Friday, October 31, 2003

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

I'm getting nervous...real nervous. Why? Well, the Laci Peterson trial is in the news again. Top story on CNN. Either this is the ONLY MURDER that happened in the last few years, or there are some other serious stories needing a little attention. What is NOT being covered?

We also have the California fires to entertain us. Here is an idea I had to help prevent the loss of property and life. And I'm just thinkin' out loud here. Why don't they STOP BUILDING HOUSES IN THESE FORESTS? I don't know, maybe it's too complicated. Of course, these homeowners will rebuild right where they were, and they'll complain about the property taxes that are paying for fire protection, and they won't let anyone do any pre-emptive burns. We can all mourn for them again in 6 or 8 years or so. Boo hoo.

Oh and we have some GREAT economic news. The U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate since Reagan was President. You do remember the great economic times under Reagan don't you? The only drawback under Reagan was that for some very odd reason, far greater numbers of people decided to become homeless during his administration. It's odd enough that people would choose to live in the streets, rather than in a nice gated community somewhere, but why did so many MORE make such an odd choice under Reagan. Those wacky homeless people!

Unfortunately, for those of you who are unemployed, the fast economic growth didn't result in more jobs. In fact, it resulted in fewer jobs. You'll have to consult an economics professor to find out how that works. I didn't really understand it. But anyway, we are all better off now!

In any event, in this "quiet" time, I must wonder what is coming. They've announced a "day of resistance" in Iraq, but that won't really stir people up to support Bush...probably just the opposite. No, it needs to be something domestic. Another announcement came from some al-Qaida somebody of a planned attack that will "bring America down", though that story kinda faded out. I don't think announcements of potential terrorist activity are really having much effect anymore.

Maybe I should just stop worrying and have a nice, quiet Halloween. A happy one to everyone, and a happy Samwein to all you groovy pagans out there. (That's happy new year to you uninitiated. )

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Rooting For Incompetence

Odd times, these. Never before have I rooted for the CIA, but now, in the Bush Administration's efforts to pawn off all "intelligence failures" on the CIA, I find I'm on their side! Never before would I have rooted for a Military General for president, but for a few days I did just that, for Wesley Clark, till I figured out he's not a Democrat, he just plays one on TV. Whether he is a serious candidate backed by the conservative wing of the Democratic Party, or a stalking horse slated to lose to Bush or pick up where Bush left off, I soured on him quickly. It's Michael Moore's fault I got roped in, in the first place. But still, for awhile, I figured what better way to out macho the Republicans than Clark?

But there has been little to head off my feeling that it's GAME OVER for democracy in our late, great country. It's Fascism Light...all the social control with guaranteed fewer concentration camps! So far, we only have a few hundred in such camps and since they are in Cuba, we can all safely tell future historians how we had NO IDEA what evil things went on there.

However, a touch of light has been emerging at the end of this tunnel. One that was so obvious that I overlooked it at first. This is the most INCOMPETENT fascist regime in the history of politics. For every actual combatant they kill in Iraq (they may want to look up that term, by the way. It does not include UNARMED DRIVERS, for example.), they shoot themselves at least twice in the foot. That foot is probably getting pretty sore about now, and someone is bound to notice the hopping.

One very large mistake was alienating the CIA by blaming the agency for all "faulty intelligence." The CIA is quite happy to help any President in undemocratic skullduggery. I believe their motto is: "Subverting Democracy...It's what we do." But no, Rumsfield had to keep getting on their case when he didn't get the intelligence he wanted (I mean intelligence as in information, not as in Scarecrow seeking a brain). Rumsfield even started his own in-house intelligence service. He is what political philosophers term, a "dumb-ass."

And then there was the outing of the CIA agent. While the rest of America was outraged at such a blatant, anti-patriotic, anti-security, boneheaded maneuver, I was quite pleased. First, the Plame-Wilson affair was another blow to the Bush administration's credibility and second, CIA agents were outed. CIA agents should be outed, because they do illegal stuff, like overthrow countries. I won't mention any current operations, despite my TOP SECRET security clearance, but I can tell you that one target of their current shenanigans is a South American country that begins with the letter V. There, my clearance is safe.

Now, what does all this mean. If the CIA, through leaks or even nastier acts, bumps the Pres. from his throne, what sort of person will they help to put in power there? Is this where Wesley comes in? I don't know. Maybe, if we are lucky, they don't have any agenda other than payback and any moderately conservative, pro-intelligence "community" candidate will do. So while our country might still go on subverting democracy elsewhere, maybe we'll get a little help with healthcare or something. I'm not suggesting we actually stand up to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, but, you know, maybe mandatory lollipops at all yearly physicals. Something.

However, the folks behind our Pretender-in-Chief got him into power the first time and odds are, they have gotten better at their craft. I mean, these guys are so good, they could probably get Arnold Shwarzenegger elected Governor of California. Heh. That's a good one.

So, what they lack in "savoir-faire" in politics, they make up for with dirty tricks. They own the voting machine companies. They are redistricting key states. They've even been breaking into the businesses of political opponents or bugging their offices. And, not to put too fine a point on it, troublesome opponents tend to, well...die in untimely ways. Note to Kucinich: Your campaign has already been infiltrated by saboteurs, but for the love of God/dess, stay off of small planes.

They also have a long range plan. Jeb Bush in '08...or maybe Arnold...I'm not sure. These guys are in this for the long haul. As soon as they can get Bev Harris off the internet, they've got a pretty good shot at pulling it all off.

But, dear reader, we must put what faith and hope we have left in the incompetence factor. They've made every mistake you can make. They've managed to mismanage things so badly that the compliant and firmly embedded press has even had to file a few damaging reports. Nothing too outrageous, you understand. Just enough to hedge their bets in case there actually is a sea change. The cabal has alienated every ally. This makes them weak.

Of course, it also makes them dangerous.

Finally, a public call. It is time for a volunteer, nationwide election-monitoring campaign. Someone with enough extra cash for a website needs to put out this call. We need well trained people monitoring in 2004 to look for those little "discrepancies" that the press in so unconcerned about. It won't change the result, but at least you'll be able to look your grandkids in the eye when they ask how YOU tried to stop the fascists. This is a blog and all I can afford, but there are bound to be already established organizations who could spearhead this effort. If blackboxvoting ever gets back online, I'll send them a note to see if there may already be such efforts. If so, I'll get back to you. You may now return to your favorite Sunday evening reality show.

Monday, October 20, 2003

The Word from Unity...Our word for today is: fascism.

Some of you may be a little concerned about the strident tone of this blog. My very own wife has criticized me for my unabashed use of inexplicable CAPITAL LETTERS. Why are you SHOUTING, she asks. Well, today's lesson may give you some hint as to why I sometimes raise my virtual voice.

Reprinted from Ratville Times . Originally this was in Free Inquiry, but I couldn't find it posted on their site.

The 14 Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
by Dr. Lawrence Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military -
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism -
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homo-sexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media -
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security -
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected -
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed -
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections -
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Any questions?

Friday, October 17, 2003

Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin: Officer and Prophet

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

But just to be clear: "I don't want to come across as a Right-wing radical."

If I could make this stuff up, I'd be a highly paid novelist by now.

Here's the rest of the article: Click if you can stand it

Oh the way...a number of those 9/11 see...they're still alive.

Interesting news day. This stuff is coming from Buzzflash, which is LIBERAL. LIBERAL means that they oppose Bush but don't think Bush would engage in domestic conspiracies or engage in domestic dirty tricks. I don't know why liberals are like that. LIBERALS also have REALLY BAD LUCK IN SMALL PLANES. But that's another article. This article is from the BBC. British Link
More government dirty tricks. Comments later.

Early Morning No Time to Add Commentary Right Now Link

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Computer Blues

I take a break today from my PROBING POLITICAL ANALYSIS and UNCANNY ABILITY TO DISCERN PATTERN FROM POLITICAL CHAOS to treat of a smaller, yet persistant annoyance.

I have a computer. This much is plain from the fact that this article is written on a BLOG. I have, I'd say, an intermediate level of computer knowledge. I can replace and add computer hardware unassisted, and I can generally find my way around the desktop and tweak my computer in a variety of ways. This puts me in the upper tier of computer users I know. I'm not being arrogant here. Most people who buy computers still couldn't tell a hard drive from a hard boiled egg. These are the folks who file everything on their desktops and think that AOL is the only way to get on the internet or receive email.
My own grandmother, bless her heart (as we say in the South before insulting someone), cancelled her Mindspring account which I suggested she move to from AOL, because the windows "looked different." She couldn't find the "little x" in the corner anymore. Or something.

This is common, and I don't think her age is the issue. I think we ALL have limits on our knowledge which brings up the REAL QUESTION of this essay: How do computer game companies stay in business?

Before you continue, see if you know the answer to the following questions: What video card is in your computer? What driver version is it? Ditto on sound card and driver. Is Open GL supported? What size is your page file and how do you increase it? How do you remove a sound card that is integrated into your motherboard?

Are you getting the idea? These sound like OBSCURE TECHNICAL ISSUES, but if you've tried to play computer games, the tech support folks throw these things around like you were Bill Gates' love child.

I'm going to give an example that is most recent, but not the most egregious, and I'm just curious if this example is similar to that of any of the 6 of you who stop into this site from time to time (seriously, people, I have received not one email from anyone reading this material, which means it is obviously only being monitored by the government and they do it all electronically, so they won't even bother sending me a message).

My stepdaughter found my old Everquest CD. For the 3 of you in the computer-using population who've not heard of it, Everquest is a fantasy/role playing game that is played online with people all over the globe. The designers create the world and you pick a character and roam around finding gold and killing things. Sort of like the U.S. government, only the things you kill are only VIRTUAL REPRESENTATIONS OF LIVING CREATURES CREATED BY VARIOUS COLORED PIXELS. An important distinction.

I won't go into how they wouldn't let me have my old account back because I couldn't remember the credit card number or password I'd used. They were content to let an account that had not been used since the previous millenium continue its virtual decay.

So, my step-daughter and I, off we went to buy a new copy of the game. I installed it on her computer, which is fairly old, and even though the game worked on that same computer three years ago, it did not work now. I was disappointed, but not too surprised, because of how quickly games take advantage of newer technology. HOWEVER, I do think that many average computer users would NOT be as aware of this. So when your computer meets all the minimum requirements listed on the box, you may foolishly expect that it will work, or at the very least, run into a problem that is NOT related to the requirements. No such luck, however. The program consumed so much of the CPU that it couldn't operate, even though we were 50mhz over the minimum required an had turned off such luxuries as SOUND. (If this is already getting too technical for you, it only demonstrates my point further.)

However, as I proudly told you, I have an INTERMEDIATE knowledge of computers. So, even though the whole point was to find a game that she could play on her computer so she's not always on mine downloading who knows what kind of viruses and so we could hold the 13 dollar-a-month fee over her head to inspire her, at last praise God, to keep her room in at least good enough order that the fire marshall will not evict us from our humble dwelling, on my machine it went.

But what ho? Soft, what light through yonder monitor does not break. The damn thing froze on my computer just like it did on hers. My computer is 3 months old.

So, already having had an unpleasant round of fisticuffs with their "chat live with a tech support person" named Chris R. , and knowing that, website to the contrary, it is, in fact, not possible to connect with a human by phone (I don't mean you have to wait; I mean that it is never given as an option. Even the old "push 0 every chance you get till a human answers" didn't work.) I decided to post a message in their tech forum.

Already I have many advantages over the average user. I knew there WOULD be a tech forum, though this is not advertised well.

Now, on this forum, if you want to post your problem, you are told to post specific information about your computer. The directions concerning what information to post are...and I kid you not, three pages long. In turn, the information you post, were you to print it out, would be of equal length. However, the directions for doing so were fairly clear, although at one point, there was a step that was just plain wrong. Nevertheless, I posted all of the information as directed.

The first response was very helpful, from another player of the game. However, look what it was! I had to download a utility called Tweak UI (which I already had, but most folks don't) and uncheck the box that tells the computer whether or not to let the current window you are in "steal application focus." Yeah...I would have thought of that, just needed a little more time. Happy to say it worked, though. The first freezing problem went away. However, I only got two more screens deep before it froze again, still not having set foot in the troubled and dangerous world of Norrath!

I got a second response from someone who seemed very knowledgeable, but did not say if he actually worked for the Everquest folks. He could have been an amateur trying to be helpful, or worse yet, just seeing if he could get me to do horrible things to my machine.
I quote him here:

"Some suggestions:

Update your video driver, the version you are running is unsupported.

Remove your sound card, that built-in device is not supported.

Increase the size of your paging file, need approx 700mb free"

Let's take each one of these from the perspective of your average computer user.

First, video driver. To do as he suggests, you must know

  • What video card you have

  • What a driver is

  • How to find updated drivers for your card (God forbid you have a card from a company that went out of business like my last Voodo brand card)

  • How to install the thing (I'd like to recommend the nVidia cards, by the way, at least in this regard. Most companies make many different cards, with VERY similar names, each with its own driver for EACH possible operating system. nVidia? One driver fits all)

  • How to turn off your computer virus software while installing

If these things are no big deal to you, please keep in mind that I'm talking about the average user.

All right. Next suggestion: Remove your sound card. Let's see. I need enough knowledge to open the box and remove the right card as well as enough knowledge to know how to find and install a suitable replacement. I, evidently, have the sound card integrated into my motherboard. It can't be removed. Oh well.

Moving on: "Increase the size of your page file." This one kills me. I, actually, do NOT know how to do this, though I have a vague idea of what a page file is. I will be finding out, but even knowing how to find things out is not always easy. I do know that an error message telling me I am low on virtual memory keeps popping up, and I needed to fix this anyway. However, the level of assumed knowledge here is staggering.

Well, like good Americans, you want a happy ending, and there is one. Unlike other games that I have ended up using for coffee-table coasters, this one finally works. I expect the unexpected freezes, but I am able to roam with my barbarian around the frozen wastes of Halas.

The point of my story is that this is not a UNIQUE occurrence for me. Multiply me by millions (frightening thought, that) and I think you have the population of people who would simply have to give up on this and many other games. And I haven't even gotten into tech support from hardware manufacturers. (My favorite is "upgrade the BIOS." First off, when you buy a machine, the motherboard manufacturer can be VERY difficult to identify. If you do identify it and go to their website to upgrade the BIOS, you always get a message saying "Don't try to upgrade your BIOS unless you know what you are doing, or risk a chain reaction computer meltdown that could destroy the entire planet." And be honest YOU even know what the BIOS is?)

What I'm saying is there has GOT to be some kind of industry sit-down where they can work out some standards for various pieces of hardware. There simply MUST be a way that an average computer user can quickly and easily determine if a game is playable on his or her system. The minimum requirements tell you very little. Who know my soundcard wouldn't be compatible, for example?

I realize that Bill Gates is probably a big part of the problem. I'm not tech savvie enough to know the details, but I get enough "SECURITY FLAW" updates to know these guys aren't real thorough. And anytime you've gotten an error message that simply has a number on it, you know that ease of use by the average PC owner was not high on their list of priorities.

But we can't hold Bill responsible for all the hardware out there and the fact that one could, without knowing it, buy a computer hoping to play a particular game, only to find out that many of its components are "not supported." (By the way, in English "this driver(or hardware) is not supported" means "fuck you". Sorry for the PG-13 language.)
And, despite the poor customer service so many game companies provide, we can't entirely blame them, either. They are trying to deliver the highest end quality, and to do that, they need to take advantage of features offered by the most popular new computer components. Maybe it's just not possible to assure compatibility with every product out there.

But they have got to be losing money with situations like this. How many people simply give up? How many try with one game, give up, and buy an XBOX (admittedly, Microsoft wouldn't mind that.) They need to get together and figure out a way to make this stuff easier. At the very least, hardware manufacturers should put together jointly run websites that explain, in English, all about drivers, with links to updates and utilities for determining what equipment you've currently got under the hood. And the game companies could do the same.

Secondly, all companies need to recognize the myriad confusing issues involved in buying and installing hardware and software. They should not be so quick to look for reasons that it is YOUR problem and not theirs. "Sir, are you wearing blue today, because we can't support this product when people are wearing blue." They MUST know that this stuff is confusing, and the investment in extra service will pay off. (Okay, that will never happen, but if felt good to say it.)

Finally, let's have better documentation from our computer manufacturers. Let's have ONE book that has ALL of your components listed...the brand names, the websites, the drivers that come loaded with them. It doesn't even have to be printed out...just include it on a disk with the computer. Make this stuff EASY. I for one, am going to stick with Yahoo chess from now on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Big Brother's M.O.: Part the Third

I need to make sure you have all the vocabulary you need before reading the article I link to below. So, here is your new word for the day: agents provocateurs If you aren't familiar with the term, you may find it a bit contradictory. These folks are agents of the police or government who infiltrate an organization to provoke violent or illegal activities. "Now wait just a ding-dang minute," you say as you hold on to your last vestiges of naivete, why would the police, who infiltrate these groups to PROTECT the public be provoking VIOLENCE, LAWBREAKING and other EVILDOIN'? Simple, Chester. They want to discredit the group, or better yet find a reason to arrest some folks.

Before I send you off to this article, I also need to give you a little history. Ramsey Clark was Attorney General of the United States under Johnson. He has since made quite a name for himself opposing U.S. wars, such as in Panama and Iraq. He's a bit of a riddle, that one, as he also spent some time defending former leftist, turned fascist, turned perennial Democratic candidate for governor, culty kinda guy, Lyndon Larouche. Okay, we all need lawyers, and I'm sure the government broke some rules going after the guy, but Ramsey is a busy man and this was a battle he chose to fight.

Another enigma is why Ramsey's group, the International Action Coalition Link , is so permeated with people from the Workers' World Party. They are Maoists. I don't care if they are Maoists, though their rigid support for various countries discredited in my eyes makes me not inclined to join their ranks. Note to WWP: China is not communist anymore. Sorry.

I've had occasion to work with WWP folks before. They pushed the idea of war crime tribunals after the Gulf War and several cities participated, including L.A. They were hard workers, and although their rhetoric onstage was, well, irrelevant to the proceedings, behind the scenes I can recall no instigation of sectarian nonsense. I even remember Gloria La Riva's (she often runs for office, so I don't think she'll mind the mention. Plus no one actually reads this site) ability to paint block letters on protest signs with printer-like quality. I don't know why I was so impressed by that.

No, it's not them that rouses my curiousity, it is Ramsey. I've never seen him publically state, "Hey, these WWP folks are DA BOMB. Everyone should join up." So since he doesn't want to promote them, why does he discredit himself in the mainstream by hanging out with them? I really don't know. Maybe it's as simple as their aforementioned work ethic. Maybe its something deeper. Wheels within wheels, you know.

Regardless, they are the ones who've been organizing those big marches on Washington. The marches were well organized and though the stage seemed dominated by WWP spokespeople, lots of others spoke as well.

All right then, I'm a little wary of them. But go to the march on Oct. 25th and while you are at it, you can play "spot the agent." Evidently, there are lots of them in and around the IAC and their events. Here is the article. This is a right-wing website that seems to be going after the WWP, but I think the information is really more damaging to the DC cops or SS (Secret Service) or whoever is up to these dirty tricks.

Shut up, Ty. Give us the damn link already. As if you didn't already scroll down here and skip all of my germane and sagacious musings. Shame on you. Nevertheless, here is the link.

Did you enjoy that? Obviously the DC police must have a lot of agents around these folks or this lawsuit would not be bugging them (heh...get it? bugging? Nevermind). If you have no agents infiltrating, how can revealing their names be damaging? Or, as the court put it, acknowledging as much, "The identification of these undercover officers has been ordered by Judge Kessler and this disclosure will effectively terminate any ongoing investigations into the Plaintiff's organizations being conducted by these officers."

Now, do YOU belong to any organizations that might be affiliated with these folks? Well, now you've got your VERY OWN GOVERNMENT FILE! You can mess around with FOIA if you want, while it still exists, but I don't think you'll get too far. Just be content to lower your voice occasionally at cocktail parties and allude to the fact that you may have a FILE! Gives you street cred with other activists. Maybe you'll even get some phone numbers out it, you macker, you. Thank me if you get anywhere with that cute, earnest activist you've been eyeing since the war began.

Yep, that's what the government does. They protect us, from...well, ourselves. They infiltrate, bug, provoke, frame, lie, cheat and steal to bust up any organization that has any chance of making a difference and even some that don't. Oh, they also kill, but that, my friends, is another story...

Monday, October 13, 2003

Just Because Republicans Linked to Extremist Right-wing Fundamentalists Who Advocate the Death Penalty for Homosexuals Own the Voting Machine Companies Doesn't Mean Your Vote Isn't Safe...

Read the headline again. Go ahead. I'll wait. Done? Good. Are you getting my literary device here? It is sarcasm. Irony. I am making a point by pretending to advocate a different point of view. Get it? No?

Okay, how about this, a more straightforward approach: Republican extremists own the voting machine companies. Many of you use their machines to vote. Their machines suck at best and are "fixable" by anyone with even the lowest "script kiddie" status. Your vote means nothing. Here is the best article I've seen so far summarizing the situation.

Vote Here (heh)

And, of course, go and get the new FREE book about computer voting fraud at Click Ye This Link Download the book (go to the download section), or buy it somewhere, but for God's sake, don't go wasting your calories pressing voting machine buttons till you have read these materials. Oh, a word of warning. Some folks don't want the site to exist. The site is constantly fending off hackers and lawsuits from Diebold. If you are an expert in either, maybe you can lend them a hand. Otherwise, be patient. The site is down a lot.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Kill Bill...Please!

I tried to like Kill Bill, but I didn't. There are two possibilities. One is that the movie is a self-indulgent, ultra-violent exercise in hype in which we don't really care much about the heroine except to wonder why she has lipstick on while in a coma. The second possibility, and I say this with great DREAD, is that I am simply not hip enough to get the movie.

Now I've been hip before. There was a period back in 1997-98 when I had several friends who were VERY MINOR CELEBRITIES! I lived with a woman for quite some time who worked for a guy who represents novelists whose books are being made into, films. Sorry. Hip people call them films. Check.

But what is supposed to set Kill Bill apart from the average Kung Fu/slasher film is that, besides the fact that the blood from severed limbs sprays farther than in most films, there are many, many references to 70's tv shows, kung fu flicks, films, music, etc. There is also some anime, which makes some of my former teenage students happy.

But, dear reader, this viewer did not get ANY of the references. The songs were familiar, and my friend Glenn recognized the opening number as a Sonny Bono song. Okay, I have to admit, you don't get much hipper than Sonny Bono (and whoever performed this version did a great job.) But I didn't get any other references. I know that the song that Darryl Hannah (as Elle, another of Bill's assassins) was whistling was significant, but I didn't recognize it. (I actually met Darryl Hannah once, outside the police center in L.A. at a protest after the Rodney King beating. I went over to talk to her and Alec Baldwin came over and said they had to leave. He was obviously THREATENED by her apparent interest in me. Oh...she hid it well, but how could she be candid with Alec so near by?)

I think the yellow jumpsuit Uma Thurman wore in one portion was a reference to Bruce Lee's last movie, but Glenn told me that one, too. (Quick aside....Lucy Liu should have been the Uma Thurman character. Uma brought more depth to certain scenes...for example, atypically for such a film, during breaks in the fighting as more people rushed into the fray, you could see a bit of nervousness. However, she just never seemed that TOUGH to me. Lucy Liu's little speech after collecting the head of a rebellious Yakuza boss was one of the highlights of the film. She is in touch with her DARK SIDE.)

But those are ALL the references I got! ALL. Other than the fact that the whole thing seemed to be a female, kung fu remake of Pulp Fiction, I didn't get any other references. NOT ONE. I also found myself not emotionally involved with Thurman's character AND the very discordant choices of music during many scenes took me right out of the movie as I sat there wondering, why is THIS music in this fight scene? What hip musical reference am I missing, here? I MUST be a REDNECK, a BUMPKIN, a RUBE....the "film text" is so easy for so many, and yet I have failed to unravel its semiotic mysteries.

There's one great musical riff (sorry, didn't stay for music credits) that is played as Liu and her gang walk into a night club. It is VERY COOL music, and has a very action-movie flavor and is featured in the film trailers. But it plays for maybe 20 seconds. I would have made it Thurman's music to play as she approached each fight scene, but that would be much too standard fare for Quentin. Far too predictable. It would make no IRONIC COMMENTARY.

People in our audience (those that didn't walk out) found much of the violence amusing. Maybe they were giggling nervously, as I did from time to time, at the violence. Maybe a spiked club stuck to an adolescent, anime girl's head, or the removal of Liu's scalp are inherently funny. Maybe these were references to other great FILMIC MOMENTS. Perhaps the Liu death was an HOMAGE to the movie HANNIBAL. But Hannibal was not made in the 70's and contains NO ANIME WHATSOEVER. So that CAN'T be the reference.

You see my dilemna. And maybe you will see the film. If any hip people read this Blog (and what hip people DON'T read blogs, I ask you?) please drop me a line and explain it to me.

Or not.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

How to Attract Government Goons Without Really Trying

Part 2 in the Big Brother's MO Series!

I don't know how many parts I'll take to write this, but it is long overdue. My paranoia, my friends, is not a god-given talent, but a carefully cultivated skill, honed over years of bizarre political encounters.

We will not rehearse my entire fascinating and fairly futile history of political activism here, gentle reader, for that would try your patience too much. Instead, I will begin with a harrowing tale of The Coalition that Couldn't vs. the Couple in Black!!

I was a young, idealistic lad, who, for reasons I will not go into here, found myself in Los Angeles during the build-up to Gulf War 1. In fact, I was in Nagasaki when the actual bombing of Baghdad began, but that, too, is another story. I live for IRONY, neh?

Determined that we were facing an ARMAGEDDON OF OUR OWN MAKING, I looked for a way to get involved. I found it: The Los Angeles Coalition Against U.S. Intevention in the Middle East. I knew no one there, but wanted to volunteer my time. I was imprudently living off of some money my grandparents had given me and had lots of time to give.

No one at the office seemed to have much for me to do. The day to day operations were run by two fairly young people, Ahmed and Leila. (I'll be changing some of the names here, but that is too good of a pair of names to change. Say it out loud a few times: Ahmed and Leila).

But there was a woman who had PLENTY for me to do. It would be better, she said, if I were to come to her apartment for the tasks she had in mind. (No, this story isn't going there, though I wish the Russian prostitute part below had tipped a bit more in that direction.) Having been given her name by the folks at the Coalition office as one of the central leaders, I figured she must be okay and off I loped, hoping to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

She...I guess I'll call her Betty...was dressed all in black with an impressive amount of dyed blonde hair. She looked as if she were permanently posing for a Glamor Shots portrait, and, indeed, had such a portrait on her business card. She and her husband had a small business basically running a rickshaw service in West L.A. No, I'm not making that up. I couldn't make that up. They would have young people pedal (not run) these bike/carriage looking things around the city for tourists, or lazy people or something like that.

Her husband I did not meet till later. It turned out that both of them wore black exclusively. He, I'll call him Bobo, was stocky, a little pudgy actually, with a bit of an underworld sort of vibe.

Politically naive as I was, I was eager to get going, despite the rather unprogressive feel to this woman. Her card advertised her as a "criminologist", not exactly a progressive activist top-ten profession. But it wasn't until later that it became obvious what she had ME doing for her. I was compiling a card catalogue of EVERY MEMBER OF THE COALITION. She said it was for a "speaker's bureau", but it was a file on every single person who had any significant involvement in the Coalition. I was organizing files for THE MAN.

That's depressing. I need to take a break from this narrative and curl up into a fetal position in a dark corner for awhile. Watch this video while you wait for me to return: War on Terrorism Expose.

All right, I'm back and will continue as best I can with upper lip and chin stiff and up.

Not only was this woman compiling these files, but she and Bobo had been given a great deal of control over the money. They, in fact, collected the contribution buckets that were passed out at the rallies and demonstrations.

I met some of the young people who worked for this rickshaw company, one of whom was basically homeless and living with them. He chanced to tell me one day that he'd seen Bobo dip into one of those money buckets to grab some cash. Bobo looked at him, smiled, and said that if he told anyone, he'd kill him. I don't know exactly how seriously this young man took the threat, but this did not seem proper behavior to me, so I sought out someone ( I don't remember whom) and let them know what I'd heard.

Next thing I know, I'm in a meeting at a Denny's or someplace with all these activists who are central to the Coalition. As this meeting got underway, Tim, (I'm not changing names of good guys, because I'm pretty sure they won't sue me) a fairly large and often gruff- looking man, glanced at me and grunted menacingly, "Who are you?" Tim subsequently became a good friend, but he meant business that night.

I told them what I knew, and that threw me right into the middle of a badly handled situation, the only upshot of which is some handy advice I've already dispensed in Big Brother's M.O. I'm telling this story now to illustrate those points and to prove that my paranoia is entirely professional in nature.

To continue on with this sordid tale. Many of the events that followed are jumbled in my mind. Some I didn't find out about till much later. For example, when one Coalition leader told Bobo he and his wife wouldn't be in charge of the money any more, Bobo threatened to, I believe his words were, "gouge her eyes out." Bobo had, in fact, bragged to some people of having a background as some sort of mercenary.

Tony Russo, whose name I mention because he is not nearly as well known as Daniel Ellsberg, whom he helped leak the Pentagon Papers, even mentioned that Bobo had offered "guns and drugs" if anyone needed any.

Okay, I know what you are saying. These guys are not police agents, they are CARICATURES of police agents. As obvious as it was, it still was not easy to get rid of these folks.

Here was the problem. The people who did most of the day-to-day work knew what was going on, but this was a coalition of many organizations, many of which only met with the whole group once every week or two. To them, these reports, finally presented by us in an amateurish and ill-advised way, appeared as personal grudges or sectarian squabbles.

Plus, Betty was very good at getting the less-than-stable folks on her side. Meetings would break into chaos as members of her little posse would scream "Point of Order, point of order!!!" as we endlessly debated useless by-laws rather than planning actions. Some of these guys were clearly mentally unbalanced, some others may themselves have been agents, I don't know. (There is a good history by Ward Churchill called the COINTELPRO Papers. This documents through FOIA files all the dirty tricks the FBI was up to up through the sixties. They don't just monitor folks, they actively create divisions and provoke arguments and even violence. It's all there in the public records. It should be mentioned that it was reported even by the mainstream press that these tricks continued throughout the eighties during the height of U.S. intervention in Central America. So, you can't blame it all on Hoover.)

Another man who came along was Larry Greenblatt. I mention his real name because he was always seeking publicity, so I'm sure he won't mind. At one point, he could be seen holding "Howard Stern for President" signs at various roadside locations. His first encounter with the Coalition, evidently, was while he was working with the Jewish Defense League, a very militant, very disruptive group that tried to break-up an early Coalition "teach-in." It was never clear what made this guy "change sides."

Larry Greenblatt was one of the oddest characters I ever met. He fancied himself as a budding comic (he was not at all funny) but he made a living as an accountant. He was a shady sort. He came to a couple of meetings and a party with a beautiful Russian woman in tow. How the hell, did this guy get her? On later reflection, I realized she was a freaking Russian prostitute! (But oh, those eyes.....I didn't really put together the prostitute thing until I'd written her a very stupid letter. Oh God, it may have even been a poem. I'm not proud of it, but this is a blog...I am REQUIRED BY LAW to be disarmingly honest.)

On another occassion he explained to me how much porn he had and that I could have some porn tapes if I wanted. He'd even give me a tv to watch them on. I declined. Can these people BE any more obvious?

There were other confrontations with Betty and Bobo, and the big showdown at the Coalition meeting. I remember the very self-righteous Socialist Workers' Party members decided we didn't like Betty and Bobo because they were genuine members of the working class. Gag me with a sickle and hammer. Please. Working class my ass, they were a couple of hustlers earning extra money for the (probably local) police. In fact, as the Coalition held elections for Committee Chairs and Betty ran for...wait for it...EVERY SEAT!..she circulated a resume that had little on it BUT her work with the police. As one activist put it upon reading her resume: "Well, when they come to round us all up, at least we won't be surprised."

Let me pause here and review, for the politically naive, the numerous red-flags that indicate a possible police/FBI connection of someone in an activist organization. You can play along at home and list them too, and then we can compare in the end. Oooh, what fun!

  • Working their way into committee functions that gave them access to money

  • Working their way into committee functions that gave them access to mailing lists

  • Attempting to gain as many positions of responsibility as possible

  • Keeping files on all leaders of the organization.

  • Actively disrupting meetings singly or with the help of mentally unbalanced proxies

  • Attempting to entrap members with offers to sell guns or drugs (Duh!)

  • Attempting (I assume...this part is about Larry) to entrap or in some other way entangle members with offers of free porno. (I hope that's what was going on there...I don't really want to think of other possibilities.)

  • Selling Coalition materials and having checks made out directly to themselves (that's more criminal than agent activity...but hey, they had to make a living, right? (Sorry, for you all playing at home...that example was not actually mentioned above.))

  • No political content to their participation in meetings. No real expression of any kind of concern or knowledge about the actual issues

  • And, of course, bragging about their past relationship with the police. Remember, I didn't say they were GOOD at being agents, just that they were agents.

We ran into all sorts of other shady characters that I may write about in a future installment including: Larouchians, hypersectarian ultra-leftists, agents posing as ultra-leftists (I can't tell those last two apart), FAMOUS FORMER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS who now courageously denounce the government but surround themselves with hypersectarian ultra-leftists, insane people, insane people under the control of government agents, government agents posing as insane people. The list goes on and on. Hee Heeee, what fun we had.

But for those of you new to activism, or you who have forgotten your activist history, or even those of you whose politics didn't used to be considered that radical and threatening until the Patriot Act came along, take these lessons to heart. It's possible to deal with these government shenanigans...often they are no more than a nuisance. But go into it with your eyes open. And for God's sake, if someone in your group threatens to gouge your eyes out, offers to sell you guns, drugs or porn or keeps detailed files on everyone in your group...boot'em out. You don't have to prove they're agents, you just gotta point out that those sorts of activities really aren't welcome. And if your group won't get rid of these nefarious ne'er-do-wells...I'm afraid it's time for you to find some other folks to work with. One day, they'll find this blog...and then they'll understand.

Well, right on cue, the FBI goes and gets caught bugging the office of the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia indignant link. I guess you don't have to be that radical to get on their bad side. Coincidence that Mayor Street is black, I'm sure. I'm certain the FBI, despite its clear history of spying on and disrupting African American organizations and activists, has cleaned up its act and is now much more of an equal opportunity civil rights violator. Anyway, there was a reason I did not add "your local mayor's office" as a place that is safe to have a conversation if you need assurance that it is not being monitored. (See: Big Brother's M.O. for the briefest of introductions to cautions activists must take in the face of government snooping.)

Ahnold's Selection and Other Good News

Arnold won. Is he the Good Terminator or the Evil Terminator in this sequel?

Some good news at last! Those of you Cassandras out there who are worried about Global warming can rest a little easier. Sure, the climate is warming rapidly for everyone except certain oil-industry scientists, but the good news is, it won't go on much longer. Why? We are running out of oil! This report says it will be around 2010 when demand outstrips production causing DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. This is a CNN report. Didn't see it on the front page of your newspaper? Go figure. Anyway, here's the link

You know what? I don't know how long their archives are available, so here is the article. I know that all none of you who read this blog will chip in for my legal defense if CNN sues me for reprinting this.

World oil and gas 'running out'

By CNN's Graham Jones
Thursday, October 2, 2003 Posted: 8:45 AM EDT (1245 GMT)

Global oil supplies will peak soon after 2010, Swedish scientists say.
Story Tools

LONDON, England -- Global warming will never bring a "doomsday scenario" a team of scientists says -- because oil and gas are running out much faster than thought.

The world's oil reserves are up to 80 percent less than predicted, a team from Sweden's University of Uppsala says. Production levels will peak in about 10 years' time, they say.

"Non-fossil fuels must come in much stronger than it had been hoped," Professor Kjell Alekett told CNN.

Oil production levels will hit their maximum soon after 2010 with gas supplies peaking not long afterwards, the Swedish geologists say.

At that point prices for petrol and other fuels will reach disastrous levels. Earlier studies have predicted oil supplies will not start falling until 2050.

Alekett said that his team had examined data on oil and gas reserves from all over the world and we were "facing a very critical situation globally."

"The thing we are surprised of is that people in general are not aware of the decline in supplies and the extent to which it will affect production.

"The decline of oil and gas will affect the world population more than climate change."

According to the Uppsala team, nightmare predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures will never come to pass because the reserves of oil and gas just are not big enough to create that much carbon dioxide (CO2).

Alekett said that as well as there being inflated estimates, some countries in the Middle East had exaggerated the amount of reserves they had.

Coal-burning could easily make up the shortfall. But burning coal would be even worse for the planet, as it would create even more CO2, he said.

Predictions of global meltdown by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sparked the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement obliging signatory nations to cut CO2 emissions.

The IPCC examined a range of future scenarios, from profligate burning of fossil-fuels to a fast transition towards greener energy sources.

The Uppsala team say the amount of oil and gas left is the equivalent of around 3,500 billion barrels of oil -- the IPCC say between 5,000 and 18,000 billion barrels.

Alekett said his team had now established what they called the "Uppsala Protocol" to initiate discussion on how the problems of declining reserves could be tackled -- protecting the world economy but also addressing the problem of climate change.

The conclusions of the Uppsala team were revealed in the magazine New Scientist Thursday, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic, of the University of Vienna who headed the IPCC team said it was standing by its figures.

He said they had factored in a much broader and internationally accepted range of oil and gas estimates then the "conservative" Swedes.

A conference in Russia this week heard a warning that global warming kills about 160,000 people through its effects every year. The numbers dying from "side-effects" of climate change, such as malaria and malnutrition, could almost double by 2020, the climate change conference in Moscow was told.

"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths... a year," Andrew Haines of the UK's London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said. (Full story)

Most deaths would be in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, says Haines. These regions would be worst hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria as a result of warmer temperatures, droughts and floods.

(editorial note: Looks like that Mike Ruppert guy is right. Wish he didn't charge for his website. uppity ex-cop site. Mike, if you get any memberships from this, how 'bout tossing me a free one. We have something in common. You had a girlfriend who turned out to be CIA, I had a girlfriend whose dad used to work for British intelligence. We're practically related!)

Monday, October 06, 2003

I don't know who this woman is, but here is an article about Patriot Act 2 and the extension of the death penalty to "supporters" of terrorist organization. Now, if only they'd tell us who all qualifies as "terrorist" organizations... link

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Big Brother's M.O.

Part One: Some Helpful Hints

Oh, for those of you who may be new to activism, or veterans who have forgotten your history, a bit of warning. The government will infiltrate your groups, spy on your meetings and actively disrupt your plans. Provacateurs will try to get you to do illegal things and then get you arrested. They've been doing it for decades, though I suppose it is easier these days with the Patriot Act. Here is a brief case study from Fresno: link

Some tips:

1. Assume you are being watched and infiltrated. If your activities are legal, this should present no real hardships...though that doesn't make it right, of course.

2. You may find troublesome people in your organization, always causing dissent. You may assume they are agents. You may even be right. Unless you have a paystub made out to the person from the FBI, however, it is best not to sling agent accusations. Deal with the behavior, not with your suspicions.

3. Educate your group about the abuses of the past. You can begin here: link Let them know that these things do happen, but that a principled response and calm thinking will minimize the damage.

4. And hey, if all the agent is doing is spying on open meetings and causing no harm...put them to work! Often, agents are the hardest working so they can gain acceptance.

5. However, despite #4, be very careful in choosing the folks who: handle money, handle mailing lists and handle the computer tasks. I've seen police agents do a real number by gaining access to these positions. (To the credit of those agents, they practically bragged of their relationship to the police. Politically unsophisticated group leaders were the real problem. Maybe I'll write more about these days in a later post. It's instructive AND amusing.)

6. With electronic gadgetry these days, there are very few ways to insure privacy of computer, phone and even in-person communications. If something is important to keep from law enforcement, about the only real way to do it is in person with loud background noise, such as a radio. I know this sounds paranoid, and they probably aren't spying on YOUR group...this is just something to keep in mind as you make plans if, for example, the element of surprise is important in a protest or something.

7. Have trained security/peace keeper people at demonstrations. These are just folks who've role-played a few scenarios to deal with provacateurs from within and without the organization. Try to develop a relationship with a progressive legal organization to get legal observers at these events.

8. You should also be aware that the government uses private organizations and front groups to spy and disrupt. You may not always be sure who they are, but there are groups that just ALWAYS seem to be causing trouble within coalitions. Often, they have a cult sensibility to them. Sometimes they will assume various incarnations to mimic legitimate organizations. For example, a "leftist" organization called the New Alliance Party used to infiltrate legitimate third parties in attempts to take them over (such as the Peace and Freedom Party in California). They even put the word "rainbow" into some of their front groups to be associated with Jesse Jackson. Finally, they settled on the Reform Party, and have done a real number on it. You may have seen footage from the convention they had here in Nashville in 2000. Meeting detiorated into a shouting match. Classic work. Do I know for sure the NAP is working for the government? No. It doesn't matter. They have the same effect.

9. And once again, learn your history. Things are getting worse in this regard, not better.
A brief summary of the questions journalists should be asking but aren't. clickus linkus

Maybe part of the problem is that CNN and NPR had military psy-ops spooks "interning" with them. link...yes it is to the World Socialist Website, but if you've got a problem with that go research it yourself...even TV guide reported on it

Friday, October 03, 2003

Recall This

Hey to anyone from California who might be reading this. Hope you enjoy your new governor. How do I know you'll have one? No, it's not the polls, it's the machines. And no, I don't mean as in The Rise of the Machines...I mean the voting machines. With most of the votes being counted by Diebold and ES&S, you can guarantee a Republican victory. Check out this summary: linkity link . Now, as always, you must understand that just because they CAN fix the vote, doesn't mean they will. Private enterprise is INHERENTLY MORE EFFICIENT than the government, so the voting machines must be owned by private companies. They are so much more efficient that the software in these machines is SECRET, so as not to cause a government collapse in the face of such incredible efficiency. In fact, the last government official who took a sneak peek at the software running these machines was MYSTERIOUSLY TURNED TO STONE!!! It's true!!!

Also, it is REALLY HARD to program a machine to count how many times someone pushes a button for one person or another, requiring at least a MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATION.
But don't worry, no one could actually fix the vote count, because that requires a rare program called MICROSOFT ACCESS. Only THREE PEOPLE in the country have this program, so your votes are safe.

Who says that politicians aren't honest, by the way, speaking of Governor Arnold? He was bold enough all the way back in the 70's to admit that his role model was Adolph Hitler. Most people would NEVER ADMIT that in this age of RAMPANT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. You go, boy. Nothing wrong with an Aryan Ubermensch from Austria who admires Hitler taking over the biggest state in the country in an election that in no way depends on a majority of voters selecting him.

Maybe you are catching on to the theme of today's missive. If not, let me spell it out. However, so as not to arouse suspicion from the authorities, I must do it in code. I hope you have the decoder rings I sent out:

Ouryay otevay oesn'tday eanmay ackjay.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Well, it looks like I may have to update the odds in my Gamblers' Guide below. Bush is screwing things up so badly that the odds of his getting dumped as the front for this neocon coup are growing. Perhaps the plan is to use Wesley "I'm a Democrat, I just vote like a Republican" Clark to take over. He's already military. Who knows? How sad it is that our greatest hope for deliverance from fascism is extreme incompetence. However, the times grow more dangerous as these incompetents get more desperate.

Note to insiders in the cabal: Look, please tell me exactly how you are planning to do this know, take over the world and all. I promise I won't tell anyone, but the uncertainty is killing me. Plus, even if I did tell the world, no one would believe me anyway. So, send me an email or a diplomatic pouch. Better yet, actual documents. That way, we can spend all our time debating the authenticity of the documents. Yeah...that's perfect.

Quick Coincidence Watch: The day Reagan was shot, George Bush Sr. was to have dinner with John Hinckley's brother. link Just before 9/11 Bush was in a meeting with Osama bin Laden's brother. link What can we learn from this? That anyone who thinks George Bush is involved in anti-democratic conspiracies is a nutcase. Crazier than that Hinckley guy himself.

Oh, by the way...did you hear the one about the declassified documents on MK-ULTRA, the CIA Mind Control Program? This is hilarious. Evidently some moron runs this site: link . On this site he reviews the declassified documents showing how the CIA perfected hypnotic techniques to create agents who carried out dirty deeds without ever being aware of the deed or that they were agents. That's a matter of public record, of course, but this guy thinks the CIA would actually USE this ability. That is more INSANITY. The CIA just learns about these things in case OTHER people try it. Why would the CIA release this information in declassified documents if they were actually DOING these things? Huh? Answer me that? The CIA is here to protect you....not use you against your will to carry out secret missions. In fact, the whole MK-ULTRA mind control program was cancelled due to a need for more time for cultural sensitivity training and human rights education. A lot of people don't know that.

Nope, my friends. There are no ACTUAL CONSPIRACIES in the US. Watergate: never happened. Iran-Contra: a fantasy. Support of 1973 military coup in Chile heavily documented in now-public files: a heavily documented fantasy. Castro assassination attempts: propaganda from Oswald and those other Cuba-loving commies of the 60's.