Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Its mission is promoting understanding of foreign policy and Americaâ€™s role in the world. Meetings are convened at which government officials, global leaders and prominent members debate major foreign-policy issues.
These are the guys the guy in the White House takes advice from on how the USA should behave on planet Earth. Now, if you were to look at the planet Earth and how America behaves in it, you'd probably think "CFR" stood for "Crappy Foolish Relations." I mean, either these guys are idiots or Bush and Co. are lying when they say advice is taken from the CFR. Well, after this latest bit of news, I can't help but think the latter. They've decided to ask Angelina Jolie to join them.
Now, anyone who knows me or anyone who visits this site regularly is aware that I have a BIG crush on Angelina Jolie. I think she's a good actor, she's HOT and she's a pretty kind and generous person to be a UN good will ambassador and to have adopted so many kids from 3rd world countries.
But should she be helping guide America's foreign policy? Ahhhh, well? Would you want the woman who thought Tomb Raider II was a good movie to be advising the guy in the White House? I mean, [http://pocketreviews.net/lara-croft-tomb-raider-cradle-of-life|I enjoyed that movie] but that doesn't mean I want someone who was dumb enough to admit publicly that it was a good film to make suggestions to King George the W on how to handle other countries.
I hope and pray that she'll make smart suggestions. But save for two films, I just don't think she's made the smartest choices for roles. I mean, come on, Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Big dumb action movie. Hackers? Fun, but ultimately, not exactly a classic of American cinema. Same goes for Taking Lives. And Angelina was NUDE in that one. And what about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?? I mean--WTF was that piece of crap? Seriously, that movie was worse than Dungeons & Dragons for crying out loud! And Alexander?? Why did she think playing his mom would be a good role for her? They couldn't give her make-up to look as old as she should have looked (because they could have cast anyone in that case) and as a result I kept wondering why Alex's mom looked like she must have been 2 years old when she gave birth to Alex since they looked so close in age!
Now, I have to say that she was absolutely brilliant in Gia. And I shouldn't suggest that she didn't do a good job acting in most of the movies I've seen her in. Even in the Tomb Raider movies she did her research, nailed the accent and didn't phone it in like most actors do when cast in video game movies. So, I give her a lot of credit.
That said, I still don't think she's qualified for the CFR. Sure, she's been around the world working to protect human rights the only way a totally sexy movie star can. Sure, she's spoken out on many different issues without drawing the slings and arrows of pundits who think Hollywood types aren't allowed to form their own opinions or have time to read. Sure, she's adopted children at a time in American history when adoption hasn't been further from the national spotlight. Most people cling to the belief that having your own kids is the most important thing. While she did eventually have her own kid with the good Mr. Pitt (no slouch in the acting department, either) she still provides a good example to future parents everywhere. Her message? Help the future adults of the world by taking care of presently abandoned children.
Once again, I'm a huge admirer of her--but is she CFR material? I don't think so. Then again, who knows--maybe her kind of idealism and blind hope (that movies will be better than they obviously would end up being) is exactly what the CFR needs to make serious changes in the direct America is going in. Maybe her sheer hotness factor will distract the other folks at the CFR into doing something that just might be good for this old planet called Earth.
One thing is for certain, this post made for a great excuse to post a bunch of Angelina Jolie pictures! Come on Google, DO YOUR MAGIC! :D
Oh yeah and each pic is clickable for a larger version.
Technically any good? The miniseries really does some nice thematic work (exploring the "why" as much as the "how" the human race should survive) while also easing us into the changes--like Cylons were created by humans and now have evolved to look like them. This may seem like a bad idea, but it does come to make really strong dramatic sense.
Season 1 stays just as strong as the miniseries and is in someways stronger. There was one episode that contained a sequence I'd equate to the trench battle in Star Wars but somehow managed to be ten times more intense. While season 2 lags a little, season one is almost flawless and season 2.5 (including the stunning season finale) knocked me on my ass. The bad episodes only suffer because characters do things they wouldn't do (Starbuck falls in love reeeeally fast, for example) and so does the story (we go back to their home planet for a really contrived reason).
Generally speaking however, the acting is spot on--everyone is absolutely brilliant and solid and believable. Edward James Olmos (Adama) should get a thousand Emmies and the wonderful duality James Callis brings to Baltar makes me want to be an actor (and totally wipes my memory of him in Bridget Jones' Diary). The writing is really strong and there's a great story arch that is easy to follow (though not without it's occasional scifi geekery).
Final Rating? WEW - Watch Every Week. Currently it's running on the SciFi Channel, but the miniseries and seasons 1, 2 and 2.5 are all available on DVD (click the images to the left to get 'em from Amazon). not to over-hype this, but this show is really good.
In ALL THREE CASES, the people we were helping later became our enemies. Iran and Iraq (obviously) and later the freedom fighters, which included a certain Osama bin Laden. Whoops!
Now, we're at it again. It seems, according to [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/070305fa_fact_hersh|a February 25, 2007 article] by Seymour Hersh at NewYorker.Com the USG is funding one set of insurgents to keep another set in check.
Now, here's where it gets really funny. See, this Shi'ite group is getting Iranian weapons and we can't (or won't) ask them to stop using said weapons against their Sunni enemies. So, we are now funding the Sunnis to try to keep the Shi'ites in check. The catch there is that they are allies with.... Al Qaeda!
It's actually WAY more complicated than just what I described above, but that's the important bit. Hell, we may be help AQ out by helping their Sunni allies.
It's truly absurd.
Incidentally, if I have gotten it wrong above and you can better explain what's up, please take over in the comments section because Hersh's article is a little confusing and I may have misunderstood a thing or two.
That said, I'm really beginning to find it hilarious that the Bush Admin can talk about how us leaving Iraq would "embolden our enemies" while:
1) the British leaving doesn't (it's a sign the Brits have succeeded!)
2) how us staying isn't EXACTLY what AQ wants
3) the ever-growing body count of Americans and Iraqis doesn't seem to have any effect on the souls of the men running this war
I'm also puzzled as to how no one, on the world stage at least, is calling a spade a spade by pointing out that this has all been one giant, callous, cynical, amoral attempt to war profiteer like no one else in the history of man has.
Seriously, if you think Bush didn't have a plan and the Democrats are STILL letting him get away with it after FOUR YEARS, you're not facing reality.
This is all going according to plan, sadly. It's making a lot of people a lot of money and those ever-richer people don't give a shit about the lives of poor people and other "suckers" who thought they were fighting for their country.
I'm going to have to blog more on this very soon...
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Technically any good? While it's a "documentary" the same way a Michael Moore film is a "documentary" there are a lot of facts and insight the narration is able to provide. It's interesting and fascinating and there's quite a bit of humor. You may not get all the LA jokes, but you'll still learn a LOT. The narrator's dry delivery helps the film be that much more entertaining. Remember those old Motel 6 radio commercials with Tom Bodet? It's sort of like that.
How did it leave me feeling? Satisfied--but only slightly--it made me wish the movie was a series, instead of just a 3 hour stand alone film. The film covers so much but only tip-of-the-icebergs Mexican and African-Angeleno filmmaking which are two genres of film that we hardly ever hear about. I hope the director of this film does a sequel centering around the Hollywood's "second class" film industries for darker-skinned audiences.
Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now, well, if you're in Los Angeles, the only city that I've known it to play in. It shows up at the Egyptian and the Aero theaters from time-to-time so if you live here or plan on visiting, check out EgyptianTheatre.com for schedules at both theaters (both are run by the American Cinematheque a GREAT group of people that could use a donation). I'm really hoping this film will be out on DVD eventually which will mean it'll have to have a movie poster, too!
I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to see more of these kinds of attacks if our brave and righteous leaders continue to step outside our country. I mean, it's not like people in other countries have a say over what the American government decides to do around the planet. What are they supposed to do if they don't like what our leaders do?
Hell, voting doesn't even work for us any more.
I'm not saying it's justified, just not terribly surprising.
That's when it hit me--Diebold, the company behind the whipping boy for the anti-electronic ballot machine crowd (like myself) doesn't just make machines that are supposed to take in votes for our leaders and laws, but they also make machines that dispense cash. Then I remembered how a hotel wet bar key or the key you lock your office desk up with is said to unlock a Diebold ballot machine. Low and behold what did I see mere inches from the Diebold logo but a keyhole.
I was soooo tempted to grab one of those desk keys from work and test the theory. Sadly, I didn't feel like getting arrested (or even chancing it) so I didn't. However, the moment did remind me of [http://hackedgadgets.com/2006/09/22/atm-hack/|a post] I read a bunch of months ago over at HackedGadgets.Com that actually teaches you how to hack an ATM and how people tried out the instructions but chickened out before actually getting to the point where they told the machine to spit out some cash.
This was a good move on their part since those security cams have been known to identify a criminal or two and an arrest is a pain in the ass.
Still, it makes you wonder why more people don't exploit this kind of thing.
Incidentally, [http://melissatogo.blogspot.com/2007/02/multimedia-message.html|the original blogger who posted the picture] also posted other pics of the same machine and included details that made me think this machine wasn't an ATM but was actually an automated movie ticket machine. Still, it's pretty bad since being able to hack a movie ticket machine could cost a theater a buttload of money.
In short, there's a gaping problem with trusting machines to keep our money safe. If our elections can't be assumed to be 100% safe, how can we trust that our money will be?
Then again, all that cash is only paper and the first ten-grand is FDIC insured. So, if you're going to hack one of these ATMs, be kind to the bank and only grab $10,000 per hack, that way they can get their money back. OH and if you do hack an ATM, take pictures and send them to me. :) I'll post 'em for all to see!
I wonder what other ways huge aspects of our society are balanced precariously on incredibly flimsy things like electronics...
Monday, February 26, 2007
Technically any good? As far as an adaption of the events, I'd say it was pretty accurate. I don't remember all of the details regarding the true story this film was based on, but nothing seemed inaccurate. Over all, however, I felt the script fell a little flat. It felt more like a TV movie than a theatrical release. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, I did and was even a little moved at the end. Chris Cooper's performance is brilliant (as usual) and unfortunately overshadows everyone else a bit. I also felt like Phillippe's acting choices didn't change no matter how much his character should have changed throughout the film. That's not to say he was bad--he just wasn't particularly good. Oh and to the next director to cast the Allstate guy: give that man something else to do aside from standing around looking trustworthy, PLEASE!!
How did it leave me feeling? Satisfied, but there was a strange aloofness to the film. For me, there was an emotional connection missing for me. I didn't quite "get" why the lead (Phillippe) entered the FBI or why he even loved his wife.
Final Rating? NXI - NetfliX It - I enjoyed this movie, but I'm not sure I can recommend you drop $10 to see it in the theater.
The funny thing about all of this is that last week in [http://thepete.com/big-brother-week-and-the-oscar-goes-to-big-brother/|the final Big Brother Week post] I made the below comment in relation to how we're socially not allowed to compare the Bush administration to Nazis:
Sure, the comparison is a lazy choice, but the main reason for that is because itâ€™s incredibly appropriate. After all, [http://thepete.com/theblog/go.php?http://thepete.com/halliburton-to-build-us-detention-centers/|Halliburton got the contracts to build detention centers almost a year ago], should we wait until history calls them concentration camps before we act?
It looks like the USG hasn't waited for Halliburton to get their act together. They're already keeping people in concentration-camp-like conditions already. It seems that people are being kept in holding centers--one of which is made up of a large number of circus tents in a camp in Texas. The others are former prisons, that authorities claim have been de-prisonified, but with a prison-cell-style door and a toilet in the center of your 8-foot-square "apartment" it's hard to imagine people not feeling like they're in prison. Then, there's the whole "not being allowed to leave" thing. Then there are issues where the "detainees" aren't given enough food and some of the food they are given is spoiled. Apparently people have gotten sick on spoiled milk.
In the middle of Democracy Now's broadcast on Friday ([http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/23/1530247|transcript]) they had a call in from an Iranian man who had been stuck in one of these centers with his wife and child. The thing that is really crazy about this guy's case is that he wasn't even trying to get into America. He and his family were flying to Canada--on a non-stop flight to Toronto, where they've lived off and on for years, when a man on their flight had a heart attack. They landed in Puerto Rico and everyone aboard was made to deplane. Then, according to him, authorities told him he had gotten into America without a visa, so they grabbed him and have been holding him for weeks.
This is just one example--there are others. The point is, people are now being held in, what could be called, concentration centers. I'm not suggesting that gas chambers are next, but how is this helpful to America? Since when is trapping everyone who might be trying to get into America and holding them indefinitely going to solve anything? It's just going to make America more hated. If we don't want to let anyone in, then fine--let's lock down the borders and keep everyone out. But this bullshit middle-area we're dwelling in only serves to make things more difficult for everyone.
Yes, the chief reason for these centers is to stop families from being broken apart. The thing is, that's the ONLY thing they're doing right. Process these people and either let them into the US or kick them out. Do it FAST. Hire more people to help the process move more quickly. Or just kick everyone out. I don't care--just stop imprisoning people.
America is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the free-until-we-get-around-to-deciding-if-you're-a-terrorist-or-not.
So, let's take a tally on just how fascist America has become:
1) Detention centers are being used to house tens of thousands of people who may or may not be trying to enter the United States, causing one to wonder how much longer it will be before the populace of said "centers" is expanded to allow other undesirables in.
2) Journalists are being imprisoned for not complying with governmental requests for information, harming the right to free speech.
3) Habeas Corpus is gone for non-Americans (so much for the "All Men Are Created Equal" thing) which means non-Americans (and those mistaken as non-Americans) can't challenge their detention in a court of law.
4) Posse Comitatus is gone--which means Bush can declare martial law when he feels like it, allowing the US military to enforce the law instead of trained law enforcement officers.
5) Secret prisons have been (and possibly still are) used to torture people whom the USG believes are terrorists (but, let's face it, probably aren't).
6) Our government insists on waging a war that has no real/clear enemy and has already failed to do what it was supposed to do.
[http://thepete.com/13-strikes/|I could go on] but I won't.
I'm sure your Monday is already depressing enough as it is...
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Can you tell I took this with my MOTOSLVR? Sheesh...BLURRY! In case you're curious, that's me and the Lawgiver from the original (only one that matters) Planet of the Apes franchise. Can you believe that he was played by fucking John Huston? Yeah, THAT John Huston!! That's a little bit like Orson Welles playing Unicron in the original (only one that matters) Transformers The Movie or Alec Guinness playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original two (only ones that matter) Star Wars films.
Nowhere else on the page did it point out that this wasn't exactly the case. I had been hearing for days that Australia, in fact, did not like Dick Cheney. To prove that I wasn't getting my news from leftie-libbie sites, I did a search at News.Google.Com, which, in theory, grabs news from sites all over the place. Check out the screengrab from the search I did immediately after seeing the first headline on Drudge:
Hm... to readers of Drudge, you'd think no one in Australia had a problem with Cheney. Now you can see why I enjoy going to Drudge (because he's full of it) and why he's not on my list of best news sources.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Incredibly, this is the second day in a row where I didn't snap a picture of
myself on a bus! INCREDIBLE. Where am I? At a bus stop. :\ I was
waiting for the 2 bus that takes me into Hollywood for my Saturdaily
novelling session--not that I even touched my novel, sadly. Worked on the
site, but at least I was some kind of productive. Usually I meet a fellow
writer there and that guilts me into doing SOME kind of work on the latest
novel, but he's been busy. Anyone else want to join me? :D
Do I even need to ask you to look at the below images?
I bet those pics above got your attention--probably even if you're a straight woman or a gay guy. They're [http://www.furisdead.com/feat-joannakrupa.asp?c=fidJKrpblgad|the latest ad campaign] from PETA--the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They believe that wearing fur is bad and exploits animals.
I totally agree with this. The thing is, I think PETA is missing the point here. They're running around protesting unethical treatment of animals yet in their ads they exploit the human animal.
First: They exploit and objectify women by using their naked bodies to get our attention. Personally, I enjoy this. However, just because I enjoy something doesn't mean it's good for me. I've always heard that illegal drugs can be quite enjoyable, yet we all know that can be bad for your physical and mental health.
Second: The objectification thing is not a big deal to me, since I simply wish men would be objectified in the same way. This second issue is much larger to me. In those ads, did you notice that the model is not entirely nude? You don't have to have seen Leonard DiCaprio's latest film to know that the diamond industry has been exploiting greed for a very, very long time. A very large number of people have died and have been horribly maimed because of the quest for diamonds and at least one country has been enslaved because of it.
PETA, by glamorizing this woman, dressing her in nothing but diamonds just serves to reinforce the belief that diamonds are cool and beautiful and make a woman more beautiful. This encourages us all to avert our gaze when presented with the idea that people have died to provide us with the diamonds we or our significant others wear.
So, which is worse? The exploitation of animals or the exploitation of the human animal? Seems pretty hypocritical to me to discourage one while obliviously encouraging the other.
And really--does she need to be wearing those diamonds to get our attention?
I'm all for stopping the exploitation of animals--but I think we should include ALL animals in the equation, not just the ones we call "lesser" animals.
The above image is an ad appearing in various places over in Spain. It's for some company called Dolce & Gabbana. I have no idea what they sell. Could be clothes, but who knows, these days? Ads can be so cryptic and vague. I saw and ad once featuring a bunch of naked women. Turns out it was advertising a jeans store in Hollywood. Now, we see this ad showing up in Spain. The good news is that a lot of people are up in arms about it (read about that [http://www.eitb24.com/new/en/B24_36294/life/MILAN-BASED-FASHION-HOUSE-Dolce-Gabbana-angry-at/|here], [http://www.adrants.com/2007/02/dolce-gabbana-ad-cartoonish-edginess-or-g.php|here] and [http://www.newsamericanow.com/news/2007/02/24/dolce-gabbana-forced-to-axe-ra.html|here]). It's great that people are speaking out against this ad because it is pretty terrible. Like western culture needs another message sent on how white men force women to submit to our will. I don't quite agree that this ad automatically equates to rape, but I can see how people could read it that way.
Personally, I see it as an accurate portrayal of how men have treated women for centuries--millennia, even. My only wish was that there were more women being held down and more ethnicities represented in the picture because, believe it or not, suppressing women is not solely a Caucasian sport. To the best of my knowledge it wasn't the white man who invented female circumcision.
Still, I like the image because of what it says about humanity. Too bad the odds are good that the photographer just wanted to sell... whatever it is that Dolce & Gabbana sells.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Oh, man--one of my co-workers went to this place for lunch today that sold
the best barbecue ribs and she brought back some to share!! KICK ASS!!
Believe it or not there's a church in LA that makes buckets of money just
from selling these HUGE BBQ ribs Fridays and Saturdays. These ribs are so
tasty, if you're in LA, check out the Prayer Assembly Barbecue at 442 E El
Segundo Blvd LA, CA 90061 310-523-2481--Fridays and Saturdays ONLY. Prepare
for a bit of a long line/wait. But in my humble opinion it's totally worth
it. :) And you're supporting an inner city church when you do it, so it's
doubly worth it!
if you look African American in this society, you're treated as an African-American.
What the "flash" doesn't go into is how he, himself, actually felt like. Does he feel like a "real" black American? Or is he a "white" man with dark skin? These all may seem like stupid questions, but I don't believe they are. I'll tell you why, because there's a difference between a black man raised by African-American parents and a black man being raised by non-African American parents.
Around the same time (I think) that Obama was quoted, Stephen Colbert had a black woman on his show. She was some sort of historian (I believe) who explained that Barack Obama was not a black American the way we normally think of blacks in America. This is, she explained, because he was raised by a Kenyan man and a Caucasian woman from America. What's the big deal? Well, I'll tell you.
Generally speaking, we're all taught how our society works. Whether we realize it, there are messages all around us teaching us how society works. Generally speaking, we only see blacks in "lesser" positions in our world. You see the black garbage man, the black bus driver, the black repair guy, etc. Believe it or not, over time, this consistent barrage of seeing blacks in these kinds of roles teaches us that these are the roles blacks generally fill. It's a subconscious thing, but generally, it's true. When you think of the kinds of jobs black people have, regardless of your race, you're likely to think of blacks in jobs I described above, or perhaps as athletes, rap artists, or gangstas.
Now, if you're a black American, you have also been subjected to this same message over and over again. You'll then teach this same worldview to your children. They will come to (at least in part) reflect this same word view. While I don't blame my own parents for negative habits/beliefs I have, I do know that I got some of my negative habits/beliefs from them, easily without them even realizing it. The same would go for Barack Obama. However, the same goes for positive habits/beliefs. This is how Obama is not a black American the way we think of them.
Obama was taught by parents who were able to achieve great things in their lives. Most blacks, sadly, can't say the same thing about their parents. Yes, of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but generally speaking, African-Americans don't excel. It's my belief that because Obama's parents weren't both underprivileged it allowed him to draw from their belief that you don't have to be a garbage man or a hip-hop artist just because you're black.
This speaks to the endemic racism in our country today. It's not just that people are racist it's that society, itself, is racist. I'm not sure how to solve this, but in the construct I present above I think it's obviously true.
You can't look at Obama and say "Well, there's a great example of a black man who did good!"
Obama might as well have been born white to rich parents on Long Island for all the time in the 'hood he spent as a child. He had the advantages successful white people had--solely because his parents were not typical black Americans.
I hope that makes sense and I also hope I didn't offend anyone.
The good news is that his "whiteness" will allow people who don't trust blacks in leadership roles to have an easier time voting for him. In turn, if elected, Obama will prove that blacks are perfectly capable of leading the country. This will invariably break down a tremendous number of barriers for blacks everywhere.
The bad news is that his lack of experience in the common black American life will limit his popularity among American blacks. This could easily mean he won't get enough votes to win, making all the good of the above paragraph not happen.
Will I vote for Obama?
I doubt it. Right now I'm leaning toward John Edwards because he is brave enough to talk about the two Americas--the rich and the poor. So far, Obama's been too busy explaining racial issues that I haven't heard him explain his issues. Of course, there's PLENTY of time for him to do that...
I can't believe this crap is starting already!
The original article at DrudgeReport.Com has been replaced with another, so here's the whole thing as I first found it back on February 9, 2007:
OBAMA: IF YOU LOOK AFRICAN-AMERICAN, YOU ARE TREATED LIKE ONE
Fri Feb 9 2007 15:51:32 ET
Acknowledging that his presidential campaign has opened a racial debate, Sen. Barack Obama, who has a white mother and an African father, says if you look African-American, you are treated like one. Obama and his wife, Michelle, who also addresses the race issue, appear in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Feb. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS television Network. If, as expected, Obama declares his formal candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination tomorrow, it will be his first interview to be broadcast after that event.
When asked by Kroft if growing up in a white household had caused him to make a decision to be black, Obama replies, "I'm not sure I decided it. I think... if you look African American in this society, you're treated as an African-American.Ã“ "It's interesting though, that now I feel very comfortable and confident in terms of who I am and where I stake my ground. But I notice that... I've become a focal point for a racial debate," says Obama.
Obama's wife also addresses the race issue when asked by Kroft whether she fears for her husband's life as a black candidate. "I don't lose sleep over it because the realities are that... as a black man... Barack can get shot going to the gas station," says Michelle Obama. "You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen."
Will being African-American hold him back as a candidate? "No.... If I don't win this race it will be because of other factors --[that] I have not shown to the American people a vision for where the country needs to goÃ‰that they can embrace," Obama tells Kroft.
X X X X X
`Sec. 333. Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law
`(a) Use of Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies- (1) The President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to--
`(A) restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that--
`(i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and
`(ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or
`(B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2).
(2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that--
`(A) so hinders the execution of the laws of a State or possession, as applicable, and of the United States within that State or possession, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State or possession are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
`(B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
The problem here? Well, it's the part that gives Bush the ability to decide for himself what constitutes a situation where the military is needed. He determines whether or not a state requiring the military exists. The ONLY condition he has to meet is that something is going on that "opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws."
In humanspeak, that means, if the local authorities are having trouble enforcing the law.
This law taken literally means that Bush can declare martial law when ever he sees fit.
Now, I'm not saying there are going to be soldiers on every corner, but even if there is one around, wouldn't you prefer the law be enforced by a person trained in enforcing the law, as opposed to a person trained to kill people?
PLEASE read more about this!!
Check out [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/20/1523245|the headlines from February 20, 2007] at DemocracyNow.Org to read a very short blurb about this story.
You can also check out [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurrection_Act|the entry for the Insurrection Act] at Wikipedia.org (check out the section called "recent changes".
Read [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-5122&show-changes=0|the text of the law] at http://GovTrack.us and decide for yourself.
Please tell people about this story. Combined with the revocation of Habeas Corpus, we are starting to seriously lose some rights. Of course, most of us won't notice they're gone until we reach for them. This is why we need to start reaching for them now.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Ahhh, lunch time bus rides are the best! (I suppose...) Yes, it's me on
the bus again, with special guest, random bus guy in the background! I hope
he doesn't mind...
Check out this cutting from [http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/307/index.html|the promo page] for this week's episode of PBS' Now show:
This week, NOW reports on new evidence suggesting the existence of a secret government program that intercepts millions of private e-mails each day in the name of terrorist surveillance. News about the alleged program came to light when a former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, blew the whistle on what he believes to be a large-scale installation of secret Internet monitoring equipment deep inside AT&T's San Francisco office. The equipment, he contends, was created at the request of the U.S. government to spy on e-mail traffic across the entire Internet. Though the government and AT&T refuse to address the issue directly, Klein backs up his charges with internal company documents and personal photos.
This hub in SF, according to the show, itself, essentially keeps track of every bit of Internet traffic on the west coast of America. Now, some might argue that this data would be simply too voluminous to get anything useful from. The catch is, the USG can send in search algorythms that will seek out incriminating data. Those algorythms are flawed (they were written by humans, after all) and might result in false positives. In other words, they might bag someone like you just for talking about your pal Osama, whom you are only referring to in jest as your pal.
Or are you?
See what I mean?
Sure, you may not go to jail, but think about the crimp in your social life an arrest would cause.
Then, there is the privacy issue where government should not be allowed to look at your personal email despite the fact that it's technically legal for anyone else to do it. The idea here is to keep the people more powerful than the government. It seems like most people what it the other way around...
Gay roommates, pro-choice and now this?
Sheeeit, an ice cube in hell has a better chance than America's "Freaking out the Christians" Mayor.
No offense to transvestites. I'm sure some of you would make a great president. I just doubt most American voters will be able to look past the lipstick and stubble.
by danobrien23 9 hours ago
"I'm STILL looking for that "Right To Privacy" that Roe v Wade is based on. I don't see it!"
do you see a date on that too? over 200 years old, the oldest written constitution in the world, there's a reason for amendments and there's a reason why we're clinging to a 200 year old document, because it's vague in it's ambiguity, which allows interpretation by all it's constituents and masses it befalls on. I love this country, and The Constitution is one of the prime reasons.
killinger777 by killinger777 9 hours ago
There is no right to privacy. Many things are illegal whether done in private or public.
â€œThe Court talks about a constitutional â€˜right of privacyâ€™ as though there is some constitutional provision or provisions forbidding any law ever to be passed which might abridge the â€˜privacyâ€™ of individuals. But there is not. There are, of course, guarantees in certain specific constitutional provisions which are designed in part to protect privacy at certain times and places with respect to certain activities.â€ --Justice Hugo Black
by knightmareinc 7 hours ago
breaking news: the supreme court use other documents when determining whats constitutional
by Quickbreak 7 hours ago
o0o0lllllll0o0o and Strabes, let's take a look at the Ninth Amendment, shall we?
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
by iamcitizen 7 hours ago
Another must-read: Washington's Farewell Address
by radinator 7 hours ago
"I'm STILL looking for that "Right To Privacy" that Roe v Wade is based on. I don't see it!"
You obviously misunderstand what you read. It's there, in the 9th amendment.
Keep in mind the constitution is not a listing of what the people are permitted to do, it is a list of what the government is allowed to do. Since there is no mention that the government is allowed to violate the (pre-existing) right to privacy except under specific circumstances listed in the 4th amendment and such, they aren't allowed to violate it.
Damn, and I thought the Internet was for retarded debates... it's nice to see people actually debating the US Constitution!
Yeah, I couldn't believe my eyes either. I think they probably thought they were debating the Alderaanian Constitution as passed by the Galactic Senate before the rise of the Emperor. Yeah, the text of the 9th ammendment has Senator Organa's foul stench all over it!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Ahhhh, friggin' SLVR!! Here's a blurry shot taken with my Motorola SLVR.
I've decided that it takes pics just fine in reasonable light, but if it's
dark out (even if it's dark but lit OK by street lights and such) your shot
is likely to end up blurry unless you hold veeeeery still! Anyway, so this
is me in Westwood--that's what I call the Fox Theater in the background, but
most people know it as Mann's Village Theater. I believe it was originally
a 20th Century Fox-owned movie theater back in the days when movie studios
owned their own theaters. Today it is still one of the best theaters in
LA. Though my fave will always be the Chinese.
I remember when the pilot for the TV show 24 was first floating around. This was before 911 and I actually got to screen it for some folks back when I was still a projectionist. I didn't watch it because it was one of those days where I had to ready a print for the next screening or maybe there was someone else in the booth at the time, I don't recall. Still, I remember thinking the premise was cool so I made sure to find a review of it when they started popping up. Before I could find one 911 happened.
At some point later I found a review of 24. I couldn't tell you who wrote it or even where I found it. What I can tell you is what stuck with me from it. The critic said something to the effect of this: "I saw the pilot before 911 and it found it to be slick and gripping. After 911 I find it trite and contrived."
Over the following years I came to hear how great the show was. This made me want to stay away from it even more since I didn't want to get addicted to a TV show. No time. Then I heard something a politician said. He was explaining that torture was acceptable in cases where authorities knew there was a bomb about to go off and they had in custody someone who could help authorities stop it.
I remember smirking and wondering where that politician learned his morals. Then I heard that the scenario he described was common on the show 24. Over the following weeks and months I managed to see a clip or two of the show. One featuring some sort of weapons deal gone wrong and a scene where Kiefer holds a gun to a dark-skinned man's knee and yells at him.
Understandably, I got really concerned about the show. I decided that it could easily have a very negative effect on people who watched it. If it glamorized that kind of "interrogation" which basically boils down to a form of mental torture (and physical torture if Kiefer had pulled the trigger) people watching the show might think torture was OK if it meant saving lives.
The thing is, torture is NOT OK, EVER. Even if it's to save lives. What good is a life if you saved it by removing someone else's freedom? There's an old saying: "Live free or die."
Here's another old saying: "Give me liberty or give me death."
I believe in that kind of principle. Living without morals isn't living, in my opinion. It's surviving. It's what the animal kingdom does. So, I have put off and put off watching 24. Now, my viewpoint has been validated by an unlikely source--the US Military. Yeah, go fig.
Check out this blurb from WENN.com's [http://imdb.com/news/wenn/2007-02-14/#celeb4|movie/TV news column from February 14, 2007] available at IMDB.com:
The US military has criticized the producers of TV hit 24 for featuring too many scenes of Kiefer Sutherland's character Jack Bauer torturing suspects for information. Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently visited the set of the hit show in California to speak to the show's makers. Finnegan is concerned about the effect the torture scenes are having on US troops abroad as 24 is popular among members of the American armed forces. According to the New Yorker, Finnegan told the producers, "I'd like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires. The kids see it and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?' The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do." Human Rights First spokesman David Danzig says, "I think there is no question (that torture scenes are having an effect). We have spoken to soldiers with experience in Iraq who say, for young soldiers, there is a direct relationship between what they are doing in their jobs and what they see on TV. The image of the US and its military is being affirmed."
That's something I hadn't even considered. The military is probably the first group of people I should have been concerned with since they're in the perfect position to live out anything they see on 24. And right there is proof that there is reason for concern. Luckily, there's good news. Check out another blurb from WENN.com's [http://imdb.com/news/sb/2007-02-15/#tv3|movie/TV news column from the very next day] (also available at IMDB.com):
Although denying that he is reacting to growing international criticism, Howard Gordon, an executive producer of Fox's 24, has disclosed that the show plans to cut back on torture scenes. "What was once an extraordinary or exceptional moment is starting to feel a little trite. The idea of physical coercion or torture is no longer a novelty or surprise," Gordon told today's (Thursday) Philadelphia Inquirer.
On the surface this is good news but leave it to me to find a shitty lining to this silver cloud. If you read Gordon's quote you can plainly see that he gave little thought (if any) to the concern that the events he puts in his shows might have a negative effect on his audience and even the greater world. He simply looked at his choices on the show in simple terms of drama. If only we lived in a world that was so simple. Where you could literally say or do anything and there would never be any consequences for it.
Just thinking about how little emboldening of terrorists we'd be doing.
But I digress. There's a bit more from that column:
"It's not something that we, as writers, want to use as a crutch. We'd like to find other ways for Jack to get information out of suspects," he added. Gordon's comments came after the New Yorker magazine reported that Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an eminent military lawyer, had flown to California to meet producers of the show. Finnegan reportedly told the producers that promoting illegal behavior on the show was having a damaging effect on U.S. troops in Iraq. Finnegan told the magazine, "The kids see it and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?'" In response, Gordon told the Inquirer,"The thesis that we are affecting our soldiers in Iraq in their treatment of prisoners is being exaggerated, I think. Hopefully, there are a lot of filters between their watching 24 and their work in the field."
Nice, so now he's assuming something that makes no sense. How many filters are there between you, the TV shows you watch and your job? Is there anyone telling you to remember that what you see on TV is fictional?
I'm not saying human brains are empty vessels, but with all the money spent every year on those repetitive TV commercials you must accept that they have some kind of effect on us.
Posse Comitatus (sp? That's the law/principle that stops the USG from using the US military as a police force) has been repealed.
Habeus Corpus (the right to challenge detention) still repealed for Gitmo prisoners.
The UK has announced a time table for withdrawing from Iraq, yet the White House doesn't think them leaving will "embolden" our enemies.
Iran wants to talk but the US won't stop being hypocritical about nukes. You've got to admit that the US having nukes but not allowing Iran to have them is pretty racist/ethnocentric.
Apparently, there's going to be a permanent US military base someplace in Africa--but WHY?
There's been more news on that new Iraqi law that hands massive oil profits over to private oil companies (hey, weren't oil profits supposed to pay for the Iraq war??).
And those few examples are seriously the tip of the iceberg. Watch for post on those topics and more in the coming days. Until then please google them to learn more.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Ooo, I look so brooding here, but really I was just tired after a long,
bland day of sitting on my ass making sure data had been entered into a
computer properly (that's my dayjob--weeee!). And, yes, that's a bus I'm
on, as usual!
Report: Record Number of Undocumented Immigrants Jailed in U.S.
The League of United Latin American Citizens says the number of undocumented immigrants currently detained in the United States has reached a record of over 26,000. Many of the detained immigrants are being denied access to legal assistance. In Raymondville Texas, two thousand immigrants are being held in a compound made up of a series of big tents without windows. Brent Wilkes of the League of United Latin American Citizens said "It's like Guantanamo Bay, but these people are not terrorists. They are just immigrants."
That's an insanely large number of people. That's more than half the size of the Rhode Island National Guard.
Ironically, that number also represents the number of white Americans who care.
Scientists say that there should be a space mission to the asteroid, according to the article:
using a vessel called a "gravity tractor" - to knock Apophis off course.
I'm not sure what a "gravity tractor" is, though I suspect it is NOT some sort of tractor beam, a la Star Trek or Star Wars. Even Wikipedia doesn't know what a gravity tractor is. Luckily, the article gives us an "official" definition:
Scientists believe that a gravity tractor - a spaceship which flies alongside the asteroid - is the best way to neutralise the threat of Apophis.
A gravity tractor spaceship exerts a slight pull on the targeted mass, slowly pulling it off course and potentially rendering it harmless to life on Earth.
Hm, sounds like with all the time it will take just to get this damn mission ready and then the time it takes for the ship to get there, THIS MISSION CAN'T FAIL!
So, I think we can all rest assured that the civilization that brought us 911, Katrina and all the coolest wars from the last 100 years should be able to handle this asteroid just fine!!
But WAIT, there's MORE:
Experts says that the recent approval of a NASA mandate to upgrade its tracking of near-Earth asteroids is expected to uncover hundreds, if not thousands of threatening space rocks in the near future.
Rusty Schweickart, a former astronaut who orbited the moon in the 1969 Apollo 9 mission, said: "It's not just Apophis we're looking at.
Well, I hope everyone had a good three-day weekend or at least a day of easy traffic getting into your job. Presidents' Day is one of those silly holidays where we're not entirely sure how to celebrate it. Are we supposed to give Presidents Day cards? Have Presidents Day parties? Play a rousing game of "Name that President"?
The only PD tradition I was able to observe was shopping for good deals. Seems there's a glut of PD sales all over the place on PD. A quick trip to my local anime shop (poweranime.com) and my favorite supermarket (Trader Joe's) took twice as long because of the PD sales. Parking lots and register queues were clogged to hell and back.
Still, I had a pretty productive weekend. I took some much needed personal time and did a whole stack of chores that I had been meaning to get to for weeks and even months. I spent 7 hours ion Sunday burning off videos from the DVR and didn't even finish clearing everything off.
Friday night TheWife and I had a blast seeing my friend Zo's band, called [myspace.com/byallmeansnecessary|B.A.M.N.], play at the Key Club in Hollywood. I'll try to post some pics later in the week. They rocked.
Then, Saturday night I decide to change plans from a Jon Favreaux (sp?) double feature (Made and Swingers) hosted by Favreaux himself to support fellow artistes and friends Pamdrew ([uptobat.blogspot.com|Andrew] and [pamdrew.blogspot.com|Pamela] Moore). For anyone paying attention, they were both in my play back in 2005. Anyway, so they were performing in a spoken word poetry show at WriteActRep.org. Now this was not your typical spoken word poetry show--the actors performed famous love songs through a bitter filter--it was a riot! Check out the site for more info on the troop (troupe?) and if you're in LA check them out. They seem like a pretty talented bunch, especially Pam and Andrew. After the performance we went to this place called Fred 62, had some good food and a great time.
Over all, it was a great weekend, though, as usual I didn't get as much done as I had hoped to.
This week's goals are simple. I need to finish up the site layouts on TheFunniesPage.Com, Website666.com and PocketReviews.net. Once that is done more regular posting will commence. I also want to simplify the sidebar on ThePete.Com a bit more.
Coming up on ThePete.Com are more Project365 updates, more news commentary (duh), comics, and more about what's going on in my life. (I'm sure you're real psyched about that last part!)
Monday, February 19, 2007
This is just a quick shot since I forgot to take a pic of me in an
interesting locale. Behind me is my desk. You can clearly see my
personal-sized coffee maker (it makes one cup at a time). Right below it is
the trophy my wife made for me to celebrate me finishing my novel series a
few years back (now if I can only get it published!). And everything else
is tooooys! YAY!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Me outside of one of my favorite places to get (Japanese) food. I'm a
sucker for most things Japanesey, especially when they come in "modern"
settings. 7-11 this place AIN'T. That is my official FamimaFace, btw.
This story is a riot--unless you happen to be Keith Henson. Turns out he made some smart-ass remarks about a Tom Cruise Missile during an anti-Scientology rant on a newsgroup (of all places) and somehow his comments were translated into terrorist threats.
Check out this cutting from [http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/02/04/scientology-fugitive-arrested/|a February 4, 2007 post] on the 10ZenMonkeys.Com blog:
On Friday, Arizona police arrested a 64-year-old man â€” a fugitive since 2001 in a bizarre war that mixes free speech, copyright law, and the Church of Scientology.
Keith Hensonâ€™s journey began seven years ago while innocuously watching another critic mock the group on an internet newsgroup. In a gonzo discussion about procuring a â€œTom Cruise missile,â€ theyâ€™d joked about working with â€œSecret Agent 99, wearing a stunning black leather biker outfit.â€ Other posters joined in the internet discussion, asking whether Tom Cruise missiles are affected by wind.â€No way,â€ Keith joked. â€œModern weapons are accurate to a matter of a few tens of yards.â€
The police were informed of his â€œthreateningâ€ posts, and Henson was arrested.
It turns out that Scientologists had been reading the discussion and reported Henson's comments as threatening. However, did the "authorities" actually bother with any research? Clearly not. They simply arrested the guy.
There's plenty more to the story, including his conviction (on hate crime charges, not terrorism) and his self-exile from America. Check out that 10ZenMonkeys.Com [http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/02/04/scientology-fugitive-arrested/|post] for more. I suppose America is still a mostly free country...
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Blurry shot of me in a place called Fred 62. It's a little dinery-type
place on the east side. Los Feliz, I think? I didn't drive, so I'm not
sure. The food was good and the atmosphere was great. I wish there was a
place like this near me. They're even open 24 hours.
indecency policies are arbitrary and unconstitutional. Defining excessive violence could be even more complicated, as the Supreme Court decision permitting indecency regulation didn't address violence.
Isn't it funny how "decency" only covers sex but not violence? Why does American culture have such a massive blindspot for violence? Too much sex is bad, but violence is only getting regulated after years of your average cop shows depicting gore and violence so extreme that I'd think it'd be rated R were it to show up in a theatrically released movie.
That said, I do think the amount of sex and violence in our media should be handled without the government's intervention. It's a societal issue, not a legal or governmental one.
Too bad that's not what everyone in government thinks. Check out a cutting from [http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070126/NEWS/701260363|an article] from WilmingtonStar.Com:
Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.
That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state's lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.
"Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?" said Berger, who is having proposed legislation drafted.
Could question! Then perhaps you shouldn't offer the incentives in the first place. Seems pretty un-American to offer incentives to just the film makers whose work you agree with, doesn't it?
Ah, I love throwing the "un-American" accusation back in the face of conservatives. So, limit a person's freedom of speech just because you don't like what they say?
That's no big brother--that's COMMIE-ISM!
Well, it is big brother because it tries to legislate what is socially acceptable and what isn't.
That's what big brother ultimately is, in my mind. A social construct that is formed around the citizens of a country (or state, city, town, village, or even department inside a company) the limits their behavior through extreme surveillance, social brainwashing and, ultimately, mental and/or physical torture.
We are seeing all of these things happen in our society today. Sure, not all of us are being imprisoned and tortured, but how many of us do you want that to happen to before you do something about it?
This is similar to the criticism one gets when comparing the current administration to Nazis. Sure, the comparison is a lazy choice, but the main reason for that is because it's incredibly appropriate. After all, [http://thepete.com/halliburton-to-build-us-detention-centers/|Halliburton got the contracts to build detention centers almost a year ago], should we wait until history calls them concentration camps before we act?
Big brother is already watching. He just hasn't had the posters put up yet.
Thanks for reading ThePete.Com's Big Brother Week! Please stop by often and always for more news and commentary on big brother's growth and other important news stories probably overlooked by big media.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I should have the final Big Brother Week post up by Saturday evening. Sorry for the delay.
"Oh, man--it's Johnny Mathis! Get my gun!"
OK, it's funny if you're me or if you've seen that episode of MST3K.
Here's why I think this:
Pelosi and others have been saying that Bush doesn't have the authority to attack Iran. Anyone notice that Bush says he'll do whatever he has to in order to protect American troops in Iraq?
He's making the case that Iran is a threat to The troops, suggesting the logic that an Iran Attack wouldn't be about getting at Iran, it would be about protecting the troops. Therefore he wouldn't need permission from Congress to wage another war.
I've heard people say that an Iran Attack can't happen because we just don't have the troops and the US Army is already stretched too thin as it is. However, our Navy isn't. There are two US Navy carrier groups (longhand for two aircraft carriers and a small stack of battleships that often travel with them). These boats are capable of launching car-sized projectiles well inland. Air strikes can also be launched from the carriers.
Oh yeah, and I heard a rumor yesterday that the US was sending a third carrier group there soon.
Something tells me that all that firepower wasn't put in the Gulf to go after death squads in Sadr City...
Yep, you're reading it right! I wonder if these guys think cigarettes are bad for you (duh) or that AIDS is transmittable by tears (oh, come on!). Yes, I know there is no direct link between global warming and human's behavior, but sometimes you can't always link things directly--science isn't perfect. However, since there are a number of ways we individual humans will benefit from treating the connection as real, it would seem pretty thickheaded to continue this line of BS that thinks we're not responsible for the damage being done to our planet.
This kind of denial also shows us (once again) how Republicans generally like to pretend that denying something is the same thing as making it not exist. What else are they telling us isn't a problem but is actually killing us?
Oh, let me count 'em!
Damn, too many and I got a bus to catch! Have a good morning everybody!
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Moxie... is a drink that my friend John sells at the Boba Loca he runs here in Westwood, CA. One of the many old-skool soft drinks he sells. I tried Moxie for the first time tonight and didn't care for it so much. However, it's such a bizarre, unique taste I'm glad I gave it a shot. Still, I'd go with the original formula Dr. Pepper ;) All with cane sugar so it's not as bad for you as modern soda which has refined sugar. When in Westwood, CA, why not stop by and give one a try? :) (And tell 'em ThePete.Com sent ya!) (No, I don't get a discount/kick back if you do!)
One of the sucker plays big brother pulls in order to get us to give up our freedoms is by telling us something is for our own good. Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you how you had to eat your spinach? I remember mine telling me it was for my own good. Then they used Popeye as a reason for me to do what they told me.
Well, as adults we need things to be a bit more subtle before we fall for this kind of scheme. One of the things big brother is always said to be horny for is playing the uber-voyeur. In George Orwell's book, 1984, the government would place these view-screens in everyone's homes. Citizens could be looked in on, but they couldn't look back out at those watching them. After 911, cameras started popping up all over the place. We were told they were for our own good--they'd fight crime, lower traffic accidents and keep us safer. Of course, we didn't think of these cameras as the view-screens from 1984 because we all own cameras and these were all in public places. If you didn't want to be recorded, you just don't go to where these cameras are.
The catch is, these cameras could be anywhere. Hell, reasonable quality cameras are in almost every cell phone now. They use nightvision cameras in movie theater to stop bootleggers (but don't get frisky with your date!) and cameras almost intentionally hidden in traffic light posts to allow authorities to keep an eye on high crime areas--or where lots of people travel on foot.
The reason this is bad is because it turns us all into suspects. Each one of us are looked at as potential criminals and should the people watching us make a simple mistake of misidentification, it is the citizen who pays the price. Sure, he may not be convicted in a trial, but it's totally unjust that he got arrested and detained in the first place, isn't it?
What's even worse is that some people want to see even more of an uber-voyeuristic reality come true. Check out this cutting from [http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/14/smile-youre-on-big-brothers-in-plane-camera/|a February 14, 2007 post] at Engadget.com:
The folks in the UK aren't laissez-faire about this Big Brother thing one bit, them and Germany are throwing Â£25 million (bout $49 million US) at the "problem" of monitoring airline passengers with small cameras and microphones in every single seat back to monitor for suspicious behavior. The system will be able to detect rapid eye movements, excessive blinking, twitches, whispers or other symptoms of somebody trying to conceal something, and check the data against individual passenger profiles for alerting the crew to a potential terrorist.
Nice, so not only can you not sneak a little nookie from your significant-othery travel companion, but if you exhibit signs of nervousness or fidgiting, you just might get tagged as a terrorist. Too bad you were only upset about the dead uncle whose funeral you were flying to Bristol for, or perhaps you just got fired and are flying home to mom's. You could even be afraid of flying and find yourself showing off the symptoms of being a mad bomber.
But you know, it's for your own good. Their might be a terrorist on the plane. Don't you want him to be caught?
Of course, odds are that you will NEVER EVER fly with a terrorist aboard the same plane as you. Once again, cameras and microphones in every seat turns every single person who flies into a suspected criminal.
Switching gears back to a technology I blogged on [http://thepete.com/big-brother-week-real-id-act-and-states-rights/|earlier in the week], [http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/14/hitachis-rfid-powder-freaks-us-the-heck-out/|another February 14, 2007 post] at Engadget.com reports that RFID chips are about to get smaller. MUCH smaller. Check out this cutting:
As if the various other permutations and teensyness of RFID weren't wild enough, here comes Hitachi with its new "powder" 0.05mm x 0.05mm RFID chips. The new chips are 64 times smaller than the previous record holder, the 0.4mm x 0.4mm mu-chips, and nine times smaller than Hitachi's last year prototype, and yet still make room for a 128-bit ROM that can store a unique 38-digit ID number.
Yeah, that's right--they're calling it powder. You could dust a donut with this stuff and make a fat cop trackable anywhere there is a RFID chip reader without him even knowing he's being tracked. Once again, according to the Engadget post, we are told this powder is for our own good--it will be used to help prevent counterfeiting. However, the potential nefarious uses are obvious.
Speaking of cops and tracking people without there knowledge, check out a cutting from [http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/04/court-rules-that-sly-gps-tracking-isnt-unlawful/|a February 4, 2007 post] at Engadget.com:
Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit of the US Court of Appeals "ruled against a defendant who claimed that the surreptitious placement of a GPS tracking device amounted to an unconstitutional search," essentially giving the coppers the green light to add a GPS module to a suspicious ride sans a warrant. While we're sure the privacy advocates out there are screaming bloody murder, the district judge found that they had had a "reasonable suspicion that the defendant was engaged in criminal activity," and it seems that a well-placed hunch is all they need for lawful placement.
The quote from the Engadget post says it all. If they think you're up to something, they can track you. Forget the fact that they are humans and that all humans can make mistakes. These guys can follow you where ever you go because, well, it's legal now.
Don't forget that bigbrotherists don't have to be members of the government. In the ultimate nightmare scenario corporations and government are one in the same, only appearing to be separate. In that brand of bigbrothery you will see corporate folks wanting to "keep prices down" by "foiling bootleggers", aka, doing it for your own good. A recent example of a corporation overextending it's reach into it's customers privacy is reported [http://www.internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/3659401|in a February 12, 2007 article] at InternetNews.Com:
Google's YouTube and a company called Live Digital will offer no refuge to users who uploaded pirated copies of Fox Television's "24" and "The Simpsons" onto their video platforms.
In an e-mail to internetnews.com, a 20th Century Fox Television spokesperson said that Google and Live Digital complied with subpoenas issued by the U.S. District Court in Northern California and disclosed to Fox the identities of two individuals who illegally uploaded entire episodes of "24" prior to its broadcast and DVD release.
So, to protect Fox's copyrighted material, they're willing to go to the government and get them to demand that Google, a company that promises to do no evil, give up the names of anyone who posts said copyrighted material. And for what? Can Fox prove how much money they're losing when someone uploads an episode of 24 to YouTube.com? They can't. Yet they're able to go after you like it's a crime anyway. Imagine if you told the police that someone had stolen a painting of yours. You painted it and you saw it through the living room window of your neighbor. Yet, you still have your painting on the wall of your living room. So, how have you lost money, exactly?
So, in the end we see that the very technology we thought would help our lives is actually turned against us by the very companies that provide said technology to us in the first place.
OK, be sure to swing by tomorrow for the final installment of ThePete.Com's Big Brother Week where I present ways how Hollywood is worshiping at the temple of Bigbrothernity.
Technically any good? You know, I saw this movie back in 1999 a BUNCH of times. I watched it once on DVD with friends. We made fun of it. For Valentine's Day (yesterday), my wife downloaded Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy's commentary track for this film from RiffTrax.com and decided to watch it again. While the commentary track is definitely worth the $2.99, I think we'd have been better off just listening to it, rather than watching the film, too. It's unbelievably worse than I remember it ever being. There is NO character development WHATSOEVER. ZERO. NADA. No backstory for ANYONE. The FX, obviously, were passable for the day, but actually do seem a little crappy by today's standards. The acting is pretty stilted, as though they know how crappy this movie is.
How did it leave me feeling? Stunned. If it weren't for our love of the original Star Wars films, there is simply NO WAY we could have enjoyed this movie back in theaters. In fact, if Lucas had started his saga with this film, he would have finished it there, too.
Final Rating? DNS - Do Not See - unless you're interested in hurting yourself mentally (or if you download the Rifftrax!)
This isn't (just) my opinion, ask the India, China and Russia who, according to [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1386812.ece|a February 15, 2007 article] at http://TimesOnline.co.uk, are meeting to form an alliance to stand up against American domination. Here's a cutting from said article:
India, China and Russia account for 40 per cent of the worldâ€™s population, a fifth of its economy and more than half of its nuclear warheads. Now they appear to be forming a partnership to challenge the US-dominated world order that has prevailed since the end of the Cold War.
Foreign ministers from the three emerging giants met in Delhi yesterday to discuss ways to build a more democratic â€œmultipolar worldâ€.
It was the second such meeting in the past two years and came after an unprecedented meeting between their respective leaders, Manmohan Singh, Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin, during the G8 summit in St Petersburg in July.
It also came only four days after Mr Putin stunned Western officials by railing against American foreign policy at a security conference in Munich.
The foreign ministers, Pranab Mukherjee, Li Zhao Xing and Sergei Lavrov, emphasised that theirs was not an alliance against the United States. It was, â€œon the contrary, intended to promote international harmony and understandingâ€, a joint communiquÃ© stated.
Of course, that last bit can only be achieved by providing a counter balance to America's weight in the world. Of course, those countries might have realized that Globalism is favoring western countries like America and on behalf of their own country's corporations they want a bigger piece of that Globalist pie. If that's the case, I'm concerned we'll enter a new dark ages here on Planet Earth.
You don't expect corporations to look out for what is in our best interests do you?
Hm, I really hope these guys just want to counter-balance us. We could use it, in my opinion...absolute power corrupts, as they say...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Awwww, this is me and the rose my wife got me for V-day. The SK3's camera
makes the rose look almost black, but in person it's a very beautiful, very deep red.
The real story is that that the police want to use him as an arm of big brother. They want to be able to grab evidence gathered by reporters to help them do their job better. The catch is, reporters must be able to protect their sources or they won't have any sources and therefore no way to report certain stories involving what may considered illegal acts.
Ultimately, in my opinion, what this boils down to is the police/government not wanting to do their job and gather their own evidence. If Wolf wanted to help them, great, but since he doesn't, they shouldn't be able to put him in jail, they should shut up and do their job--find evidence elsewhere. Why? Because the next time any protesters see a camera on them, they'll run--whether they're committing a crime or not. That's the effect this has.
Read more about it in [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/12/1540208|the transcript from the February 12, 2007 podcast from Democracy Now] available at DemocracyNow.org. Or you can check out JoshWolf.net to follow his adventures trying to get out of jail.
Good luck, Josh! All of us independent journalists are pulling for ya! (Hey, according to Webster.Com, [http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=journalist|I'm a journalist], damn it!)
Well, check out more cute in [http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/14/iraq.main/index.html|this February 14, 2007 article] from CNN.com that reports on how authorities in Iraq say insurgent bad-boy Muktada al Sadr is in Iran, but his own lackeys say he's still in the big "B", Baghdad.
Which is it for realz? Doesn't matter--this is another case where an "al Sadr in Tehran" story is just too convient for Bush right now--just like the very fictional story of Al Qaeda meeting with Saddamy types in Baghdad used, in part, to justify the Iraq Attack.
As always, don't believe the hype on
Oh, and do believe that Bush wants an Iran Attack. Watch for it by spring. You know, when hope is eternal ;)
OK, so that joke doesn't totally work, sue me...
I'm sure Matt Drudge thinks he should get the Pulitzer Prize for irony after posting a headline like that.
What's really sad is that usually the irony Drudge employs on his site is accidental. Take the below screengrab from a few months ago:
So, Americans and Iraqis are dying by the truckloads in the Middle East thanks to Bush' lies and his "news" site "reports" that China making animals do sports is sick. What's sick, Matt, is that you make buckets of money on your site and I make a couple hundred a year off of mine. That doesn't even pay my hosting fees.
Now THAT'S some irony!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
So, waaaay back in 2001, on the eleventh day of September, something very big and scary happened in New York City. Perhaps you're familiar with 911. if not, you probably haven't attended any Republican rallies since then. Ha.
Anyway, so one of the myriad big brothery laws that the USG passed post-911 was the Real ID Act. He can [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR00418:|read all about it] at The Library of Congress website (http://LOC.gov). In short, here's the official description of what this law is to do:
To establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver's license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence.
Wow--if that's not big brothery enough for you, I don't know what is!
OK, now those of you non-believers may wonder just what the big deal is here. What could be wrong with making it easier to "prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States?"
Well, let's assume for a moment that our beloved United States Government (USG) is not perfect. I know--hard to believe, but, please, for the sake of argument, let's just say it is.
What this law does is say that every state in the union must adopt the same standards--standards established by the USG. You can probably see where I'm taking this.
So, now that the law is passed (it is, this isn't hypothetical) every state must adopt the USG's guidelines for how to design and handle their drivers' licenses. However, what if the guidelines from the USG are not good guidelines? What if they're flawed or vulnerable to weakness? One of the proposed changes to IDs is to include an RFID chip into each ID card. The pro-argument says that this will allow a lot more info to stored on the card. The catch is, RFID chips are about as secure as a prostitute's chastity belt. With $100 and the nearest Radio Shack I could build a device that could steal all the data on an RFID chip and encode it to a new RFID chip, thus stealing your identity. I wouldn't even need to see your card, I could read the data from a couple feet away in most cases.
Sure, you could use a wallet that shields your RFID chip from being read, but I could just wait until you were about to pay for something. When you pull your wallet out, BUZZ! There goes my scanner.
Now, the Real ID Act doesn't allow for states to veto any of the requirements of the law.
This is essentially our government (big brother) forcing every state to adopt flawed plans. Seems pretty lame, huh? So, why would our government want to put our personal identities (and therefore our finances and therefore even our lives) in danger? That's a question to ask your leaders.
In fact, some states aren't even bothering to ask--they're putting their foot (feet?) down to say no way. Check out this cutting from [http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070126/pl_nm/usa_idcard_dc_1|a January 25, 2007 article] from Reuters.Com available at News.Yahoo.Com:
Maine lawmakers on Thursday became the first in the nation to demand repeal of a federal law tightening identification requirements for drivers' licenses, a post-September 11 security measure that states say will cost them billions of dollars to administer.
Maine lawmakers passed a resolution urging repeal of the Real ID Act, which would create a national digital identification system by 2008. The lawmakers said it would cost Maine about $185 million, fail to boost security and put people at greater risk of identity theft.
Maine's resolution is the strongest stand yet by a state against the law, which Congress passed in May 2004 and gave states three years to implement. Similar repeal measures are pending in eight other states.
So, there ya have it! The USG is trying to tell the states what to do. Another time this kind of disagreement happened it resulted in the Civil War. Let's hope big brother--I mean--the US Government comes to its senses and repeals the Real ID Act.
OK, stop by tomorrow for DAY TWO of ThePete.Com's Big Brother Week when I'll be going into how big brother tactics are being used to make sure the press plays along with the Bush 43 Administration's plans for Iran. They're actually putting journalists in jail for not cooperating. Don't believe me? Check out tomorrow's post or to get all hardcore, check your local PBS listings for the first episode of Frontline's new documentary miniseries "News War" which premieres tonight. You can also check out their special preview page here:
This is all for real, people. I'm not making this up. I really wish I were.