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Monthly Archives: January, 2007

The Forgotten American Dead

In an interview this week, the Newshour’s Jim Lehrer asked the President the following:

“If it is as important as you’ve just said — and you’ve said it many times — as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it’s that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military — the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They’re the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.”

And here was the President’s pathetic but indicative answer:

“Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we’ve got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.”

In other words, our President wants — has always wanted — most of us to do nothing whatsoever.

Shit, I’ve been sacrificing peace of mind for most of my life.

BBC: No stoning, Canada migrants told

Don’t stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them, immigrants wishing to live in the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada, have been told. The rules come in a new town council declaration on culture that Muslims have branded shocking and insulting.

[Article continues at link. Of course this is persecution of a religious minority, since there is no connection between Islam and stoning women to death, burning people alive or involuntary genital mutilation.]

Robert Stacy McCain: The dark side of green

McCain: On a more serious note, how did environmentalists contribute to the disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina?

John Berlau: They blocked the building of large steel and concrete floodgates around Lake Pontchartrain that the Corps of Engineers, the … state congressional delegation, and the New Orleans levee board had all endorsed as being able to provide the best protection against storm surge from hurricanes. The gates were similar to the folding “seagates” that were being built, and now have been built, in the Netherlands that only close during North Sea storms. Like those, these gates would have only closed during severe storms — blocking water from getting into Lake Pontchartrain and flooding New Orleans. Renowned hurricane experts say these gates would have likely prevented most of Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans. But the Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense) and the Louisiana group Save Our Wetlands persuaded a federal judge to halt the gates in 1977 because of the alleged damage they could do to fish, even though the project had already been granted a thumbs-up in a review from the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Interview continues at link. The moral I get from this is we cannot predict all of the outcomes of our decisions, thus much ‘good guy / bad guy’ style politics are likely mistaken.]

BitTorrent traffic is being monitored

ISPs are not*, however, the culprits. Doing the dirty is the BSA (Business Software Alliance) which, “watches all traffic and it sees what IPs are contributing or downloading from various sites.”

Fat Fuck
If i were an alien or a speaker of english as a second language, i might soon develop the idea that the word business was a synonym for ‘police’, ‘government’, ‘corruption’ & ‘greed”.

what is it with businesses? & businessmen?

*well most are not…

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method

What they’re doing is even worse than Carnivore,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. “What they’re doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets.”

FUCK THE FBI. and fuck googles blogger too!

Sir Karl Popper: Excerpt from The Open Society and Its Enemies Volume 2

“All political parties have some sort of ‘vested interest’ in their opponent’s unpopular moves. They live by them and are therefore liable to dwell upon, to emphasize, and even to look forward to them. They may even encourage the political mistakes of their opponents as long as they can do so without becoming involved in the responsibility for them. [This has led some] parties to look forward to the political moves made by their opponents against democracy. […] This policy of letting one’s opponents expose themselves must, if extended to moves against democracy, lead to disaster. It is a policy of talking big and doing nothing in the face of real and increasing danger to democratic institutions. It is a policy of talking war and acting peace; and it taught the fascists the invaluable method of talking peace and acting war.”

Rick Maze: Does Congress have power to stop war?

The Army Times reports: “A panel of constitutional scholars said Tuesday that Congress clearly has the power, if it chooses to use it, to stop the war in Iraq. The difficulty in exercising the power is political, not constitutional, in getting a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate to agree on binding legislation to either cut off funding for combat operations or repeal the previously passed authorization to use force, the legal experts said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

[Article continues at link. How to contact your representatives in Congress.]

Valerie Kalfrin: Paradegoer Reports Rape, Jailed On Warrant

TAMPA – A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities. But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution. She spent the next two nights in jail. […] The woman’s family is outraged. “We’re incensed. Everyone is just beside themselves,” her mother, 47, said at 5:20 p.m. Monday, moments before escorting her daughter from Orient Road Jail. […] Adding to the mother’s ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim’s attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.

[Article continues at link. What part of ‘denied the medication for religious reasons’ belongs in the 21st Century? France is set to outlaw religious practice in jails. I don’t think that’s the solution, because you can’t legislate stupidity, cruelty and superstition out of people. I think reason-based criticism (spiced with merciless ridicule) of religion is the solution.]

Dutch face-off on disfigured

The Dutch are currently upset by a proposed new dating reality show which matches up visibly disfigured adults.

Although I generally dislike reality shows – mainly because they tend to pick idiots I wouldn’t want to spend ten minutes with in real life, thereby making me that much less likely to want to welcome them into my living room via television – and though I understand that people feel this exploits people with handicaps, I am kind of intrigued by the idea of a show which features disfigured adults. Why not encourage minorities we usually isolate and consign to loneliness to step into the light and be part of the larger pop culture?

It doesn’t sound as if the producers are doing this as a post-modern freak show, where participants are put on stage so audiences can laugh or jeer or gasp in horror. If that was the point, then yeah, I’d be all for stopping this before it airs. But this could be a useful lesson in diversity. We usually only see the beautiful few on dating shows – sending the message that only the beautiful are desirable and loveable.

It’s fine to worship beauty, as long as you don’t confuse a phenomenon with a norm. People who don’t look the way we expect people to look are socially ostracized, forced into a closet. More than that, people look at the visibly disfigured with a primitive type of suspicion, as if there’s something spiritually or morally wrong with them. Seems to me the ones who are protesting this the most may well be the people who should be forced to watch this show. Maybe if they got to hear the stories from, and develop some emotional rapport with, disfigured people they would otherwise avoid or stare right past on the street, they might discover for themselves that the way you look does not define who you are or what aspirations you should possess.

I think we should encourage everyone to come out of hiding and the only way to do that is to take bold new steps to encourage them to do so. If it upsets people to see those who don’t fit the norm, you know what? Good. Let them be upset and then let them get over it. Let them see that people with physical challenges or disabilities are just as real, just as human, just as deserving of love and romance as anyone else. Let them get used to the idea that physical beauty is not a moral value, just a lucky throw of the genetic dice. Besides, as anyone who has a friend or relative with visible handicaps knows, the better you get to know them the less you notice the handicap.

We give a lot of lip-service to the saying “beauty comes from within.” The time’s long overdue to put that saying into action.

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