WolfesBlogArchives: March 2006
Friday, March 31, 2006
FEAR OF FREEDOM. Radley Balko and friends nail it.
Posted by Claire @ 02:24 PM CST [Link]
IF THE DRUG WAR isn't the only war producing liars "in a good cause." No surprise.
Both these wars remind me of the way the Catholic Church operated back when it was just "The Church." For centuries, the attitude was "Whatever promotes belief is the truth." Thus any amount of lies, forgery, and deception could be "true" as long as the dirty deeds
fooled the rubes into giving their slavish obedience and their moneypromoted devotion among the masses. Maybe we don't need "drug czars" and "terror warriors" as much as -- let's be honest here -- we need a pope of politics.
Posted by Claire @ 02:16 PM CST [Link]
ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE DRUG WAR and its lying informants. A paid career criminal has more credence than an honest man with some people, just because he's an "anti-drug warrior" and a pal of the cops.
Who'll pay for this death? Who'll pay for all the rest of the deaths and imprisonments?
Posted by Claire @ 02:05 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
OUTLAWS come in an astonishing variety.
(Thank you to "mutant biker" Randall the Dreamer.)
Posted by Claire @ 02:20 PM CST [Link]
AND THEY PROBABLY HAD NAIL CLIPPERS, TOO. Five years of the war on terror and although we may be becoming more terrified (of our own gummint), doesn't look like we're a bit safer.
Of course, the revelation that fed agents sneaked "dirty bomb" materials into the U.S. is being used here as a not-so-subtle pitch for real-time national ID scanning.
That'll help us a lot, too. Yeah. Just whopping bunches.
Posted by Claire @ 11:29 AM CST [Link]
SOME THREATS TO PRIVACY ARE WORSE THAN THE UNDEAD
They keep coming even after someone puts a stake through their heart.
Remember the dust-up over Intel's plans to put unique serial numbers on every CPU? Their Processor Serial Number (PSN) was quickly dubbed Big Brother Inside. After a storm of criticism and countless examples of how this technology could be misused, Intel "de-featured" the PSN "due to perceived privacy concerns."
As so often happens today, what appeared to be a victory was merely a reprieve. Today's War Street Journal reports that a company called Absolute Software has convinced Dell, Gateway, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard to embed their Computrace in the BIOS.
Once activated, Computrace pings Absolute's servers daily. If the machine is reported as stolen, Absolute instructs the machine to ping every 15 minutes. They trace the IP address, notify police, and catch the thief.
Except sometimes the person with the stolen laptop isn't the thief. The WSJ article recounts the tale of a soldier in Iraq who had purchased what turned out to be stolen laptop. Given today's habit of deploying SWAT teams even for routine work such as serving warrants, its only a matter of time before we have anoither tragedy like the recent murder of a Virginia doctor.
The company claims that the customer has to activate the service (and pay them, of course) but surely the software can be activated without telling the owner. Imagine a repressive government that not only forces all laptops sold to have the spyware on, but monitors traffic directed at Absolute's servers, or even manages to reprogram the destination address of the ping. What still passes for free speech or harmless web surfing in North America can be an automatic death sentence in some places.
The potential for abuse is dreadful, and essentially identical to everything that was hashed out in the Intel PSN debacle. Embedding the snitch in the BIOS makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Perhaps some clever hackers will publish ways to defeat this spyware. Until then, anyone who values their privacy can't afford to buy computers from Dell, Gateway, Lenovo, or Hewlett-Packard.
Posted by Silver @ 09:52 AM CST [Link]
Monday, March 27, 2006
V FOR VENDETTA. I finally saw it Saturday.
After the disappointment of Serenity I'd tried not to get my hopes up about this one. But the beautiful posters kept luring me. "No moviemaker who put so much craft and restraint into those posters could possibly have flubbed the film," I kept telling myself. And then there was that slogan: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. Yeahhhhh ...
So I kept letting my hopes build up ... and up ... and up.
And you know what? V for Vendetta exceeded them. It was better than my most hopeful imaginings.
(Itty bitty teeny minor spoilers follow) [more]
Posted by Claire @ 10:14 AM CST [Link]
Friday, March 24, 2006
"CHENEY OF COMMAND." Jim Bovard, I love ya.
Posted by Claire @ 12:52 PM CST [Link]
NOT OFTEN DOES AN ACQUAINTANCE OF MINE get a write-up in the august pages of the New York Times. When it does happen, it's usually because they've been arrested for something Outlawish. :-)
Two weeks ago, I mourned the death of Dr. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, noting that she was a scholar and a frighteningly brilliant woman. It turns out I didn't know the half of it. Not a quarter of it.
RWS was kind enough to forward me her obituary, as printed in the Times. Since I can't find a link to this online -- and since it's awesome -- I'm reprinting the whole thing here. Even if you never heard of her before she died, I hope you'll read and be inspired by this account of a marvelous, unconventional, accomplished, and freedom-loving life. (And smile at how it must have pained the Times to run all that copy about self-defense and firearms.) [more]
Posted by Claire @ 12:43 PM CST [Link]
IT'S NOT A HOAX. REALLY. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives held an art contest for employees' kids, asking them to illustrate what they thought their parents did at work.
This was one of the contest winners.
Little Dixon didn't draw the Branch Davidian "compound" perfectly. But he sure got the idea.
Here's the contest main page.
(Thank you to P, who boggled my mind.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:01 PM CST [Link]
MUSINGS ON POLITICIANS AND ME HAVING COTTON WOOL FOR BRAINS. I seldom ever get sick, so I was quite affronted to come down with a cold last week. It was mild at first, but by Monday it had turned into a little monster of sneezing, coughing, and blowing. Damn thing got worse and worse. By yesterday it had me so flattened that an afternoon of playing Freecell was an intellectual challenge. (Trying to write a Hardyville I felt like a second grader tackling Hamlet.) [more]
Posted by Claire @ 11:42 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
GOT A MESSAGE FROM A CZECH COMPANY that has developed encryption for SMS (text) messaging on mobile phones. Their software has been available for about five months in the Czech Republic and is just now moving out into the international market.
You can purchase it here (and note the full list of phones it works on at the bottom of the page).
I haven't tried this myself -- and I'm still waiting (not so patiently) for somebody to come up with affordable, workable voice encryption -- but I thought I'd pass along the word. Given governmental proclivities for snooping on even the most innocuous activities, this is an encouraging development.
Posted by Claire @ 12:42 PM CST [Link]
Are you a terrorist?
Raving Reporter Thunder here. If you believe in property rights, you are a terrorist, according to the state of Virginia. Kelo must be the ringleader.
Virginia News Source is reporting the story. (You'll have to scroll down to get to the story, it's the 3rd section down.)
Here's a scanned copy of the terrorism handbook (it's a 4.34 MB PDF download). Check out page 4 for the terrorist descriptions.
Posted by Thunder @ 08:04 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
8% INFLATION, 12% UNEMPLOYMENT. 800,000 JOBS LOST IN 2005, BUDGET DEFICIT OF $3.5 TRILLION, with a T.
I saw "V for Vendetta" last night, but I'm not talking about an alternate future. These numbers are the conclusions of a private economist who has been tracking government statistics for 20 years. More importantly, he has been reading the fine print in government reports. There is a reason your personal experience of the economy doesn't quite match all the good news in The War Street Journal.
Most people would rather be told a comforting lie than confront ugly reality. Politicians figured that out a long time ago. Walter J. Williams has been keeping track of how the books are cooked. He figures that social security checks would be 70% higher if honest CPI figures were used. Nixon imposed price controls when inflation was less than 5%; today we live with nearly twice that figure. Only the lies are different. Those who suffer are the same: the retired, the disabled, the helpless, the savers, anyone on fixed income. If you are not first in line to get that fabled "money from thin air" created in such massive quantities today, you are falling behind every single day.
His site, Shadow Government Statistics is worth a look for those who care more about truth than comfort, and can stomach a few ugly numbers. His interview (PDF file) is not for the faint of heart. The really bad news: he is a self-described optimist.
Posted by Silver @ 10:27 PM CST [Link]
MORDECHAI ANIELEWICZ MEMORIAL RIFLE MATCH
Blogispondent Ian here. I am pleased to announce that the 2nd TCF Combat Rifle Postal Match will be taking place in the month of April! This match will be dedicated to the memory of Mordechai Anielewicz and the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
For those of you not familiar with postal matches, the idea is that a bunch of people all shoot the same course of fire and then mail their targets to a single person for scoring. It allows us to hold a rifle match without needing to get everyone together at the same shooting range. For the privacy-minded, you may scan your targets and email them in rather than using a mail carrier.
Everyone with a military-style rifle is encouraged to participate, regardless of skill level. Here are the complete rules: [more]
Posted by Ian @ 11:35 AM CST [Link]
Monday, March 20, 2006
"PATRIOT ACT: THE HOME VERSION." Have a fun evening with your friends, losing your civil liberties and ending up in Gitmo.
Good stuff on the game site, too.
(Thank you, SJ)
Posted by Claire @ 11:13 AM CST [Link]
WHO CARES WHAT TIME AND NEWSWEEK THINK?" Here's what more important reviewers think about "V for Vendetta":
Wally Conger and the right to revolution.
"'Vendetta,' Violence, and the State" by Anthony Gregory.
And Butler Shaffer thinks the movie is an anti-state masterpiece.
Shaffer writes as a movie skeptic -- which I am, too. I think some "great" libertarian works are total crap. If he likes "V," I guess I gotta schedule a trip to the Big City to see it.
(Thank you Wally and AZ for the links.)
Posted by Claire @ 11:06 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
GPG SECURITY ALERT
Those of you who followed Claire's excellent How to use encryption instructions have just a bit more work to do.
GPG, the open-source Gnu Privacy Guard software that performs the encryption tasks, has a rather serious flaw. It is possible to add information to a signed message without disturbing the signature validation. This means bad guys can pre-pend or append information to a signed GPG message, and the recipient would have every reason to believe that the sender wrote the entire message.
Apparently this flaw has been in the code for years, and was only recently discovered. A downside of open-source software is that it is no more certain to be free of serious bugs than proprietary stuff. An upside is that serious flaws, once discovered, are fixed promptly. You can read the announcement here.
Anyone who downloaded GPG before March 9, 2006 should upgrade immediately. Go to gnupg.org for download instructions.
Security and privacy, like all freedoms, require constant vigilance.
Posted by Silver @ 01:38 PM CST [Link]
HOW HARDYVILLE FELL OFF THE MAP. The story can now be told.
Posted by Claire @ 12:25 PM CST [Link]
Monday, March 13, 2006
NEWSWEEK DOESN'T LIKE V for Vendetta. Time isn't too wild about it, either, but treats it much more thoughtfully.
Rottentomatoes.com's early reviewers are generally favorable.
(Thanks to AZ for links; I'd forgotten we were so close to the film's release date.)
Posted by Claire @ 01:06 PM CST [Link]
NOVELIST LOOKING FOR AN IDEA? Here's an idea looking for a novelist. Or a screenplay writer. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST [Link]
Sunday, March 12, 2006
CONGRESS CONTINUES ITS FURIOUS ASSAULT ON BUSINESS
Last week's jingoistic, racist attack on the Dubai ports deal was bad enough. The coprolites who infest congress claim that those people pose such a huge threat that they musn't spend the dollars we gave them. Which is the bigger threat to American security, a container crane or the oil spigot?
As always, the real dirty work was going on behind the scenes. In a breathtaking act of cowardice and arrogance, the backroom "conference committee" supposedly reconciling differences between house and senate versions of the newly engorged patriot act, instead inserted provisions making violations of the Sherman anti-trust act "predicate offenses" for federal wiretaps.
S.M. Oliva has the full story in Another Government WMD. Following Oliva's link to Marie Leone's article at CFO.com reveals this delicately phrased request: "Perhaps Congress could do that (clarify legislative intent) by staging floor debates that would enter the Congressional Record…"
The anti-trust acts are so vaguely worded that nearly any legitimate business activity can be criminalized. The lawyer quoted in CFO realizes that courts often turn to records of Congressional debates and hearings when trying to apply a vague law. In this case there is nothing to turn to, as there are no house debates, for the new law was inserted without notice of any kind.
My supply of outrage has been depleted, so I won't be able to produce a proper rant. [more]
Posted by Silver @ 06:25 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, March 11, 2006
THE FUTURE IS NOW.
Less than 2 years ago, the ACLU showed us a glimpse of our future. A customer attempting to order a pizza is bullied by a clerk who casually peruses his bank, credit card, library, and medical records.
The technology is already here, and being used in ways that are even more chilling than the ACLU warned us about. Proxy up and surf over to the site of Visual Analytics. Thanks to Lewrockwell.com for the link to the demonstration of how the crime of “structuring” is exposed. A doctor’s bank transactions are dissected with just a few mouse clicks.
Then check the links to the right. Temporal Grid, Transactional Analysis, and of course no snooping tool would be complete without Proactive Analysis and Finished Intelligence. Here data mining allows fishing expeditions over an entire zip code. As a result of “a highly unusual set of connections,” “a large scale investigation ensued using this small network as the starting point.”
It takes only seven steps to create a “ "well-qualified target" to pursue under a full and formal investigation.”
1) Query all ZIP codes = 90210
2) Walk the 80+ ADDRESSes out 1 level
3) Select the network with the largest SUBJECT to ADDRESS ratio
4) Expand out an additional level
5) Consolidate similar/duplicated objects
6) Add the title, legend, map, and labels
7) Save results / print
This is followed by
Posted by Silver @ 07:53 AM CST [Link]
Friday, March 10, 2006
KA-BLOOEY! If you're looking for a gift for an inquisitive, science-minded boy -- one who's at the stage of liking to make things go boom (and I think that "stage" runs from about 6 to 60), check out the book Backyard Ballistics.
Its monumental subtitle describes about half of what makes it so fun: "Build potato cannons, paper match rockets, Cincinnati fire kites, tennis ball mortars, and more dynamite devices." Besides that, it's well written and filled with fascinating vignettes about innovators like Newton, Archemedes, the Montgolfiers and Zeppelin and little snippets of friendly physics.
I have no interest in blowing things up & checked the book out of the library strictly from curiosity (what, you mean the "freedom-protecting" fedgov still allows us to read books about setting things on fire and blasting things into the sky?). But I loved it. And I can easily see this book getting some kid hooked on science and engineering.
Posted by Claire @ 12:55 PM CST [Link]
SUNDAY I EMBARK ON THE FOURTH WEEK of the 12-week Artist's Way. (I say embark because this whole thing feels like a journey.)
The big feature of Week Four is another kind of silence. The author of the book asks us not to read anything for seven days. She's a tad bit vague on what that means. Does required reading during business hours count? Dunno. OTOH, she makes it perfectly clear that students whose homework includes reading assignments and VIPs who usually scan reports while commuting are to stop. Just weasel out of that sort of thing for the entire week, no matter how important our reading is.
What she's really getting at is quit engaging in passive 'activities' for a week. Use the time to discover how much extra creative energy is available. Instead of sitting and receiving, knit, paint the bedroom, cook a gourmet meal, write a short story, choreograph a dance number, play a musical instrument, solve a mathematical theorem, grind a telescope mirror, or build a birdhouse. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 12:26 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, March 9, 2006
THE OTHER SHOE DROPS ON NATIONAL ID. The pilot program for this abomination was sneaked in as land-mine legislation in 1996. It's only been a matter of time.
In a free country no one has to ask permission of the central government to earn a living. Or bank. Or travel. Or invest.
I'm personally frosted by the self-righteous quote in the linked article from former senator Alan Simpson. Way back when, I wrote a letter to a Wyoming paper, predicting what would come of his "anti-immigration" initiatives. Simpson contacted me (Wyoming; it's a small town) and we got into a heated discussion -- in which his part consisted almost entirely of denying that his BS would ever turn into national ID. Well, Mr. Simpson, welcome to the national ID state that you and your policies gave birth to. We should have "burned your humble butt" way back then. Your triumph is our failure.
Posted by Claire @ 11:51 AM CST [Link]
JIM BOVARD REVIEWS State of War, the new book by the reporter who broke the NSA warrantless-spying scandal.
Posted by Claire @ 11:39 AM CST [Link]
HEY. THE MOGAMBO GURU quoted me in yesterday's column. Kewl. Does this raise my status from semi-demi-hemi-quasi-pseudo famous to ... semi-demi-hemi-quasi? Or perhaps demi-hemi-quasi-pseudo?
In any case, I'm honored. And amused. The Mogambo is a hoot. And astute on matters monetary.
Maybe he'll even eventually spell my name right, if Liberty Lightning (who stumbled upon this momentous event and sent me the news) persuades him.
Posted by Claire @ 11:30 AM CST [Link]
OH NO. DR. MADELEINE COSMAN HAS DIED. In addition to her contrarian writings on the politics of health care she was a staunch supporter of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
I didn't always agree with her. But I was in awe of her. She was a scholar who assumed others were every bit as bright and knowledgeable as she. My favorite Cosman moment: Upon reading a draft of Rebelfire: Out of the Gray Zone Dr. Cosman complemented Aaron Zelman and me on our astuteness in naming the protagonist. "Reb," she noted, "stands for both 'rebel' and 'rabbi.' And he is both a rebel and a teacher." (Rabbi means teacher, and 'reb' is how the word rabbi is rendered in some cultures.)
I can't speak for Aaron. But when I came up with that name, I never gave a thought to it having two connotations. Nevertheless, I was perfectly willing to bask in the glow of this brilliant woman thinking I was brilliant.
The world has lost a fine mind and a great spirit. There have been so many losses to liberty in the last few years, from Sam Konkin to Harry Browne. And now this. It's starting to feel more lonely than usual, out here on the freedom fringes.
Posted by Claire @ 11:17 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
"A CONTROLLED ACCIDENT." That phrase from an old, old art class came back to me the other day as I worked on a creative project.
I've been following a 12-week course called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. (Remember the book I mentioned finding so fortuitously in a cabinet? It was The Artist's Way.) And the experience has been ... something. Too fragile and numinous to talk about much at this point. But powerful.
"A controlled accident" is an artistic experience. The charcoal or the paintbrush or the pencil has a mind of its own. It doesn't quite do what you expect it to do when you apply it to the paper or the canvas. But as soon as the line or the color begins to flow, you know it's the right thing and you go with it, creating something surprising in symbiosis with your materials.
Posted by Claire @ 03:26 PM CST [Link]
DAMN, I'D LIKE TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. But not from inside the belly of the FBI beast, thank you.
Posted by Claire @ 02:57 PM CST [Link]
ANOTHER WOLFESBLOG READER DISCOVERS THE HOG TROUGH. And this one actually ate there (scroll down). He says it was good.
Hm. Couldn't have been our Hog Trough then.
(Many thanks, DG.)
Posted by Claire @ 02:43 PM CST [Link]
Monday, March 6, 2006
ANGEL SHAMAYA SWATTED AND JAILED? Please, say it ain't so! He's been bailed out, but still faces a handful of misdemeanor gun-related charges. Thank you to Gary Marbut, David Codrea, and all who are staying right on top of this. Angel, the founder of KeepandBearArms.com, is a true friend of liberty and of gun rights.
This is what happens to people in The Snitch Society. Your acquaintances can SO easily use the power of government to enlarge their own spite. Heck, they're encouraged to. "Snitch! It's patriotic!"
One part of me grinds its teeth and asks why the hell anybody who valued his rights would move to Detroit. But another knows we all have myriad reasons for making choices (family, in Angel's case) and that nobody anywhere should get raided by ninjas because he hasn't reported his gun ownership to Big Brother.
Gary Marbut has set up a page with a character-reference form letter and defense-fund information.
Posted by Claire @ 02:04 PM CST [Link]
HA. AND YOU THOUGHT I MADE THE WHOLE THING UP. A friend of mine sent this from the road. He swears he found it in the middle of Oklahoma. But we know where he really was.
Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing whether Nat, Carty, Dora, Bob, and the gang were hanging out inside. My friend's wife took one look at the place and absolutely nixed all possibility of having lunch there.
Posted by Claire @ 01:51 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
GREAT NEWS! Paladin Press has picked up the rights to and remaining inventories of all my Loompanics books. I had nothing to do with the decision and in fact didn't even learn about it 'til it was a done thing. But it's the best possible outcome.
I've always liked and respected editor Jon Ford and owner/publisher Peder Lund at Paladin. I'm thrilled they're keeping my books in print. Apparently Peder came to Port Townsend, met with the Loompanics crew, and chose the titles he wanted. Among others, I know he "adopted" Robert Waters' Guns Save Lives (a natural for Paladin and a good book) and the works of "Eddie the Wire."
I'm particularly glad to be making the move with Mr. Wire, whovever he may be. I've always appreciated sharing a publisher with somebody with who sounds as if he'd be found creeping down a dark alley. The association would confound my mother, who always insisted (to my vast irritation) that I was "a nice little girl."
Gia Cosindas, the world's best author liaison, with whom I've worked many years, tells me the Loompanics web site will remain online the rest of the year to direct people to the books' new sources. Alas, some books won't be picked up and will become difficult or impossible to get. But thank you, Paladin, and a few others, who have stepped in to save many Loompanics titles from extinction!
Posted by Claire @ 12:24 PM CST [Link]
THE NEW HARDYVILLE IS NOW ONLINE. It's about getting out of debt One Big Target at a time.
Posted by Claire @ 12:10 PM CST [Link]
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