Let’s Introduce Ourselves

I know that many of you “know” each other from your various on-line participation. But I don’t know most of you and I’ll bet there are others like me out there who want to participate, but don’t feel comfortable yet because they feel like outsiders. So, I’d like to introduce myself a bit and then ask you to do the same in the comments. You can decide what you want others to know about you and what needs to stay private.

My signature says one thing about me. Yes, I live in St. Paul, MN and I still miss Paul and Sheila Wellstone.

I was raised mostly in the south in a family that thought southern baptists were backsliders. My father was an original card-carrying member of the so-called moral majority. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I totally healed from all that, and the politics was the first thing to go. The spiritual part took a bit longer to heal.

For the last 30 years I have worked in various capacities with troubled young people and their families. That is my passion. Right now I am the executive director of a small non-profit who’s mission is “To work with families and the community to re-direct youth who are starting to get in trouble at home, at school or with the law.” Politically, this ties in with a couple of my major concerns: our crumbling urban areas and racism.

So, that’s a bit about me. I’d like to meet you. Say as much or as little as you like. Its really not that hard – so jump right in the water’s fine and the ponies are sure to show up.

Peer to Peer Networks

follow from MLW
I talk a lot about peer to peer politics and when I do I am referring to a very deep cultural framework, that is, the framework of an extended sub-culture which helped fire the net to life. The culture does not have a single name but it is one I consider the kernel of the net, it is the original source of the online culture as we know it, the origin of many of its traditions and standards (netiquette? obviously mostly forgotten). The sentiments of this culture explain many of the mysteries of the net. It is part cryptoanarchis, part geeks that matter, and part realization… the realization that distributed networks are needed in place of traditional centralized ones.

Whenever people gather throughout history, you have had human networks, the internet only speeds that up and gives us a venue, virtual community, with which to experiment.

It is my history in this culture which is the source of my fascination with virtual cultures as well as with wherever the edge of the peer to peer fire has rearranged the landscape. This phenomenon of peer to peer networks has struck, stunned, and subtly reformed many public debates. These debates are allowed to extend beyond the experts, many of whom were charlatans in industries whose internal debate needed the reform. When peer to peer networks take on a subject, more than anything else they shine a light on the proceedings.

Hobby by hobby this phenomenon spread, starting with things of interest to early adopters, things like Monty Python, Star Trek, and News for Nerds. It has progressed through a list of hobbies for shut-ins and want to be shut-ins (no offense intended) and subsequently through to politics, politics as a hobby.

For me, if not for you, parts of this basic kernel of a net cultural ethos includes ideas such as “information wants to be free”, and that is “free as in speech, not as in beer”. My attitude toward free speech on the net is not borrowed from real world free speech, in which we demand it in “public” from our “government”, instead it is borrowed from the ideas among this large subculture of private citizens. For example old time, pre-internet era, private computer “bulletin board system” operators used their own machines and own phone bills to provide entirely unfettered use of their systems for this networked, peer to peer, public debate. These private people linked their BBSes (e.g. in FidoNet), prior to the internet, creating a national network carrying messages of any sort cross country. There was no demanding free speech, there was believing in it.

Of course the flaming, trolling and moderation issues with which you are all familiar did appear early. That’s another story, but suffice it to say as early aggregators of these experiences, they gifted us the concept of “troll”, though it has morphed from a fishing metaphor into a billygoat nightmare, and “flame war”.

Chaos on the net is not really chaos, the lamented universal truth of signal to noise entropy does not directly apply… on the net the noise is signal. Every piece of noise on the net has a human being behind it, an actual human being. Nazis can fantasize about a utopia built by eliminating some of this noise (aka “people”), but progressive cannot. We are stuck integrating it.

That person may be hurting, and you may be seeing their pain, and it can be ugly to see… I am not advocating personal sympathy with them so much as a general realization, each on is a peer. You are a peer. We are equals, though thankfully not identical.

In the old days there was a lot of “master”-“slave” language in computer science. Now that’s faded and it’s not just because the terms themselves are offensive but because the DESIGN they name was offensive. The master-slave design is, in short, centralism, and it has a fatal flaw, a flaw offensive to all that believe in the kernel of the net (“information wants to be free”).  The flaw is that it http://acrossaday.com/?search=levitra-generic-online doesn’t scale.

ACK!  RUN FOR THE HILLS IT WON”T SCALE.  When you face network affects, er, effects, you better damn well scale my brother. Centralism doesn’t scale and the net knows this. (My subculture anthropomorphizes the net and information at will, without restriction… because for us the net lives).

The net is designed on the principle that centralism doesn’t always fail, but it always suxors.

Distribution is the way to go.  Distributed everything, distributed messaging centers, distributed doritos, distributed information, but… but especially power. Power must be distributed. Distributocracy. The actual distribution of power to actual people… that is the goal, and what an amazing concept. It is amazing to think of, it is amazing to think it’s confusing, confounding, or defies sensibility.

If only something like that were really possible.

I believe information wants to be free.

Breaking: Giuliani Campaign Consults Kama Sutra in Effort to Craft New Position on Iraq

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Having been cornered on several recent occasions to clarify his position on the war in Iraq – beyond “I was there on 9/11” and “we should kill bad guys” – the Giuliani campaign has chosen to take a novel approach.

(continued below)

Describing their method as the kind of “out-of-the-box” exercise Giuliani mastered as a consultant, his staff recently conducted an offsite session wherein they consulted the famous Sanskrit tome “the Kama Sutra” for “metaphoric insights” on how Giuliani might better explain his Iraq position.

Despite the novelty, and private-sector flair, however, an anonymous campaign staffer described the effort as somewhat frustrating.  Apparently, other campaigns had “clearly beaten them to the punch,” metaphorically.

Continued the staffer, “McCain had clearly taken all the oral sex positions – generally juxtaposing himself vis George W. Bush as the decider / disseminator in chief – and his campaign is already regularly rotating among the variants.”

“Romney had already staked out all the multiple-partner turf, as well as the anal turf – in this case juxtaposing himself with the troops.”  The staffer noted with a giggle that the latter was presumably the underlying basis of Senator Craig’s support for the Romney campaign.

“Given the Republican context, Ron Paul’s position clearly already draws on the material on ‘solo’ stimulation.”  (Other campaigns contacted for comment agreed with this assessment, and predicted somewhat cryptically that Paul would almost certainly be “blind” before the first primary vote is cast.)

“And Thompson is apparently drawing heavily on the parts about arousing weakened sexual powers.  This is really too bad, as these chapters really, really spoke to Rudy.”

With all of those other parts claimed by others, Mr. Giuliani apparently kept getting drawn to the chapters on courtesans.  “However,” noted the staffer, “we figured that this might be kind of dangerous turf for him — and I’m not even talking about [Giuliani supporter and U.S.Senator] David Vitter.”

“At the end of the exercise, we ultimately decided to focus in on one of our current core positions on Iraq – i.e., the Rudy was there on 9/11 position – for as long as possible, until grilling by reporters makes it untenable.

“We estimate that can’t happen until at least January 2009.”


Song for 9.17.2007

So, for today, I thought I’d share a song which is one of my all-time favorites, from one of the great lost bands of the 1990s – Carissa’s Wierd.

For those of you who don’t know, Carissa’s Wierd (misspelling intentional) was a fantastic group from whose ashes the currently popular (but far inferior) Band of Horses emerged.  This is one of their best songs ever, “Die”.

I wake up, it’s all gone
(your characteristic seemed alright)
I wish I had stayed at home
(you’re so disappointed every time)
At home here, I need you to tell me all the wrong I’ve done
I wish you’d believe me, I’m alright in my life
(the backyard is empty when you’re gone)
I see you way out there
You’re standing on a lonely road
(Suppose that I said that I had lied just when you said that you were)
Die right now
I want to die right now
She wakes up and then leaves
(Your characteristic staircase smile)
He’s coming; and not naive
Remember who your friends are
(You’re so disappointed when you try)
But don’t forget the ones you love
Promise I’ll make it in that hip-hop video
(the bad words are endless when you call)
I see you way out there
You’re standing on a lonely road
(suppose I had said that I had lied, just when you said that you were)
Die right now
I never asked to be here

You can listen to or download an mp3 of “Die” at the exceptional music blog Teaching the indie kids to dance again.

Why Things Are Like They Are. Vol. 1


Information filters.

One of my central thoughts about the world we live in.

It is beyond actual comprehension.

Certainly comprehension by any one person. And VERY certainly beyond the comprehension of George Bush! This means that in spite of all the posturing that The Powers That Be do in pretending to be on top of things and in charge and competent is just that….pretense.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The main example that comes to mind is from what I have read of Sybil Edmunds and the whole translating situation with the FBI. From what I recall they had huge back logs of intercepts that had not been translated. That means that no matter how fast they got information, how soon they received anything that needed action….no action could be taken. Having a great system to collect information does you no good….unless you can understand that information and act on it.

This extends to a great many other areas as well I am sure, in different forms. What it means is that the PTB are dependent on information filters. And so, between bad tech, bureaucracy and politicization ……in reality they have no real idea of what is going on. Then we can add in even more factors. They are stupid. They don’t want to hear bad news…or any news that disagrees with their view of the world. Their underlings know this and consciously or not, feed them only the info they are comfortable hearing. And of course ALL humans have their own information filters and organizers in their heads. It is like a big game of Telephone.

What is my point?

They don’t know shit.

Their reality IS different from ours, because the information that shapes it is different. We all think Dick Cheney is insane. But based on the info he gets, he thinks he is a genius.

This applies to the results of their actions as well. The info they get is all best case scenario and rationalization. This is apparent from their reactions to news from Iraq. “We are kicking ass.”

Yes, Bush probably really DOES believe that that is true! Because that is what he is being told through all of his info filters.

They really only know what they are told. And what they are told is told to them by people whose job depends on telling them what they want to hear. And who are told what THEY know by people whose job depends on it….etc.

The famous quote about creating their own reality has indeed partially come true. They are living in their own reality, but the rest of the world has declined to join them.

And the chaos that has resulted from their nearly complete misperception and misunderstanding of the world is one of the reasons that…Things Are Like They Are.

Pony Party: Pickle Monday Part II

Hi again! side effects from accutane Light Emitting Pickle here to bring you the most recent open thread. First, a few words about Pickle Pony Parties:

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m looking for inspiration for what to post next week in my contribution to the Pony Party threads. Because, in the unlikely event that it is not painfully, excruciatingly obvious, this isn’t much of a diary. So, check out the poll and feel free to give other ideas in the comments!

[poll id=”



Four at Four

This is an enter OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started. Every vibration awakens all others of a particular pitch.

  1. The Washington Post reports on a shootout in Baghdad. “A U.S. State Department motorcade came under attack in Baghdad on Sunday, prompting security contractors guarding the convoy to open fire in the streets. At least nine civilians were killed, according to Iraqi officials. ¶ The shootout occurred in the downtown neighborhood of Mansour at midday after an explosion detonated near the convoy, police said. In response, the security contractors ‘ http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=comprare-vardenafil-Bologna escalated the force to defend themselves,’ a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said. ¶ Iraqi officials alleged that the response by the security company, which was not named, how to get propecia without prescription involved excessive force and killed innocent civilians. The Iraqi government will investigate the incident and ‘probably will withdraw the authority for this security company in Baghdad,’ said Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman.”

    “The security company contractors opened fire randomly on the civilians,” he said. “We consider this act a crime.”

    BBC News puts a name on the private security company: Blackwater USA. “Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.

    The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq. ¶ The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday… ¶ The interior ministry’s director of operations, Maj Gen Abdul Karim Khalaf, said authorities would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force. TPM Muckracker speculates if Blackwater USA will actually leave Iraq? “However, it’s unclear how the Interior Ministry would expel Blackwater. Unlike other private U.S. security firms in Iraq, as of May, Blackwater hadn’t registered with the Iraqi government to operate in Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority — the now-defunct occupational government — issued a decree in 2004 (pdf) immunizing security contractors from Iraqi prosecution and placing their operations under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.”

  2. The New York Times reports on George W. Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. “‘Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces,’ Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden of the White House, with Mr. Mukasey by his side. He called the retired judge ‘a sound manager and a strong leader.'” Hopefully Mukasey recognizes both foreign source site and domestic threats to the United States, but I doubt it.

    Guiliani and MukaseyFrom January 2, 1998 — “The Mayor, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, took a 59-word oath administered by his longtime friend U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who presided over the bomb conspiracy trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others convicted in the case. Giuliani’s wife, Donna Hanover, and their two children, Andrew and Carolyn, stood at his side.” — BBC News.

    Earlier the Washington Posts noted that Mukasey is conncted to Giuliani’s presidential campaign. “Both Mukasey and his son, Marc, are connected with Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign, as members of the Republican candidate’s justice advisory committee”, but the paper expunged reference of it in this morning’s rewrite. However, ABC News confirms this and adds “The two are longtime friends and Mukasey’s son Marc works at Bracewell & Giuliani.” Why any Democrat would let anyone connected to a Republican’s presidential campaign anywhere near to the Justice “Election Fraud” Department is beyond me? But, according to the NY Times, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “Judge Mukasey seems to be the kind of nominee who would put rule of law first and show independence from the White House, our most important criteria… He’s a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee.” The White House strategy has always been to offer horrible candidates first, so the second choice always seems better. After six plus years of this game, you’d think the Democrats would have finally gotten a clue by now. The day Mukasey gets confirmed, I’m thinking about calling the 2008 presidential election for Giuliani.

  3. The Star Tribune reports the mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota is ’embarrassed’ by bridge impasse. “Headed to a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this weekend to talk about the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he found himself filled with dread and embarrassment. ¶ ‘I’m going to have to walk in there and tell them that our state is go to site doing nothing’ on bridge repair, he said. ‘Other states are taking this seriously, but our state, where people died, is doing nothing.'” “So why couldn’t Pawlenty and DFL leaders make it happen? Taxes, as has so often been the case, proved a major stumbling block. Even though [Republican Governor Tim] Pawlenty said he would consider a nickel-a-gallon increase, he wanted an offsetting cut in income taxes. That would have provided money for roads and bridges, but would have reduced funds for health care and schools — unacceptable to DFLers.” Oh, Grover “drown it in the bathtub” Norquist is involved too. † DFL or Democratic-Farmer-Labor is the name of Minnesota’s Democratic Party. (Hat tip to count.)

  4. Lastly, The Guardian reports that the British government has been told that investment in cycling could save Britain more than £520 million. “Encouraging more cyclists on to Britain’s roads could save the taxpayer more than £520m and fight climate change, according to a government-backed cycling group. ¶ Cycling England says a 20% increase in bicycle journeys would lower healthcare costs and reduce congestion. It adds that by making a £70m annual investment in cycling initiatives the government could cut up to 54m car journeys a year by 2012 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35,000 tonnes. ¶ The report says that an adult who swaps a car for a bicycle on a return journey of 2.5 miles – the average cycle trip – will generate annual savings of £137.28 through reduced congestion. A regular cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 a year.”

So, what else is happening?

How voters decide: A book review with lessons for campaigns

cross posted from Daily Kos

This diary is based on my reading of the book How Voters Decide:Information Processing during Election Campaigns by Richard R. Lau and David P. Redlawsk.  But it’s not a traditional review: I will get that part out of the way quickly.  Nor is it a summary: My skills are not up to summarizing 250 pages of fairly dense text into a diary that anyone would want to read.

Rather, I attempt to take the lessons they teach about how voters decide and how they process information and translate them from scholarly political science into practical tools. 

In an attempt to keep the diary to a reasonable length, I have not tried to make it too organized, but kept it almost as a list of what might be extra-long bullet points.  I hope it is, nonetheless, comprehensible.

It’s below the fold

First, a brief review.  If you are a political scientist interested in voting theory, you should read this book.  But such people likely already *have* read the book.  More generally, the book is aimed at political scientists, but interested and persistent lay-people will also find much of interest.  It’s a very good book.

There are a few caveats: The prose will not remind anyone of Mark Twain.  This is a political science text, and it reads like one.  The English is grammatical, but it takes some work getting through it.  The graphics are poorly done: Occasionally they are misleading, more often, they are simply not well thought out and do not convey information as clearly as they might.

With those caveats, I can enthusiastically recommend this book to audiences that would appreciate it.  The authors note that traditional models of voting are static, and concentrate on trying to predict who will vote for which type of candidate.  They take attributes of people and attempt to use those attributes to predict position on some political spectrum. 

Lau and Redlawsk do not denigrate such efforts, but they are after something else: Not *what* decision voters will make, but *how* they make those decisions.  How do people get information about candidates and use that information to make a decision.  Tellingly, their analysis does not, mostly, involve any real elections.  They are not trying to explain why people voted for (say) Gore or Bush, but how people take information and use it to make decisions.  To get at this, they invented a new and ingenious methodology, in which information about candidates scrolls on a screen, and people have to pick which information to access.  Given that, in real life, almost no one can learn everything about all the candidates (especially in primaries) this method seems to be a realistic portrayal of campaigns. 

A second major innovation is the authors’ definition of ‘correct voting’.  Rather than impose their own ideological views on voters, they define a ‘correct’ vote as the one a voter would make if he or she had access to all the information, and virtually unlimited time to make the decision. 

How can the findings of this book be used by campaigners?

Lau and Redlawsk define four basic methods of making a voting decision:
1.  *Rational Choice* involves a cold, calculating look at the positions of each candidate, how well they match up with the voter’s own views, what the likely outcomes of electing the person would be, and so on.  Rational choice demands a lot of effort, and, often, rational choice voters evaluate candidates based on their own self-interest.

2.  *Early socialization* voters have made a choice about voting earlier in their lives, and nearly always stick to that decision.  In the general election, these voters will almost always vote for the same party, often without much consideration, and their partisanship often colors any attempt at objective evaluation of the candidates.

3.  *Fast and frugal* voters are a generalization of ‘single-issue’ voters.  These people vote on one or a few issues, with no interest in the candidates’ positions on other issues.

4. *Bounded rationality* voters gather a very few bits of information about each candidate, and then use that information to confirm views about the candidates in each party.

From a campaigner’s point of view, we must immediately separate primaries from general elections.  I’ll discuss general elections first.

People in two of these four groups are almost unreachable in general elections.  People in group 2 have made up their minds years ago, and people in group 4 are after a few bits of information.  To get a person in group 2 to change party is nearly impossible; to get a person in group 4 to do so, we must present information showing either that our candidate is not a typical Democrat or that the Republican candidate is not a typical Republican.  Alternatively, we can engage in a longer-term effort to show Republicans in Group 4 that their views of the two parties are incorrect (e.g., a person who views the Republican party as fiscally responsible may be susceptible to data showing that the largest deficits have been in Republican administrations). 

In both the primary and general election, people in group 3 are after information about a few issues.  The problem, then, is telling which people in group 3 may be view our candidate’s positions favorably, or the opponent’s views unfavorably.  Fortunately, many single issue or few-issue voters may belong to organizations associated with those views.  Clearly, people who vote on one or a few issues feel strongly about those issues, and these strong feelings are unlikely to surface only at election time.  We can identify these people by memberships in organizations.

We can then turn to people in group 1.  These people have a tremendous amount of information to process, and, like all people, they have limited means with which to do so. Not only are we all limited in terms of how much time we can devote to finding out candidate’s positions, we have limited ability to hold those positions in both short and long-term memory.  Even in the general election, when there are usually only two serious candidates, each may take a position on 50 issues, and each position may be complex.  Perhaps a position takes one page of text to adequately express.  We then have 100 pages of text to evaluate. This is very hard.  How do we do it?  We rely on transferring information from short term memory to long term memory.  We also rely on a number of heuristics.  More about these later.

Given these four types of decision strategy, it is critical for campaigners to identify who employs which type of strategy. One method for doing so has already been touched on: We can find group 3 people by membership in organizations.  It may also be possible to find group 1 people this way: We Kossacks, for example, are likely to be highly partisan, but we are also members of group 1.  We are very interested in politics.  (As an aside: People in group 1 can be, and often are, highly partisan.  They differ from people in group 2 in that they, nevertheless, gather a lot of information).  I cannot see ways to easily identify people in group 2 or group 4.

People with different characteristics have different preferences as to *amount* of information to process.  In particular, more educated, more politically sophisticated, and younger people prefer and process more information than those who are less educated, less sophisticated, and older.  This could play a role in pitching our message to different audiences.  In addition, different campaigns lead to different decision strategies.  When there are more candidates in the race, and when they are less ideologically distinct, people are able to process less information about them.  This is important to keep in mind when planning primary vs. general election campaigns. 

Evaluation of candidates is based on two general types of information processing: On-line and memory-based.  On-line refers to a sort of running tally of good points vs. bad points about a candidate, without remembering exactly what those good and bad points were.  Memory based refers to actually remembering things about the candidates.  People in groups 1 and 2 rely on memory, while those in groups 3 and 4 can rely on on-line processes.  But both are very important, even when the other is controlled for.  And both are more important in primaries than in general elections, when political party is the most important factor.

As noted above, political heuristics are often used to simplify the process of making a choice. A heuristic is a sort of cognitive shortcut, or a rule of thumb.  The general study of heuristics was pioneered by Kahnemann and Tversky.  In elections, Lau and Redlawsk consider several types of heuristic: Group endorsements, partisan schemata, person stereotypes, and candidate viability.  Group endorsements refers to the ratings made by various groups (e.g. the ACLU) of the various people.  Partisan schemata is the use of stereotypical images of the Democratic and Republican party (and also of minor parties), person stereotypes are those based on image of the candidates as people (e.g. ‘he seems likable’) and viability is a judgment of whether the person ‘could win’.  Everyone, the authors found, uses these heuristics to lesser or greater degree, and heuristic use is not strongly related to voter characteristics or to campaign characteristics.

In summary, this book provides a lot of information that will be of use to people who run campaigns, if they are willing to dig a little.

The fascist tendencies of DHS

I saw a diary over at Dkos that highlights the ordeals of Nalini Ghuman, a Welsh musician and musicologist whose nigthmare experience with the Department of Homeland Security has been detailed in the New York Times this morning in this article

Ms. Ghuman, a Welsh citizen, had done her PhD studies at UC Berkely and was working at Mills College in the Bay on a visa, but was detained last August at the airport in San Francisco upon returning from a brief visit from Britain. I’ll provide some snips below.

This story reeks of fascism and we cannot allow this shit to stand. We must fight the government and the DHS for this behavior.

Ms. Ghuman said that officers tore up her H-1B visa, which was valid through May 2008, defaced her British passport, and seemed suspicious of everything from her music cassettes to the fact that she had listed Welsh as a language she speaks. A redacted government report about the episode obtained by her lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act erroneously described her as ‘Hispanic.’

Held incommunicado in a room in the airport, she was groped during a body search, she said, and was warned that if she moved, she would be considered to be attacking her armed female searcher. After questioning her for hours, the officers told her that she had been ruled inadmissible, she said, and threatened to transfer her to a detention center in Santa Clara, Calif., unless she left on a flight to London that night.

She was not allowed to contact the British Consulate. She was not given any reason for her detention.

‘They told me I was nobody, I was nowhere and I had no rights,’ she said. ‘For the first time, I understood what the deprivation of liberty means.’

As Ms. Ghuman tells it, the officers said they did not know why she was being excluded. They suggested that perhaps a jilted lover or envious colleague might have written a poison pen letter about her to immigration authorities, she said, or that Mills College might have terminated her employment without telling her. The notions are unfounded, she said.

One officer eventually told her that her exclusion was probably a mistake, and advised her to reapply for a visa in London after a 10-day wait. But it took more than eight weeks for her file to be transferred to the United States Embassy in London, in part because of routine anthrax screening at the State Department.

Now, over a year later, the ‘mistake’ has still not been resolved. There is more information about Ms. Ghuman’s case at the website of the American Musicology Society. There are guidelines there for writing letters of support if interested.

The jackboots, y’all… the jackboots.

Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
~Franz Kafka

European Union Court rules against Microsoft

According to Reuters today, as reported on France 24, The European Commission ruling that Microsoft used its market power to crush competitors was upheld.

The EU’s second highest court dismissed all the substantive issues of MS’s appeal of the 2004 ruling that went against Microsoft.  Procedurally, at this point Microsoft may only further appeal on points of law rather than of fact according to the story provided.  Microsoft was ruled to have harmed consumers rights to choice by unjustifiably tying new applications to its software.

The ruling was the first ever broadcast live by the 13 Judge, Grand Chamber of the Court of First Instance, located in Luxembourg.

Microsoft has not demonstrated the existence of objective
justification for the bundling, and … the remedy imposed by
the Commission is proportionate,” the court statement said.

More Below

This is a victory against one of the largest corporations in the world, and it is a victory for the idea that free software providers can compete against the giants who dominate the industry-if the power of the government is allowed to prevent the exercise of monompoly practices.  Free Software Foundation, a maker of free, and open software, is considered to be one of the big winners in the ruling according to the Reuters story, and Microsofts General Counsel has promised to obey the law.  But really the winner here is more than just a particular company, or a particular set of code writers and users, this is a case where at least a battle in the war to free the internets has been successfully contested.

I’m not a software writer, and no kind of an expert on the tubes in general, but it seems to me that the fight about what constitutes fair practices is one of the great issues of the rise of the internet, along with what should be allowed under copyright rules that are struggling to keep pace with technology, and licensing regulations that are being gamed by the corporations.

Microsoft shares traded in Frankfurt were down 2 percent at
20.40 euros at 1021 GMT, underperforming the European technology
index which was down 0.4 percent. About 15,000 shares had
changed hands, roughly the 30-day average daily trading volume.

My guess is that there will be many corporations that lose some of their value if they are forced to do business by rules, and while it may hurt shareholders, it should greatly benefit the general population.  Hopefully we will get some residual good from the European decision.


So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

Wesley Clark in an interview with Amy Goodman

From before the stolen election of 2000 and the preposterous judicial fiat that made the crime of the new century legal, peace was always the enemy and war the motive force.

Then, after 911, although more elections were stolen, it wasn’t really necessary as bribe-addicted, power-hungry, beady-eyed politicians of the “two-party system” made Stalin proud and morphed the illusion of choice into the reality of one-party rule – the War Party.

And now there is nothing to do but sit back in horror and watch events unfold. There is no stopping them because there is no opposition outside of the powerless. Peace marches and sit-ins and disrupting committee meetings are all quaintly noble, and prove our freedom, but in the end, the “peace movement” is just more sound and fury signifying nothing. Not that hearts and minds aren’t in the right place, but that hearts and minds are nothing but pulp to the warmongers, possessed as they are of bloodlust, vainglory and worship of man’s inhumanity to man.

War is bloodsport to the powerful and the death of millions of innocents is success, progress and the solution, the final solution to gain “full spectrum dominance” which, of course, leads to peace and prosperity.

Most can’t be bothered about peace because only the deranged few, like myself, don’t believe, as Bush and the poodle-parrots of the One Party, One Media, One Nation Under the Almighty Dollar bleat; it’s a dangerous world.

It’s not a dangerous world, but it is a dangerous time as the crazies in the basement, in control of the asylum, flex their wet-dreams of sadistic power over life and death.

George W. Bush once said famously that Jesus was his favorite philosopher. That was before the coup d’etat and the false flag attack and the orgy of death and destruction the bloodsuckers gorged themselves upon in the name of “self-defense.”

Of course, it’s not self-defense when you are the aggressor. “Terrorism” if it’s real is actually the self-defense of those whom we colonize, as empires do. Our “self-defense” is actually the justification we use to annihilate those human beings opposed to their subjugation at our hands.

Some of us have been wrong about the timing of events, but not the course of events. Some of us have been wrong about the tactical process, but not about the strategy of the destructionists. Indeed, the strategy of the Christo-fascist-neocon-zionist-zombie brigade has been out there for all the world to see for years and years. I suppose it’s like their belief the Iraqis would greet the invaders as liberators and put flowers in rifle barrels and spread their legs for us dreamy Americans whose capital is Tinsel Town and whose motto is ‘can’t we all get along?’

The neocons, and collateral bloodlines, simply think the truth of their philosophy is self-evident – so there is no need to hide their light under a bushel. Benevolent dictatorship is required in a “dangerous world” where our Pax-Americana footprint steps upon peoples all over the planet, robbing them of resources, rights and dignity. “They” (if you believe the official story) never came here, until we were over there for decades and decades of rape, pillage and oppression – direct or by proxy.

Hitler could dance a jig and loved dogs. Mussolini loved his mother. And Stalin loved kids and going to the movies.

George W. Bush is just a regular guy, like you and me. Gosh dang don’t you know.

The villain always has a reason for his crimes.

The countdown to nuclear war is underway. It is the final act of the insane. There is nothing to be done. We’re all “good Germans” now.

George Bush has lost every war he has started and he will lose the next one. “By their fruits you shall know them”, said a wise one. Rancid, rotten and infested with lies is the fruit of the enemy of the people. Yet it seems the people are drunk with the nectar of this fruit. In America it is business as usual, life goes on and it goes without saying, “we’re the good guys.”

And that’s why, I think, most Americans are stupefied. Our identity, engraved with images of revolutionary heroes fighting for the aspirations of humanity, doesn’t track with current facts on the ground. So we are paralyzed, unable to believe our own eyes. We’re America, we’re the good guys. We’re not like those bad guys. We’re America.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

My prayer is for a miracle, though I don’t expect one. There is no military solution in Iraq and there is no political solution in America. It’s all a charade. A show. Bread and circuses.

But, this is America and Tinsel Town is our capital.

Free Advice! Come Get Your Free Blogging Advice!

Yes, more meta. I love hate meta too, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

You folks (the head honchos hereabouts) have done a good job so far in setting the stage at this blog. I have a good feeling about this place. I note with amusement that old arguments appear to have been hyper-accelerated and in relatively no time and you are facing many of the same issues that have plagued dKos, Booman, MLW and others over the years. All in the first month. Must be some kinda record.

As someone who has observed the irony of average Joe bloggers complaining about how things are handled and then making the EXACT SAME decisions themselves when they become blog proprietors, I would like to offer three pieces of advice to the powers that be and one piece of advice for the rest of us.

And it’s all for free! Why? Because I love hearing the sound of my own voice you guys.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=accutane-generic-versions Free Advice the First – Banning is Way Out:

Avoid hitting that ‘ban forever’ button wherever possible. It will bite you in the ass. It may feel like the right decision at the time, but from what I’ve seen, it rarely is. I think you guys know this, but I read this morning about three banning so far. Not sure how true it is but regardless of the veracity – Don’t Ban. I say this as a former banning proponent who has seen the error of his ways.

come comprare vardenafil online con garanzia Free Advice the Second – Ignore Your Friends and Your Enemies:

You will get tons of free advice (heh) from those who do / don’t have your best interests in mind. Ignore it all. Follow your heart and your head. As an example, you have made a decision to have Armando as a key member of this group. Of course this decision will generate a ton of emotion over the life of this blog. You will doubtless hear from many who want to you ‘teach him how to behave’ or ‘institute civility rules’ or even ‘remove him from the front page’. Don’t do it. You’ve done a good job so far in keeping away from the civility police, keep it up and you’ll be fine.

But one day you’ll be faced with a decision you haven’t had the luxury of thinking about ahead of time. And you’ll get plenty of free advice on how to handle it. Ignore it, seek your own council, and make the right decision. Do not under any circumstances allow others who blog here to make these decisions for you, either directly or indirectly though undue influence. If you do, it will doom your blog. Sounds dramatic I know, but I believe it to be true.

source site Free Advice the Third – Ignore the Attention Seekers:

This is a real tough one. To illustrate it, I’m going to use the example of your blog’s first GBCW diary from this morning. I won’t link, as I’m not trying to call anyone out. In this diary, the person stated this wasn’t the blog for them, there wasn’t enough talk about topic XYZ, and it’s not personal but it is time to move on. When encouraged in the comments, the diarist did make specific complaints about such-and-such an action regarding you-know-who, but really it wasn’t personal.

I call BS – in a nice non-personal way. Of course it’s personal. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with things being personal. But as blog proprietor(s), you will benefit the most in the long run if you ignore these personal pleas. I know it sounds callous, but engaging is exactly what the Attention Seeker wants. I know. I’ve done it myself.

Because once you engage, you begin the process of accommodation. And once you accommodate, you run the risk of getting into the problems discussed under Free Advice the Second. So don’t engage within the diary itself, but feel free to explain repeatedly what your goals and dreams are for the blog in your Front Page essays. Eventually, your message will get through.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=dove-acquistare-viagra-generico-200-mg-a-Bologna Free Advice for the Rest of Us – Stop Giving Free Advice:

I’ve seen this one play out over and over again. We all want to be friends with the folks we meet online. We all think we know what’s best for our friends. So we (in genuine and honest good faith of course) have tons of ideas of what’s really best for our friend the blog proprietor. So we shoot off an email or perhaps get on the blower to give some great free advice.

We need to put a collective cork in it.

One of the most discouraging things I learned about the whole Armando saga over at the Big Orange was how much influence peddling there was going on behind the scenes. It was a major turn off to this old High School Nerd, and reflected poorly on everyone involved.

So the only free advice you should give should be http://buy-generic-clomid.com/ the type you would happily share with the world. If you must preface your advice with ‘Don’t Tell Anyone I’m Saying This’, shaddup already.

Your friendly blog proprietor will thank you in the end.


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