse nothing; and this precisely in order to achieve the equilibrium that is the single basis to her whole system? For, in order that equilibrium reign in the natural scheme, it must not be men who install it there: Nature's equilibrium is disturbance unto men: what to us seems to unsettle the grand balance of things is precisely what, in Nature's view, establishes it, and the reason therefore is as follows: this that we take to be lack of equilibrium results in the crimes through which order is restored in the universal economy. The mighty make away with everything—that, men agree, is unbalance. The weak react and pillage the strong—there, redressing the scales you have the crimes which are necessary to Nature. So let us never have qualms over what we will be able to snatch from the weak, for it isn't we who in acting thus qualify our gesture as criminal; it is the weak man's reaction or vengeance which so characterizes it: robbing the poor, despoiling the orphan, fleecing the widow of her inheritance, man does no more than make rightful use of the rights Nature has given him. Crime? Ha! The only crime would consist in not exploiting these rights: the indigent man, placed by Nature within the range of our depradations, is so much food for the vulture Nature protects. If the powerful man looks to be causing some disturbance when he robs those who lie at his feet, the prostrate restore order by arising to steal from their superiors; great and small, they all serve Nature.

Tracing the right of property back to its source, one infallibly arrives at usurpation. However, theft is only punished because it violates the right of property; but this right is itself nothing in origin but theft; thus, the law punishes the thief for attacking thieves, punishes the weak for attempting to recover what has been stolen from him, punishes the strong for wishing either to establish or to augment his wealth through exercising the talents and prerogatives he has received from Nature. What a shocking series of inane illogicalities! So long as there shall be no legitimately established title to property (and never will there by any such thing), it will remain very difficult to prove that theft is crime, for the loss theft causes here is restitution there; and Nature, being no more concerned for what happens on the one side than the other, it is perfectly impossible for anyone in his right mind to affirm that the favoring of either side to the disadvantage of the other can constitute an infraction of her laws.

And so the weaker party is quite correct when, seeking to recover his usurped goods, he deliberately attacks the stronger party and, if all goes well, forces him to relinquish them; the only wrong he can commit is in betraying the character, that of weakness, with which Nature has stamped him: she created him to be a slave and poor, he declines to submit to slavery and poverty, there's his fault; and the stronger party, without that same fault because he remains true to his character and acts only in strait accordance therewith, is also and equally right when he seeks to rob the weak and to enjoy himself at their expense. And now let each of them pause a moment and inspect his own heart. In deciding to assault the strong, the weak individual, whatever may be the rights justifying his decision, will be subject to mild doubts and waverings, and this hesitation to proceed and gain satisfaction comes from the fact he is just about to overstep the laws of Nature by assuming a character which is not native to him. The strong individual, on the contrary, when he despoils the weak, when, that is to say, he enters actively into the enjoyment of the rights Nature has conferred upon him, by exercising them to the full, reaps pleasure in proportion to the greater or lesser extent he gives to the realization of his potentialities. The more atrocious the hurt he inflicts upon the helpless, the greater shall be the voluptuous vibrations in him; injustice is his delectation, he glories in the the tears his heavy hand wrings from the unlucky; the more he persecutes him, the happier the despot feels, for it is now that he makes the greatest use of the gifts Nature has bestowed upon him; putting these gifts to use is a veritable need, and satisfying that need an incisive pleasure. Moreover, this necessary pleasure-taking, which is born of the comparison made by the happy man between his lot and the unhappy man's, this truly delicious sensation is never more deeply registered in the fortunate man than when the distress he produces is complete. The more he crushes his woe-ridden prey, the more extreme he renders the contrast and the more rewarding the comparison; and the more, consequently, he adds fuel to the fire of his lust. Thus, from hammering the weak he gleans two exceedingly keen pleasures: the augmentation of his material substance and resources and the moral enjoyment of the comparisons which he renders all the more voluptuous the more suffering he inflicts upon the miserable. So let him pillage, let him burn and ravage and wreck; to this wretch he fastens on let him leave nothing but the breath which will prolong a life whose continuation is necessary to the oppressor if he is to be able to go on making the comparison; let him do as he likes, he'll do nothing that isn't natural and sanctioned by Nature, whatever he invents will be nought but the issue of the active powers entrusted to him, the more he puts his potentialities into play, the more pleasure he'll have; the better the use to which he puts his faculties, to Nature the better servant will he be.


The Fat Lady Prepares to Sing

Bush's god is a hungry one, and something so small as the truth is not to get in the way of a good blood sacrifice.
   —Catalytic Converter [a most excellent blogger]

It's been a horribly depressing week for news. The slippery slope just got a hell of a lot steeper and slicker. Soon things will be in free-fall.

I knew that when BushCo was going to be reselected things would happen quickly. The unspeakably evil fucks running the show are wasting no time implementing their apocalyptic plans. The clincher was seeing Ambassador Death-Squad, that villainous fuck Negroponte, getting the top intelligence spot. It's the first time in my life when I felt that it's really all over now. I don't know when I've ever felt such hatred. These bastards act with such complete impunity because they really do get away with everything, and there's nothing to stop them, and they know it. They're going to make the reign of Commodus look like a Rotary Club's sunday picnic.

Prescience is only a good thing if you can make pragmatic use of it, like moving to Canada before the shit hits the fan; otherwise it's a curse, 'cause when things unfold as predicted one has had that interim time to helplessly anticipate the unstoppable cataclysm. Ignorance, in this case, would be closer to bliss — being taken by surprise is often better than anticipation. (Eg: when I had my first bone-marrow biopsy I was a nervous wreck for days in anticipation of the procedure, which only made the whole experience far worse. If I hadn't known what was coming, I wouldn't have made myself miserable thinking about it.) Who wants to witness a pre-ordained, ineluctable tragedy come to fruition? I, for one, would far rather be wrong and laugh at my foolishness in retrospect.

Like my Googly-Eyes article: though being de-googled may be considered proof of my assertions that Google is a front-end for government surveillance, I consider it a pyrrhic victory: it proves a most unwelcome and unpleasant truth. I would have far preferred to be proved wrong. (Yeah, I know, Google is updating their algorithms. Pure coincidence that I was de-googled only a few days after my article.)

I've been very tempted to toss in my towel and focus on more prosaic concerns, like family, bills, and entertainment — you know, the kinds of unlived-life that most people live. Such a life, I imagine, would be so much easier to endure this way: to no longer know what was going on, nor to care about it; to finally embrace the notion of "the real world" I need to live in when "I grow up"; to serenely "accept the things I cannot change." Life is hard when you give a shit about things.

But a very wise Tutor sermonized to me that "Attitudes, particularly fear, or despair, are contagious. Hope is not an emotion, it is a decision to live in a certain way, help open to a better future, whether we get there or not."

Which reminded me of something another very intelligent and wise man once said: "I am not afflicted by optimism or pessimism. They are not in my lexicon. I'm not in the mood game, because moods affect your output, and the thing is, you must keep striving because there is no alternative to striving for greater justice." —Ralph Nader.

Thus I can't give up, for that would be handing a victory to the very forces I most despise. I may be a coward, but I hate losing even more.

All this is just a long introduction to a list of the headlines that were like whiplashes to my face. In addition to headlines indicating BushCo's joy in officially turning America into a Corporatist's Disneyland, while disaster movies come true in the background, the pieces on The Grand Chessboard are moving furiously during the middlegame. It's starting to feel a bit like a contemporary re-enactment of "Prelude to WWI" on fastforward.

Negroponte named 1st intelligence director

John D. Negroponte, a veteran of global hots spots in a diplomatic career that spans four decades, was nominated by President George W. Bush Thursday to be the nation's first director of national intelligence, or the supreme intelligence overlord.

["Supreme Intelligence Overlord"? WTF? I guess he can now join the "Drug Czar" in a mutual toss. Man these autocrats love the sound of tyrannical titles! Hey, how does this one sound for Alan Greenspan: "Exalted Economic Grand-Imperial Poobah"?]

Rove Gets Bigger Role at White House

Rove will continue to oversee White House strategy to advance Bush's agenda and will "make sure we have an open and fair process for the development of policy and to make sure the policy is complementary and consistent with the various councils," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Bush Signs Class-Action Limitations Into Law

The president said he had just begun his case for legal reform. 'There's more to do,' Bush said. 'I'm confident that this bill will be the first of many bipartisan achievements in the year 2005.'

["Closing the doors of justice to the ruined and wrecked families of boardroom bad guys is nothing less than executive clemency for executive executioners." —Greg Palast]

'Global warming real' say new studies

The possible failure of the North Atlantic conveyor has been discussed for several years and was fictionalised last year in the film The Day After Tomorrow. Dr Curry said the accumulation of freshwater in the upper ocean layers since the 1990s meant that the risk should be taken seriously.

Dish Network Brings Pentagon Channel to Millions of Subscribers

Dish customers will be able to keep current with military news and information including DoD news briefings, military news, interviews with top defense officials and short stories about the work of military people.

Summary: Iraqi's Death During CIA Probe

WHO DIED: Manadel al-Jamadi, a suspect in a bombing in Iraq, died in 2003 during CIA interrogation in the Abu Ghraib prison shower room. A military pathologist ruled it a homicide.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Army guards found him suspended by his wrists, which were cuffed behind his back. The position, known as "Palestinian hanging," is condemned by human rights groups as torture.

WHAT IT MEANS: The death raises new questions about CIA interrogation practices.

Iran says nuclear fuel deal with Russia imminent

Russia will sign a deal with Iran next week to start nuclear fuel shipments for the Russian-built reactor there, an Iranian official said on Thursday.

The United States, which accuses Iran of secretly working to develop nuclear weapons, has long called on Russia to avoid supplying the Islamic state with nuclear fuel.

Assassinated Hariri's Funeral Becomes Massive Anti-Syria Protest

More than 200,000 Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut today in a demonstration of mourning for their former premier and an expression of hatred for Syria whom they accuse of being behind his assassination.

US recalls ambassador to Syria after Hariri assassination

The US does not know who assassinated Rafik Hariri, but White House spokesman Scott McClellan blames Syria for destabilising the region.

Iran, Syria form 'united front'

In the face of increasing US pressure on Syria following Monday's killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Iran and Syria declared Thursday that they would form a "common front to face threats."

Russia to Sell Advanced Missiles to Syria

Russia said on Wednesday it wanted to supply Syria with advanced missile systems, a move certain to anger the United States which accuses Syria of having links to terrorism.

Syria reaffirms support for reunification of China

A senior Syrian official reaffirmed Saturday in Damascus that Syria firmly supports the peaceful reunification of China and does not recognize the legality of the Taiwan authority.

Russia, China Confirm Plans for Joint Military Exercises in 2005

Russia and China will conduct their first ever joint military exercises in August or September to better coordinate the fight against terrorism, the AFX news agency reported, citing an article in the China Daily newspaper.

Pakistan will be a failed state by 2015: CIA

Forecasting a "Yugoslavia-like fate" for Pakistan, the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said "by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation".

CIA always hatched conspiracies against Pak: Former ISI Chief

A day after the CIA, in its report said that Pakistan would become a failed state by 2015, the former chief of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), General (Retd) Hameed Gul has said, that though the US had always portrayed itself as a true friend of Pakistan, the truth was that the CIA had always hatched conspiracies against Pakistan.

Condi Desperate to Stop EU-China-Iran Chain Reaction

Chinese exports to Iran are certainly understandable. Once a net exporter of oil, China now imports 60 percent of its needs. It's oil imports have more than doubled over the past five years, growing by 7.5 percent per year, seven times faster than the US.

China's increasing reliance on Iranian energy - including a recent zillion-dollar oil and gas co-development deal - has certainly put a hitch in the neo-crazies' plan to destabilize - much less invade and occupy - Iran.

CIA issues warning on China's military efforts

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency has warned that China's military modernisation is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait and increasing the threat to US forces in the region.

"May you live in interesting times" indeed.


I've Been Googly-Eyed!

I can't help but wonder if I'm being punished for my post about Google a few days ago. Seems I'm not the only one who has been "de-googled." As Atrios puts it:

I've been banished from the Googleverse. This website will not appear in any searches.

Doing a search for "lohmann" at Google came up with nothing for my blog (a hit to my profile is not the same thing), when only a day or so ago I was the number one hit. Even searching for "inspector lohmann" doesn't give any hits to my blog, even though I've been the first few hits for the past several months — links to individual posts would appear page after page. Now...nothing, except for the occassional guest appearance at the blogs of others.

Hmm...maybe Blogger is revamping something at Google. Yeah — that's it! Pure coincidence...

Note: I was visited by someone from the west coast on 2/14/05 at 8:07:40pm, IP 66.120.71.# doing a technorati search for "Google Search". Probably some poor cubicle monkey whose job it is to see who dares besmirch investigate the glorious Google, reporting red-flaggers to his superior for "de-googlization."

'We have become a culture of Pharisees'

A real Christian (at least to my understanding of the word) speaks:

Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!”
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We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.
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The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Solid gold...

You know, it's black comedy of the darkest sort: the bloodthirsty haters who call themselves Jesus's followers just don't see that they'd be the very ones who'd crucify their saviour if he was here today, their WWJD necklaces jangling while they pound the stakes through his hands.

Try as I do I just cannot comprehend how people resolve their cognitive dissonance through such antipodal doublethinking...



The premise that we are not being monitored in a democratic society makes us that much easier to monitor.
   —AWGB, in a comment at Rigorous Intuition


While doing research for part 4 of my zombie series Operative Sugar alerted me to this interesting tidbit:

Mihg writes "Try searching Google Images for abu ghraib, lynndie england, or Lynndie's boyfriend charles graner and note how you don't get any pictures of US soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners of war. Now try it with some of their competitors, like AltaVista, Lycos, or Yahoo!. Google used to be able to find them, as is discussed in this AnandTech forum thread." I'm guesing that this is another case of our administration confusing "National Security" with "Politically Undesirable".

Rumors of Google censoring search results, particularly their image search, had been around for a while. When I tested the image search just now for the infamous Murkan "Abu Ghraib" love-duo "lyndie england" and "charles graner" I got the images we've all come to know so well. But in the past when I performed such searches (November & December of 2004) Lyndie came up with bupkis — not a single image; and Graner came up with a few innocuous or unrelated images.

But between at least 11/7/04 and 1/6/05, when I tried such searches, no offensive or embarrassing images came up.

Link here for a forum discussion about the reasons behind this. Here are a couple of highlights:

In short, There is no censorship here. We are embarassed that our image index is not updated as frequently as it should be. Expect a refresh in the near future.
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Please don't ascribe some dating issues on images to some political motive, we take this kind of stuff very seriously. We have to comply with the law, but there is no law yet on the books reguiring that companies in the United States take down pictures that might be embarassing ot the current administration.

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Your image index is not updated as frequently as it should be, eh? Then why do searches for events such as "halloween 2004" -- which happened much more recently than the prison abuse -- show up just fine?

We take this kind of stuff very seriously too, you know.

Even though it's now obsolete I'll keep the following links here for future reference.

Here's a Google image search for Lynndie:

Here's the one for Graner:

Here, for the sake of comparison, are the same searches at two other engines, Lycos & Yahoo.

Lynndie at
Graner at

What gives?

Gmail, Books, and Picasa — Oh My!

Then I started thinking about their incredible offer to sign people up for free email accounts (only by word-of-mouth invitation yet! stupid viral marketing...) with 1 Gig (that's one Gig) of server space. Who needs 1 Gig of server space for their email account? That's a fuckload of spam.

Then I learned that Google plans to put books online — entire libraries, that is.

And now Google has announced plans to unleash Picasa, software that "automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize."

They have acquired Blogger ("...we're a...team in Google focusing on helping people have their own voice on the web and organizing the world's information from the personal perspective"), they provide a home for online communities, "Google groups" ("Google Groups enables users to easily gather groups of friends, acquaintances, and those sharing interests together, and communicate with them directly via email, newsletters and message boards...These online communities connect people with information they care about, and that furthers our commitment to enhancing the online experience for Google users"), they have tools to help you search your desktop ("this new application makes it possible for users to find information on their computers as fast and easily as they can search the web with Google"), and many other such helpful things.

Google sure is generous, isn't it? How can they afford to be so altruistic?

Spiking the Fishy Meter

Let's see, can anyone think of someone who would wish to

  • censor our ability to see politically scandalous photos?

  • monitor what we're reading?

  • peek into our emails?

  • see what kinds of information we're looking for?

  • know what books we're reading?

  • amass a list of our friends and associates?

  • find files and photos on our computer named, say, "terrorism plans"?

Doesn't it seem awfully impressive that Google is able to cache the entire web onto 16 terrabytes of server space? (Good luck finding a reference for this. Let's just say my source is one degree of separation.)

Of course part of the monopolization of internet tools and storage is due merely to economies of scale. But excuse me if my patented Orwell-Brand Police State Paranoia Meter is spiking just a little bit here, but I just can't help being a tad suspicious given our new "non-reality based" world. There's some really pungent fish around here.

Printing Money

Has anyone satisfactorily explained to you just how Google makes any money at all?

Google began printing money with what they call "keyword-targeted advertising." Last month 60 Minutes gave Google a blumpkin had a PR fluff piece about Google which briefly discussed how they raise money.

"People always ask us how Google makes money," Mayer says, as she does a Google search for flowers. The left side of the screen displays the top 10 Web sites Google found related to flowers. Appearing on the right side are what Google calls sponsored links. This, she explains, is where the money comes from. When someone clicks on a sponsored link, say in this case it's an ad for FTD flowers, the company pays Google. It's a revolutionary idea: advertising to an audience of one, and one who's already looking for what you want to sell.

The rates are so low - typically between 5 cents and 50 cents per click - that almost anyone can afford to advertise.

Eric Schmidt, Google's 49-year-old CEO who was hired in 2001 to be the resident grown-up, says that the pool of potential advertisers is almost limitless: "There's a lot of evidence that the companies of which Google is a member are enabling a new kind of commerce, between very small communities, people who can find each other, for whom the traditional advertising mechanisms, whether it's television advertising or radio, do not serve.

"An example: a friend of mine named Peter puts his credit card in and he give us $50 [for a sponsored link]. And his wife knits a particular kind of rug. I said, 'Call me back, give me an update.' So Peter calls back and says, 'We're ecstatic. For $50, we got all these customers.' And I said, 'Well, how many did you get?' And he said 100. And I thought, 'Wow, you know, that's great. What a wonderful outcome.' And he said, 'There's a problem...my wife does one rug per year.' So that's all the revenue we're ever gonna get from Peter."

But there are millions of Peters out there, and billions in potential ad revenue. The business world is just beginning to grasp the potential.

Hunh? Whatever. Google provides a demo that "clearly" explains all this.

I hear that the show displayed a huge wall of monitors, like in a 007 or Failsafe movie, that showed lots of realtime animating words and graphs showing how the piles of dough were rolling in.

Translating click-throughs into mountains of cash is the ultimate hi-tech alchemy. Where's the paper trail? They can claim anything they want without one, much like Diebold's BushCo black-box voting machines. Since the data only exists on their own machines they can make up any number they wish for their revenue since there's no way to verify it. (Not that they would ever dream of doing such a thing! We all know that corporations are always honest, above-board and transparent — especially when it comes to accounting and programming practices.)

(Note: if people want to throw their money into some unaccountable black box and believe they're getting their money's worth then I'm going to create a 100% trusthworthy online slotmachine that will guarantee glorious payoffs.)

Ok, so maybe Google can print money with mouse clicks. Good for them!

I mean, it's easily conceivable that separating fools from their money, in this way, can generate cosmic profits — after all, if you skim just a little bit from everyone who uses the internet, so little that no one really cares, and if you do it on a global scale it adds up....FAST! But until they hit paydirt with this scheme there was an even more reliable way...

The Eye in the Pyramid

Everyone knows that Google is an awesome, vital tool for the internet. I, for one, am constantly amazed at its versatility, resourcefulness and speed.

But there was one tiny little problem when Google introduced itself — how the fuck was a magnificent search engine going to make any money providing Bob with a way to get his stroke material for free?

Here's an excerpt from a ZDNet article from 1999 that only served to compound the mystery:

When asked how the company plans to make money, Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page would only say what they won't do. They don't want to become a portal. No content. And they want to avoid competing with other search engines to be the browser of choice for existing portals. In fact, Page said Google doesn't have any real competitors at all, which may be why they don't intend to do much marketing.

But even Internet companies, which are almost expected to lose gobs of money, need at least a revenue stream, don't they?

"We have other ways of making money," said Page. "You'll see."
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Query not found: Google business plan
"We are not saying a lot about Google's business plan," said Kleiner Perkins' Russ Siegleman, who worked with Doerr on the deal. "We think it's the best search engine right now on the Internet. Obviously, we're going to build an interesting business about it."
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"We're in an unreal world now where the concept can get you $25 million — where revenues and business plans, you don't need to have those," said Hagen. "But that blip's got to end at some point."
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"I don't know exactly how they're going to do it," said Ewing. "They're not idiots over there. They must have some sort of plan. They're just not sharing it."

So contravening conventional business wisdom they built their product before figuring out how to make money from it. Since they didn't have a business plan, nor any obvious revenue stream, and since it took a while for Google to devise their awesomely profitable scam as a way to bring in money, where did the money come from to begin with?

As Chomsky informs us, new technologies are developed through a transfer of wealth from the public to the private sector:

These industries [ie, aeronautic & computer] were founded and survive thanks to enormous taxpayer subsidies. They have always been funded through the Pentagon funnel, a system devised in the late 1940s with exactly that purpose in mind as even the public record demonstrates, one of several major government programs to impose a particular kind of state capitalist social and economic order.

It seems that until a private sector finds a way to become profitable on its own it is the recipient of a never-ending flow of taxpayer largesse. So who was Google's sugar daddy?

Chomsky continues:

As for computers, their development was fully funded by the public in the 1950s, before they became marketable and therefore handed over to "private enterprise"; in electronics generally, government funding covered 85% of all R&D in 1958. The public subsidy continued, mounting again under Reagan-Bush in the guise of Star Wars and through the initiatives of DARPA (the Pentagon research funding agency) which "became a pivotal market force" in high-performance computing from the early 1980s, Science magazine reports, "boosting massively parallel computing from the laboratory into a nascent industry"...


Operative Sugar was interested in the history of Google and so went to the source, Sergey Brin's & Lawrence Page's first paper on what would eventually become Google: The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. There was an interesting nugget at the end...

7 Acknowledgments
...Finally we would like to recognize the generous support of our equipment donors IBM, Intel, and Sun and our funders. The research described here was conducted as part of the Stanford Integrated Digital Library Project, supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement IRI-9411306. Funding for this cooperative agreement is also provided by DARPA and NASA, and by Interval Research, and the industrial partners of the Stanford Digital Libraries Project.

DARPA?! Does the name John Poindexter mean anything to you? How about TIA? Patriot Act?

    DARPA's mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.

    DARPA's mission implies one imperative for the Agency: radical innovation for national security. DARPA's management philosophy reflects this in a straightforward way: bring in expert, entrepreneurial program managers; empower them; protect them from red tape; and make decisions quickly about what projects need to be started and what projects should stop.
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    One element, Information Awareness, has been greatly expanded as a direct result of the September 11th attacks. Its goal is to create information systems that America's national security and law enforcement communities can use to detect and defeat terrorist networks — perhaps preventing a terrorist attack and even eliminating the need for a major military operation.

    IAO [Information Awareness Office] is not building a "supercomputer" to snoop into the private lives or track the everyday activities of American citizens. Instead, IAO is developing and integrating information technology that largely consists of three parts — advanced collaborative and decision support tools, language translation technologies, data search and pattern recognition technologies. Together, these three parts effectively comprise the Total Information Awareness (TIA) project.
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    The research into data search and pattern recognition technologies is based on the idea that terrorist planning activities or a likely terrorist attack could be uncovered by searching for patterns indicative of terrorist activities in vast quantities of data. Terrorists must engage in certain transactions to coordinate and conduct attacks against Americans, and these transactions leave signatures (form patterns) that may be detectable. For this research, the TIA project will only use data that is legally obtainable and usable by the U.S. Government.

    If the project is successful, the national security community and the Department of Homeland Security will consult with Congress to determine whether the TIA technology should be implemented for domestic use. The DoD will consult with Congress on how best to implement TIA technology for protection of U.S. forces overseas.

    The DoD [Department of Defense — DARPA's parent] recognizes American citizens' concerns about privacy invasions. The Department has safeguards in place to ensure the TIA project will not violate the privacy of American citizens. As part of the TIA effort, IAO will research and develop privacy protection and other technologies to prevent abuses and external threats and ensure that data is protected and used only for lawful purposes.

  • TIA — Total Information Awareness
    The Total Information Awareness project is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Information Awareness Office. The office is headed by Admiral (retired) John Poindexter who is responsible for conceiving the project. TIA purports to capture the "information signature" of people so that the government can track potential terrorists and criminals involved in "low-intensity/low-density" forms of warfare and crime. The goal is to track individuals through collecting as much information about them as possible and using computer algorithms and human analysis to detect potential activity.

    Total Information AwarenessThe project calls for the development of "revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source information repositories," which would contain information from multiple sources to create a "virtual, centralized, grand database." This database would be populated by transaction data contained in current databases such as financial records, medical records, communication records, and travel records as well as new sources of information. Also fed into the database would be intelligence data.

    A key component of the TIA project is to develop data-mining or knowledge discovery tools that will sort through the massive amounts of information to find patterns and associations. TIA will also develop search tools such as Project Genoa, which Admiral Poindexter's former employer Syntek Technologies, assisted in developing. TIA aims to fund the development of more such tools and data-mining technology to help analysts understand and even "preempt" future action.

    A further crucial component is the development of biometric technology to enable the identification and tracking of individuals. DARPA has already funded its "Human ID at a Distance" program, which aims to positively identify people from a distance through technologies such as face recognition or gait recognition. A nationwide identification system would be of great assistance to such a project by providing an easy means to track individuals across multiple information sources.

  • Poindexter
    A convicted felon, John Poindexter (born: 08/12/36; spouse: Linda A. Goodwin; residence: MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD 10 BARRINGTON FRK, ROCKVILLE, MD 20850; market value: $269,700 (1999 assessment)) was the guy who once had a brilliant scheme to establish an online futures market at the Pentagon for acts of terrorism. ('The announced purpose of the Policy Analysis Market, as it was known, was to harness the "anonymous forces of market capitalism" to predict the likelihood of acts of terrorism - much as commodity-trading speculates on the future price of coffee or pork bellies. The Pentagon's justification was that "markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information."' Ie, yet another way to get rich from human misery, this time by creating a casino for insiders betting on terrorist attacks. (No incentive there to stack a deck, is there?) (—I'd like to buy 1000 shares of a dirty nuke attack in Houston on margin.) This is the guy entrusted with our "privacy" as he heads an agency who's mission is to find Murka's enemies at home and abroad by collecting as much data as possible on anything that breathes.

  • Patriot Act
    From an ACLU summary:

    • Expands terrorism laws to include "domestic terrorism" which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy.

    • Expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches, gives them wide powers of phone and Internet surveillance, and access to highly personal medical, financial, mental health, and student records with minimal judicial oversight.

    • Allows FBI Agents to investigate American citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime if they say it is for "intelligence purposes."

    • Permits non-citizens to be jailed based on mere suspicion and to be denied re-admission to the US for engaging in free speech.

    • Suspects convicted of no crime may be detained indefinitely in six month increments without meaningful judicial review.

    • The government is allowed to monitor communications between federal detainees and their lawyers, destroying the attorneyclient privilege and threatening the right to counsel.

    • New Attorney General Guidelines allow FBI spying on religious and political organizations and individuals without having evidence of wrongdoing.

    Librarians themselves decry the surveillance powers of the Patriot Act (and are, in some cases, taking activist approaches towards it). The American Library Association has gone so far as to pass a resolution virtually condemning the Patriot Act. Here's an excerpt:

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    WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association; and, in a library, the subject of users' interests should not be examined or scrutinized by others; and

    WHEREAS, certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the revised Attorney General Guidelines to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other related measures expand the authority of the federal government to investigate citizens and non-citizens, to engage in surveillance, and to threaten civil rights and liberties guaranteed under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights; and

    WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act and other recently enacted laws, regulations, and guidelines increase the likelihood that the activities of library users, including their use of computers to browse the Web or access e-mail, may be under government surveillance without their knowledge or consent; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, that the American Library Association opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry; and, be it further...
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    RESOLVED, that the American Library Association considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users...
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Who's Your Daddy Big Brother?

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the Government of the Benighted States of Murka. (Can anyone say "COINTELPRO"? "MK-ULTRA"? "WMD"? "Gulf of Tonkin"? etc etc) Thus, when DARPA claims that the 'IAO [Information Awareness Office] is not building a "supercomputer" to snoop into the private lives or track the everyday activities of American citizens' I'm as inclined to believe this assertion as I am to believe the CIA's denials that it doesn't conduct assassinations nor trafficks in drugs — 'cause, you know, the law forbids it. (—Your honor, he ran into my knife ten times. I would never kill anyone. Really. I know it's against the law, so I'd never do it. You gotta believe me. —Oh, ok. Not guilty.)

Given that librarians themselves are so vehemently opposed to the Patriot Act and may even actively impede investigations of their clientele, why not do away with the unAmerican, uncooperative frumps in their brick-and-mortar mausoleums and put their precious libraries online? That way you can simply bypass a roadblock and easily determine for yourself what people are reading.

In fact, it's a hell of a lot easier to surveil your subjects when they stop by your home for a visit and tell you what they're looking for (Google Search), what they're thinking (Google Blogger), what they're reading (Google Books), who they're communicating with (Google Gmail), what kinds of plans they're making (Google Groups), show you their pictures (Google Picasa), and ask for your help organizing their computer files (Google Desktop).

(Here's an amusing idea for a contemporary political sport: see who can get a "surprise" visit the fastest merely by giving your photos, files, email subject lines, blog entries, etc. names like "dirty nuke plans," "mall attack," "inderfurth bank deposit," "PROMIS uzbek cache", "kill bush," "convar data retrieval", "premier executive transport services flight schedule," etc.)

Is all this just simply guilt by association? Is it using circumstantial evidence to besmirch the good reputation of a creditable corporate citizen? Is it just tinfoil hat paranoia?

Or is Google a privatized, all-purpose front-end utility for TIA?

I really don't know...I'm just thinking out loud.

The one thing I do know is that no matter how tightly-wound your tinfoil hat is, your paranoia is nothing compared to that of Poindexter, his TIA project, BushCo in general, various enforcement agencies, and now, perhaps, the citizenry of Murka itself. America has embarked on a path in which it will settle for nothing less than omnipotence and omniscience. Just as one fights feelings of vulnerability by aggressively overasserting oneself as they strive to feel omnipotent, so the way to combat malignant paranoia is to seek to know everything about everybody. And Murka certainly has reason to be paranoid, seeing as how it's spent almost its entire modern history making enemies throughout the world in its monomaniacal pursuit of profits and power (euphemistically called "the National Interest").

And isn't it comforting to know that a felon like Poindexter, and all his pals from the Iran/Contra days, are ensuring you of their lawful intentions in their pursuit of omniscience? Ok, let's assume that we're in some alternate universe where the criminals in charge actually followed the letter and spirit of the law; given such wonderful examples like the Patriot Act, which passed through congress faster than castor oil through a GI tract, how hard do you think it would be to change or reinterpret current laws to make such invasive searches lawful?

Besides, what could be more natural than using a tool that your department helped finance, one designed to amass just the sorts of information you were looking for in your never-ending search for ways to combat sedition terrorism?

Or was DARPA just helping get Google off the ground, no strings attached?

But you know, all this is rather moot — so what if Google is a front-end for TIA? After all, if you've got nothing to hide, what do you have to fear?

At the heart of the superpower syndrome then is the need to eliminate a vulnerability that, as the antithesis of omnipotence, contains the basic contradiction of the syndrome. For vulnerability can never be eliminated, either by a nation or an individual. In seeking its elimination, the superpower finds itself on a psychological treadmill. The idea of vulnerability is intolerable, the fact of it irrefutable. One solution is to maintain an illusion of invulnerability. But the superpower then runs the danger of taking increasingly draconian actions to sustain that illusion. For to do otherwise would be to surrender the cherished status of superpower.
   —Robert Jay Lifton, Superpower Syndrome


China Launches New Search Engine

With all those nasty pro-democracy websites that Google keeps turning up, what's a communist country supposed to do? Well, create their own search engine of course! According to the AP, 'Bill Clinton on Monday helped launch a new Internet search company backed by the Chinese government which says its technology uses artificial intelligence to produce better results than Google Inc.' Accoona Corp. was one of the Chinese companies that donated an 'undisclosed amount' to the recently opened Clinton Library. Using the search engine from inside the US doesn't show any noticeable amount of censorship, but it also doesn't show how it's anywhere near the level of Google ."

Bill Clinton helps launch search engine: China-backed Accoona claims better results than Google

NEW YORK - Former president Bill Clinton on Monday helped launch a new Internet search company backed by the Chinese government which says its technology uses artificial intelligence to produce better results than Google Inc.

NOTE: I just learned from Klaus that Google has proposed to host Wikipedia [added 2/11/05]

NOTE: This article makes a good companion piece. [added 2/11/05]

NOTE: From the infamous PNAC blueprint for American omnipotence:

If outer space represents an emerging medium of warfare, then "cyberspace," and in particular the Internet hold similar promise and threat. And as with space, access to and use of cyberspace and the Internet are emerging elements in global commerce, politics and power. Any nation wishing to assert itself globally must take account of this other new "global commons."

The Internet is also playing an increasingly important role in warfare and human political conflict. From the early use of the Internet by Zapatista insurgents in Mexico to the war in Kosovo, communication by computer has added a new dimension to warfare. Moreover, the use of the Internet to spread computer viruses reveals how easy it can be to disrupt the normal functioning of commercial and even military computer networks. Any nation which cannot assure the free and secure access of its citizens to these systems will sacrifice an element of its sovereignty and its power.

Although many concepts of "cyber-war" have elements of science fiction about them, and the role of the Defense Department in establishing "control," or even what "security" on the Internet means, requires a consideration of a host of legal, moral and political issues, there nonetheless will remain an imperative to be able to deny America and its allies' enemies the ability to disrupt or paralyze either the military's or the commercial sector's computer networks. Conversely, an offensive capability could offer America's military and political leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive manner.

Taken together, the prospects for space war or "cyberspace war" represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion of military transformation. These future forms of warfare are technologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the U.S. armed forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of warfare favor America just as today's air, land and sea warfare reflect United States military dominance.

The PNAC is "The NeoConservative think tank that took over the White House" and the DoD (Deparment of Defense). In a way you've got to admire their chutzpah in sharing their thoughts so openly with the world; why the world refuses to take them at their word is the real mystery, in my opinion.

PNAC -> DoD -> DARPA -> IAO -> TIA -> Google ?

It's interesting to read the following excerpt keeping the above in mind:

It was also not by coincidence then that, in the same winter of 94-95, McCoy revealed to me that he was using former Green Berets to conduct physical surveillance of the Washington, D.C. offices of Microsoft in connection with the Promis case. FTW has, within the last month, received information indicating that piracy of Microsoft products at the GE Aerospace Herndon facility were likely tied to larger objectives, possibly the total compromise of any Windows based product. It is not by chance that most of the military and all of the intelligence agencies in the U.S. now operate on Macintosh systems.

[added 2/14/05 — hat tip to Operative Nobody]

NOTE: an observation from Operative Nobody:
The name says it all: GOOGLE = GOvernment OGLE.

[added 2/14/05]

NOTE: today (2/15/05) I noticed that a Google search for my blog gives you nothing — just a link to my profile (which is not the same as a link to the blog's url). All the many links (including #1) to my blog and to particular blog posts that existed for the past few months are now suddenly (and coincidentally) gone. [added 2/15/05]

NOTE: Google Knows Where You Live [added 4/15/05]

NOTE: Google just another vicious corporate bully. [added 4/15/05]

NOTE: I noticed today [4/18/05] that this post somehow became corrupted — the epilogue and all the notes were missing, a hyperlink having been cut in half and fucking up my blogger tags. I just resubmitted it.

NOTE: Google Launches Personal History Feature

Google Inc. is experimenting with a new feature that enables the users of its online search engine to see all of their past search requests and results, creating a computer peephole that could prove as embarrassing as it is helpful.
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The service allows users to decide if they want Google to automatically recognize them without having to log in each time they use the same computer. Those who prefer to log in on each visit can use a link that will appear in the right-hand corner of Google's home page.

Whenever a user is logged in, Google will provide a detailed look at all their past search activity. The service also includes a "pause" feature that prevents it from being displayed in the index.

Users will be able to pinpoint a search conducted on a particular day, using a calendar that's displayed on the history page. The service sometimes will point out a past search result related to a new search request.
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But privacy rights expert Pam Dixon is worried the service will make it easier for mischief makers, snoops and perhaps even the government to get their hands on a user's entire search history.
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The online service is designed to store years of each individual's search activity, although users can remove selected links from their personal archive at any time.

Because the history feature requires an individual login, it could help Google better understand each user so it can customize its results to reflect a person's specific interests, said industry analyst Charlene Li of Forrester Research.

But Li doubts Google's latest feature will have mass appeal. "I don't think this is going to be very important to the average person," Li said. "Most people are kind of paranoid, so they are going to be wondering, 'Why should I give all my information to Google?'"

[added 4/21/05]

NOTE: I just tried posting the above NOTE and received the following message:

The blog you were looking for was not found.

I'm going to try again.


X-Ray Specs

Put The Glasses On!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Maybe Some Chemical Crowd Dispersal Will Learn 'Em!

Q: What do you get when you cross a Police State, Frustrated Students, and Freedom of Assembly?

Chemical spray used on students

Manual High group was protesting time given to get to classes, saying it's inadequate.

A peaceful student sit-in turned unruly at Manual High School, and school police used a chemical spray to disperse the crowd Thursday afternoon.
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About 100 students were in a hallway when police sprayed several bursts of the chemical in the air to disperse the crowd. No injuries were reported.

Those students had been among about 400 protesting the lack of time they have to pass between classes before being marked tardy. Students now have five minutes to change classes.

Construction in some areas of the Southside high school makes it difficult to get from one side of the building to another.

Students caught in hallways after the late bell are written up; three write-ups result in a one-day in-school suspension.
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But police said one group became disruptive, using profanity, banging on the school office doors and knocking over trash cans. It was then that the chemical spray was used.
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Let's see, construction at the school is causing students to be late to class; students are punished for being late; students stage a protest — they want to get to class on time 'cause it's unfair to punish 'em for being late; some students act up; cops fire chemicals at group of high school kids.

Another great example of education in Murka. Today's classes: Civic Responsibility; Conflict Resolution; Modern History; Government Studies 401; Bio-Chemistry.

Xymphora on the Iraq 'Election'

BushCo is nothing if not one of the most brilliant political prestidigitators in history. They are already alchemists of the first water, given the ways in which they can transmute death into lucre, blood into oil, and black into white.

But with every election in which they have any involvement — whether at home or abroad — they carelessly continue to master their legerdemain, making the most remarkable things appear out of nowhere. Their latest trick was pulling joyful "freedom" out of a hostile siege's dark ass, transforming a country occupied by criminal enemy forces into a democracy with a wave of a wand and a flash of ballot paper.

Using a sophisticated and practiced blend of misdirection, razzle dazzle, and smoke and mirrors — accompanied by a cadre of magician's assistants called "journalists" — they successfully convince the audience rubes people that the most ridiculous, transparently phony, farcical, penny-ante stage-managed show — called, without a hint of irony, an "election," — they convince people that these travesties, which are shameless mockeries of democracy, are actually the voice of the people freely choosing their governments. It makes baby Jesus weep, I tell you what.

You know, those fuckers are right — they do create their own reality, polishing their turds to look like gold, then selling them to rubes good folks who buy 'em (on credit, of course) while exclaiming "ooh" and "ahh" as they admire its shiny gleam.

Xymphora, in his ever on-target way, aptly summarizes the recent mockery in Iraq:

The real tragedy in all this is that it sets up Bush to continue to use his bogus equation of American warmongering with freedom. In other words, going along with the charade of this election means you are implicitly dooming the next victim of the American Empire, who will receive exactly the same treatment under the guise of the same phony phreedom. The next attack will be easier, as Bush can fall back on the example of the phreedom he has personally granted to the Iraqi people, and will no doubt promise the people of Iraq, or Syria, or Cuba, or Venezuela, or wherever. We will see the mechanics of this phony pharce of phreedom repeated again and again, with staged elections being used to retroactively justify the results of American colonialist violence.

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...this farce of an election proves nothing about Iraq, but a lot about the United States. It proves that by staging the form of an election, the Bush Administration is able to magically sanitize its most evil acts in the eyes of the American public and American public writers and commentators. The most tragic element of this election is that writers who call themselves moderates or progressives are now starting to write that this election validates the entire Bush world-view. Resistance is now futile, and there is officially no American opposition to the Bush warmongers. If such an obviously questionable election can make the worst war crimes right, Bush is out of control and the whole world is in great peril.


Take The Fucking Job, or 'I Got Bills To Pay!' 2

'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits'

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.
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She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit.
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The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."
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"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

There's only one ethic nowadays, and that's the work ethic. (For you, that is. The leisure and executive classes have other ethics that don't concern you.) Quaint, old-fashioned ethical notions — like virtue, morals, scruples, having a conscience or sense of decency — are impediments if you hope to survive in today's modern economy! Wanna eat? Wanna roof over your head? Then swallow your pride (as well as someone else's) and follow the example of your neo-liberal overlords: Want to score? Then be a whore! Everyone's a sellout anyways, so embrace it and cash in!

Just as the only sane person in an insane world is the one who is nuts, so the virgin in a land of whores or the virtuous in a land of criminals is a fool. (Just ask de Sade! or Cheney!)

What right does anyone have to refuse any paying job? Absolutely none. So shut the fuck up, bend over, and take it with a smile! Hey, you're getting paid for it, aren't you? You like it, don't you? Say you like it, I need to hear you say you like it!

And since you're getting fucked anyways you might as well cum too — consider it a perk. Besides, I likes it when you cum! If you're not enjoying yourself you've only got yourself to blame, right?

Work to survive, survive by consuming, survive to consume: the hellish cycle is complete.
   —Raoul Vaneigem

The distinguishing sign of slavery is to have a price, and to be bought for it.
   —John Ruskin

An Excerpt from the Writings of Ur-Capitalism's Prophet

And thus two years went by, Roland indulging in his customary debauchery, I lingering on with the prospect of a cruel death, when one day the news went about the chateau that not only were our master's expectations satisfied, not only had he received the immense quantity of Venetian funds he had wished, but that he had even obtained a further order for another six millions in counterfeit coin for which he would be reimbursed in Italy when he arrived to claim payment; the scoundrel could not possibly have enjoyed better luck; he was going to leave with an income of two millions, not to mention his hopes of getting more; this was the new piece of evidence Providence had prepared for me. This was the latest manner in which it wished to convince me that prosperity belongs to Crime only and indigence to Virtue.
   —de Sade, Justine