Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Thursday, April 24, 2008

  No right to not remain silent

If you are a minor, or a female adult, yet an involuntary ward of the state, with no charges pressing against you, your cell phones will be confiscated for talking to the media, or your family. The attorneys assigned to you by the state have secured a court order taking your cell phone away for your protection. Trust in them.

To make up for this:

You will be given a playstation and made to play with it, and you are also required to watch 5 hours of television, starting with a daily dose of Fox News, and ending with reruns of the Sopranos.

You will be allowed to attend church services at the Christian church of your choice. Singing hymns from your own church is allowed, but only at a fifty foot distance between you and the other members.

Thank you for your co-operation on the DNA tests, so we may ultimately put a few of your fathers in prison, and, by the way, we will be individually suing each and every one of you to recover the costs we incurred in your arrest and housing and eventual disbursal, so we can buy more tanks and pay for more swat teams.

We will, however, after having seized the substantial capital assets, housing and land of your group, allow your mothers to go on welfare, just as we did in 1953.

That is all
.

...

Obviously, some members of FLDS have access to the internet. Somehow I doubt that the shelters the state is keeping the rest penned in have computers, however.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

  Election insanity, and other unpopular causes

I've tried all day to not hit reload on google news regarding Pennsylvania's election.

I've tried to forget that 90% of the votes cast will be on unaccountable electronic voting machines... and the tests by Princeton showing how easy they were to compromise.

I thought about voting security for a while, and finally understood the contrarian view point - that paper trails were the wrong framing of the question, and that it seems impossible to retain anonymity and security.

I've tried not to remember the dead unanimously voting for the Daley machine.


I spent an hour trying to figure out what truths exist in Venezuela from an obviously biased source, and realizing, that I probably had to go there, too, to really figure it out, after I spoke the language. I might be ready in five years, after learning ten new words a day, but that would be just the dictionary meanings.


I've tried not to boggle at the prospect of hundreds of kids forced to submit to a DNA test that their parents can legally refuse, nor at a government worker calling a cotton swab inside the mouth "non-invasive".

I've tried to hope that all the forces in the world lined up against each other would cancel out, and democracy would be preserved, truths found, and justice win out.

I've tried hope, and failed at that, too. I keep hitting reload, instead.

The answer to the voting machine problem is entirely open hardware and software, and the chances of seeing that happen are slim, at least this year.

As to the state's invasion of the FLDS church's settlement, the term "clusterf*ck" applies. How can a dragnet haul in 500+ people with a single search warrant, an entire community, who by every independent account, are no trouble to outsiders, and live and let live, based on a single phone call, from a single informant, who may never have existed? The further injustices in - parents separated from their children, children separated from each other, kept in gym, lawyers leaping over each other to defend and prosecute - make me despair. The raid is probably the best thing to happen to the legal industry in Texas since Enron's collapse. Not to mention: all the reporters reporting on it have no chance to investigate other, perhaps more pertinent, events there....

Perhaps admirable in an earlier age - the settlement was self-sufficient in food and manufacturing, there's no evidence of social disorder, mass drunkenness, drug abuse, or sales thereof. By every standard save one they appear to have been model citizens, worthy of emulation.

Perhaps that was their real crime - to try and live independently of the State. The state got lonely for lack of worship.

I'd found some random amusement in today's reloads. One headline, written by someone no doubt pressed for space: "DNA tests for polygamy begin". Tests for that may work in cats, but not humans.


Closing arguments were heard in the Hans Reiser case. Oh, Reiser is certainly guilty. Guilty of not attending church on sundays, guilty of brilliance, and arrogance, guilty of being a geek, guilty of being unloved, and of being unlovable - guilty of murder? I don't know. An independent prosecutor thinks so. Reiser's verbose indictment of the system - the judge told him he'd made a mockery of the court, and threatened to remove him from the stand, repeatedly - may well outlive him, guilty or innocent.


The one bright spot in my day: Percy schmeiser finally beat Monsanto in his long battle regarding licensing of his crop.

Still the fundamental issues around genetic engineering and patenting lifeforms for fun and profit remain unchallenged.

I've always wondered what happened to the termination seed patent that Monsanto tried to buy back in 1998.

I'm afraid to find out.


On the plane ride home I almost finished re-reading John Brunner's classic book of ecological and social disaster, The sheep look up. I couldn't finish. It was too depressing. I looked out the window, into darkness, instead, thinking about the irony of PETA pursuing an Xprize for artificial meat.


China is selling cheap cars by the freighterload into South America, selling crappy hardware to people glad to get anything, to a people that hasn't ever heard of "Unsafe at any speed", nor capable of reading it, without translation.

I'd put "The sheep look up" down, just after the part where a defective microwave fried Josie's baby in her womb, after most of the other good characters had died.

As much as I try to close my ears and my eyes and yell neener neener neener neener, like a rat conditioned to get electric shocks and food pellets, I keep hitting reload on the prolefeed, hoping for a different result.

    Opening the door to the visiting doctor, all set to apologize for the flour on her hands - she had been baking - Mrs Byrne sniffed. Smoke! And if she could smell it with her heavy head cold, it must be a tremendous fire! "We ought to call the brigade!", she exclaimed. "Is it a hayrick?".

    "The brigade would have a long way to go," the doctor told her curtly. "It's from America. The wind's blowing that way."

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  Back in Nicaragua, haunted by jellyfish

Surf's up! Jellyfish are out!

I haven't felt like posting much. Jellyfish can STING. Maybe I shouldn't have featured them in a song as foodstuff. They are striking back!

Everything is the same, only different, in Nicaragua. The power flickers off 5-6 times a day, but somehow the government is now avoiding rolling outages, even with oil at 117/barrel. I guess that relationship with Chavez is paying off. The local cable co has rolled out internet on a pay per month basis, no yearly contracts, which I may pursue. My (shared) DSL service's router is not pingable from the outside, so my ipv6 tunnel doesn't work. Ah, progress.

Over the past year, lobster has gone up in price from 200 cordoba to 255, and a slice of pizza rose from 18 to 22. People are telling me that the price of wheat is slated to double again over the course of this year. The exchange rate between the Cordoba and the dollar is still around 18.9 to 1. My rent's still the same. Haven't checked on electric. Conclusion: I can survive for a year on just the cash I have on hand.

I'm doing my best to ignore today's election in Pennsylvania. I didn't understand all the hoorah about Obama being "elitist", when I heard what he said, what I heard was a fragment of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero":Which rings true to me, far more true than the chattering of the military-media complex,
but maybe it's playing well in Pennsylvania.

The recent wave of bank bailouts have been so huge and so numerous that the media has run dry of their sex scandal reserve. Now, that's a problem! Forget oil, wheat, bank losses, and corporate fascism - There hasn't been an Spitzer-level T&A distraction in ages!

Oh, well, I'm going to focus on what's important.



I have enough projects to keep me busy for the rest of the year:

IPv6 - on platforms as diverse as the olpc and telephony project
Tranzport and Alphatrack Drivers for Ardour
Generic Query router to prove out
Songs to finish
Weight to lose
Low power "router of the future" to build
FPGA stuff to figure out
Spanish to learn
Book to write
a best practices document to write, maybe even a rfc

This isn't 9 months worth of work, it is years worth... and absolutely none of it has anything to do with America's troubles, unless my bank vanishes in a puff of smoke. It is silly and painful for me to pay the slightest bit of attention.

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Callahans
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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