The Future, Stupidly

This is a great idea:
SanDisk Corp., the Sunnyvale maker of flash-memory cards used to store photos and other digital files, on Tuesday introduced a new line of cards the company hopes will become the next-generation successor to records, cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs.
SanDisk also announced its first big client -- the Rolling Stones, who plan to release a version of the album "A Bigger Band'' prerecorded on the thumbnail-sized Gruvi brand microSD card. The miniature cards can be played on devices like cell phones, computers and portable media players.


The $39.95 Rolling Stones card, due out in November, will include extra songs from the band's catalog that can be accessed for an extra fee. [emphasis added]


All of the songs stored on the card will be protected from unlicensed copying using new SanDisk technology called TrustedFlash, which the company believes will help it gain the trust of pirate-wary record labels and movie studios.

Yeah. Good luck with that. Lessee…paying three times as much…for an album for which you could just buy the CD of and rip it to your computer, MP3 player, etc….and now you “can’t” (what’s the over-under on cracking TrustedFlash? I give it…96 hrs. from release) multi-use the files?

Yeah. Something like this will be the future, no doubt. Just…not as stupid.


When the Buried Bodies are Found

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of collective blood on the collective hands of this administration. But the thing that brings down corrupt regimes, as it always has been, finding the specific blood on specific hands. And – well, innocent ‘til proven guilty and all, but the arrows sure are pointing in increasingly specific directions:
Two men were arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder in connection with the 2001 Mafia-style killing of Gus Boulis, the Associated Press is reporting.

Boulis was murdered while in the midst of a business dispute involving indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the names of the two men arrested Monday -- Anthony Moscatiello, 67, and Anthony Ferrari, 46 -- may be familiar to anyone following the Abramoff scandal.

Shortly after Abramoff and his business partner, Adam Kidan, bought SunCruz Casinos from Boulis, Kidan hired Moscatiello to work as a food-and-beverage consultant for SunCruz, according to a May 2005 report in the
Washington Post. The Post report said that SunCruz made three payments totaling $145,000 to Moscatiello, his daughter and a business the Moscatiello family ran. According to the Post, Kidan claimed later that the payments were for catering, consulting and "site inspections." "However," the paper said, "there is no evidence that any food or drink was provided or consulting documents prepared."

According to the
Miami Herald, Kidan paid Ferrari more than $100,000, ostensibly for security for SunCruz.
The people who are running this country are, without a doubt, criminals in politicians’ suits. Can we even begin to count the number of laws broken every day? And, yes, an illegal war that has killed tens and thousands, and counting, is a level of moral outrage that so dwarfs the death of one man, that it cannot be effectively compared. It’s the hundreds of billions in deficit to the thousand-dollar fender-bender.

But see, and here’s the thing – while history will judge George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and all the rest as moral monsters, they are not pointing the guns and pulling the triggers themselves. They’re using the powers of a state to make war, something done justly and not, but for which there is a certain degree of individual detachment from responsibility for the leaders of nations (well, provided they aren’t captured or defeated). And then there’s the whole Us v. Them mentality of state-based warfare, where the opponents are demonized as not really being human, so their deaths aren’t really deaths to be worried about, etc. You get that.

And really, most citizens of most nations through time haven’t had a damne bit o’worry about their leaders flagrantly violating the laws of other lands, or the rights of other nations or peoples, if it’s all in the name of greater national glory. See, e.g., colonialism.

But - when members of the ruling regime (and surely, Jack Abramoff is counted among them) start acting like the basic laws of their country don't apply to them, people start gettin' kinda nervous. And pissed. 'Cause you're not above the law, and especially in a time and place where everything seems to be going to crap, these assholes in Warshington are livin' high on the hog, and actin' like they own the place. And you're out there, working a job for less money than you were making ten years ago, and the kids are screamin', and...well, you get the idea.

So - the law. Those same anal-retentive geeks who insist on shit like speeding tickets and the like - now you remember why you keep them around. And sure, maybe as the ruling regime is realizing how truly fucked they are, as they swirl in the toilet of their own making and flushing, they'll try an' shove around the judicial branch, try to fire some prosecutors, try to steamroll the FBI. And yeah, the FBI might be chock full o' Republicans (Mormons, even) - but they fucking hate crooks. Hate 'em; that's why they chose their profession, to fuck up some crooks. And a bunch of corrupt politicians who think they're the greatest shit to come down the pike - well, you've seen their kind before, and taken them down a few notches, too. At the end of the day, there's always another politician who can step quite happily into the void left by disgraced crooks. And those disgraced crooks will pull out all the stops as they go down, down, down, try to be the puffed-up bully again as they have so many times before - realizing only at the end, at the very bottom, in wide-eyed horror, that they don't scare anyone anymore and, what's more, nobody really gives two shits about them.

Yes, there's always another politician to step into the stinking vortex, wash his hands of those who came before. When regimes start associating with, and acting like, petty crooks, they end finishing their days regarded as just that.

Was Jack Abramoff involved in the murder of Guy Bolis? Fucked if I know. But it's a good question, isn't it? And a valid one. The fact that we're even asking it sure says a helluva lot about how far this administration has fallen.


Darn Sure

via Billmon, George W. Bush, today:
We can curtail nonessential travel. If it makes sense for the citizen out there to curtail nonessential travel, it darn sure makes sense for federal employees. We can encourage employees to carpool or use mass transit. And we can shift peak electricity use to off-peak hours. There's ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation.
Oh yeah? Oh fucking yeah? How about curtailing your own nonessential travel, ya c-bag? How would that hit ya, not flying all over the fucking country in a goddamn 747 for photo ops that you don't even take?

Christ, what a fucking asshat.


Morning Announcements

Sometimes, you need to go with the cute. Like, say, a box of baby sloths. (via Majikthise)


Don't Mess With Anything Called "Killer"

The case against speciesism grows:
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario - An enterprising young killer whale at Marineland has figured out how to use fish as bait to catch seagulls — and shared his strategy with his fellow whales.
Michael Noonan, a professor of animal behavior at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., made the discovery by accident while studying orca acoustics.
"One day I noticed one of the young whales appeared to have come up with a procedure for luring gulls down to the pool," the professor said. "I found it interesting so I noted it in my log."
First, the young whale spit regurgitated fish onto the surface of the water, then sank below the water and waited.
If a hungry gull landed on the water, the whale would surge up to the surface, sometimes catching a free meal of his own.
Noonan watched as the same whale set the same trap again and again.
Within a few months, the whale's younger half brother adopted the practice. Eventually the behavior spread and now five Marineland whales supplement their diet with fresh fowl, the scientist said.
"It looked liked one was watching while the other tried," Noonan said of the whale's initial behavior.
The capacity to come up with the gull-baiting strategy and then share the technique with others — known as cultural learning in the scientific world — was once believed to be one of those abilities that separated humans from other animals. [emphasis added]

“Once” being key here; no longer. I’m reminded, for some reason, of this.


Librarianing iz Kewl

From We Make Money Not Art via MakeBlog, this is really damn cool:

Non-fiction books checked out and returned at the Seattle Central Library amount to approximately 37000 items per day. From now on, the circulation of books will float in color-coded streams across six big plasma screens located on a glass wall behind the librarians’ main information desk.
All participants to Making Visible the Invisible are anonymous. Whatever is in circulation will be noted, but not the person who put it there.
George Legrady's project is the last major piece of art commissioned for the Rem Koolhaas-designed library.



This is a good essay/review on the new Chris Mooney book, The Republican War on Science.” But I think it (and most of the chatter on this subject) misses a central point. There is, without a doubt, a Republican War on Science – and further, on all Enlightenment values. It is a vast right-wing conspiracy all its own, and also part of the larger one. However – it is easy to take that too far, and conclude that it is part and parcel of this Administration’s goals and governing philosophy, which is forever and always, made up of only two elements:
1) accruing political power, in order to,
2) accrue monetary wealth, for Their People, which is in essence a very narrowly defined subset of corporate executives.
That is it. It’s that simple. They’re not geniuses – they’re merely ruthless, and single-minded in their pursuit of these two fairly basic goals.
Science (or anything else) is uninteresting to this Administration, except to the extent that an element of it can be used as a political cudgel to further 1), or in any way in service of 2). Every position and action they’ve ever taken follows from this fairly simply formulation. Viewed through this lens, it’s fundamentally beside the point what they, or Bush, “believes” on anything, as their metric for action is not based in any way on belief or evidence, but in very narrow political and monetary self-interest.


Just, FYI

Might be something useful to have on hand:
There are many good reasons to want to disappear from society. There are many bad reasons to want to. There are many good ways to disappear from society and there are many bad ways to disappear. While I won't delve too deeply into the whys of disappearing, I will cover my opinions on how to disappear successfully.

This essay covers what I consider to be the most salient points on how to disappear and remain successfully hidden in American society.


Injured Reserve

Wonder why Bush has seemed…even worse than usual, lately?

The missteps on Katrina came at a crucial moment in Bush's second term, when his top legislative priority at home, Social Security reform, was already on life support and the war in Iraq was becoming a mounting economic and political burden. The Administration that had been determined to defy history and ward off the second-term curse--and early lame-duck status--by controlling the agenda and seizing opportunities appears increasingly at the mercy of events, at home and abroad.And as if the West Wing were suddenly snakebit, his franchise player, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, was on the disabled list for part of last week, working from home after being briefly hospitalized with painful kidney stones.


This Land is Your Land

From an article in Salon by Bill Moyers:

Go to the Web site of an organization called America 21. There, on a red, white and blue home page is praise for President Bush's agenda -- including his effort to phase out Social Security and protect corporations from lawsuits by aggrieved citizens. On the same home page is a call to "Enlist now," with a reminder that "there are [X] hours until our next National Election." There's also a summons to Christian pastors "to lead God's people in the turning that can save America from our enemies." Under the headline "Remember -- Repent -- Return" is language reminiscent of Robertson and Falwell: "One of the unmistakable lessons [of 9/11] is that America has lost the full measure of God's hedge of protection. When we ask ourselves why, the scriptures remind us that ancient Israel was invaded by its foreign enemy, Babylon, in 586 B.C. ... [and] Jerusalem was destroyed by another invading foreign power in 70 A.D. ... Psalm 106:37 says that these judgments of God ... were because of Israel's idolatry. Israel, the apple of God's eye, was destroyed ... because the people failed ... to repent." If America is to avoid a similar fate, the warning continues, we must "remember the legacy of our heritage under God and our covenant with Him and, in the words of II Chronicles 7:14: 'Turn from our wicked ways.'"

I’m sorry, I don’t really remember the passage in the Bible where God forms a covenant with America. Maybe it’s in the New Testament somewhere? I haven’t read all of that, I’ll admit.


The United States of Meathook

It should come as no shock that NOLA has become a political catastrophe for the President, on top of its mind-boggling human toll. The latest indignity – survivors (black ones, anyways) are being rounded up into camps and held on lockdown, unable to leave, unable to even cook their food, mandated to eat the two FEMA-provided meals daily. This is our United States of America.

It is now well beyond time to realize that George W. Bush and his administration have absolutely no interest in being popular. It would have been easy to handle this situation correctly, rightly, justly, but they have no interest in justice, no interest in any right but their own. Their chief and only interest, is their interests – tearing the country apart along the way is not just an unfortunate side effect, it is a means to their ends.

The waters (though not simply waters but bodies, man and beast, and the most noxious chemicals man has devised) may be pumped out of NOLA, but even beyond that, even beyond the thousands, the tens of thousands dead – the tens of thousands dead – we will all be left in the toxic muck, until and unless we learn to say, “Enough!”, and stand, and walk out.

What does that mean? I do not know, quite, or yet, but the ringing in my ears is growing loud and it’s well past time for something.

UPDATE: Sid Blumenthal gets it, partly -

Hurricane Katrina is the anti-9/11 in its divisive political effect, its unearthing of underlying domestic problems, and its disorienting impact on the president and his administration. Yet, in other ways, the failure of government before the hurricane struck is reminiscent of the failures leading into 9/11. The demotion of FEMA resembles the demotion of counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. In both cases, the administration ignored clear warnings.

In a conversation with a former diplomat with decades of experience, I raised these parallels. But the Bush administration response evoked something else for him. "It reminds me of Africa," he said. "Governments that prey on their people."


Give the man a column

Apparently, Tom Friedman reads this blog:

"An administration whose tax policy has been dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist - who has been quoted as saying: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub" - doesn't have the instincts for this moment. Mr. Norquist is the only person about whom I would say this: I hope he owns property around the New Orleans levee that was never properly finished because of a lack of tax dollars. I hope his basement got flooded. And I hope that he was busy drowning government in his bathtub when the levee broke and that he had to wait for a U.S. Army helicopter to get out of town."

(NYTimes, 9.7.05)


There’s a good (well, good if you think that open information is good) analysis of the copyright implications, here (via EFF):

In the Print Library Project, Google is relying on fair use just as it and its search engine competitors rely on fair use when they copy millions of websites every week. Moreover, by giving publishers the opportunity to opt-out of the Print Library Project, Google is replicating the exclusion header feature of the Internet. Most authors want their books to be found and read. Moreover, authors are aware that an ever increasing percentage of students and businesses conduct research primarily, if not exclusively, online. Thus, if books cannot be searched online, many users will never locate them. The Print Library Project is predicted upon the assumption the authors generally want their books to be included in the search database so that readers can find them. But if a copyright owner does not want Google to scan her book, Google will honor her request.
Contrary to the AAP's assertion, this opt-out feature does not turn "every principle of copyright law on its ear." Rather, it is a reasonable implementation of a program based on fair use.



Truth and Consequences

Grover Norquist once famously said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."I'd like it if, in the coming days and weeks, someone would ask him if he stands by that statement.

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