Singing the Bite Me Song


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July 31, 2003

Reuters: SBC Sues to Halt Music Industry Subpoenas

This is getting insane. A senator is also looking into the fact that RIAA is throwing out a dragnet and potentially pulling innocent people in with these 1,000 subpoenas.

On the other hand, RIAA could be single-handedly responsible for a repeal of DMCA AND the Patriot Act, through its extremist response. I hope people online keep fighting these idiots, and I also secretly hope these folks keep acting like the assholes they are, because they will very likely spawn a backlash against the RIAA at all levels.

RIAA appears to be drunk with power. Also delusional. Which is why the announcement yesterday of a Capitol Hill insider with no music business experience as the new head of RIAA, to replace Hilary Rosen, ought to suprise no one.

Miasma

SBC Sues to Halt Music Industry Subpoenas

Thu July 31, 2003 06:41 PM ET
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - SBC Communications Inc. SBC.N . said on Thursday it had filed suit to stop a flood of recording-industry court orders that seek to track down Internet users who might be illegally copying music.

SBC subsidiary Pacific Bell Internet Services sued the Recording Industry Association of America in federal court in San Francisco, saying the music industry trade group has been overzealous in its pursuit of suspected song-swappers.

The RIAA has issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to SBC and other Internet providers over the past few weeks, seeking to find the names of those who use "peer to peer" services like Kazaa and Morpheus to copy music, movies and other files from each others' hard drives for free.

[...]

Pac Bell has received 207 requests from the music industry to turn over the names of some of its customers, one request from a pornography company for the identities of 59 customers, and more than 16,000 warnings from an independent copyright investigator, the company said in its suit.

"The action we are taking is intended to protect the privacy rights of our customers," SBC spokesman Larry Meyer said.

"It's about the fact that anyone can without any effort obtain one of these DMCA subpoenas," said Meyer, referring to the 1998 Digital Music Copyright Act.

July 31, 2003 at 07:54 PM in Democracy, Favorite Links, Intellectual Property, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So long John, it hasn't been fun

CNN.com - Poindexter to resign in coming weeks following terror futures flap - Jul. 31, 2003

Ding dong, the witch is dead!

I can't resist crowing, as John Poindexter has been forced to resign as head of DARPA's Total Information Awareness (not Terrorism Information Awareness, as it has been sanitized into).

Why do I feel like the only person around here who is so giddy at this news?

I dunno. Maybe because some other heavy will replace him, as TIA still isn't going away? Or maybe Adm Poindexter will continue to run things from the shadows, if it is a real resignation.

Or maybe we can't say ding dong the witch is dead because TIA showed us that Iran-Contra conviction aside, John Poindexter doesn't really go away ever?

I was cracking up the other day when Donald Rumsfeld had the nerve to say he killed the "Terrorism Futures Market" within the hour of hearing about it. I laugh because some senators were screaming about that project a full day before Rummy kicked into gear, and this is documentable in the media. So unless Rummy lives in a sound-proof room, he's full of shit, canning the program one hour from hearing of it, my ass.

It is even more hilarious that Rumsfeld would try to take responsibility for killing the terrorist futures market is that he is well-known as THE biggest buck-passer in the Bush Administration, an administration that has made a professional art of buck-passing, so that is saying a lot.

And if Rumsfeld suddenly decides to claim credit for something, you can pretty much figure he has decided there is something in it for him.

But hey, it can't spoil my joy! Ding dong, the witch is dead!

Miasma

July 31, 2003 at 02:22 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2003

Living Behind the Velvet Curtain

A while back I wrote an essay still featured on this site, called The Iron Curtain vs the Velvet Curtain."

What is interesting about this Washington Post column by Anne Applebaum excerpted below is how fully it documents exactly what I was writing about, the pervasive and cloying culture of self-censorship by corporate journalism in the US that has reached such a point that one can observe that Americans live behind a Velvet Curtain just as surely as the Soviet bloc nations lived under an Iron Curtain.

I did always sort of suspect those civics class lessons in junior high that attempted to explain the Cold War to us seemed too pat because of the idea of the Iron Curtain, to me symbolized by Pravda as a state organ. The way the story is pitched to schoolchildren, Soviet bloc nations were in total information lockdown in service of the censorship of the state.

Further, we were told to believe, and there is evidence it is believable, that Radio Free Europe and Voice of America played an important role, provided an essential service, when they were not jammed, as a kind of "pirate radio" for the time, filtering ideas and information (and pro-Western propaganda) as a counter for (think of this as if you were living under a reality dictated to you by the state) an oppressively sanctioned and hyper-legitimatized (yet often mocked) information flow.

I think of the stories I've read about Hungary in the 1950s, for instance. There is a sense of information-oppression through sanctioned lies and party-line discourse, as well as a sense that Hungarians had a glimpse of something that broke through that fog.

I try to imagine what it must have been like to live behind the Iron Curtain because that is the only way I believe we can ever awaken into consciousness of the Velvet Curtain we currently live behind in the United States.

Did people behind the Iron Curtain ALWAYS know that they were behind an Iron Curtain? Yes and no, I'd say. Discernment is an art in any culture, but if the news says your farmers are meeting their 5-year plan and you have no bread on your shelves, you might be inclined to doubt the party line. But how would you know when to doubt it and when not to? How would you know when you were being told white was black and black was white without any external measure or data?

That is the real mindfuck of censorship. It turns you into that frog in the boiling water, just as it does for a woman who lives with a dominating, abusive man who repeatedly tells her she is happy and that the beatings are for her own good, to the point that she believes it.

My point in the essay cited above, "Iron Curtain vs Velvet Curtain," was that the Iron Curtain, perhaps now a relic of the industrial age, a Rustbelt Curtain memory, imposed with little sublety, was more obviously trying to hide an elephant in the living room. I say this, yet I can't know it, having never lived within a Soviet bloc nation.

Yet I claimed the Velvet Curtain upon us now in the US envelopes us in a cloying, light-sucking darkness that steals up softly, ere we are aware. It does a better job of hiding its deception, its reality-shifting mindfuck. It puts the elephant in the living room under a Persian rug. This is the world where a president repeats things to stay "on message" and "make it so" (thank you Jean Luc Picard). He rewrites history, the history of his own speeches, while at the same time accusing others of being historical revisionists.

Where is the litmus test? Who can we look to for "Radio Free Europe" or "Voice of America?"

Here is what the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum has to say about it, and then some of my thoughts further, below:

Parallel Universes

By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, July 23, 2003; Page A23

Late last week Tony Blair made a speech in Washington. Afterward various British journals of record summed up their prime minister's performance. The Daily Mirror found "something quite nauseating" about the speech, in which Blair once again "backed America in what many now view as a war based on lies." The Daily Mail sneered at "Blair the brilliant contortionist, trying to have it both ways." The Guardian, meanwhile, declared that the speech represented a "significant softening" of the prime minister's position on Iraqi weapons, and described the event this way: Blair "stood before hundreds of members of Congress to admit that he may eventually be proved wrong."

Is that what he was doing? Funny, but if you'd been reading the American press, you'd have had quite a different impression. "Bush, Blair Defend Motives Behind War," read the headline in The Post, which failed to detect any "significant softening" in the prime minister's words. The New York Post -- the closest thing Americans have to the Daily Mail -- failed to see anything remotely "contortionist" in the speech either, writing that "Blair's address clearly reflected a nuanced appreciation of America's role in the world." Far from sounding "nauseating," Blair "heralded the role the United States has played in fighting the broader war on terrorism," wrote the Los Angeles Times. Not since Mikhail Gorbachev simultaneously became an international superstar and the most hated politician in Russia has a political leader enjoyed such disparate reputations at home and abroad.

[...]

But they also reflect a larger phenomenon that is not much better understood. America and Britain -- along with America and France, America and Russia, America and Botswana, America and anywhere, really -- live in parallel informational universes. By that I mean that the media produced in different cultures don't merely reflect different opinions about the news, they actually recount alternative versions of reality.

[...]

During the Iraq war, a few Americans and Europeans, at least, began to notice how tiny that village actually is. It wasn't hard to see that the war as broadcast by the BBC or Deutsche Welle was quite different from the war as broadcast by NBC or CNN. Fewer understood that this is not only a Euro-American problem: A German friend visited Poland during the war and was surprised by how much less blood seemed to appear on the Polish evening news. And the differences run much deeper than a disagreement over Iraq, or portrayals of a single event. It isn't just that Europeans have different opinions from Americans about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, they actually learn different facts and read about different events, and therefore they reach different conclusions. When George Tenet fell on his sword earlier this month over that now infamous piece of British intelligence that made it into the president's State of the Union speech, the story played here as "White House Dumps on CIA." In Britain, it played as "White House Dumps on Britain."

Strangest of all, the availability of alternative points of view doesn't appear to have mellowed anyone's prejudices -- quite the contrary. Nowadays, we all live under the illusion that we are receiving many different types of information, but that we select only the most plausible. In fact, as information multiplies, it grows ever easier to choose to read (or watch) whatever best matches your particular bias, whether national or ideological. If you hate network television's right-wing bias, you can click onto, say, www.globalexchange.org or www.moveon.org. If you hate network television's left-wing bias, you can always watch Fox. Having done so, you'll labor under the illusion that you've picked the most truthful version of events -- but how would you know? Have you actually compared and contrasted the arguments of both sides and come to a judicious conclusion?

You can see where I'm going. Certainly, if I were going to look anywhere for "Radio Free Europe" or a "Voice of America" to penetrate our present velvet darkness, I would choose the Internet as my polyvocal, carnivalesque voice of truths.

To many, like the author above, the caca-phony of the "Internet Street" means nothing penetrates that is not as slanted or suspect as the murk producing our elephant in the living room.

In a postmodern age, we look less for "Truth" than we do for "truths."

But by adding the need for critical discernment and radical doubt of all sources, do we not deeply undermine authoritarianism and even fascism as it usually manifests itself?

Like the Jewish midrashic tradition, could doubt produce a culture of thinkers just as the language of certainty and credible authoritarianism would be likely to produce a culture of permanently trusting children always seeking a paternalistic parent?

So am I saying that a Velvet or Iron Curtain of top-down deception by the state or by capitalist big brothers can't exist because there is no such thing as truth, so that whatever version anyone dishes up is just as good as another version?

That may be the overly simplistic view of the columnist above, retreating into simple relativism rather than engage ideas around doubt and discernment and authority both held and undermined. Most just throw up their hands and say one truth is as good as another, and what elephant in the living room? We are at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

To which I call "Bullshit." Retreat and relativism are not the ultimate inheritance of postmodernism. That's far too easy, and if the theories were that easy to dismiss, they wouldn't still be carrying an argumentative force of critique all these years.

My way through the apparent relativistic mud that would turn postmodernism into an abdication of any kind of moral or ethical responsiblity or activism, and by sins of omission, a failure to do anything, say, in the face of fascism, an anti-movement movement that can be characterized as largely conservative simply by virtue of the fact that it spawns moral paralysis in that relativism, is to think of Thomas Jefferson as a postmodernist.

A stretch, you say? He was a staunch supporter of the Enlightenment, he carried the candle for the Enlightenment, so to speak, and we know the Enlightenment is the big boogeyman of postmodernists, more so than modernism.

But Jefferson went beyond capital "T" truth. Oh yeah, he believed in science and the scientific method. He dripped with neoclassicism.

But he also advocated a theory of truth built on a free exchange of ideas (Habermas takes it further, but less successfully, I think) where "truth" is the idea that rises to the top in the idea contest of rhetoric and argument.

Censorship disrupts this method because it makes the exchange of ideas less free. The dialogues still take place, but under censorship, it is sort of like declaring a winner in the World Series in baseball while many very good players are artificially kept in the Negro League. Who really believes the champions are real champions if the game is restricted?

I could try to take on postmodern relativism (a naive manifestation of the theory I think is heard too often), but I'm beat today. And I'd rather be thinking about the Velvet Curtain history will describe when this age has passed away and how to fight it, than how radical postmodernists cede the field to fascists and conservatives by failing to fight.

Miasma

July 26, 2003 at 10:51 PM in Best Essays, Democracy, Favorite Links, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

Prediction: Witness the coup of 2004

Hint: it won't require the Supreme Court's intervention to pull it off.

NYTimes: Computer Voting Is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say

By JOHN SCHWARTZ

The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said yesterday.

"We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Diebold Election Systems, which has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States.

The systems, in which voters are given computer-chip-bearing smart cards to operate the machines, could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment, said Adam Stubblefield, a co-author of the paper.

"With what we found, practically anyone in the country — from a teenager on up — could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like," Mr. Stubblefield said.

I wrote about this often at my old Radio Miasma site, so I better pick up the ball here. (and maybe go look at the Miasma archives so I can document my prescience).

What boggles the mind, of course, is the fact that the companies being contracted to run electronic voting view their code as proprietary and don't believe they should have any public accountability for accuracy or security.

That anyone would fall for this shit given the number of dead people who have voted in Chicago and other corrupt places sort of takes your breath away, eh? I mean, the League of Women Voters are not poll watchers for nothing, you know?

Before long, the US will require UN poll watchers, just like many third world countries where military junta lurk about.

So is it sinister intent by the parties in power to lock down the power, to never have to witness another regime change instituted by that evil leveler, democracy?

Or is it simply technology turning into a black box that, with the death of logic and critical thinking skills over several generations now in the US, causes most technophobes in government to TRUST that everyone is as black box technologically illiterate as they are. "I mean, why would anyone want oversight over something as dense as computer code and voting security?!" Wasn't that was that Elections Supervisor said in Florida, prepared to certify anything so long as it elected her guy?

The software was initially obtained by critics of electronic voting, who discovered it on a Diebold Internet site in January. This is the first review of the software by recognized computer security experts.

A spokesman for Diebold, Joe Richardson, said the company could not comment in detail until it had seen the full report. He said that the software on the site was "about a year old" and that "if there were problems with it, the code could have been rectified or changed" since then. The company, he said, puts its software through rigorous testing.

Hidden in plain sight, or "hacked"? How did they get a hold of the Diebold software? Perhaps Diebold secures its own site as well as it secures the voting machine code.

The move to electronic voting — which intensified after the troubled Florida presidential balloting in 2000 — has been a source of controversy among security researchers. They argue that the companies should open their software to public review to be sure it operates properly.

Mr. Richardson of Diebold said the company's voting-machine source code, the basis of its computer program, had been certified by an independent testing group. Outsiders might want more access, he said, but "we don't feel it's necessary to turn it over to everyone who asks to see it, because it is proprietary."

Diebold is one of the most successful companies in this field. Georgia and Maryland are among its clients, as are many counties around the country. The Maryland contract, announced this month, is worth $56 million.

Diebold, based in North Canton, Ohio, is best known as a maker of automated teller machines. The company acquired Global Election Systems last year and renamed it Diebold Election Systems. Last year the election unit contributed more than $110 million in sales to the company's $2 billion in revenue.

So $100 in hacking software will let you into Diebold ATMs as well?

As an industry leader, Diebold has been the focus of much of the controversy over high-tech voting. Some people, in comments widely circulated on the Internet, contend that the company's software has been designed to allow voter fraud. Mr. Rubin called such assertions "ludicrous" and said the software's flaws showed the hallmarks of poor design, not subterfuge.

The list of flaws in the Diebold software is long, according to the paper, which is online at avirubin .com/vote.pdf. Among other things, the researchers said, ballots could be altered by anyone with access to a machine, so that a voter might think he is casting a ballot for one candidate while the vote is recorded for an opponent.

The kind of scrutiny that the researchers applied to the Diebold software would turn up flaws in all but the most rigorously produced software, Mr. Stubblefield said. But the standards must be as high as the stakes, he said.

"This isn't the code for a vending machine," he said. "This is the code that protects our democracy."

Let us all pause here for a moment of silent prayer. Because I doubt our democracy has a holy hope in hell.

Miasma

July 25, 2003 at 11:08 PM in Best Essays, Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush's "Mr Magoo" Moment

Mr. Magoo?

This from Eleanor Clift's Capitol Letter column on Newsweek/MSNBC:

July 25 — Presidents can’t be perfect. Sometimes they make mistakes. That was Bill Clinton’s message on the Larry King show this week when the former president called for a truce on the 16 State of the Union words that have sent the current administration into damage-control overdrive.

DEMOCRATS DIDN’T APPRECIATE the free advice. “He was off-message,” complained a congressional aide.

Clinton obviously hadn’t read the Democratic National Committee’s talking points, because generosity toward George W. Bush is not among them.

LOL. I love the idea that the Democrats are trying to stick to "talking points."

In my view, the GOP attachment to being "on message" is a sign of a deeper attachment to fascism and authoritarianism within the GOP, the very thing folks on the liberal left is fighting against.

I mean, what does it say when you adopt the strategies of fascism and authoritarianism in order to fight fascism and authoritarianism?!

The best thing about Democrats is how inefficient they are. They don't have to be quite so namby pamby, it is true, but one can be bold and emphatic and persuasive without surrendering one's ethics and morals to a fascist authoritarian mind game called "talking points" and being "on message."

Sure, Clinton played this game with the best of them, right down to Carville's "It's the Economy, Stupid," and advisors on both sides use talking points as basic Spin Doctor 101. But that is what the handlers do. If Democrats let the handlers drive the issues, then they deserve to lose.

Ethics, critical thinking, national policy, morality, and strategy, not to mention diplomacy, ought to drive one's positions on issues. If these issues have well-taken positions, developing talking points for them is a matter of rhetoric and persuasion more than "positioning" with an eye to the next election.

That Clinton would send this subtle message between the lines to the party leadership, oh that does crack me up. See here below.

Maybe Clinton is onto something. Around the country, people aren’t worried about uranium from Africa. They are worried about the almost daily killing of our boys in Iraq. The 16 words have to be seen in the context of developments on the ground in Iraq. Clearly Bush got a boost with the elimination of Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, whose demise suggests progress toward the larger goal of ridding Iraq of Baath Party loyalists. It is probably inevitable now that Saddam will be found.

“This is proof that God looks after George W. Bush,” said a Republican strategist, who dubbed the timely deaths of Saddam’s sons, “Bush’s Magoo moment.” Bush is like the hapless cartoon figure Mr. Magoo who stumbles unaware through mishap after mishap but somehow manages to emerge unscathed.

Events this week remind us how quickly politics can turn. Taking down Saddam’s diabolical sons is significant, though not determinative. Five more American soldiers died in the days immediately after the Tuesday attack that killed Uday and Qusay. Bush has lost a lot of ground that he cannot easily make up, but Democrats can overreach—and that’s the message Clinton was sending to his fellow Democrats. Republicans are playing hardball. When Democrats criticize Bush, Republicans counter, “Would you rather have Saddam back?”

You know, I've watched this counter, usually in the mouths of TV journalists, who take the positions of Republicans with such ease, and I'm not so bothered by the rejoiner as much as I am by the bald-faced non-sequitur.

I mean, does logic count for nothing with audiences? Can people recognize logical fallacies at all? Non sequiturs with straight faces, red herrings, used to sort of ambush various talking heads on TV, when the effect makes all parties look as stupid as if they said something like:

Talking Head: "We need to reduce the amount of fat in people's diets. Cheese is a big source of fat, and people just eat too much of it. This administration isn't making drastic enough health recommendations for the health of its citizens"

Accusatory TV Journalist: "Are you saying the moon expeditions were wrong then? Because the moon is made out of green cheese? What is your answer to that?"

My answer is that trying to answer non sequiturs from journalists who never encountered a logical syllogism in their lives is a sucker punch, so I suppose people who fall for it deserve whatever stupidly tangled mess they get into.

Which, oddly, ties all the way back around to Mr Magoo, doesn't it?

Miasma

July 25, 2003 at 03:36 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2003

The Hairy Eyeball is Watching Me

The Hairy Eyeball: The Hairy Eyeball is Watching You

I'm liking this site, and so had to link to the inaugural essay that opened the Hairy Eyeball for us all, as "The war on terror and the death of irony."

Yeah, that works. Plus I like any site that opens by citing Alexander Pope bringing up my old buddy Quintilian (YAH, Quintilian rules!).

More so than we think, for Quintilian was a rhetorician in a time when rhetors were still around in the grand tradition of Cicero, but they didn't count, because the Roman republic had basically been dissolved to favor Empire instead.

Sound familiar?

Quintilian was a cool guy tho. He thought about writing and speaking teaching and teachers and learning and all kinds of great stuff, which helped some, since people were still learning, even if their words no longer had weight, heft, matter, or influence among the powerful.

In grave Quintilian's copious Work we find
The justest Rules, and clearest Method join'd;
Thus useful Arms in Magazines we place,
All rang'd in Order, and dispos'd with Grace,
But less to please the Eye, than arm the Hand,
Still fit for Use, and ready at Command.

Again, sounds familiar, eh?

And more deja vu, by Alexander Pope's time, learning and literacy, at a relatively high level among free people at least in Quintilian's time, had already declined beyond memory to correct by Alexander Pope's time.

And declined now even further beyond memory in our time. To the point that the learned can't even comprehend what it meant to be learned in Pope's time (I should have a couplet for that, no?), and even less so, to imagine Greek and Roman advancements.

In other words, soon Greek and Roman civilizations will look to us as impossibly advanced and ancient as Egyptian and Atlantean (and Chinese?) civilizations looked to Plato.

I suspect the movement of knowledge and learning is more affected by entropy than anything else.

Which makes the Hairy Eyeball an even more apt metaphor.

Miasma

July 24, 2003 at 05:29 PM in Privacy & Free Speech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2003

What happens when the GOP tries to pull a Texas in DC

Sound, Fury, Pension Rules: Nasty Party Clash in House

This story showed up on my blotter as one of the most curious things I've seen today.

July 19, 2003

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, July 18 — As protests go, it wasn't much. There were no nightsticks or tear gas, and nobody was arrested.

But the conduct was far from orderly in the House of Representatives this morning, when more than a dozen Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee — infuriated by last-minute changes to a pension bill — stalked out of a hearing in the Longworth Office Building and holed up in an adjacent library, prompting Representative Bill Thomas, the committee's chairman, to summon the Capitol police.

What to make of this? It unfolded during the day and is full of conflicting accounts. Still, my overriding intuition here is that the Republicans are going beyond strong-arming in legislative governance. I believe they fully expect to consolidate power permanently in all 3 branches (hell, with Pat Robertson praying for Supreme Court Justices to get sick or worse, because that incredibly conservative Supreme Court is NOT CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH for him, what is one to think?).

The games going on here have techniques learned at the knee of Tom DeLay written all over them.

Also, it hearkens me back to the days when the arrogance of Newt and his fellow GOP frogs thought they had a bigger mandate than they did and went around acting like they didn't have to be nice to anyone.

(Tangent: What is it about the GOP and arrogance, btw? Are they completely unaware of how unattractive gloating and sneering are as personality traits? Or is it some kind of deep boorishness bred into the party, like the whining of spoiled rich kids, like Dudley Dursley, assholes in the core of their being? Righteously selfish and stupid? I refuse to believe this, just as I refuse to believe that all anti-abortionists are as inbred as the specimens I see protesting outside clinics, but perhaps, like the flaming red ass-ends of baboons, the worst of them catch our attention more so than the best of them. /Tangent)

Newt and his cohorts found out differently. If these little tin horn dictators in the US House live inside the same sort of delusions, they may have learned some lessons from the failures of Newt and company.

But instead of learning to sugar coat and play nice with dirty politics from the back rooms, the hallmark of representative democracy caucusing and such, government still not entirely in the sunshine, these overripe assholes seem to have watched back-to-back episodes of the X-Files and decided that, by gum, the Smoking Man had it right all along. Democracy itself is the enemy, and the only way to truly protect power and one's considerable assets as the ultimate good is to make sure power never changes hands again, and thus set out to manipulate all rules and procedures to favor the ruling party, as if one will never get kicked out as the ruling party.

In other words, despite the odiousness of the GOP actions of late, they are all most incredibly short-sighted in favor of the majority, as it says in excerpts from the article link below. Unfairly so. Arrogantly so. Crassly so. In a bald-faced, no-apologies-made grab for power.

And that tells me they are one of two things:

1. Incredibly stupid and short-sightedly weaving the rope that will later hang them, deprive them of all those special rights and privileges they covet so anxiously

OR

2. Absolutely certain that their party will NEVER be out of power again.

Consider the ominousness of #2. Is the fix in for American politics? Are you willing to wait and see? Or will you even be able to see, since private software firms will not allow any independent oversight of voting software, and all future elections will be controlled by electronic voting. Perhaps the fix is in, and the GOP has already been told.

Miasma

Democrats insisted that Mr. Thomas, an acerbic Californian who most recently shepherded the Medicare prescription-drug bill to passage, ordered the police to evict them from the library.

"The Greeks had a word for it: hubris," declared Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who initiated the motion to rebuke Mr. Thomas and then played the role of prosecutor. "It was about power, abuse of power."

Republicans tried to pin the blame on another Californian, Representative Pete Stark, the lone Democrat who remained in the hearing room to monitor the proceedings while his colleagues were in the library. By their account, Mr. Thomas had no choice but to call the authorities, to restore order when Mr. Stark, 71, threatened Representative Scott McInnis, a 50-year-old Republican, and called him "a wimp" and "a fruitcake."

[...]

In the end, the Ways and Means Committee chairman prevailed. The House voted 170 to 143 to set aside Ms. Pelosi's motion, rejecting both the rebuke of Mr. Thomas and a move to send the pension bill back to the committee for another hearing.

At issue was legislation that would make several changes to federal pension law, including raising the amount that workers can contribute, tax-free, into retirement accounts.

But today's fracas was not so much about substance as it was about protocol. Republicans had written a substitute bill in the middle of the night, prompting Democrats, some of whom support the pension measure, to complain that they had been denied a fair chance to review the changes.

[...]

"This is indeed not an isolated instance!" thundered Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip, his face red, his finger wagging. He added, "You are trampling on the rights of the minority! You are trampling on the rules of this institution! This is America! This is not American!"

[...]

The day began ordinarily enough. Shortly after 10 a.m., the Ways and Means Committee convened for what is known as a markup, a session to vote on the pension bill.

The committee's senior Democrat, Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, objected to going forward, because his colleagues had not reviewed the substitute bill. Mr. Thomas, the chairman, pressed on.

The Democrats, concluding that a bit of civil disobedience was in order, rose in unison and headed for the library to plot strategy. They left behind Mr. Stark, with instructions for him to demand a formal reading of the 91-page substitute bill, an unusual maneuver that could have delayed the proceedings for hours.

Mr. Thomas let the reading go forward, then tried to gavel it to a close. Mr. Stark, who Republicans say has irritated them with a history of off-color remarks, grew agitated, prompting Representative McInnis to mutter, "Shut up." A transcript reveals the exchanges that followed:

Mr. Stark: "Oh you think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you. You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake."

Mr. Thomas: "Recess is over. The classroom has been resumed."

Later, on the House floor, Mr. McInnis said he feared a "bodily threat" from Mr. Stark, 21 years his senior. At some point — just when remains a mystery — Mr. Thomas called the Capitol police. By the time reporters arrived, all the Democrats, including Mr. Stark, were cloistered in the library, and they had been visited twice by police.

[...]

To some, the events seemed eerily reminiscent of the recent walkout by Democratic legislators in Texas, who fled to Oklahoma to thwart a vote on redistricting.

But Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat and member of the Ways and Means Committee, insisted the analogy was flawed.

"We weren't walking out," he said, from his seat in the library, "We were trying to walk into the process, and we were denied."

July 19, 2003 at 03:01 AM in Cyberculture, Democracy, Favorite Links, News to Note, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is this not the most HILARIOUS Thing?!

Metallica Sue Canadian Band over E, F Chords

What's next? People trying to copyright "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?"

I think I may try to find some people to sue for the use of the words "A," "An" and "The." After all, I've used those words before, and anyone who just thinks they can use those words as determiners, functions of grammar, articles, is clearly copying me and owes me 50% of the profit from the use of such words. I intend to enforce this copyright to the full extent of the law...

The only thing more hilarious than this was when somebody tried to copyright the hypertextual link, as if Vannevar Bush did not write that article in the Atlantic Monthly in 1945.

This is the most prime example of why the whole notion of copyright and trademark and patent in the US, the idea of intellectual property as Information Age warehouse corporate asset, without any room in the construct for the public domain, is fucked up beyond belief.

I take that back. There is something as funny as this. Today the French "Ministry of Information" banned the word "e-mail" from the French language.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is trying to erase its own COPYRIGHTED and RECORDED State of the Union Speech, as if it could pretend the fucking thing did not occur and was not in clear existence in the public domain, on the record.

As my good friend Plato pointed out in The Phaedrus, the damnedest thing about writing is that it takes away the need to rely on MEMORY.

I know the fact that Metallica is one of the most rigid when it comes to prosecuting file-sharing will also serve to endear the band to whatever few fans it may have left.

Miasma

07.15.2003 1:55 PM EDT

"It's just a matter of a band having the right to protect the chords it uses. I couldn't start up my own soft drink company using the exact same formula as Coca-Cola." — Jill Pietrini, Metallica's lawyer

MONTREAL — Metallica are taking legal action against independant Canadian rock band Unfaith over what they feel is unsanctioned usage of two chords the band has been using since 1982 : E and F.

"People are going to get on our case again for this, but try to see it from our point of view just once," stated Metallica's Lars Ulrich. "We're not saying we own those two chords, individually - that would be ridiculous. We're just saying that in that specific order, people have grown to associate E, F with our music."

Metallica filed a trademark infringement suit against the indie group at the US district court for central California on Monday. According to the drummer, the continued use of the two chords causes "confusion, deception and mistake in the minds of the public".

[...]

"We sent a demand letter and haven't reached a resolution, so we had to sue," she said. "They continue to shamelessly feature the two chords on their website song samples and we just can't have that."

Ashley, in the meantime, is still shocked by the entire story, and hasn't yet decided how the band will respond.

"I thought it was a prank at first," he told us. "Now I'm not sure what to think."

Ulrich states that he's not trying to prevent Unfaith from using the two chords, only that he feels Metallica should be credited for them whenever used, and is calling for 50% of all revenue generated from any song using them.

"It's nothing personal against them," he added. "We intend to enforce our rights with any band intending to use Metallica-branded chords in the future."

[...]

—Joe D'Angelo

July 19, 2003 at 01:45 AM in Favorite Links, Intellectual Property, Media & Journalism, News to Note | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2003

So long Army canteen, hello Camelback

14PATE.jpg


U.S. Troops Make Use of Water Gear

Non-standard issue, the NY Times article says Camelbacks are becoming the main thing the folks back home are sending to family members serving in Iraq.

I'm wondering when still suits, like in Dune, will become standard issue.

Miasma

July 14, 2003 at 03:00 AM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2003

Whoo Hoo! I only got 5 wrong on the "New Age IQ Test"

The New Age IQ Test

In other words, 32 correct.

"28 - 37 correct answers: Excellent! Accomplished student of the new age"

The test is sponsored by the Salem New Age Center in Salem, MA. I figured I better take it, since I am descended from a gen-u-ine authentic person accused of being a Salem witch, Sarah Cloyce, sister to Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty. Sarah was probably the real witch of the three, tho, since she was the only one of them to escape execution.

I like the Harry Potter take on witchcraft, the school report he has to write in book 2, I think, about how some witches and wizards enjoyed being burned so much (due to spells to protect them from the flames), they took to being tried again and again...

I'll never forget the fun time I had in downtown Salem on Halloween one year too. What a blast. I definitely recommend it, although challenging a middle-aged woman dressed in the $40 Xena costume is not a good idea, especially when her protective husband freaks out and thinks you really want to sword fight his demur little wifey with your plastic sword. Xena my ass!

Anyway, I must run back to the Salem site now, to find out what sort of phase-shifting I can expect with Earth entering the Photon Belt.

Methinks it will be one belt too many!

Miasma

From Metafilter:

Who needs chlorpromazine when you've got crystals?. Common sense, really. Need something to do on a Sunday morning? Charles Osgood's fine, but he's got nowhere near the entertainment value of the New Age IQ Test. It's a stunning exercise both in web design and rational outlook.

Brought to you by the folks at the Salem (Massachusetts)New Age Center. Don't miss the writings of John Cali, who "channels Chief Joseph." [MetaFilter]

July 13, 2003 at 07:59 PM in Favorite Links, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack