Saturday, July 28, 2007

The World's a Mess

no one is united
all things are untied
perhaps we're boiling over inside
they've been telling lies
who's been telling lies?

there are no angels
there are devils in many ways
take it like a man

X, The World's A Mess It's In My Kiss

Been away for a while doing Dork things. There have been a number of topics that I have been thinking about posting, but have not had the time. Harry Potter to blame. All that devilish whatnot...

This is the intro to a more (interesting hopefully) post which I have been thinking about for a few days now. It all started when I saw an article about a bunch of nutter senators calling for "Universal Internet filtering". Ugh. Just a quick aside on the rational of the argument starts with limiting access to adult oriented content, wanders over toward child porn and ends in or around proactively protecting children from evil clown pornlords or some fuckadoodle thing.

Just so you don't think that I am making this stuff up, the listing for the witness panel posted on the web site looks something like:

Dr. David Finkelhor, Director, Crimes Against Children Research Center, Horton Social Sciences Center, University of New Hampshire
Mr. Ernie Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Mr. Lan W. Neugent, Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Human Resources, Virginia Department of Education
Ms. Christine N. Jones, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, The Go Daddy Group, Inc.
Miss America. What the fuck?? Go Daddy? I guess they do some hosting. Just went to their web site and saw a link that I was too frightened to click on: "Adopting babies in Nambia and selling them on e-bay? Happy 4th of July!" Good lord, therein sits our moral compass...

But I have wandered a bit off field.

So I have this little nugget sitting in my brain, and I wander across a rather interesting article on Gonzales perjuring himself yet again over what exactly the NSA is doing with regard to warentless wiretapping of Americans. Short official version looks something like:

In December 2005, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau broke the story of the Terrorist Surveillance Program for the New York Times. Risen's resulting book, State of War, described a surveillance effort where the National Security Agency "monitor(s) and eavesdrop(s) on large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States to search for potential evidence of terrorist activity, without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection." Previously, the NSA only eavesdropped on foreign communications. Although the scope of that effort remains unclear, Risen estimated that NSA eavesdrops on "as many as five hundred people in the United States at any given time and it has potentially has access to the phone calls and e-mails of millions more."

The New York Times' publication of those explosive charges prompted President Bush to disclose, on December 19, 2005, what he would later call the Terrorist Surveillance Program:

"I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. … "(T)he legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.

… "I want to make clear to the people listening that this program is limited in nature to those that are known al Qaeda ties and/or affiliates. That's important. So it's a program that's limited, and you brought up something that I want to stress, and that is, is that these calls are not intercepted within the country. They are from outside the country to in the country, or vice versa. So in other words, this is not a -- if you're calling from Houston to L.A., that call is not monitored. And if there was ever any need to monitor, there would be a process to do that."

What President Bush described was far more constrained than the surveillance Risen reported.

While the public mess of Gonzales carefully digging just the right size hole to be thrown into is quite interesting and important (what with the whole constitution thing and whatnot), I began to think more about just exactly who officially gets to look at my personal bits on the internets and what the associated burden is. The question becomes quite interesting and complicated when you begin to look at it in detail. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can bore you all with some overview and details about who wants to look at my magic ball of string.

Here 'you all' refers to both the beloved Mrs Set Element whom I love and is sitting typing away at some sort of gloomy MCAT application, and the good Mr. Spiros whose wordhoard is put together quite a bit more completely than my own.

Your humble (and intoxicated) author.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Same old Keys and Light Posts

In reading the first paragraph of the Preface in Bill Moyers The Secret Government, The Constitution in Crisis, I am struck by something a little odd. See if you are as well:
Within two years after congressional Watergate hearings in 1973, President Richard Nixon had resigned in disgrace. Nineteen corporations and sixty-one people, including Nixon's own chief of staff, four former cabinet officials, and his personal lawyer, had been charged with crimes relating to Watergate; dozens of the president's men had already been convicted and sentenced to prison. In the next presidential election his party was driven from power.
So... (As PAB likes to say)

What is wrong with the picture today? Saying that the current situation is analogous to Watergate seems something of a misnomer to me. Nineteen Corporations. Corporations. Can you imagine? And people going to jail. Let us move two paragraphs down:

Two years after the congressional Iran-contra hearings, a different system is working. As of this writing, no one has gone to jail for Iran-contra. Virtually no one resigned. And disgrace is as alien to most of the chief players as accountability or remorse. This particular future generation has seen it's principles threatened, and has declined to defend them.
1988. Almost twenty years ago this was written. The same fucking people come back to the trough and each time they get more power and money and influence. Each time this "party of personal responsibility" sees less and less in the way of punishment.

How does this relate to me bumping around the light post? Hell if I know. I have a bit more writing to do on this, but PAB has risen from his nap and adult intervention is required in his happy life.

He (PAB) is now zonked out and I can share my uninformed opinion. This relates to my bumping around the light pole because these people are breaking the law and engaging in treasonous activity without being even sanctioned. They don't even get a mark on their fucking pertinent record let alone the hard time that they so rightfully deserve. Nothing. Not one damn thing. Let me say it again:

Rule of law.

We are being dragged, one slow inch at a time, away from Liberty and Enlightenment. Away from Law and Order. Away from a Liberal Democracy where you and I get equal footing in the eyes of a blind Justice. Away from Privacy. Away from the right to do whatever the hell I want to do to MY BODY. Away from Informed Policy based on facts and Reason. Away from an America where hard work just might get you somewhere. Away from the Rule of Law.

I am not stupid. We have existed in a classed society from the beginning. I mean really folks:
9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920) - Transcript

Sixty-sixth Congress of the United States of America; At the First Session,

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday, the nineteenth day of May, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen.


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislature of three-fourths of the several States.

"ARTICLE ————.

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
But things are getting a little weird.

What will it take to get a little Rule of Law around here? Crap. I need a beer.
Image taken from the Interactive World of Dante site. For extra credit try and find the layer(s) of hell that our esteemed government officials would land in. Not that I believe in that nonsense.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tranquility Base

38 years ago today we landed on the moon. The meaning and importance of this can not be sufficiently expressed in words. I hold this up as a light against the flat earthers, the theocrats and the enemies of Science and the Rational represented by it. It is a moment of profound greatness to me.

Ok, how come the on line dictionary has 'technocrat' in it but not 'theocrat' ?!?

Back to our regularly scheduled paranoia.

Keys and the Light Post

There is a old joke about the drunk looking for their keys under a light post not because that is where they were lost, but that is where the light is. As I am sick of throwing cards around, this will be the new short term strategy. Today the light is creeping fascism.

Since I have little time here at work, I will begin by inserting a long quote that I recently read and which resonated with me. It is from Milton Mayer in They Thought They Were Free:

"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have....

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

What I am thinking about here (rather what I was thinking about when I read this), is the process described a few days ago. We are the frog being boiled alive. Sitting and waiting and wondering. I have much more to say, but PAB needs picking up and no more typing time exists.

Home now and PAB is asleep. What resonated with me regarding the above quote was that it perfectly described the sense of helplessness and confusion that seems to be gripping 'the left' (for lack of a better term). My use of the term fascism here is the more classical Corporatist version than personal. We as goofy apes are wired to look out for things that want to beat us up and take our magic ball of string. Less so for these large distributed sort of threats.

It was posted in relation to the most recent press release from the White House, where the president seems to be interested in endrunning the whole "I am just a bill" process of law creation so endeared to my generation by School House Rock. Executive orders. Rule of Law. Ugh?!? Am I on that whole meme again? Anyway by the power invested in me .. err .. hell, just look for yourself:
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 17, 2007
Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:
It goes on and on and can be found on the white house web site. Just strikes me as weird. Looking at a critical section we see:
any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense
WTF?!? Where is the Justice department. Not that they have been all that useful as of late, but at least they pretend to wring their hands. Anyway I must go do house cleaning things as we have a guest coming and the place is a mess.

This post was taken almost whole cloth from the Orcinus site.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another excellent job title

As previously described, in my real life I do some computer related work. Some times I get an email that is almost too strange. I thank Oracle for finally making me laugh in a non-spiteful way...

This e-mail contains priority desupport information and is being sent to MetaLink users as a service from Obsolescence (desupport services).

The following desupport advisories & notices have been updated and published for your information:
- Oracle 10g Platform Strategy

Please review MetaLink Doc ID: 443472.1 for further details on the above.
MetaLink Location:

All desupport advisories and notices are available in Certify (via MetaLink) by following this path:
"Certify"==>"1. View Certifications by Product"==>"Desupport Notices".

Thank you!
Obsolescence Administrator
I so want to be the Obsolescence Administrator.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Green Eggs and Ham

So pseudonymous child (1) is blissfully asleep, and I have a few minutes to think and type.

Rule of Law.

Rule of Law. Not rule of man or god or gut feelings. Not a place where I get to say what consequences get to apply to me or my associates. Well shit, Dick is such a right fine bastard that has worked hard so Shooting Someone in the Face is just not a big deal. What the fuck?

War crimes? Detention of American Citizens as enemy combatants? Kidnappings, assassinations, secret detentions of suspects? Wire taps on American Citizens without warrant or oversight? Refusing congressional subpoenas?

I keep on repeating these lists over and over and over in order to sort and think and order. My job in the real world involves taking a great deal of information presented in an arbitrary and careless order, and producing some sort of findings about it. This is what I am doing - taking the deck of cards and throwing it against the wall again and again till the bits and pieces sitting around on the floor make sense.

Rule of Law.

We sit and wonder what new found horror will creep out of the television today. What new 'fuck you' will be unceremoniously delivered, uncommented, by the news. What new expression of privilege and contempt will fall our way. Keeping track of the ever changing and ever growing mess is becoming more complex. New cards for the pile.

I wonder (not alone) of the failure of the congress to act in a clear and decisive way is more a product of fear than anything else. There is clear and well documented proof of high crimes and treasons against the Constitution and the American People by significant numbers of people in the executive branch (this includes appointees by the executive branch into others). The current situation borders on a full scale constitutional crisis. What if appeals to the Supreme Court on principles of executive privilege and the 'right' to ignore subpoenas go the wrong way? What if they fail? What if the president fails to show up in front of congress?

Rule of Law.

Regardless, PAB is still asleep and there is a great deal of cleaning to get done.

(1) stolen without shame from Bitch Ph.D.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spitting into the wind...

Having spent some unbelievably large block of mental time on thinking of what to actually put in this space, I am still at something of a loss. We sit and watch as little condescending turds of information fall around us - executive privilege, torture, voting abuse, systematic privacy violations, 'real' media as a fluffer, the continuing rise of corporatism and the growth of corporate person hood, illegal wars, rolling back of basic human rights, attacks on Science and the Rational from both the left and right, theocracy, the theft of our nations reputation and treasury. 'Scooter' Libby. No Child Left Behind.

The denial of a decent, rational, golden rule universe that I once imagined possible if only in tiny little pieces; squandered for some frightened little jebus theocrat universe.

There is a process which is happening which transcends a simple analysis of each of these little turds. Each historical wave - Nixon and Reagan - carried the mantle of unchecked executive privilege and the greedheads backing it. Each time they come better prepared, and each time we give away more and more of the ephemeral spirit of America. Traded in for fear and flags and television reality shows. Our little five minute hate.

I am still at a loss at the Gestalt.

Oh well. I will do what I always do - drink and complain and maybe do a little thinking. In the mean time I will look around for a nice box for all this fertilizer.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Looking into the origins of the word moronithon, the earliest sample that I can find dates to the summer of 1993 for Beavis and Butthead's "Moronathon Summer Festival". To have such a mighty social icon as this humble blogs progenitor I am indeed pleased.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Stupid Blog

As if the world needed another stupid blog. Ugh.

I am hoping to give myself a place to clomp around and complain where nobody else has to hear it. Not nearly as satisfying as gesturing at the lying television with a half full beer (bastards!!), but also not nearly as irritating to those near me.

The initial page name was some cute little technical term involving complex numbers, but in the end I am using the term moronathon to express my infinite frustration and disdain with the world around me. Hopefully this will be a positive thing as we enjoy our race toward the bottom...