Thursday, December 17, 2009

Necessitous men are not free men.

Ran across this today. Something to think about was that FDR was soundly criticized by the left for being a pawn of the buisness Powers That Be for not tearing down the whole mess and leaving the bones and scraps of a Failed capitalist system in the dustbin of history.

The entire speech from the 1936 Democratic National Convention can be found here, but the section which peaked my interest was from a discussion about Obama's transfer of finance and power to the rich making him a Royalist.

The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor - these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age - other people's money - these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. ...

Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.

An old English judge once said: "Necessitous men are not free men." Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor - other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.-- FDR, 1936
We are in a state of political and social impotence.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Department of Shitty Weather

I am registering a complaint. It is Oct 10th and it is snowing out.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hell 0.1

I am trapped in an airport listening to a Muzac version of The Way We Were. To whoever or whatever I have offended in the universe today, I apologize.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome to the Family

Mrs. set.element went and was presented with the official white coat signifying the oath taking and acceptance into the bigger Doctor Community. Now I suppose they can begin treating her like crap since she is family...

Anyway I am damn proud of here and want her to go kick ass.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We (Mrs set.element and I) are, for the moment, being ground into dust by responsibility and work so there has not been much posting. I am trying to change that.

Just read this whole thing, it made me proud that there are human beings like this in the world who know that there are more powerful things than guns. I tip my virtual hat to Muntazer al-Zaidi. Lifted word for word from the Guardian.

I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: what compelled me to act is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

Over recent years, more than a million martyrs have fallen by the bullets of the occupation and Iraq is now filled with more than five million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. Many millions are homeless inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

As soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies, while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the blood that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I apologise. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day. The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism needs to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Questions in my House

My three year old has been asking as of late "Do you have questions in your house?", to which I always answer "Yes, there are always questions in my house."

Sometimes he tells me what color the questions are as well, but that is grist for another entry.

Many things have changed here at Moronathon. We have moved a vast distance to a place filled with muggles (smuggle, juggle, snuggle, muggers - no muggles in the spell check). We have another child - PAK2 - who is quite a nice bundle of baby stuff. Mrs. set.element is getting ready for medical school and is freaking out. I am counting on my medication to carry me through the next few winters...

I have not been posting at all over the past half year or so and it has bothered me to no end. I have, in short, debited to return to my soap box and join all the other crazy people yelling out into the ether.

Just finished "Five Years of My Life, an Innocent Man in Guantanamo" by Murat Kurnaz. Perhaps somebody out there thinks that the official position Human Rights abuses over the past eight years or so has some sort of attachment to reality. I have been somewhat skeptical. This is a well written first person account which contradicts everything in the sack of 'common knowledge' about US (and allied) complacence in the mockery of Human Rights in Kandahar, Guantanamo and dozens of other so called Dark Facilities across the globe.
Thinking back on my time in Kandahaar, I can't cry, and when I talk to someone who was in Guantanamo, we laugh about it. We laugh a lot - about how we were beaten and how we used to listen to one another screaming. What else are we supposed to do? Sit down and cry? It happened, and not it's over. Either I talk about it seriously, or I feel like I have to laugh. So I laugh. But I haven't forgotten a thing.
So let us talk seriously for a moment.

Remember for a moment the dream that the Obama administration would bring an enlightened notion of Justice to the Human Rights abuses brought on by the last eight years and close Guantanamo Bay? That there would be Change? From The Nation
The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations. Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.
Presidential Authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely.

Think long and hard about that one.

I have questions in MY house Mr. Obama. Who the fuck are you - someone who ran on a platform of Change, directly highlighting the need to restore a balance of power between the three corners of government, who directly stated the need to close Guantanamo not just from inconvertible Moral grounds but from legal grounds as well - who the fuck are you to allow this mockery of Justice to stand.

The Law does not incarcerate suspects indefinitely. Common Law has provided at least kabuli Justice over the centuries which would be an enlightened change from the crap that we are being fed here.

I do not want to hear that the republicans will throw a hissy fit if they don't get their way. Fuck them too. We are illegally holding human beings and torturing them. Period. If they don't like the Constitution and the legal system that has been built around it, perhaps they can go find some other place that has more plastic notions of human rights? Take the entire group of people responsible for the architecture of this mess - Republican and Democrat alike - and throw them at the World Court. Releasing the population that we are currently holding is only the beginning of Justice. We need to see impartial juries and Rule of Law for the creators of this mess as well.

Any way I have a great deal of work to get done so it is time to go. Good to be back.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Numbers bake off

I am sitting in a room that would give the cast of Revenge of the Nerds a run for their money. We sit and watch "A Robust and invisible Non-Blind Watermark for Network Flows". I am enjoying myself.

Dork Dork Dork.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rock Star

Mrs set.element, M.D.

Kick Ass.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Deep Breath

Just a quick stop here.

Like so many, I watched today as the adults moved in to clean up the mess left by the warring thieves who have taken control of government for the last eight years.

Like so many, I watched today as the new president stood up and asked us to dare to look forward rather than back.

Like so many, I watched millions of normal people brave the cold and to stand in line for hours to be part of something which was much bigger than themselves.

I do not know what will happen in the coming months and years. Change and heartbreak. Hard work. A grudging hope.

Today for the first time in years I took a deep breath and was happy for the country that I live in. Brought home some flowers for Mrs set.element just to make her happy.