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User Journal

Journal Journal: Bold Plan For Socializing The Stock Market Announced 1

Administration officials confirmed rumours that public subsidies for publicly traded stocks would coincide with the retirement of Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan in 2005 or early 2006. "For too long the government's intervention into the marketplace has been limited by tedious bidding processes and the expectation of services performed for transferred funds, or by poorly understood manipulation of interest rates. Now, the communist dream of public ownership of industry will be closer than ever- every citizen will be required by law to divert some of their income to the purchase of shares in government approved corporations" said Treasury Secretary John Snow. Some critics see the plan a form of welfare, but Snow rejected those claims: "This isn't rewarding people who are the most desparate, it is a shot in the arm for those who have proven their ability to succeed". He later noted that some dividends or profits from the sale of the government owned stocks may go to benefit the elderly.

Sources on Wall Street said the move was sound: "Any negative fluctuation in the market can be corrected by lobbying for increased social security spending. And the federal government will be able to inside trade on a scale unheard of in a normal market."

The scheme is a cornerstone of the Republican campaign promises of increased government intrusion into every aspect of business and the personal lives of citizens. A parallel proposal that the military pay its own way with real estate ventures has also been put on the table, but has gathered less momentum.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Powell whines about war critics

Secretary of State Colin Powell has accused critics of politicising the United States' failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and said it is getting on his nerves.

"Yeah, it does get on your nerves when you see people trying to use this for straightforward political purposes," Powell said in a television interview on Friday.


Powell: I accuse my critics of criticizing me on purpose!

Critics: Well of course, the idea is that in a democracy the voters, along with the opposition party-

Powell: Ah-ha!

Jury: Gasp!

Is 'straightforward political purposes' derogatory now? Are we suppose to sympathize with his frayed nerves while billions of dollars are being wasted and people are getting killed?

In my day, presidential administrations were able to start three or four unnecessary wars, lie to congress and the American people- and of course they got caught, but you didn't hear them complaining! No sir!

User Journal

Journal Journal: What's New excerpt

Unfortunately, the goal of the program was not to improve the
literacy of agents. WHAT'S NEW stumbled on the story first in
1986 after a trench-coated FBI agent asked a student working at
the University of Maryland Physics Library for the record of all
books checked out to a visiting foreign scientist. The agent
resembled Inspector Clouseau more than Elliot Ness. The student
called the science librarian. Maryland is one of 38 states in
which library records are protected by law, and in the absence of
a court order, the librarian refused. After the New York Times
picked up the story a year later, the FBI ran checks on 266
people who had been publicly critical to see if they were part of
a Soviet plot to discredit the program. The full story of the
infamous Library Awareness Program is told by librarian Herb
Foerstel in "Surveillance in the Stacks"(Greenwood Press, 1991).

What's New is a weekly email one-sheet... it's frequently humorous and highly critical of the current administration as well as pseudo-science kooks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Smart Mobs and Swarm Tech 7

Bruce Sterling on SF protestors:

"This must be the coolest piece of hippie-hokum handwaving Situationist antiwar emergent psychogeographic smart-mob cybergoofball blather that I've ever seen."

Also check out Howard Rheingolds Smart Mobs site.

I tried submitting a real /. story about it, but I guess the editors are trying to avoid the hassle of war-related stuff even if it really is 'news for nerds.' Or it's been done and I missed the (low-profile) story.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fictitious World

This is a double post from MarvinMouses JE, it feels less claustrophobic with the redundancy.

Michael Moore: Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to -- they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

There's a very powerful concept in play here, something a lot of people have been feeling, but that Michael Moore sums up in an interesting way.

My approach is to draw a lot from the works of Philip K. Dick in making my observations: The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner Darkly, and the Valis trilogy and others to a lesser extent play upon similar themes. Maybe the times PKD was living in were similar to the present, or they were his private demons, but I can feel a resonation with what he was trying to deal with and it sends shivers down my spine.

The Man in the High Castle was about an alternate history where the Allies lost WWII, which is a standard plot for plenty of alternate history pulp, but Dick explores the concept further. Some of the inhabitants of this world become aware of the existence of a reality in which the Allies won (the 'real' reality), and this knowledge gives hope- but at the same time there's an oppressive feeling that they are in a failed branch of time, a shadow world that is destined to be left behind and forgotten.

A Scanner Darkly treats the issue on a personal level, where a famous television host wakes up one morning to find the world the same, but his identity has been erased from the minds of everyone.

In the Valis trilogy Dick brings up an idea he himself was convinced of during the less lucid moments near the end of his life: That the world had a veil pulled over it, a fog over the minds of everyone that blinded them to the fact that the past several thousand years of history and progess were merely illusion. The U.S. was the western branch of the divided Roman Empire, the Soviet Union the Eastern branch, and that the last hold-out against the Empire, a group of Jewish heretics (the Gnostics), were defeated in 79 A.D.

I think we can map our divergence, like Moore suggests, to the disputed 2000 election. It was at that point we penetrated the gates of surreality and continued on in a downward spiral. If earlier events had turned out differently, subsequent crisis would have been muted or averted entirely in more competent hands, and life would go on. The nearness of this other world oppresses us all, because unlike the fantastical PKD works, there is no hope of contact or crossing over.

Regardless of the validity of the presumptions here (Bush indirectly exacerbated the effects of or allowed the September '01 attacks to take place), the prevalent feeling of impotence and despair gives the whole idea a truth beyond the literal truth of historical fact. The president of the United States is an extremely powerful person, and in light of recent events it seems possible to recast mediocre presidents from history as brave souls effectively holding back forces of chaos. Bush seems to have recognized his inability and failure to play that role, so instead has embraced the other side whole-heartedly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Stolen from response to a different JE discussion.

Ah, I see they are protesting up in San Fran today. Hmm, wonder what else in on tv.

We tend to get annoyed and change the channel when we see things we don't like/agree with.

It's one thing to peacefully protest. It's quite another to overturn cars, smash property, and generally cause problems.

Obviously, from your previous JE on the subject, then rally you were at was quite peaceful.

I think you'll you'll find that watching tv coverage creates one impression, and reading first hand accounts of participators (or actually going out in person, if you live near a larger city) creates a quite another.

If there are a couple of violent incidents at a rally, and otherwise ten thousand people were just walking or standing for three hours, which clip gets show every 30 minutes on CNN:HN?

I saw WTO first-hand. Protestors blocking the street is one thing, but cops lined up blocking the streets with gas masks, clubs, and shields is extremely antagonistic. Both the mayor and the police chief eventually lost their positions in part because of the way they helped escalate the situation, and there are still pending lawsuits.

Part of life in large cities is that some percentage of the inhabitants will congregate at will at various points and times, and if there aren't suitable venues they will be created in the most convenient available empty space. It just goes with the territory.

The proper method, if you look at the way police are handling the crowds in other countries, is to treat the events like an spontaneous parade or fair and have visible but dispersed police that can handle medical emergencies and arrest rowdy individuals. Obviously, since those other crowds are more in agreement with their governments (and local law-enforcement by extension), it's less confrontational from the start. Another option would be for the more organized events to hire some security of their own and coordinate with the police better, which happens frequently (but again, it doesn't get a clip on CNN that way).

Disruptive protests are inseparably causally related to unpopular wars. You can't have the latter and then complain about or stop the former. On the other hand, massive demonstrations have toppled governments before...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Speculation of the Source of Dissent

The U.S. has invaded dozens of countries before, and protest was been minor (small university groups and small groups in the very largest cities) or slow to arouse (Vietnam). What's going on?

Bush is Politically Incompetent

And treasonably so? Many oppressive governments throw people in jail for saying and doing things that cause international criticism and damage their countries reputation (the WWI Sedition Act made that lawful in the U.S., temporarily), though it would be interesting (fantasy) to see this applied to a government's leader.

If an earlier president had met with this kind of resounding domestic and international opposition (perhaps Bush is insulated from it by manipulative cabinet members?), they would have backed off or pursued covert action. And they had other things to do with their presidency. Bush seems to have found the only thing he's good at is shouting his way through a speech ("Defend the Homeland! Defend Freedom at any cost!"- what does that sound like in German I wonder?) and sending off the military to do its thing.

It's an unfortunate negative feedback cycle in which successful actions are reinforced with reflexive nationalism, and there is a constant need for new actions in the same dead-end internationally militaristic and domestically repressive way

A good politician knows how to chose battles (literally, in this case), while Bush clearly does not.

Oh, there were two other possibilites:

Smart Mobs

More venues for dissent online, better communications for the politically active to organize with.

This Invasion is Obviously Just Plain Wrong To Many People

And their governments take the possibility of lost re-elections or massive government-toppling street actions seriously enough to not support Bush.

It's all of them in combination, and other things I haven't thought of.

It's still shocking how bad Bush is, both in playing and looking the role, dealing with other countries, and running the country (that economic recovering is coming real soon now, right?).

Things are so bad that people forget that source of the troubles probably can be traced back to a single powerful person who never should have been given that power. I'm not going to say any of those conspiracy theories are true, but the president of the U.S. is so powerful that I wouldn't be surprised that if a similarly utterly inept person were handed the role at any other idle point in history, all sorts of bad things just happened indirectly because of their bumbling or Murphy's Law let loose...

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