Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Intimidation at the local convenience store

Most of us have been in that situation, oh, too many times. We just wanted to stop in for some Coke and Suzy Q's after a tough day at wherever, and on the way in, or out, or both, we were subject to a random sprinkling of suggestive, lewd, and/or insulting remarks. Or maybe we just had to endure an intimidating stare-down. You used to think, "What do these kids have against me?", but now you think, "I'm tired of this shit."

A solution?

BARRY, Wales--Though he did not know it at the time, the idea came to Howard Stapleton when he was 12 and visiting a factory with his father, a manufacturing executive in London.

Opening the door to a room where workers were using high-frequency welding equipment, he found he could not bear to go inside.

"The noise!" he complained.

"What noise?" the grownups asked.

Seems a bit inhumane, but...

Sibel Edmonds Cheated Again

This injustice of this lady's case is almost too much to comprehend. Save this one for when you're feeling chipper:

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court declined on Monday to consider the case of a former FBI translator who contends that she was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude in the handling of intelligence related to terrorism.

Green Party Turning Decent Folks Away?

That's my take. This article talks about we already know - most Americans hate all the money and corruption in government. People just wish they could do something about it.

The Green Party can and should provide folks with an alternative, but instead, we're offering people 'money-free politics' only if they also buy 'Feminism'. It's like going to Best Buy and being offered a $200 computer, only to find out that the deal is only good if you also purchase the 5-year warranty plan, at $59.95 per year.

Thanks, but no thanks. Quit wasting my time, Best Buy. Quit wasting my time, Green Party.

Secular Replacemet for Church?

Are religious people happier/healthier than non-religious people?

Are ignorant people happier/healthier than informed people?

I am not making the case that religious people are ignorant, or that non-religious people are informed - those are totally different topics of discussion. I'm just asking the questions above. I don't intend to imply anything, so please don't infer anything.

I'm aware of studies of the effects of religion, and of 'the placebo effect', on medical healing.

I'm very interested in this stuff. I would think that everyone should be, on some level. There's the very personal side - can I benefit, medically or otherwise, from believing in some god, or from 'positive thinking'?

And then there's the political/societal side - which has two parts. The first - how can society benefit from 'positive thinking' and/or the promotion/destruction of religion?

The second part is the really interesting question for me - what institutions can a secular (non-religious) society promote or create to benefit its citizens? I haven't thought of this question in terms of health - but more having to do with community - shared goals, shared responsibility, cooperation, etc. You know, "it takes a village"-type stuff.

To make this second part more concrete, let's say you happen to live an a town that is not overly religious? If you don't have church to go to on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, what do you do to get that uplifting feeling of connectedness - or whatever it is - that you can get from going to church?

I never much believed in God, but I always felt good about going to church and I especially felt good about all the little things the process of going to church involved - dressing up, putting on my good manners, saying 'Hi' to all the elders of the community, smiling sweetly for the old ladies, yuckin it up with acquaintances/friends rarely seen, doing some good deeds leading up to church day or soon thereafter because I was feeling that (non-Winston) 'churchillian energy' (lowercase 'c'). That is what I want back in my secular life.

I found some of it in the various activist groups and movements. Found some of it in the Green Party. But nothing in my neighborhood. Nothing where I could just show up, and be like 'yeah, I suck', and I would still be welcomed with open arms into the community of other folks, where it didn't matter a whole lot what color my skin was or what my politics were. How/where does a secular society get that? Is it even possible? Do we even want it? Should we?

Monday, November 28, 2005

RingSurf, Greenbloggers, and SiteWinder

RingSurf is like a list of cool sites that pertain to some topic you are interested in - say soccer. 'Green Bloggers Web Ring' is a particular 'ring' on RingSurf - that is, it is a group of like-minded websites that pertain to 'Green' things - the Green Party, environmentalism, etc.

Each member website of the 'ring' must include the RingSurf pre-set HTML, which has a few text links in it, including one that says 'Random'. Clicking that link sends the user to a new website in the ring (You'll see my 'Green Blogger' stuff in my navigation bar at the left.). The URL for the 'Green Bloggers' ring is http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=greenbloggers;action=rand.

Unfortunately, since the design of each blog/website is different, each blog/website has this particular 'Random' link in a different place - so it's a pain in the butt to find the 'Random' link on each new page you go to. I've found a temporary solution: put the RingSurf 'Random' URL in your web browser's 'Home Page Location' box (Firefox: Tools->Options; IE: Tools->Internet Options).

Now, every time you click the 'Home' button on your browser, or use the Home keyboard shortcut (Alt+Home for Firefox and IE), you'll get a new site in the Green Bloggers web ring. Cool. Especially if you don't use the Home button for anything else. My home page is my employer-company's home page, which is a nice, safe bet - since you never know what's going to pop up on someone else's blog. I'm trying to figure out how to create a Firefox extension to handle this with a separate button and command - say, Alt+'G', but we'll see.

What is/was SiteWinder? It was a web service I put together a couple of years ago that did something very similar to what WebRing is doing now. I was proud of it in that I'd proposed it as an idea to an internet hotshot one time a few years ago and he laughed at it - then, a year or so after that chuckle, a company called eTour blew up. Their idea had taken my idea to a new level, but I still felt vindicated.

After the success and looming failure of eTour, I started to build SiteWinder with my own set of features. It worked well for me, but never caught on with anybody else. It is now defunct, but I thought it had interesting features, which might still be useful today. The premise was that you would just click something (a button in your browser, a button in an HTML framed page, an icon in your Windows system tray, etc.) and the next website in your 'list' would appear. This is essentially what the RingSurf 'Random' link is doing. SiteWinder had a bunch of other features: sequential or random ordering of sites, categories of sites to choose from, different configuration options, ability to add your own personal bookmarked sites, a 'Site of the Day', email integration, etc. It might come back from the dead one day. We'll see. I'd like to be able to peruse my favorite blogs, news sites, Green sites, etc. in many different ways - possibly based on when they were updated, and a whole host of other ways.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Racism, Terrorism, and Dogs

Remember this picture?

Well, for some reason, the other day I was reminded of the Civil Rights movement here in America, and how various factions of the U.S., state and local governments participated in this same type of behaviour:

As it turns out,' terror-by-dog' has a very long history, and much of that history is steeped in racism.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Malignant Design

Chomsky breaks one off:

The issue has famously surfaced in a courtroom in Dover, Pa., where a school board is requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design in a biology class — and parents mindful of the U.S. Constitution's church/state separation have sued the board.

In the interest of fairness, perhaps the president's speechwriters should take him seriously when they have him say that schools should be open-minded and teach all points of view.

So far, however, the curriculum has not encompassed one obvious point of view: malignant design. Unlike intelligent design, for which the evidence is zero, malignant design has tons of empirical evidence, much more than Darwinian evolution, by some criteria: the world's cruelty.

Dude is hilarious. Awesome.

Daily Kos: Texas executed innocent teen

That's the word from Jeralyn Meritt, the legal person who doesn't criticize Israel. I don't know the details, but you know it's happening. It's just one more reason we have to stop the death penalty right now.


Ella Baker Center, run by Van Jones, the new Civil Rights leader dude. Decided to look up their website after I ran across a copy of one of their print publications while out and about in Berkeley - Reclaim the Future. Seems they run a police monitoring-type program - always a necessary thing, unfortunately. Gotta look out for the 'good' guys almost as much as the bad guys.

Bay Area BusinessWoman Online

Picked up this paper the other day - Bay Area BusinessWoman. It's pretty good. One thing I noticed immediately, and I was looking for it, was that it seemed to lack a 'hate-male' stance. I assume that the people who run the paper explicitly went for that, because they want to open up peoples' minds, not close them.

Makes sense to me.

Pro-Masculine Feminist?

Who's afraid of Feminism? Uh, me? Yes. But who else? Well, apparently people like female Nazelah Jamison:

Jamison, who's originally from South Carolina but grew up in Philadelphia, says she has always been writing, but didn't start reading poetry until after moving to the Bay Area a decade ago. Multitalented as well as charismatic, she's an actress, singer, and musician -- she played keyboards in Michael Franti's Spearhead for a time -- in addition to a poet who describes herself as a 'pro-masculine feminist' on her Tribe.net page. 'I'm down with women's rights,' she explains. However, she feels that 'traditional feminism' can result in misandry: 'You don't have to be anti-man to be feminist.' Conversely, you can be a feminist and still appreciate chivalry. 'I'm Southern,' she emphasizes. 'That's how I was raised.'

I haven't checked out Oakland Slam yet, but seems like it might be legit.

The Green Party needs to get with the program. If the Green Party can't appeal to minority women, we're done. The 'Feminism' value in the Ten Key Values needs to go - it's strangling the Green Party.

Misandry. You cold figure out what it meant from the context, but some of us needs the internets!

Chavez Outdoes Bush Again

So much for being able to count on the President (Bush, that is) to get anything done. Instead, we have to rely on the leader of a foreign country and a Massachusettes state official to work something out:

Officials from Venezuela and Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to low-income homes in the US state.

Why doesn't this fool just quit already?

Cindy Sheehan

Finally saw her live - was pretty cool. She's a good speaker - eminently believable. Funny, too.

Event listing here, though I'm not sure how long it'll stay up. Put on by the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition, but their site is down.

Saw Peter Camejo speak. He was really good, actually.

And saw Barbara Becnel - she was good. Told us about the 'Campaign to Save Stan Tookie Williams'. I think Barbara is Tookie's counsel and friend and spokesperson - something like that.

Lastly, saw Todd Chretien of International Socialist Organization. Think he was pretty good. He may have also been the guy who led the chant at the end of the meeting/lecture/whatever, in support of Tookie. I forget how it went - but it was tight!

Tibet Day

Checked it out at the Presidio on Sunday, November 20, 2005. Was interesting. Learned a couple of things.

Have to tell you - the Presidio (of San Francisco) is a beautiful place.


[SaveTookie.org. There's also tookie.com.]

Went to the Save Tookie rally (pdf) this past Saturday (11/19/05). Was cool. Right out at San Quentin Prison - where Scott Peterson is on death row along with Tookie.

Let me tell you something - San Quentin is a beautiful area. It's unbelievably pretty. And that prison is overlooking San Francisco. It just seems like God is laughing in the face of mankind. What else could explain that irony? Such a horrible place (what I imagine San Quentin is like for the prisoners) sitting in the middle of such an outrageously beautiful place.

Anyways, Snoop showed up and was good - not performing - just showing lots of love for Tookie. So, I guess it was Tookie who made Snoop want to go the non-gangsta rap route. That's pretty impressive. I don't know a whole lot about Tookie's case, but I stand against the death penalty on at least one count - it's violently racist. It's all about killing black dudes - especially black dudes that have been convicted of killing white dudes or dudettes. The facts don't lie. After that - it seems to me a bit over the top - kind of like torture. Let people stay in prison for the rest of their lives - no chance of parole. And then there's always the un-talked about problem with the death penalty - what if, like George W. Bush, you kill an innocent man - a man who's been wrongfully convicted?

You can take the 42 bus over to San Quentin, on the way to San Rafael, from the the El Cerrito del Norte BART, 3 stops north of Berkeley. Nice ride going across whatever that big old bridge is.

There were a bunch of people there - a few hundred I'd guess - all colors, all ages, and definitely all religions. There were a lot of black Muslims there - Nation of Islam, I think. They had Christian preachers, Buddha-type preachers, Muslim preachers, and others. Unbelievably beautiful day. Some super-fly pics here.


Read this book back in the day, and it was pretty good. Couldn't quite remember why, but think I just figured it out - it's by Turow, and I'd read his One L and liked it a lot. The kicker, I believe, is that Turow decided to write this book after he led the team that published the death penalty report that led to Governor Ryan of Illinois (a Republican who is currently being prosecuted for crimes in office by one Patrick Fitzgerald - yes, that's the same Patrick Fitzgerald) to declare a moratorium on the death penalty in his state until further studies could be done. Listen, declaring a statewide moratorium on the death penalty? Mon-u-mental. And, somehow, Turow was leading the study with an eclectic group of other folks. Commissioned by a Republican?! Unbelievable.

For whatever reason had taken an interest in the Innocence Project - probably because I'd heard about another black dude getting off death row, after 25 years in the pen, for a crime he didn't commit - usually prosecuted illegally, with false testimony, falsified evidence, criminal prosecutors and forensics 'experts'. Unreal.

Not sure where I found out about the Innocence Project, but Barry Scheck runs it with some other folks, out of Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York. I knew someone who attended Cardozo, which is apparently a pretty legit law school. [This dude Cardozo was supposed to be the shizzle of a jurist. Don't know if that's good info or not.]

Save Tookie. And then stop the death penalty.

p.s. We're supposed to check out the flick Redemption.

French Work More Than Americans?

No. But, apparently it was true at one time:

One obvious result of this is that America is richer than Europe. In terms of productivity—that is, how much a worker produces in an hour—there’s little difference between the U.S., France, and Germany. But since more people work in America, and since they work so many more hours, Americans create more wealth. In effect, Americans trade their productivity for more money, while Europeans trade it for more leisure. Folk wisdom suggests that the reason for this difference is cultural, which, depending on your perspective, means either that Europeans are ambitionless café-dwellers or that Americans are Puritan grinds with no taste for the finer things in life. But, while culture undoubtedly matters, not that long ago it was the Europeans who worked harder; in 1970, for instance, the French worked ten per cent more hours than Americans.

I'd be curious to see the full trend lines.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Unauthorized Biography of Dick Cheney

Cannucky tv:

By popular demand, the fifth estate introduces video to its website. Now you can watch some of our more popular fifth estate documentaries online.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Greens Can Learn From Dems


Ohio’s religious right deserves much of the credit for routing the amendments. Russell Johnson, the founder of Ohio’s Patriot Pastors movement, began focusing his fire on “Ruin Ohio Now” this summer, when many progressives were barely aware of it. Ministers from more than a thousand Ohio churches are active in the Patriot Pastors, according to Johnson, and in the weeks leading up to the election the group held meetings with 800 leaders from more than 300 Ohio congregations. On the Sunday before the vote, Johnson, like conservative ministers across the state, asked his congregation at Fairfield Christian Church to pray that Ohioans would spurn the “forces of the secular left” that were behind RON.

Many Democrats hear such rhetoric and dismiss Johnson as one more religious zealot bound to lead Republicans into the political wilderness. But in his office after Sunday services, the easy-going Johnson chuckled at his critics, who “see us all as Neanderthals marching in lockstep.” Wearing a slightly rumpled suit, Johnson seemed more a kindly professor than a crazed preacher.

The take-home for Greens is that they need to stop acting like elitists. Things will not fall into place for you just because both of the other major parties are corrupt and near-worthless. Sorry to disappoint, but reality is happening while y'all keep talking about issue that voters just don't care about.

And someone else saying 'everything is connected':

John Liu, director of the Environmental Education Media Project who spent 25 years in China and witnessed the disasters there, has an unapologetic, four-alarm warning: "Every ecosystem on the planet is under threat of catastrophic collapse, and if we don't begin to acknowledge and solve them, then we will go down."

One of the marks of a global civilization is the extent to which we begin to conceive of whole-system problems and whole-system responses to those problems," notes political scientist Walt Anderson in his book "All Connected Now." "Events occurring in one part of the world are viewed as a matter of concern for the whole world in general and lead to an attempt at collective solutions.

I'm not buying into the 'all connected' argument. It sure sounds nice - it may even be true to some extent - but it's still too 'out there'. Greens need to talk about what actually matters to people in their neighborhoods. It's actually pretty simple, if you ask me. But, nobody's asking. :)

This is good. Something Greens should support.

And more connectedness.

Daily Kos: Democratic Voters Not in Love With Their Pols: Will Vote for Them Anyway

For the record, the title of a post on dKos just about says it all:

Democratic Voters Not in Love With Their Pols: Will Vote for Them Anyway

The opportunity for the Green Party will always be there, until at least the time they elect a POTUS, but right now, the opportunity seems particularly exploitable. The Rethugs are completely crass and corrupt and contemptible, and the Dems are cowards and/or complicitous co-conspirators with the Dems on many pieces of legislation that are horrible for the people of this country (can you say, just about every bill passed during Bush's entire reign?).

Reminds me of that line of Chariots of Fire - Harold Abrahams is trying to convince Sam Mussabini to coach him, and Abrahams is using his 'gift of the gab'. I've quoted the whole passage - the bolded lines from Abrahams (the sprinter) are how I feel right now, with respect to the Green Party capitalizing on this opportunity that's been presented to us on a silver platter. The first speaker is Abrahams, asking the coach to help Abrahams beat Eric Liddell in the 100m dash (link):

A: I want you to help me take him on.

M: Tell me, Mr Abrahams. Are you married?

A: No. Why?

M: Well, when the right girl comes along, how will you feel
if she pops the question? You see, Mr Abrahams, like the
bridegroom, it's the coach that should do the asking.

A: Mr Mussabini, I can run fast. With your help, I think I
can run even faster. Perhaps faster than any man ever ran.
I want that Olympic medal. Now, I can see it there. It's
waiting for me.
But I can't get it on my own.

M: Well, we've an old saying in my game, son. You can't put
in what God's left out. Now, you leave it to me. I'll
watch you. I'll observe. And if I think I can help -
if I can see the big prize hanging there - believe me,
I won't waste any time. When we meet again, I'll be the
one that does the begging.

A: So you will watch me?

M: Son, if you're good enough...I'll take you apart piece by
bloody piece.

A: Thank you.

The first bolded text is the way I need to sell the dream to a Sam Mussabini who is a member of the elites in Green Party. The second bolded text is the coach, Mussabini, buying into the dream.

I think maybe I need my own Mussabini to guide me through the thicket of politics I'll encounter while selling a bigger, better Green Party. Raw desire is not enough - this will take knowhow, too.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

World Cup Qualifying: Uruguay defeats Australia in first leg

Let me tell you what - Australia is *smarting* tonight. Having visited Australia and loved it, I feel for them. They're good kids. I want them to make it to the World Cup finals this summer in Germany, but they're not making it easy on themselves.

I didn't see *any* soccer today. The U.S. national team tied Scotland. England beat Argentina 3-2 in the final minutes. Switzerland soundly beat Turkey 2-0 - that's a big one. Lots of good soccer.

Wednesday is Australia's next game, again versus Uruguay - but this time in Oz (Sydney). If the game is 8 pm Syndey time, then that's like 5 am Left Coast US time? Shoot. Have to figure it out - see if I can catch it.

UPDATE: Great Oz vs. Uruguay match. Went until 3.45 am Cali time:

And it looks like someone was streaming the match. I know ESPN is supposed to have all the games live this summer, but it'd be nice to watch it from my desktop.

A kind commenter says T & T are in. And they get a National Holiday to celebrate:

December 7 9 is the draw.

Oh - and Maradona goes off on Bush when jumpsuit came to town:

Saturday, November 12, 2005

BYU professor thinks bombs, not planes, toppled WTC

It's getting tougher and tougher not to believe that we were attacked by our own government:

The physics of 9/11 — including how fast and symmetrically one of the World Trade Center buildings fell — prove that official explanations of the collapses are wrong, says a Brigham Young University physics professor.

In fact, it's likely that there were 'pre-positioned explosives' in all three buildings at ground zero, says Steven E. Jones.

In a paper posted online Tuesday and accepted for peer-reviewed publication next year, Jones adds his voice to those of previous skeptics, including the authors of the Web site www.wtc7.net, whose research Jones quotes. Jones' article can be found at www.physics.byu.edu/research/energy/htm7.html.

Unlike a lot of the wacky videos and whatnot out there, this article was 'accepted for peer-reviewed publication next year'. I don't know if that means the paper has already been peer-reviewed or not. Peer-reviewed papers, in general, are legit. There can be a wacky professor somewhere, but there are other professors out there who are smart enough to cut through his wackiness and call him/her out on his/her bullshit - that's peer-reviewing.

I keep links to some 9/11 sites in the margin of this blog, on the left. I've joined Sibel Edmonds and Daniel Ellsberg in front of the Federal Courthouse in DC to protest the coverup of 9/11 crimes. I've watched videos like those at this site, of regular people - news people, fireman, policeman, building inspectors, people on the streets - all making observations about 'bombs' and 'explosive' and 'controlled demolition'. The fireman talking about his experience hearing/seeing the floors of the building 'popping' like 'boom, boom, boom, boom!' - one after another - it's all too much. It forces you to believe what you were told you'd be crazy to believe - that your own government committed mass murder against your fellow citizens.

I don't think Bush knew, but Cheney and Libby and Perle - yes, of course.

But, I think it's important to keep in mind what Chomsky said - and I think he has a point here - a good point - he thinks that even if the government did do it, our time, as committed citizens, would be better spent elsewhere. We'd be better off spending our time changing our democracy to prevent something like this from happening again in the future. It is Chomsky's view, I think, that capturing and punishing Bushco would not act as a good deterrent against future crimes by future American governments. But further, Chomsky wants real change - institutional change - and punishing a few evil criminals is just not going to get us there. Chomsky rips U.S. foreign policy 24x7, but he contends that the problem goes much deeper than a few evil old white dudes at the upper echelons of our current government. He believes that the very structure of our government, which is minimally democratic, at best - will virtually guarantee that the American people will continue to suffer at the hands of a few elite rulers for generations, or forever, unless we change 'the system'.

My guess is that introducing a viable third party into the U.S. political system would be a great start towards the 'institutional change' Chomsky is seeking.

Let's do it!

UPDATE: Older article, different prof.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I referred to NextBus once before, but I didn't really say much about them. Today I stumbled across their site as I was searching around Bay Area transportation stuff. They're based in the Bay Area, and have some customers here. They have links from their site that pull up a Google Map with the locations of their buses on them, in real time, and the map displays the amount of time until the bus arrives at the next stop. Unreal.

It's awesome technology, but also makes me worry about Big Brother.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Eagles suspend T.O. indefinitely for comments

In light of the Eagles suspending T.O., I just want to offer an alternative place to lay blame - the Eagles ownership, and the institution of the NFL itself - its management structure, its anti-player, pro-white-owners rules, etc.

Specifically, though, the Eagles ownership knew he wasn't happy. They knew they were going to have problems, but they decided that feelings were irrelevant - or more accurately, that T.O.'s feelings were irrelevant - Fuck T.O., he signed the contract.

Well, they got lucky when T.O. was humbled, and said 'yessah massah', during the early part of the season, and the Eagles ownership was happy. But every man has his breaking point. Human dignity will always win out. Either a man will be free, or he will die trying. That was the lesson of The Truman Show.

The slavemasters of days past - the George Washingtons of our nation's founding days - have been replaced by a new set of slavemasters - the ownership and of the NFL (and other institutions like the NCAA). These new masters tried to beat T.O. into submission, and they succeeded temporarily, but T.O. showed the Trumanesque über-quality of human dignity. Its power is undeniable.

Today, the masters don't physically whip their slaves, they just humiliate them and command them to do as they're told, hoping those slaves don't dare to think they can even talk back, and if they do talk back, they slap them down with fines and other penalties. And the slaves don't physically kill themselves when they are unable to assert their own free will, but they kill themselves professionally, risking and eventually losing their paychecks in order to gain back some of their dignity.

T.O.'s paycheck drama at the beginning of the year was his desire to be recognized as a human - to be valued as more than a slave. It was his attempt to assert his free will as a human being:

You don't own me, NFL. I play football for your football team, but you don't own me. I am part of this decision-making process, too. I have to be, because if I'm not, I'll revolt. I have no choice. It's in my blood. It's in my soul. Really, I don't even have a choice in the matter. It's an institutional 'problem'. All humans have the 'problem' of needing to be free, of needing to be respected, of needing to have the ability to affect their own futures. So, this will happen, one way or another. I will be free, or I'll die trying.

So, let's look at the real culprits in this debacle - Eagles ownership. They know that they hold the ultimate trump card because NFL fans haven't been taught their own rights. Fans have been taught that any 'uppity players' are just greedy. They're spoiled black multi-millionaires. Everybody always says it - all the corporate-owned papers - and what's more, the players are predominantly black, so it must be true.

This will change, eventually, because I am going to begin educating NFL fans, but this process will take years. And until I am able to do so - or someone else, perhaps - NFL players will continue to 'take their own lives' in their fight to assert their free will. These problems will not go away, because the NFL is a veritable monopoly, by design, and they cannot allow NFL players to assert their own free will, lest NFL ownership profits be slightly decreased - clearly an unacceptable outcome.

UPDATE: Other examples of human free will attempting to exert itself? Paris riots of 2005. Like Atrios said, think "60s race riots". The resistance in Iraq? Free will. Humans are hard-wired to have their dignity. If it is stripped from them, they do whatever they have to do to regain it - even die trying.

What power do NFL players really have if they find themselves in situations they deem unhappy? The situation is even trickier when contract demands are involved. Holding out used to be the only viable course of action, but that has become a riskier tactic than it used to be. The player risks losing money while he sits out. He risks being ostracized by a public that has developed little sympathy for millionaires who want to make more millions. And now they also run the chance of having to return cash to the organization after resolving the conflict.

That was the case with San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan McCardell. He recently was ordered to repay the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $1.5 million after he sat out the first six games of last season in hopes of scoring a new deal. The Bucs filed a grievance claiming that McCardell -- whom they later traded to San Diego -- had violated his contract with his five-month holdout, and the arbitrator agreed. Essentially, McCardell was punished for not showing up for work. It was a ruling that sent tremors across the NFL landscape, even though it hardly received much publicity: The NFL owners have more muscle than ever.

So when you really think about it, the disgruntled NFL player really has only two choices these days: Stay quiet or create a real-life version of the Jerry Springer show at the team facility. Most players would play it safe, but a guy like Owens was built for this kind of game. I'm sure he's sitting somewhere with a big grin on his face because this was exactly what he wanted once his hopes for a new contract vanished months ago. I'm also betting that somebody else will try the same course of action in the near future. When it comes to changing addresses in the NFL, acting like a fool is becoming a more convenient way of doing business.

UPDATE: I dropped something about this below, in my Green Party/Feminist Party post, because Ralph's initiative is making my case for me, vis-a-vis the Green Party. That's important. But as it relates directly to T.O. and the hundreds of current NFL players, and thousands of future NFL players, it's about damn time someone stood up for T.O. I turned on some sports tv last night - ESPN, ESPN Headline News or whatever - and they didn't let up. It was a non-stop bash-T.O.-athon. It was even worse than I expected. So, thanks Ralph. Ralph's been fighting the good fight for a long, long time, and us non-totalitarians still appreciate a little dissent once in a while. That's a hint, Democrats.

UPDATE: Good article from the Merc. Slowly, but surely, folks are starting to wake up. The NFL wanted us all to string-up T.O. without asking any questions - and the national media did their part, as did the passively-racist, predominantly-white fans of the NFL - but things are turning. T.O. wasn't arrested for attempted murder - like some other athletes have been recently - he just talked too much for the NFL's liking. Is the difference in this case the difference in skin tone, with T.O. being a dark black, compared to Urbina's less-than-dark black? Or maybe there are a bunch of those white at-least-passively-racist NFL fans who are still bent about T.O.'s little locker-room romp with a white girl. Listen, racism was the greatest problem of the 20th century, and it's the probably going to be the greatest problem of the 21st centruy. Let's stop kidding ourselves. If T.O. were white, he wouldn't be fighting for his livelihood right now. The media, instead of attempting a modern-day lynching, would have offered a collective 'well, he screwed up bigtime, but he is back now'. It's outrageous.

I hope the Iggles get their AAAAAAAAASSES kicked this week. Monday. 9 PM Eastern. Monday Night Football. It's on.

UPDATE: Karma. But, from the same article, this is some sick shit:

The notoriously boorish Philly fans were just as eager to move on without Owens as the team. Before the game, radio station WIP-AM held a mock funeral for Owens in which fans put their No. 81 jerseys -- and even some money -- in a casket. One of the talk-show hosts, Howard Eskin, cremated one of the jerseys and spread the ashes in the end zone.

On the streets it's called DWB - Driving While Black. In the NFL, it's called PWB - Playing While Black. If a white person acted a fool, he wouldn't have had fans burning effigies of him in the end zone. Disgusting.

Hey Dalai Lama, WTF?!

The DL visited Standford and came reaaaaal close to defending Buscho:

'History shows the second World War protected the Western World and protected democracy,' he said, speaking sometimes in English and other times through his longtime principal translator, Geshe Thupten Jinpa. 'The Iraq war — it's too early to say, right or wrong.'

I mean, seriously, What The Fuck?! No further comment. This is some serious bullshit.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

'Safe cigarette' claimed to cut cancer by 90%

Who knows whether the claims made in this article are true or not, but I immediately thought of the 'smoking in bars' debate. It is finishing its course in DC, it's already gone through Ireland, New York City, and lots of other places. Was it worth it?

I have a feeling that the elites controlling the health care system in America will not be helped or hurt by the smoking or non-smoking in bars/restaurants. The money will just find its way into some other 'administration' costs.

And what about protecting people's lives from cancer? Well, alcohol is much worse for people than cigarettes, so let's outlaw the drinking of alcohol, right? If people want to kill themselves slowly, then that should be their choice. I'm even open to allowing people to kill themselves quickly - why not? Are we a free people or not?

This is about freedom. I was curious when I first got to California why I kept seeing folks smoking up a storm in their cars - while driving. A few weeks later I finally realized that they couldn't smoke anywhere else.

They're taking away our cigarettes. They're taking away our houses and land. They're taking away our privacy.

The list goes on and on. Where does it stop?

This is one place the Libertarians have it right - maybe the only place. If we want to smoke dope, let us smoke dope. If we want to smoke cigarettes, let us smoke cigarettes. If want to drink alcohol, let us drink alcohol. This is not rocket science. This is the difference between the United States of America and a more totalitarian state. Freedom is more than just being able to go to the polls once every four years.

UPDATE: By the I'm even open with regards to people killing themselves quickly, I meant I'm even open to discussion about. I have a feeling that, in the end of the debate, I'd side with not allowing people to off themselves quickly, but I'm certainly willing to have that debate.

Missing Soldier's Family Gets Update

Sucks that the mainstream media doesn't cover this stuff.

Carolyn and Keith Maupin walked into the Pentagon Friday hoping for any new bits of information about their son, who was captured by insurgents near Baghdad more than 18 months ago.

Lethal Beauty

The San Francisco Chronicle series, Lethal Beauty, is one of the best I've ever read:

One thousand, two hundred eighteen dead. The lives of families devastated. Sixty-eight years of debate about a suicide barrier. Lethal Beauty is a seven-part series looking at the darker side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The conclusion is inescapable: A suicide barrier would prevent deaths. Golden Gate Bridge district directors voted in March to authorize a $2 million feasibility study, which has not yet been fully funded. The stories this week provide the context, background, meaning and a human dimension for the decisions that will follow.

I'll keep this short and sweet. Shame on anyone for crying about the money it'll cost to save lives. Shame on anyone for crying about how a suicide barrier will ruin the look of the bridge.

It doesn't take a genius, and it shouldn't take personal experience, to recognize that suicide can be a spur-of-the-moment thing - a quick decision, spontaneously made, at some random point in time for some explicit reason or not. All the evidence points to a suicide barrier being a very effective suicide prevention tool. I'm all for free will, but I don't think it is healthy for society to allow people to take their own lives spontaneously. Actually, I believe it is a crime right now, and perhaps it should be, but too many people are victimized after the suicider is gone. Families, children, loved ones - the damage is too enormous. Build the suicide barrier.

UPDATE: In a later post on smoking cigarettes and libertarianism and free will, I made the point that free will, freedom, is important - including the decision on whether someone wants to live or not. The opponents of the bridge barrier, however, are not arguing for freedom and free will - they are arguing for 'saving money' and for 'not ruining the aesthetic beauty of the bridge' - even if it means thousands of people each year suffer gravely due to the 'lethal beauty' of the Golden Gate Bridge. Both those reasons, to me, are immoral. I believe I could give serious consideration to the argument that people should be allowed to put an end to their own lives, as it is a far stronger argument than 'saving money' or 'not ruining the aesthetics of the bridge'. I'd probably come down on the side of forcing people to live, but at least I could take this 'free will' argument more seriously than the others being offered.

UPDATE: Just wanted to add, because I often forget to record things here that I'd thought of before I began typing, that there have been times, when out jogging, I'd be leary of crossing bridges because of how down/depressed I was feeling. I have even avoided jogging across bridges at times when I was feeling really down. I never intentionally headed towards a bridge to jump off it, but I knew that I didn't want to be tempted to do something impulsive. One of the big arguments in support of the suicide barrier is that we should attempt to protect people from their own impulsive behaviors when those behaviors could be tragic both to the individual, their families, and socity at large. So, while I probably don't have a direct personal stake in whether the Golden Gate gets a suicide barrier, the issue certainly is very personal to me. It is very important to me.

Man fined for using a dummy to poach on commuter lane

Can someone please explain to me why any HOV lane would actually require you to have a minimum of three riders instead of just two? I mean, why not start with a two-rider minimum, and have the lane actually be somewhat useful? What good is an empty HOV lane?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Top al-Qaida Operative 'Escaped'

Bushco - gangster motherfuckers:

In earlier cases of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, the alleged victims either were dead or unidentified. Other alleged victims in Driver's case also cannot testify. One was released from custody and cannot be found, and the other has died.

This witness, due to testify against Bushco for war crimes, probably 'escaped' six feet under - compliments of the CIA - those evil fucks all-too-familiar with the fates of los Desaparecidos.