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User Journal

Journal Journal: We are born like this

We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes


User Journal

Journal Journal: Sideshow 1

Just so y'all know, the TSA "controversy" is madly successful astroturf.

There are many, many things to be worried about at the moment; the TSA procedures are so low on the list as to be a non-issue. And on top of that, I am supposed to believe that this generation, who are likely to have sent high-quality pictures of their junk in all its glory to dozens of people with their cellphones, and run around nekkid at Burning Man, are actually prudish enough to have a reason to care.

I am sad to see that people that I had some respect for have joined the party: Cory Doctorow, Bruce Schneier, and most painfully, the EFF. This is the first occasion that I, a t-shirt-wearing supporter, have been disappointed with the EFF's activities (not the first time that I have been disappointed with Doctorow or Schneier being glib outside of their domain knowledge, though).

Though I believe the controversy's roots are astroturf, the genuine, organic growth on top is fed by an amusing exploit: The mostly white, middle and upper-middle classes are getting the tiniest sample of a taste of what everyday life is like for non-privileged classes, and they are livid.

Even just being young and lower-middle-class (I'm white, if it must be known), and living in a wealthy suburb, got me pat down (very thorough) and detained on dozens of occasions during my teenage years.

And my experiences were nothing compared to the everyday reality of tens of millions of Americans.

For example:

Being hispanic in the Southwest can be a serious hazard: in many locales, you can be detained for months without trial, in a privately-run facility (it's a growth industry) where you're lucky to get a maxipad (google it) when you need it.

If you're black, police will look for any reason at all to perform an invasive search in any region of the states. Expect a felony charge for that joint that you're carrying, while privileged white kids get diversion. Coincidentally, that felony will get you struck from the voter rolls forever in some states.

The poor in general are familiar with realities a million times more ghastly than TSA searches. Sheriffs, police departments, DAs, and judges (especially in states where they are elected) fight efforts to adequately fund public defenders, which they see as waste. They collude and will arrest innocent people for political gain. You can be tried, convicted, and executed. As in dead.

So tell me again why I am supposed to be outraged about the chance that I will be asked to walk through a scanner at an airport.

User Journal

Journal Journal: An Intense comment on BoingBoing

A brilliant comment to a recent story on BoingBoing:

A note of appreciation from the rich

Let's be honest: you'll never win the lottery.

On the other hand, the chances are pretty good that you'll slave away at some miserable job the rest of your life. That's because you were in all likelihood born into the wrong social class. Let's face it — you're a member of the working caste. Sorry!

As a result, you don't have the education, upbringing, connections, manners, appearance, and good taste to ever become one of us. In fact, you'd probably need a book the size of the yellow pages to list all the unfair advantages we have over you. That's why we're so relieved to know that you still continue to believe all those silly fairy tales about "justice" and "equal opportunity" in America.

Of course, in a hierarchical social system like ours, there's never been much room at the top to begin with. Besides, it's already occupied by us — and we like it up here so much that we intend to keep it that way. But at least there's usually someone lower in the social hierarchy you can feel superior to and kick in the teeth once in a while. Even a lowly dishwasher can easily find some poor slob further down in the pecking order to sneer and spit at. So be thankful for migrant workers, prostitutes, and homeless street people.

Always remember that if everyone like you were economically secure and socially privileged like us, there would be no one left to fill all those boring, dangerous, low-paid jobs in our economy. And no one to fight our wars for us, or blindly follow orders in our totalitarian corporate institutions. And certainly no one to meekly go to their grave without having lived a full and creative life. So please, keep up the good work!

You also probably don't have the same greedy, compulsive drive to possess wealth, power, and prestige that we have. And even though you may sincerely want to change the way you live, you're also afraid of the very change you desire, thus keeping you and others like you in a nervous state of limbo. So you go through life mechanically playing your assigned social role, terrified what others would think should you ever dare to "break out of the mold."

Naturally, we try to play you off against each other whenever it suits our purposes: high-waged workers against low-waged, unionized against non-unionized, Black against White, male against female, American workers against Japanese against Mexican against.... We continually push your wages down by invoking "foreign competition," "the law of supply and demand," "national security," or "the bloated federal deficit." We throw you on the unemployed scrap heap if you step out of line or jeopardize our profits. And to give you an occasional break from the monotony of our daily economic blackmail, we allow you to participate in our stage-managed electoral shell games, better known to you ordinary folks as "elections." Happily, you haven't a clue as to what's really happening — instead, you blame "Aliens," "Tree-hugging Environmentalists," "*******," "Jews," Welfare Queens," and countless others for your troubled situation.

We're also very pleased that many of you still embrace the "work ethic," even though most jobs in our economy degrade the environment, undermine your physical and emotional health, and basically suck your one and only life right out of you. We obviously don't know much about work, but we're sure glad you do!

Of course, life could be different. Society could be intelligently organized to meet the real needs of the general population. You and others like you could collectively fight to free yourselves from our domination. But you don't know that. In fact, you can't even imagine that another way of life is possible. And that's probably the greatest, most significant achievement of our system — robbing you of your imagination, your creativity, your ability to think and act for yourself.

So we'd truly like to thank you from the bottom of our heartless hearts. Your loyal sacrifice makes possible our corrupt luxury; your work makes our system work. Thanks so much for "knowing your place" — without even knowing it!

[Garsh, it sounds like something Stein might say. Perhaps he's channeling the selfish, solipsistic, neo-con sentiment so succinctly stated above, eh? 8^}]

I'm guessing that Intense writes professionally somewhere. I would love to read more from this person.

User Journal

Journal Journal: D2 still broken? 4

I haven't changed my settings in years, so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but it appears that I can no longer read at -1. I'm hoping this is a bug, or that the ui lost me again...

If this is meant to be a feature, slashdot just lost something that made it unique. This would be seriously bad, slashdot-ending bad. How many great posts bottom out before being seen by sane moderators? Ah... Maybe that's it. Can people with mod points browse at -1? That would still be a bad idea.

User Journal

Journal Journal: BP's New Media Campaign

A media campaign by BP's new public relations team has been launched. The team now includes former Bush Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Cheney Press Secretary Anne Womack-Kolton.

Behold: Obama hates British people.

I would predict that this effort is so obviously cynical as to be doomed to failure, but I'm nearly always wrong about such things. It'll probably be very effective.

To give credit where credit is due, the Tory press in the U.K. was making noise as early as 2010-05-20, but it didn't immediately catch on stateside. As the Bush-Cheney spinmasters began their work, this story quickly spread to U.S. media sycophants. And then it's just a short hop from the echo chamber to "real news".

More links:

I hope it amuses somebody else that the right, who once complained about bows and speaking to Muslims, will now be righteously resisting jingoism.

Thought for the day: the oil majors are more powerful than any single nation-state, and have been since the early 20th century. See also Operation Ajax. Oh look, there's an edit war on that article... We're doomed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: NBCU/Comcast is a bet against net neutrality

The state of tech journalism is starting to become a serious problem for society.

As of the time of this journal entry, I have not heard any old media outlet mention Comcast's crusade against network neutrality as background for the merger story.

This deal demonstrates Comcast's confidence that they can stop efforts to preserve the neutral nature of the internet. Preferred delivery of NBC/Universal content is the aim of the purchase of a 51% stake from GE.

If network neutrality is an administration-wide goal, the FTC should stop this deal; or, at the very least, delay approval until the FCC rulemaking is complete.

User Journal

Journal Journal: As Seen On Glenn Beck: Net Neutrality is Socialism 2

Slashdot should prepare itself for a coming crapflood of anti-NN astroturfing, now with extra John Birch Society rhetoric.

During a recent Glenn Beck interview on Fox News, a representative from Brent Bozell's MRC (who is a blogger on NewsBusters) stated that "[Net neutrality is] Socialism on the Internet".

It's hard to determine what the interview is about exactly, but the bit about Net Neutrality was woven into a narrative about some kind of Marxist/Fascist takeover of the Internet and talk radio. ClearChannel's desperate defense of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (they hated the localism regulations that the '96 law killed) has been combined with the anti-NN campaign into yet another juvenile Red Dawn fantasy, which now appears to be canon in the right-wing echo chamber.

Briefly, cable companies and telcos are now in bed with the far-right.

I watched it live, but complete transcripts of the interview are hard to come by, for some reason (it could just be me; I don't run scripts from sites like Fox's). Bits and pieces are available, and the quote appears in Google's cache. Not that there's any doubt that this campaign has begun (apparently some time in August):

On a related note: This "online strategy" goes after nerds, too:

On a partly unrelated note: Google seems to be getting better at using the various ways that timestamps are being marked up, and hopefully authors and designers will be using <time> more often in the future. Looking for patterns in the timestamps of obvious astroturfing could be a fruitful.

PC Games (Games)

Journal Journal: Starker 1

Your comments were a pretty good read.

I'm not a pilot IRL, but I do hack on FlightGear from time to time, and I'm totally fascinated by aviation.

This is one of the things that keeps me on slashdot. For every story, there's a good chance that someone with relevant experience will comment.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ayn Rand was wrong 2

Ayn Rand was wrong.

Rand asks us to take as a given that her conclusions necessarily follow from a logical examination of humankind, hence the term, "objectivism."

The sophism aside, the scientific advances of the last 50 years make it near certain that her conclusions were flawed; in particular, advances in the understanding of animal behavior, neurology, and cognitive science.

We now know that altruism and empathy are assets. We know that they have a biological foundation. And, rationally, we know that we possess these traits for an evolutionary reason.

If Rand could examine our existence with logic (as scientists do) now, she would have to accept that her understanding of human drives was, at best, incomplete.

But if she were alive today, I don't think she would. Her examination was not, as she believed, of the human condition; it was of herself.

She dissected her own mind and found a person with what is now known as Dissocial Personality Disorder.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Health Care Debate 1

To anyone taking seriously the fears about a public option, allow me to sum up the argument:

Government is slow, bureaucratic, inefficient, and always inferior to the private sector. Except when it isn't, in which case it is unfair competition.

Heh. Reminds me of all the ISPs suing municipalities.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Microsoft Ads on the Reg

As a matter of fact, Microsoft, I do remember "before the Internet" (I'm sure you guys mean the web). I also remember you trying to fucking kill it.

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