WolfesBlogArchives: April 2003
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
... And then they came for the lawyers who represented terrorists ...
Posted by Claire @ 10:06 PM CST [Link]
JUST AS JOHN ASHCROFT DECREED THAT REFUGEES COULD BE INDEFINITELY "DETAINED" here in the U.S., Australia's federal court declared that country's indefinite detention of asylum-seekers to be illegal. Australia is "ahead" of the U.S. in many ways. They already have a complex of notorious detention camps in which some refugees, including children, have been warehoused for years. In connection with these camps, they've also had riots, deaths, escapes, roadblocks, and a growing reform movement (all chronicled in a regular section of The Age).
Posted by Claire @ 11:16 AM CST [Link]
THE ASSETS OF LAISSEZ FAIRE CITY ARE BEING AUCTIONED OFF. After seven years and millions in investments by some high-powered people to create first a physical community, and later a worldwide cybercommunity of freedom, it's surprising how pathetically little there is to sell. Other than the MailVault encrypted mail service, there's not much more than a handful of posters of what someone once imagined the new city would be. Bids opened April 23 and close May 5. So far there's not a single bid listed on the site, though this could reflect a posting time-lag rather than the reality of the situation. An announced sale of MailVault on March 28 fell through. (Thanks to Gray Wing for that information.)
What went on inside LFC is mysterious. ScamDog's report pins the fall on the personality and ethics of one founder. I was never inside and haven't a clue. I just know that there was always a disconnect between the vision and the limited real-world contact I did have with them. Like when I signed up to test LFC beta products. I was instead subjected to a long series of high school-type multiple choice tests designed to measure (as far as I could tell) how robotically I could recite the economic theories of Ayn Rand. When I objected that this was pointless, embarassing, and a damn fine way to attract a bunch of mindless followers rather than intelligent customer-citizens, they offered me a free trip to their then-base in Costa Rica -- as long as I showed up exactly 12 days from the time of the invitation. I never actually saw a beta product. Or went to Costa Rica. It all seemed too control-freakish for a project aiming to promote individual liberty. There were too many teases, too many hoops to jump through, and too few real benefits to make all the coy & manipulative stuff worthwhile.
Maybe I'm the last to know. LFC has been gone for more than a year now and I was way out of the loop on it. Even though it was obvious for years that something was amiss, it's still sad to know that one of the most visionary, and best funded, freedom community projects has not only bitten the dust, but has left so little to show for its efforts. (Note: Some LFC financial privacy products ended up being completed and taken over by J. Orlin Grabbe's Digital Monetary Trust.)
Freedom lovers need community -- not just "cybercommunity," which we have, but real-world communities and networks of mutual interest and support. But we tend to be absolutely lousy at long-term cooperative endeavors. The most philosophically "pure" of us, especially, seem to lose sight of the fact that, in order to accomplish anything with a group, we have to put the group goal ahead of our momentary "ego-thing." If ScamDog is correct, it was another failure to do that that led to the downfall of LFC.
Oh well. Next century in the asteroids, perhaps ...
Posted by Claire @ 09:05 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
LOOKS AS IF BURT RUTAN'S NOT THE ONLY ONE HEADED FOR THE STARS. Newsweek says Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com is also funding a private space project. And he's not the only silicon billionaire whose eyes (and dollars) are turning upward and outward. Human beings need the frontier of space to survive as human beings.
So whoooppeeeeeee! NASA, get outa the way!!!!
Posted by Claire @ 08:07 PM CST [Link]
THE WAR IS OVER AND GUESS WHO WON? (Kevin Tuma nails it again.)
Posted by Claire @ 08:01 PM CST [Link]
Monday, April 28, 2003
MIKE HAWASH HAS FINALLY BEEN ARRESTED. After being merely "detained" with virtually no legal rights for more than five weeks, American citizen Maher "Mike" Hawash will finally have a chance to defend himself against actual charges. Belatedly we learn his evil deeds. He is apparently suspected of being acquainted with the Portland Six, a group of Muslims who were in turn charged with running a Taliban training camp.
The affidavit from the Federal Terrorist Task Force can be found here.
Posted by Claire @ 07:23 PM CST [Link]
A SKIP TRACER TELLS HOW TO DISAPPEAR. Although this article on effective disappearance contains some glitches and severe oversimplications, it gives a fair picture of how complex it is to cover your tracks in this day of the omniscient database. Its concept of multiple layers of misdirection is kinda fun. And its message of planning, planning, planning isn't bad, either.
Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST [Link]
HOW COME all the really good sabotage manuals are written by people on the left? Libertarians produce outstanding stuff about making booms, but it seems as if only the eco-defenders write thorough guides to monkeywrenching.
Seems like this could be a good opportunity for some young libertarian anarchist with an attitude and a word processor.
Posted by Claire @ 12:48 AM CST [Link]
"ONLY THE POLICE SHOULD HAVE GUNS." All the folks who parrot that line must think it's just fine, fine, fine what the Tacoma, Washington, chief of police did this weekend -- while his small children looked on.
Where did anybody ever get the idea that cops are inherently wiser, saner, and more judicious than the rest of us?
Posted by Claire @ 12:35 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, April 27, 2003
MAYBE I SPOKE TOO SOON WHEN I SAID "THEY" WEREN'T AFTER "US" RIGHT THIS MINUTE. OTOH, maybe this most recent get-tough blather about the IRS really is just blather. Sure do like these odds, though:Although the IRS has about 100,000 employees and an annual budget that will top $10 billion if the administration's current request is approved, Rossotti said late last year that 60 percent of identified tax debts are not pursued, 75 percent of taxpayers who did not file a return are not pursued, 79 percent of those who used abusive devises such as offshore bank accounts to hide income are not pursued. And the agency's statistics show that the chances of being audited have fallen to around 1 in 200 for individuals.
Posted by Claire @ 11:18 AM CST [Link]
AN ENCRYPTION OPTION IF YOUR FRIENDS DON'T ENCRYPT? Ken Holder over at Webley Web Works sends this encryption alternate: Zixmail.com.
Zixmail's big advantage is that your friends don't have to learn encyrption. They pick their messages up on the Web with a special code. Sort of like picking up a Web-based greeting card. Zixmail's disadvantage -- and it's a biggie -- is that it costs $50 per year for you to subscribe and send messages. Receiving is free.
At $50 annually, you really have to want to get those private messages out. Alternative: Every encryptor persuades at least one friend to adopt encryption & offers to serve as a guide and guinea pig for the friend's Learning Experiences. I had fun with that just the other evening. I guinea-pigged a bit, but Tenacious Correspondent figured PGP out for himself in a couple of hours. Now one more adaptable, freedom-loving soul is stoked up to get his family members on PGP and ... exchange those cookie recipes!
Posted by Claire @ 11:00 AM CST [Link]
I HAD A REALLY IGNOBLE THOUGHT. I'm not proud of it, but I'm noting it here because I suspect something similar might have slouched through the minds of other freedom activists. I thought, "It's a relief the government is going after 'them,' these days and leaving 'us' alone."
"Them," of course, is Arabs and Arab-Americans of foreign birth. With federal agents so busy grilling, arresting, and mysteriously "detaining" so many Mahmouds, Mahers, and Mohammeds, the feds don't have energy left over to target "us." "Us" -- the anti-government, gun-nut, "militia" crowd. You remember "us" from the 1990s -- "domestic terrorists," "paper terrorists," tax-resisters, and general all-around "right-wing" threats to national security. We're not reading about ourselves in the newspaper so much anymore, or hearing so many desperate pleas on the Internet from "patriots" wrongly busted.
So ... relief.
Of course that relief is as stupid as it is ignoble. A government that gets away with treating one minority injustly is a government that's just been given permission to treat any minority injustly. Yet this creepy sense of ease remains. We can breathe more deeply because for the moment the target is the ever-useful "other."
Posted by Claire @ 10:21 AM CST [Link]
Friday, April 25, 2003
... THEN THEY CAME FOR THE ASYLUM SEEKERS .... Now John Ashcroft has decreed that every asylum seeker entering the U.S. may be "detained" indefinitely as a threat to national security. Every single one of them. Regardless of the merits of their claim that they face persecution in their native lands. Regardless of any actual threat.
Posted by Claire @ 08:08 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, April 24, 2003
HOW DIFFICULT TO BE A MAN OF PRINCIPLE IN A PRAGMATIC POSITION. A small item in the Chicago Sun-Times says that the NRA is considering opposing Ron Paul in the next congressional election. The reason? Because Paul -- known as "Dr. No" -- voted against protecting the firearms industry against lawsuits.
Paul is the only man in Congress who always votes according to what he believes the Constitution requires. He opposed the lawsuit-protection bill because the Constitution gives the federal government no authority to tell the states what they can do about lawsuits. The NRA and everybody else knows Paul is a hero for gun-rights; he just won't toe anybody's party line for the sake of pragmatism.
I'm glad I'm not in Ron Paul's position. I'm glad Ron Paul is. He may not be able to advance liberty through legislation, but he's a gutsy reminder that principle matters. Lawsuits that try to destroy the firearms industry by holding manufacturers responsible for the criminal misuse of their product are as outrageous (and scary) as lawsuits that blame GM and Toyota for carjackings. But "good" legislation based on unlawful big-government premises won't serve us in the long run, even when it brings a sigh of temporary relief.
(NOTE: A correspondent forwarded an exchange he had with the NRA. He said that ONE MINUTE after he hit the send button on his defense of Paul, he got a response saying it was "too early" and "premature" to speculate about what the NRA would do in the next elections. Faithful Correspondent sagely noted that the quick, canned response shows the NRA is already taking a lot of heat from its members over its anti-Paul grumbles. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at NRA headquarters this morning.)
Posted by Claire @ 09:33 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
DON'T YOU JUST THINK IT'S SO, SO SWEET that Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have thanked George W. Bush for his support of their semi-automatic weaons ban? Makes you feel warm all over, doesn't it, to know that our fine leaders are working together so harmoniously for the well-being of their subj ... er, vict ... er ... For The Sake Of The Children And Other Living Things.
Posted by Claire @ 02:27 PM CST [Link]
AD ASTRA. From correspondent Ian McCollum and the Los Angeles Daily News comes this good word:
Burt Rutan, designer of the Voyager aircraft (flew around the world without refueling) just unveiled a completely privately-funded, manned spacecraft to win the $10 million X-Prize with. This guy is the real deal, and it really looks like this vehicle will work as planned. Victor Koman, anyone? :)In space travel, Rutan hopes his example will spur the same sort of
innovation and experimentation that occurred after the Wright brothers flew
their airplane in Paris in 1909. By five years after the Wright brothers'
first flight in 1903, Rutan said, only 10 pilots had flown powered
airplanes. Within three years after the Paris demonstration, he said, there
were thousands of pilots and hundreds of different types of aircraft. Some
of the designs were bad, he said, but some of what was judged to be nonsense
turned out to be innovations. ...
So far, Rutan said, government agencies have always been in charge of space
travel, and they have always done it for political motivations. 'I want to
see if I can do it,' Rutan said.
Rutan's web site has details on the craft as well as a handful of pictures.
Posted by Claire @ 02:19 PM CST [Link]
PRIVACY NO-BRAINER OF THE DAY: If e-mail encryption is one of those things that you've been intending to get to when you have a little time, how about making time right now?
The International PGP Home Page lists literally dozens of freeware encryption programs -- from versions for folks who are still using Amigas and Ataris, right up to those for the latest Windows OS and Linux. Many of these integrate so well with your e-mail program that they require nothing more of you than a mouse click and a password. You can also set up free trial account with the online eycrypted mail service MailVault.com.
This is old news, I know. But a lot of people still aren't using encyption because of inertia or fear or because "it takes two" -- you and whoever's receiving your message. So get your best friend to do it, too.
Big Brother may be able to examine everything else from your eyeballs to your credit history. But you don't have to hand the product of your mind over to him.
Posted by Claire @ 10:15 AM CST [Link]
SMALL TOWN BIG BROTHER.PLUMSTED, N.J. -- The biggest security breach in recent memory in this small central New Jersey school district happened when a parent forgot to sign in at the office before delivering cupcakes to a child's classroom.
So it was somewhat of a surprise when the Plumsted district's three schools became the test site for a cutting-edge eye recognition security system designed to keep out strangers.
As NewsDay reports, this most recent mix of Mayberry and the Matrix -- a spanking new iris-recognition system -- comes to us courtesy of a grant from the U.S. Justice Department, which itself exists courtesy of the American taxpayer.
Posted by Claire @ 09:18 AM CST [Link]
Monday, April 21, 2003
THE LAST FEW DAYS I'VE BEEN INSTALLING KITCHEN CABINETS IN MY CABIN.. This isn't exactly a job for a mere girl, and I'm feeling more mere by the minute. More sore and tired, too. But gratified. I love that feeling that comes of doing something I wasn't sure I could do. And besides, after nearly two years of staring at cans of refried beans and bags of rice, it's a relief to get those puppies out of sight!
During this time, I've let important anniversaries go by without comment. Waco's 10th. The 60th of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. And the 228th of the battles of Lexington and Concord. Important memories. Vital warnings. Powerful inspirations.
Being preoccupied with simple things like sweat and muscle aches and whether or not I can square up that last stubborn 1/16 inch between the cabinet and the wall -- and how lovely and clean the new cabinets look on the wall -- reminds me of the dilemma people of conscience always face: how much we must give to freedom and justice and how much of our lives we can embrace just for ourselves.
Preoccupation with the personal can be a complete copout, as it is for millions of TV babies out there. Or it can be a much-needed form of renewal between periods of intense outward-directed activity. Or, for some freedom lovers, the very act of "doing our own thing" can be political -- an act of protest, or (viewing it more positively) a declaration of what freedom is all about. After all, how can we really fight for freedom if we aren't fully committed to living in freedom? The problem is knowing what our own motivations are when we "do our own thing," not to kid ourselves when we really are copping out, and to find the right balance point between what we do for ourselves and what we do for our cause, our children, our grandchildren, our gods, our ideals.
Putting up cabinets may seem like a lousy example of "doing my own thing." But I really am doing it just for me, sweat, bruises, and all. Yeah, if I lived in a really free society, I'd choose to make lots of money and hire somebody else to put up my cabinets. But lovingly performed labor is also good for the soul, and if I sat around eating bon bons while a couple of big bruisers did my kitchen, I'd miss something of value. Something very satisfying. As I hoist those clunky 50-pound monsters to the wall, it makes perfect sense to me why America's oldtime Jeffersonian yeoman farmers understood and valued their independence much more than masses of urban specialists do.
Ultimately freedom is a do-it-yourself project.
Posted by Claire @ 10:48 PM CST [Link]
WAS CONSTRUCTION OF AN OIL PIPELINE A CAUSE OF 9-11? So says best-selling author William Rivers Pitt. Not only that, but a successful Carter-administration manipulation to change the balance of power in Afghanistan laid the groundwork. A study in unintended consequences.
Posted by Claire @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
YOU GO, MANITOBA! The very independent western province has announced it will not prosecute gun owners for violating Canada's intrusive, useless, and insanely expensive firearms registration law.
According to CNews:"We have been opposed to the federal government's registry scheme right from the beginning," Attorney General Gord Mackintosh said in a news release. "There is no benefit to the public in making criminals out of hunters and farmers, and it is a waste of time and resources to have provincial Crown attorneys prosecuting registration offences." Alberta and Saskatchewan have also said they won't prosecute charges under the federal law.
Posted by Claire @ 08:46 PM CST [Link]
ROFLMAO. The Department of Homeland Security just chose Nuala O'Connor Kelly as its chief privacy officer. Ms. Kelly used to occupy the same position for that revered guardian of privacy ... DoubleClick, the Cookie King and Champeeen Visitor Tracker of the Entire Known Universe!
You gotta love Big Brother's droll sense of humor.
(4/17: This morning the media are saying O'Connor Kelly has a reputation as "a consensus builder with the privacy community." Well, maybe that's a good thing. But "consensus" is waaaay too much like "bipartisan" when you're talking about expansions of government power. "Consensus" has become a notorious tool for marginalizing dissenters -- even when the dissenters are dead right. Some of the more mainstream members of the so-called privacy community are already all too willing to "cooperate" away the basic principles of privacy for the sake of getting along, so I wouldn't be too sanguine about this nice, fuzzy "consensus" thing.)
Posted by Claire @ 06:11 PM CST [Link]
THIS CAME TOO LATE FOR TAX DAY. but it's good in its polite, Cato-ish way.
Posted by Claire @ 04:38 PM CST [Link]
WHAT FEDERAL AGENTS DO ON A SLOW DAY. They send letters like this:Hello, I read your bio. I am in need of resources to completely change my identity. You see, I am a federal felon on the run from several agencies and other things. I cannot "legally" change my identity, yet I don't really know how to go about it. It is not merely the authorities I need to evade, therefore I am not sure how to go about this or the right route for me to take. I would greatly appreciate your help in anyway. God bless!
Hey, I thought you guys were supposed to be too busy fighting your war on ... whatever it is this week ... to bother trying to entrap dumb (but not THAT dumb!) writers. Next time one of you eejits sends me a letter like this, I'm going to post your e-mail address, too, and hope a thousand netizens heap derision on your little tiny pinhead.
Posted by Claire @ 04:31 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
THE FEDGOV'S SHOOTING IS IMPROVING ALL THE TIME. Kevin Tuma sent this cartoon that shows what Our Beloved Leaders are aiming at. (Link will open a pop-up window.)
Thanks, Kevin! (And you can see more at http://www.kevintuma.com).
Posted by Claire @ 05:28 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, April 12, 2003
SO WHAT WILL THE REPUBLICAN APOLOGISTS SAY now that the Bush administration wants to cancel the sunsetting of Clinton's "assault weapons" ban?
Just a couple days ago, one of my friends told a woman that the Bushies' pro-gun statements were merely a smokescreen, a "Second-Amendment Setup." Refusing to examine any evidence, she shrieked back that my friend was a Gore-supporting, Hollywood-hobnobbing, Hillary-loving consumer of French toast. Worse yet, a sipper of French wines. No doubt she and folks like her will find some way to remain in denial, even after this latest. Scary, innit?
Posted by Claire @ 11:17 PM CST [Link]
I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS. But I mean, I really don't care. I wish all these people who natter incessantly about their proclivities and the various trials and travails thereof would just shut the heck up and get an actual, well-rounded Life. Unless I'm hoping to sleep with you -- and I'm probably not -- what you do in bed (or wherever else you do it) and whatever (consenting adult) bipedal being you do it with is strictly your own concern (and that of the consenting adult or adults in question) and ought to remain so.
Posted by Claire @ 11:00 AM CST [Link]
POLITICIANS MAKE POINTS SHOUTING "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!" Then they break every promise to those used & abused soldiers when the troops come marching home. Nothing new in it. It's as old as dirty politics.
Posted by Claire @ 10:55 AM CST [Link]
DON'T FORGET TO CELEBRATE. April 13 is Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Jefferson is, among other things, the (unofficial and irreligious) patron saint of the Internet.
"Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to F. W. Gilmer, 1816
Tom, where are you now that we need you again?
Posted by Claire @ 10:46 AM CST [Link]
Friday, April 11, 2003
TAX RESISTANCE ON THE LEFT. I wouldn't take this how-to article as my tax-resistance bible. (The author seems unaware of the IRS's history of levying nasty fines for "frivolous" tax returns, for one thing.) But do your due diligence and there's some pretty good advice here. If you disagree with the author on war spending ... well, you can resist because you object to some other government spending.
Heaven knows there's plenty of spending for anybody to get righteously ticked off about.
Posted by Claire @ 09:44 PM CST [Link]
A THOUGHT FOR TAX TIME."Our friend has fallen into some kind of `Alice in Wonderland' meets Franz Kafka," said Steven McGeady, the former Intel executive, who started a legal defense fund and a Web site for Mr. Hawash.
"You hear about this happening in other countries and to immigrants and then to American citizens," Mr. McGeady went on. "And finally you hear about it happening to someone you know. It's scary."
When you submit that income-tax payment, remember: You're financing what they're doing to Mike Hawash
Posted by Claire @ 01:10 PM CST [Link]
EYE-ROLLING IRONY:ZAP2IT.COM: The executive producer of a CBS miniseries about Adolf Hitler's rise to power has been fired after giving an interview in which he compared the current mood of Americans to that of the Germans who helped Hitler rise to power.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gernon was fired Sunday (April 6) from Alliance Atlantis, the production company making "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" for CBS. He had worked there 11 years and was head of the firm's long-form programming division. ...
"It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war," Gernon said in the interview. "I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now."
Da. Ve heff vays of dealing mit dose who question the glory of der Vatterland.
Posted by Claire @ 09:21 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, April 10, 2003
BUSH, BLAIR ... AND RUDYARD KIPLING ... DISCUSS THE RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ.
Posted by Claire @ 09:16 PM CST [Link]
IF YOU STILL FILE (AND OWE) TAXES ON APRIL 15, don't forget to brighten the IRS's day. These tips are oldies now, but still goodies.
Posted by Claire @ 11:09 AM CST [Link]
FROM THE PROPAGANDA REMIX PROJECT:
Posted by Claire @ 10:52 AM CST [Link]
THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS:Congressional Republicans, working with the Bush administration, are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping anti-terrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials said Tuesday.
The particular bit of tyranny-by-legislation they're referring to is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, who can reliably found anywhere that rights are being snatched. If he gets his way, the unconstitutional powers seized by the fedgov in 2001 won't sunset in 2005, as planned.
However, there's another charmer in the works, and this one is "bipartisan" (i.e. gang-rape rather than a single perpetrator). From the same article:The Kyl-Schumer measure would eliminate the need for federal agents seeking secret surveillance warrants to show that a suspect is affiliated with a foreign power or agent, such as a terrorist group. Advocates say the measure would make it easier for agents to go after "lone wolf" terrorists who are not connected to a foreign group.
"Lone wolf" terrorists not connected to a foreign group. Could that be aka dissenters, tax resisters, ammo reloaders, anti-war demonstrators, Class III license holders, writers, and anybody whose attitude isn't properly subservient? Who knows? Who can predict who'll be the next "terrorist" in these folks' minds? After all, we're talking about the dubious mental powers of folks who think French toast is dangerously unpatriotic.
Posted by Claire @ 10:16 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, April 9, 2003
HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED ... that the people whose mailing lists are so urgently, vitally, desperately important that they subscribe you without asking are invariably the people who have the least interesting things to say?
Posted by Claire @ 05:56 PM CST [Link]
WHO CARES? His name is Mike. He's an American citizen. He's got a native-born American wife and homegrown American kiddies. He's got a good job as a programmer at Intel. His friends and neighbors know he's a great guy. His boss likes him. He's a volunteer youth soccer coach, and involved in civic projects. He's not accused of committing a single crime of any sort. So how can the fedgov arrest (oh, excuse me, I mean "detain") Maher "Mike" Hawash and hold him nearly incommunicado in a high-security federal prison?
Hell, they won't even comment on why he's been arrested. And they don't have to. Because he's a "material witness" in a "terrorism investigation." And somehow this -- this single, facile statement -- is allowed to wipe out the entire Bill of Rights and hundreds of years of legal tradition. If you think Mike Hawash committed a crime, fine. Get a warrant, arrest him, and swiftly charge him. Allow him full legal counsel, open hearings, and access to the media. If you really have a case, you don't need to pull the ghastly, cruel shenanigans the feds are pulling now.
How can we tolerate this Star Chamber, this Inquisition, and still even have the nerve to pretend that this is the land of the free?
Please help Mike Hawash. If one American citizen can be denied his legal rights, then any American citizen can be denied his rights. "First they came for the Arab-Americans, but I didn't ..."
Posted by Claire @ 12:56 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, April 8, 2003
DOING FREEDOM, THE ONLINE 'ZINE FOR PRACTICAL FREEDOM SEEKERS, released the anthology of its first three years of articles today.
I downloaded my copy this afternoon. I like Doing Freedom! because it's really about doing freedom.
Philosophy's great, as any libertarian will tell you (and tell you and tell you and tell you and tell you ...). But the noblest philosophy in the universe isn't worth a pile of pungent puppy poop if you don't act on it.
Posted by Claire @ 07:08 PM CST [Link]
THE ACLU HAS JUST ASKED ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT TO HALT SOME PROFITABLE LAWBREAKING IN FLORIDA. Seems that Florida officials have been making a cool $27 million a year selling info on drivers, vehicle owners, and state ID card holders to marketers. Selling out the "customers" without their explicit consent violates the 1994 federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)
The DPPA is a mixed bag, anyway. The very clear-thinking privacy advocate, Scott McDonald, has railed against it. Scott rightly points out that the DPPA unconstitutionally federalizes yet one more area of life. And -- ain't it typical? -- it doesn't actually "protect" any privacy. In fact, it requires states to disclose records to a veritable laundry list of Friends of Government.
Both the ACLU and Scott are right, even though their positions look irreconcilable. And we -- that is our grannies and great grannies -- asked for this the very first day they failed to say, "License? We don't need no stinking license!"
P.S. Carl Watner of The Voluntaryist has produced some good articles, demonstrating that drivers licenses weren't instituted to make the roads safer, but merely to make money for state governments. (Some states didn't even require driver competency testing for decades.) I don't think these writings are online yet, but when they are, I'll link to them.
Posted by Claire @ 06:59 PM CST [Link]
Monday, April 7, 2003
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Somehow I doubt he'd tell a battle-weary soldier he can't have a bath unless he accepts a baptism.
Who was it who said, "I don't mind God; it's his fan clubs I can't stand"?
Posted by Claire @ 10:29 AM CST [Link]
WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING THINGS GO BOOM, I wouldn't take advice from me. My specialty is causing chili to blast itself all over the inside of the microwave. But Thomas Spooner knows a lot about stuff that goes bang-pow-kafooey-and-whomp. And he explains it -- clearly and with diagrams -- in Be Creative, a new ebook available from Doing Freedom!.
Posted by Claire @ 10:23 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, April 6, 2003
ILLITERATE BABBLE-BRAINS, TAKE NOTE: Instructions for sending credible hate mail.
(CAUTION: Anyone who might experience fatal shock upon learning that the anti-war left can have a sense of humor SHOULD NOT CLICK ON THE ABOVE LINK)
Posted by Claire @ 04:24 PM CST [Link]
DON'T THINK I SAW THIS ON FOXNEWS.COM YET, but this report says that the white powder found in Iraq last week and widely reported in the media appears to be atropine -- an antidote against chemical attack rather than a chemical weapon.
Posted by Claire @ 04:13 PM CST [Link]
Friday, April 4, 2003
SO WHO'S MORE TOLERANT? The documentary I've been working on, "Innocents Betrayed," uses historic photos and footage from dozens of sources. We've also had dozens of sources refuse to deal with us once they found out who we were (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership) and what we were doing (making a film that says "gun control" is a pre-condition for genocide).
These organizations are free to license their images to whomever they wish. No problem. But after the most recent big fat NO, something occurred to me: All kinds of "left-wing" organizations have refused to deal with us, apparently because we're "gun nuts." But not a single "right-wing" organization has refused to deal with us because JPFO represents Jews.
Now, tell me again, which political "wing" is supposedly so full of notorious bigots???
Posted by Claire @ 05:13 PM CST [Link]
SARS IS SCARY. BUT THE FIGHT TO CONTAIN IT IS AS EXCITING AS A SUSPENSE FILM. The detective work ... the light-speed worldwide communications ... the life-or-death choices ... the razor balance that epidemiologists must strike between being too alarmist and too lax.
If you're in awe watching this, you might stay awake all night reading The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. This tautly written 1999 bestseller details the race to hunt down and contain Ebola (a disease that makes SARS look like a touch of hay fever). One of the book's revelations: Ebola nearly broke out of a lab near Washington, D.C. Only a fluke, a merciful turn of fate, prevented it. One reviewer said the book was "more hair-raising than anything Hollywood could think of, because it's all true," and one doctor called it "the best disease book ever written."
The Hot Zone is a good reality check on what scientists and government officials can do right -- and wrong -- to prevent a pandemic.
They've learned a lot since then. Let's hope they've learned enough. Otherwise, one of these days the more applicable book will be Stephen King's The Stand.
Posted by Claire @ 10:28 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, April 3, 2003
IT'S A VERY SWEET STORY, how the young Iraqi lawyer risked his life to save American POW Jessica Lynch. No matter how much the cynical side of me mutters that it's also great propaganda for the Bush administration, it's still a marvelous tale of integrity, courage, and love.
Posted by Claire @ 11:34 PM CST [Link]
THOUGHT SOMEBODY WAS TRYING TO HACK THE BLOG THIS MORNING. Flattering. But it turned out to be a false alarm. Nevertheless, if you ever find any really bizarre entries here, you'll know it happened.
Unless of course the bizarros are witty, original, and spelled with reasonable accuracy. Then I take full credit for them.
Posted by Claire @ 01:38 PM CST [Link]
THE HALF-DOZEN OF YOU WHO ARE STILL FLYING (what with war and SARS and too darned much "protection" by federal agents determined to ensure that you have no tools to protect yourself) should be sure to carry your Bill of Rights Security Edition. TSA screeners can't help but notice it -- beeeeeep! Maybe they'll even learn something about liberty as they confiscate it from you.
The Security Edition has been brilliantly endorsed by Penn Jillette. You probably know him as the "taller, louder half" of Penn & Teller -- magicians, skeptics, and disturbingly funny men. But did you know that Penn is also a federal VIP following an intimate encounter at an airport "security" checkpoint?
Posted by Claire @ 11:14 AM CST [Link]
TULIA, TEXAS: WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD. In 1999, Tulia, Texas, population 5,000, convicted nearly one-tenth of its black citizens of drug crimes, following a highly publicized midnight mass arrest. Forty-six were dragged out of their beds and charged. The testimony of a single undercover cop convicted 38 of them. Now the prosecutors and a judge have figured out what a kindergarten dropout could have told them: that Nice Mr. Police Officer wasn't quiiiiite telling the truth. (The utter absence of video or audio tapes of the supposed "drug transactions," and the failure to dust the alleged evidence for fingerprints should have been A Clue. Multiple Clues, even.)
Anyhow, the judge and prosecutors are now asking an appeals court to overturn all 38 convictions. The victims -- several of whom are still in prison -- have agreed to a paltry sum in exchange for not suing Swisher County, where Tulia is located. But they're perfectly free to sue the federally funded (are we surprised?) task force that helped inflict the odious Officer Tom Coleman upon them in the first place.
No word yet on why Officer Coleman himself isn't cozied up in a 6 x 8 cell with several horny Hells Angels.
(Here's another story that puts the Tulia tragedy in the larger context of the Drug War.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:00 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, April 1, 2003
SOME TV SHOWS ARE AWFUL ENOUGH TO BE A CRIME, NO DOUBT. But this is ridiculous! (One more reason to just LOOOOOOOVE that good old Patriot Act.)
Posted by Claire @ 12:45 PM CST [Link]
SHOULD THE U.S. BE THE CITY ON THE HILL OR THE GUY WHACKING AT THE HORNET'S NEST? This really seems at the heart of the issue in this war and everything else the U.S. does in foreign policy.
Posted by Claire @ 09:07 AM CST [Link]
THE VIRTUES OF MISPELLING. Does anybody else find it encouraging how many contestants have been thrown off Fox's "American Idol" after belated discoveries of their shady pasts? Not that it's a good thing so many of them are crooks and/or liars. Tacky, that. But isn't it interesting (for any privacy seeker, that is) that allegedly thorough background checks miss so much?
The latest young stud to get the boot in the butt managed to hide an assault charge, simply because cops had spelled his name "Cory" instead of "Corey" on the arrest record. It took a tip to The Smoking Gun before Fox caught on.
This is good news for anybody who dislikes the current trend for every institution with access to a database to stick a proctoscope up our pasts. Yeah, a few criminals benefit when The Holy Data turns out not to be inerrant and omniscient after all. But so do folks who just believe the world should mind its own business. So keep on confusing those databases. And remember that Claire -- or Clare -- or Clair -- or Clara -- or Clar -- or Clarice -- is cheering you on.
Posted by Claire @ 08:28 AM CST [Link]
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