March 30, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on Our Unfolding Financial Disaster:

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." From an 1802 letter to then Sec. of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, per Liberty-Tree.

March 29, 2008

Naomi Klein on the "Shock Doctrine"

Apologies for the repeat, but I think Klein's insights are of critical importance, and too few people are aware of them.

We've already seen "shock therapy" administered following the Iraq invasion and Katrina; next is the rapidly unfolding financial crisis in the U.S.

The crisis probably would not have happened if we hadn't previously allowed conservative forces to dismantle much of the regulatory protections put in place after the Great Depression, such as Glass-Steagall, S&L regulation, and adequate funding for bank regulators and the SEC.

Instead of restoring those protections, of course, the Bush administration is already using the financial crisis as an excuse for rolling out radical new changes; see, e.g., here and here.

Not worried enough yet to act? "As journalist Naomi Klein so succinctly put it, when the next administration takes over the White House, they’ll find it empty. Agencies that might have dealt with the blowback from two pre-emptive wars and the current economic crisis are no longer functional. . . . From the Gipper to BushCo, the dissolution of our social contract has transformed the United States from an imperfect union to a ruined [I'd say, looted] corporation. Its engineers will not relinquish the power – or the money – they have taken from us." (From OpEdNews.) And that's just the beginning of what Klein's pieced together.

If we don't understand her insights, we're sitting ducks. The video is just over 8 min. Please watch it and share it.

March 27, 2008

Milwaukee International Art Fair

"International"'s prolly meant humorously, but my li'l home town kinda is -- a great Mex community, and restaurants, decades before NYC; not to mention German, Polish, Czech, et al.

I understand the last fair was more about fun than commerce. This year's "Dark Fair" (opening March 28) will be held without natural or electric light, other than candlelight, flashlight, and glow-in-the-dark stuff -- maybe a little like snuggling up to someone else's computer at night. Some cool galleries will be there, including Dallas's own Angstrom.

March 26, 2008

Ok, I'm a sucker for the original "Star Trek";

plus, this bead-curtain Kirk by Devorah Sperber flatters my delusion that I see through men (to their fervent wish that they only were so shallow).

Google Services Conflict with Privacy Rights Outside the U.S.

Of course, thanks to the U.S. "Patriot Act," we in the U.S. have allowed many of our own privacy rights to be eliminated.

But other countries still care about theirs and are nixing companies' use of Google services based on the fact that Google's servers can legally be spied upon by the U.S. gummint. More here and here.

We should not assume the chickens are safe while the only check on the foxes is their need to strike a deal among themselves.

March 24, 2008

More than Half of the World's Largest Economies Are Corps., Not Countries

Based on a report for the Institute for Policy Studies, for example, General Motors, Wal-Mart, Exxon, and Ford are bigger than Poland, Saudi Arabia, Finland, or Venezuela.

Who needs allies; easier to deal with corps., which are often much less answerable to their supposed constituents.

Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War

" . . . disrupted an Easter Mass on Sunday, shouting and squirting fake blood on themselves and parishioners in a packed auditorium." Ok, they're not actually schoolgirls; that's just what the activists call themselves.

"Speaking after the service, [Cardinal] George said, 'We should all work for peace, but not by interrupting the worship of God.'" (More here.)

I was under the impression that actions such as working for peace actually are the worship of god (as opposed to, e.g., mere words unaccompanied by actions)? (Assuming the sermon interrupted did even actually address any of the great evils of our times?)

Guess Cardinal George's god isn't as evolved as mine? -- scary, 'cause I don't even have one.

One attendee complained about the possible effect on children present. I concur; but I'd like to know what he's done about the deaths of over a million Iraqis, likely including at least tens of thousands of Iraqi children.

March 23, 2008

Heart Fountain

By Billy Chasen. It'd've been even better at the 2004 RNC.

March 22, 2008

"Terminal Air" by Trevor Paglen and IAA

Just checked to see if one of my favorite projects is still online; if you haven't seen it, go here and click on the Flight Viewer; and if you have time, check out the other options, such as their "travel agency." Rather long loading times for some items, but worth the wait.

As you know, since the mid-90’s, the CIA has operated an "extraordinary rendition" program in which terrorist suspects captured in Western nations are transported to secret locations for torture and interrogation. The program is carried out largely using leased equipment and private contractors. These private charter planes often use civilian airports for refueling, making their movements visible to anyone who knows which tail numbers to look for. Activists have tracked many of these flights; but since the program has thus far remained beyond the reach of U.S. and international law, we're left to speculate whether any particular plane is currently carrying human cargo en route to being tortured in a CIA “dark prison."

Terminal Air
was developed through a partnership between Trevor Paglen and the Institute for Applied Autonomy, source of Graffitiwriter and other great projects.

March 21, 2008

Where We'd Be Without War

That's a lot of cute shoes, not to mention starving children.

March 20, 2008

Exposure to Apple Logo May Induce Greater Creativity

A recent study shows, “subliminal brand exposures can cause people to act in very specific ways,” said Gráinne Fitzsimons. . . . [Even] imperceptible exposure is enough to spark changes in behavior."

For better or worse.

"People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the [test object] compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges."

One of the more surreal things I've seen lately.

I actually found it somewhat painful; but that Lone Star flag . . . .

They Can't Do It All for All the Rest of Us.

"March Of The Dead" demonstration in Washington, D.C. on March 19, 2008.

March 19, 2008

Art Prostitution Ring

As we all know, Elliott Spitzer resigned under threat of impeachment based on his patronage of a call girl through the high-end prostitution ring, the "Emporers Club."

You may also have heard the ring had another, sister business aimed at the same well-heeled clients, purveying contemporary art by such artists as Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, David Salle, et al.; as of this writing, the website's still live. More details here.

Artist Plays U.S Military's Marketing Video Game

On March 20, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the date of the U.S.'s latest invasion of Iraq, Joseph DeLappe will enact his ongoing protest and memorial art work within the DoD's online military recruiting and marketing video game, America's Army. Using the login name "dead-in-Iraq," DeLappe will enter the multiplayer game as a player and, forgoing fighting, use the game's features to memorialize US troops killed in Iraq.

More at Eyebeam.

March 17, 2008

Biggest Ever Particle Collider May = Time Machine

Being built in Cern, Switzerland. (We almost got one in TX, but surprise! -- cancelled.)

Cern was also the birthplace of the Web.

I could be wrong, but I don't think this sh*t was/is funded by private enterprise.

Photos courtesy of and © by Cern. More pics and info here.

March 12, 2008

How to Help Save Your Democracy

Two ideas to consider.

First, donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, the foremost defender of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and one of the most important organizations currently working to make our government obey our law. You can do that here.

Second, propose the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a reading selection for your book club. Too few Americans seem to realize what we're losing and why it matters; we're like a forgetful old lady whose family jewels really are being filched, bit by bit, by servants.

March 11, 2008

Gilligan's Smiland

Actress Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, is serving six months' probation after allegedly being caught with marijuana in her car.

Looks like nothing's changed (I should be so lucky), except the pigtails have now also checked out.

Malgorzata Skrzetuska / Alexandra Urban

At Leto Gallery in Warsaw.

March 9, 2008

March 8, 2008

Re- McCain: I'm Not Sayin' this;

" . . . this has not been verified in any way, and I'm not reporting it as fact, without first conducting a full investigation . . . [but] it has also been said on at least one other prominent site that he eats transformers, and then poops them out of his butt as little robots. Can we afford to elect a President that poops transformer robots all over the white house? . . . . a prudent reader might wonder what else might be out there.

"You don't have to be left, you don't have to be right, to know that a 200 year old President that poops robots, and lives off of the blood of young blond lobbyists, is not a President that this country needs."

Slightly fuller report here. (Thanks, asdjrocky!)

Artists Surveille the Internet: The Listening Post

By Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen. "[T]he messages you see and hear flowing across the grid of 231 vacuum tube screens are derived from a continuous live feed from thousands of internet chatrooms."

Per the U.K.'s TimesOnline, after years of updates and a stint at the Whitney, the piece has now become part of the permanent collection at the Science Museum in London. More, including the Times' own video, at the link above.

All Air Passengers to Be Fingerprinted

According to the U.K.'s Telegraph, all international and domestic passengers leaving Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport will soon be subjected to mandatory fingerprinting. The biometric check is also scheduled to be introduced at other London terminals.

"Dr. Gus Hosein, of the London School of Economics, [said,] '[t]here is no other country in the world that requires passengers travelling on internal flights to be fingerprinted. BAA says the fingerprint data will be destroyed, but the records of who has travelled within the country will not be, and it will provide a rich source of data for the police and intelligence agencies.

"'I grew up in a society where you only fingerprinted people if you suspected them of being criminals. . . . There will also be a suspicion that this is the thin end of the wedge, that we are being softened up by making fingerprinting seem normal in the run-up to things like ID cards.'

"Simon Davies, of campaign group Privacy International, [said,] ' . . . the experience in the US has shown that the information can only be used retrospectively, not in real time, as it takes so long to match a fingerprint to the one held on the database. I think once again we are seeing the introduction of technology whose benefits are illusory.'"

Related post here ("Big Brother Has Biometric Data on You").

UPDATE: A British company called ThruVision has developed a camera that can see through clothing to reveal what's in or under people's pockets from 80 feet away. It's called the T5000, and detects different materials based on the different signatures of Terahertz waves, or "T-rays," they emit. More at Gizmodo.

March 7, 2008


The American Civil Liberties Union is the foremost defender of U.S. Constitutional rights and one of the most important organizations currently working to make the government obey the law.

If you'd like your Constitution back, or just a law-abiding government, consider joining or donating -- you can do it here.

March 6, 2008

A Few Headlines:

"Whistle-Blower: Feds Have a High-Speed Backdoor Into Wireless Carrier. A U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier's systems, exposing customers' voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance, according to [Babak Pasdar,] a computer security consultant who says he worked for the carrier in late 2003. . . . [Pasdar's] claims are nearly identical to unsourced allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006 against four phone companies and the U.S. government for alleged privacy violations." More here. Oddly, the article fails to also note former AT&T technician Mark Klein's allegations, even though he testified before Congress and won an award for it -- see here and here.

"This Thursday, the House of Representatives is expected to hand phone companies a get-out-of-jail-free card for illegally turning over your private phone records to the government. . . . Tell your U.S. representative [NOW] that you oppose any effort to cover-up illegal spying on Americans." You can take action here, or find your rep's contact info here. More on the story here and in my previous posts; and don't miss this (AT&T could already owe each of YOU $146,000 -- that's how seriously a previous Congress took this kind of violation).

"Many [Diebold voting machines] are 'black box' electronic machines that do not produce paper records, so voters have to accept the results they report on faith. . . . Now, there’s a new reason to worry that Diebold plays such a large role in presidential elections. United Technologies has made an unsolicited $3 billion bid to take over Diebold. . . . United Technologies is one of the nation’s leading defense contractors, which means it has an enormous corporate interest in who gets elected President." More here.

"[T]he International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East." Others are encouraged to join in the strike. More here.

UPDATE: Per the Seattle Times, in a signing statement re- postal regulation legislation, Bush has now claimed the power to open your mail without a warrant. “'The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming,' said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington. . . . 'You have to be concerned,” a senior U.S. official agreed. “It takes executive-branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known.'” Via

March 5, 2008

"Simply Because You're Near Me . . . "

Ok, so I appreciate cats' potential.

(Thanks, snarky!)

March 4, 2008

Help Fight Telecom Immunity for Gross Violations of Your Fundamental Rights

Re-shaping reality is easier and more fun than you may have imagined.

Pls call all your congressional reps NOW and tell them they are NOT authorized to waive your Constitutional rights to be free from governmental searches without probable cause (see here or here for more details).

You can find your reps' contact info here (which link will, by the way, always be available on the sidebar of this blog at left).

Here's a script (don't forget to delete the superfluous quote marks; and feel free to customize):

"I object to any abrogation of the liability of the telecoms for their collaboration with the Bush administration in violating my Constitutional rights.

"As you know, the indiscriminate, warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens began BEFORE 9-11.

"As you also know, the U.S. Constitution is supposed to PROTECT me from searches and seizures not supported by an oath or affirmation "particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." The government is NOT allowed to go on fishing expeditions indiscriminately violating my privacy for purposes that may or may not be in my best interests.

"If telecoms are given immunity for these flagrant violations of my rights, there's no limit to what may be asked of them by this or future administrations. Moreover, immunity will make it more difficult to investigate and hold accountable those in the Bush administration responsible for this abuse.

"Please honor your oath of office by protecting my Constitutional rights against this and every other attempted incursion."

Cool Science Toy

Designed by Emil Ernerfeldt for supervisor Kenneth Bodin, HPC2N/VRlab, Umeå University, Sweden, to allow kids to create their own educational toys.

You can download the program for free here. (Sorry, it only works on PC's and Linux machines now, though a Mac version is in the works.) As a starter tip, turn gravity off when you’re attaching stuff to the background (right click after selecting “affix” tool).

(Thanks, Ben!)

March 3, 2008

Max Yasgur & Jimi Hendrix, 1969

The best in us keeps trying to come out. But since power (temptation) corrupts, the best often comes from the unpowerful.

[Update: the video originally posted below, which included both Yasgur's speech and Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner," has been removed; I've replaced it with the two videos below.]

March 2, 2008

Newsflash! Traditional News Media Losing Audience

. . . because they stopped reporting news.

Per Reuters, "[n]early 70 percent of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch, and nearly half are turning to the Internet to get their news, according to a new survey.

"While most people think journalism is important to the quality of life, 64 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities . . . "

Half-A**ed Attempt to Make up for Recent Shortage of Images

Both from the NASA image gallery. The second image is of Mercury, the planet closest to our Sun, named for the god of communication.

Love Me Some Barack

I'm sorry, but is this as funny as I think it is . . .

Love Me Some Barack
(To the tune of: Loves Me Like A Rock by Paul Simon)

When the OxyContin Kid
Plays the Obama/Osama game
I say that’s voodoo, voodoo for stupid people
But the time has passed for ploys
Charlatans and other liars
Obama this country, this country
You give the hope it needs, so help me
Oh I love me some Barack
I love me some Barack Obama, yeah love me

Then that silly child Ann
Went and attacked your middle name
I say that’s voodoo, voodoo for stupid people
I smell desperation’s plans
Exercises in futility
Obama this country, this country
You give the hope it needs, so help me
Oh I love me some Barack
I love me some Barack Obama, yeah love me

(It goes on; more here. SalmonChantedEvening, for babylonsister.)

Where "Trickle-Down" Works

I've seen no credible evidence that trickle-down tax policies ever benefitted anyone other than the rich. After all, it's human nature that those who have will tend to try to keep.

But "trickle-down" may in fact work, though in a whole 'nother context -- that of moral behavior.

Per the Inter Press Service, "U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 [2008] to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries.

* * *

"Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by 'a few bad apples,' as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of 'an increasingly bloody occupation.'

"'The problem . . . is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don't abide by the rule of law, we don't respect international treaties, so when that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity,' argues former U.S. Army Sergeant Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 . . . "

After all, it's human nature that if our bosses behave like criminals, we should infer that maybe that's how we need to behave.

March 1, 2008

Primary Voting 101 -- Pls Share This

It's easy, it's fun; here's what you need to know.

In Texas and some other states, we're having primary elections this Tues., March 4. This year for the first time in decades, the TX primary actually matters for Dems.

If you haven't decided who to vote for, or maybe even if you have, pls see my previous posts, esp. Litmus Test #1.

The drill varies depending on your location, but in TX, any registered voter can vote in the primary.

The following info is for Dallas County, TX. You can find your polling place (your place to vote) here (Dems) or here (Repubs). (Find your precinct number on your voter registration card.)

If you're not already registered, you can get a registration form from any U.S. Post Office, among other places. If you're not already registered, just go ahead and get that done now, even if it's too late for this primary. Like most things in life, better late than never.

If you're not sure whether you're registered or just want to confirm you haven't been kicked off the roles (legally or otherwise), go to (this site is maintained by an association of Secs. of various States, so I believe it should work for states other than TX). I wouldn't assume it's foolproof, but it's better than nothing. (Lately, provisional ballots have seemed to have a way of not being counted.) In Dallas County, you can also check here.

In TX, once you vote in one party's primary, your registration card will be stamped to show it, so you won't be able to vote in the other.

Different political parties in different locations have different rules re- primary voting. In the Dem primary in TX, there's a two-step process, and the second step allocates 1/3 - 1/4 (I've seen both numbers) of the delegates; so if you're avid for your candidate, go on and vote in the regular way, and then for the second step, go back to your polling place at 7:15 pm and sign in under your candidate's name. You don't need to stay for the rest of the proceedings unless you want to participate in the selection of the individual delegates to the national convention.

Litmus Test #2: Will You or Will You Not Re-Institute the Draft

We should demand that each candidate answer: Would you, under any conditions, re-institute the draft? If so, under what conditions? And what's your current best guess as to the soonest those conditions might materialize?

(We should also insist on the candidates' detailed positions on election reform and media reform, including real net neutrality.)

Litmus Test #1: Did You or Did You Not Authorize the Invasion of Iraq?

I used to think, ok, Bush lied to Congress as he lied to us all. But it's no longer plausible to me that any D.C. insider could have been so hoodwinked -- esp. not Clinton, with her years of "experience."

As I pointed out in a previous post, the point was NOT whether or not Hussein had WMD's (though it turned out he didn't). The critical issue was, was the threat that he'd use them against us not only so real but also so imminent that we could not even afford to give the U.N. inspectors a few more weeks to complete their work?

There was never any credible evidence that Hussein would have the capability or desire to attack the U.S. with WMD's any time soon.

I saw through the lies: how can I, why should I rely on anyone who, at closer range, failed to do so -- or who chose to hope they wouldn't be held accountable for a bad faith vote on such a crucial matter?

Obama was not my first choice. But Clinton, for whatever reason, got the Iraq war wrong, while Obama got it right. I can't get over that.