Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Government spyware - really

This sums it up pretty well:

FBI agents trying to track the source of e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington high school last month sent the suspect a secret surveillance program designed to surreptitiously monitor him and report back to a government server, according to an FBI affidavit obtained by Wired News.

The court filing offers the first public glimpse into the bureau's long-suspected spyware capability, in which the FBI adopts techniques more common to online criminals.

Here's the good part, though:

Under a ruling this month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, such surveillance -- which does not capture the content of the communications -- can be conducted without a wiretap warrant, because internet users have no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the data when using the internet.

Because you use the internet, you have 'no reasonable expectation' that the programs you are running on your computer should be known only to you - got it?

Criminals - all of them.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Iraq, Denial and Deception

Check out this page from the official White House site - it looks like a self-parody:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cuba must suffer

That is the take-away from the latest on U.S. government treachery towards the Cuban people:

WASHINGTON — Eliminating U.S. trade and travel restrictions on Cuba could double U.S. agricultural exports to the island, according to a new government report that's sure to add fuel to the debate over U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

The study estimated that the restrictions cost the United States between $176 million and $350 million annually in lost agriculture exports to Cuba.

The economic strangulation of Cuba by the United States is for one reason and one reason alone - to set an example. If a country doesn't open itself up for exploitation by U.S.-based investors, it must suffer until it does so. Including and even if the trade strangulation against the targeted country harms American citizens, too.

Rethinking Camelot.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sex abuse insurance

Kinda, um, evil:

According to GuideOne, a major insurer for Protestant churches, most of its clients choose $100,000 of coverage for sex abuse. That might cost a small church with one pastor as little as $100 a year. A much larger church that also runs, say, a day-care center, might pay $6,000 to have $1 million in coverage. Religious organizations buying a lot of coverage may need to prove that they're taking precautions to lower the risk of sex abuse. GuideOne, for instance, requires some churches to conduct criminal background checks on employees, to allow volunteers to work with kids only after they've completed six months of service with the church, and to make sure that no child is ever left alone with just one adult. The policy won't cover everything. Insurers may put a limit on how much they will pay in aggregate, or for each case. (Recently, three major Protestant insurers reported that they receive 260 reports of child abuse every year.)

If an organization needs sex abuse insurance, I think it's time to rethink whether that organization should exist at all.

Ewww factor

Why We Get Disgusted - TIME:

Andrea Morales and Gavan Fitzsimons can both remember when and where their current research interest began. It came during a talk at the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago: Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology, took a cockroach that had been sterilized, dipped it into a glass of orange juice, then asked if anyone was willing to take a sip.

Nobody was. But if an involuntary ewww just went through your mind, as it almost certainly did, the experiment is still working. Rozin specializes in the psychological study of disgust, and he was demonstrating the universal concept of touch transference. It's a fancy term for cooties. If something repulsive touches something benign, the latter, even if it's physically unchanged, becomes "infected."

These types of insights are important - especially for those of us to are trying to win others to our cause. It's kind of pathetic, but sometimes it seems like all activists need at least a minor in advertising and public relations to be able to effectively convey a message that folks are open to. The professional propagandists, after all, are trained in these arts of deception. Does learning these arts make us evil, too? Probably not - but practicing them against people? Yep - that would seem kind of evil.

Anyhoo, the mainstream media has convinced most folks that any pseudo-lefty idea was probably dreamt up by a 'dirty fucking hippy' - as Atrios like to refer to us/himself - and that, i'm certain, helps to keep people from taking our ideas seriously. If we say, "Hey guys, let's like, not murder people anymore" - the mainstream press will effectively relay the message that "the dirty fucking hippies said blah blah blah" - what we actually said is not important, because there is a 'ewwww' factor associated with any sane-sounding ideas.

Should we spend some/most/all of our time battling negative stereotypes, or do we just try to convince those few people who remain open-minded?

Got me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Georgia executions recorded

Scary shit:

In 2001, radio producer Dave Isay released "The Execution Tapes," 19 recordings of electrocutions carried out by the state of Georgia since 1984. They remain the only recordings of executions in the United States. They were recorded internally by the Georgia Department of Corrections as a secret official record of the executions.

As usual, Democracy Now! is kickin ass. Every day they just have the greatest news and info.

...Jesus Fucking Christ. What kind of Nazi fuckin state is this? Monsters. Yuckin it up. "We appreciate it - just get us another one." IQ of the dude was 62. An IQ of 70 is the top bottom end of 'mentally handicapped' (meaning, this dude was mentally handicapped).

Georgia Capital Defenders.

Only took 20 minutes to kill the second dude. WTF?

Like Muse said in Take a Bow:

And burn, you will burn,
You will burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell.
You’ll burn in hell, yeah you’ll burn in hell for your sins.

...it's fucking impossible for doctors of good conscience to participate in executions. They should be jailed, too. Two doctors. Same goes for you two - to hell.

...and what about the case of Genarlow Wilson? what the fuck is going on in Georgia?

...correction regarding IQ, above.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Babies dodging snipers?

Thanks Bush:

WASHINGTON — U.S. soldiers have killed or wounded 429 Iraqi civilians at checkpoints or near patrols and convoys during the past year, according to military statistics compiled in Iraq and obtained by McClatchy Newspapers.

The statistics are the first official accounting of civilian shootings since the war began, and while they seem small compared with the thousands who've died in Iraq's violence, they show the difficulty that the U.S. has in fulfilling its vow to protect civilians.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An interesting bit from the Psychology Today feed - Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature:

# Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.

Zowie. There is other interesting stuff in there.

I certainly agree that many feminists employ the 'not about sex but about power' argument all too often. Never made any sense to me. After some research, I quickly admitted that yes, power did seem to be part of the equation, but my rational side always told me that sex had to be part of the equation, too.

Cesar Chavez Doesn't Exist in NJ Public Schools

At least, he didn't during the time I was growing up. Out here in Cali, though, he's everywhere. Looks like the Federales are finally being pressured to change things a bit:

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers will take another modest step Tuesday toward saluting the legacy of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.

The United Farm Workers founder already has his own stamp. Next could be federal recognition of the landmarks in his abundantly active life, under a bill set for approval by the House of Representatives.

"I hope . . . future generations may understand who Cesar Chavez was and the significance of his work," Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., said earlier this year.

Solis' legislation gives the Interior Department three years to study sites "significant to the life of Cesar E. Chavez and the farm labor movement in the western United States." Officials will examine ways to preserve the sites and interpret them to the public.

People wonder about the differences in miseducation between the U.S. and Canada, or the U.S. and Iran. What about within the U.S. - even two somewhat liberal states like NJ and CA?

Al Jazeera English YouTube Channel

This is very good news - Al Jazeera now on YouTube, legally:

The world's first English language news channel to have its headquarters in the Middle East; covering the world, bridging cultures and setting the news agenda.
Name: Al Jazeera English
Website: http://www.aljazeera.net/english

It's the second best television news program in existence - right after Democracy Now!. Check out a recent video clip of one of the many humanitarian crises the US Government has caused for innocent people:

And one of their shows, Listening Post, covers emerging media. It's great. And it'd be great to have some San Francisco tech-hipsters take notice.

The television channel itself actually shows YouTube-style 'video responses' from users - they are openly critical of the channel, Arab governments, and they are sent in from all over the world. Here's a call to send your thoughts:

Here's the full Al Jazeera program schedule. You can watch the low-quality feed for free, or pay a premium of a few bucks a month to watch it at a higher bit rate. Censorship from the U.S. government keeps cable operators from running it here.

Another program they have, Witness, is also brilliant. Here's one particular episode I'm trying to find an online copy of:

Gadi Schwartz takes his first trip to Kansas to investigate the mood of middle America and its position on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Can you imagine seeing something like that on CNN?

...'Global Village Voices' may be the segment of 'Listening Post' where user-submitted videos are submitted.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Benefit to Save Net Radio

Pretty cool event:

Soma Fm, Sonic Living, reapandsow, myopenbar.com, Bagel Radio, corey denis, elise nordling , & Bottom of The Hill are throwing a benefit to help generate money and awareness in the final 2 weeks before the CRB hearing on July 15. After July 15, depending on your elected officials and members of the house & senate - Internet Radio is gone forever.

This is a benefit to help ensure the diversity of streaming music on the internet. If you use Pandora, Last.fm, listen to any internet radio/ streaming radio online, you are directly affected by the hearing on July 15.

No idea who this guy was, but he was good:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Propaganda III World Tour, San Francisco, July 4, 2007

The Squid List rules my world. If I'm doing something fun, chances are I heard about it from the Squid List. Oddly, of the 100+ Squid Listed events I've attended, I don't believe I've ever seen the same person at two different events.

Regardless, the latest was a pseudo-art show of propaganda posters of all kinds:

On July 4, 2007, the PROPAGANDA III art show opens in San Francisco.

There will be no curation and absolutely NO censorship of any sort. Expressed political viewpoints, be they left, right, or center, will be displayed side-by-side, both online AND in the real world.

PROPAGANDA III will tour the globe through 2008, with dozens of one day art shows worldwide - the current schedule includes stops throughout north america, south america, australia, asia, europe, and the middle east.

NO art will be sold at any of the shows, although copies of the posters will be available for sale directly through the websites of participating artists.

This is NOT a commercial art show, but rather a global celebration of free speech + untrammeled freedom of expression.

SFist chimes in two times.

The posters themselves were very cool, very inspiring, but I was hoping for more controversial/right-wing/communist/authoritarian/uncle-sam-type stuff - instead, it was mostly lefty fare. Nonetheless, cool.

But the scene - the spot - the Phoenix Hotel and connected lounge - what a great spot. This is kinda what it looked like today.

Beers, bbq, rockin art, dj with turntables - what a scene.

I'm also on the mailing list for the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, where all these posters will live when this current art tour finishes. I first heard about CSPG when I was looking for some seemingly-rare Black Panther posters.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Antioch Undergraduate School Closing

Seems like a neat place:

The Chronicle: 6/29/2007: Antioch: an Education in the Real World

At the time, the Selective Service System required colleges to report students' progress toward their degrees as a condition of maintaining their deferments. Armed with misguided moral certainty, I returned to Yellow Springs and organized a successful campus movement to force the college to refuse cooperation with the draft system. Dixon properly felt we could not impose this on individual students, but he never let on, instead complimenting me on my political work and appointing me to a blue-ribbon committee to work out a formal policy. Months went by, and by the time we reached a conclusion, procedures had changed, and the issue was moot. Unlike many of my university colleagues, I am no longer automatically charmed and co-opted by committee appointments.

Antioch Chancellor responds.

I don't ever recall meeting someone from Antioch.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Yahoo is doing some new kind of customized ads:

Yahoo will announce new tools for online advertising today that could pull the company ahead in the race for what is called “behavioral targeting,” that is, the ability to better tailor online advertisements to the people most likely to buy.

Just out of curiosity, would anyone be willing to tell advertisers exactly what they're looking for? I would. Sometimes. This is something I've thought about a lot, but any major advertiser could put together an app overnight and deploy it to their network the next day.

Basically, I want to allow people to decide what types of ads they're shown, at least part of the time. Instead of asking your computers to mind-read what web surfers are thinking and feeling, why not just let the web surfers tell advertisers exactly what they're thinking and feeling? Both parties win.

So, for instance, if I decide I kinda want to think about checking out new cars - just to gauge my own level of commitment, I could tell Google that I want to see new car ads - lots of them - because i just *might* be in the market for a car. I get to see ads for all the new cars on the market and car manufacturers get to pimp their rides to me. Seems simple enough, no?

...adding, the difference here would be that this is passive advertising. Google has no idea right now that I just had my car worked on twice and that it cost me a certain amount of time/money/heartache. I and I alone am in the best position to determine what my level of interest in a new car is. In fact, I could have used some help from advertising to pick out a repair shop. Google had no idea that my car was making some odd noises, one of which was getting progressively worse. As the noise got worse, I could go to my ad profile and ratchet up the level of 'car fixiness' in the ads I wanted to see.