Sunday, November 28, 2010
When we have U.S. Senators cheering for removing media from the public eye, it's just a more subtle form of bad. When a former Presidential chief of staff advocates ignoring the Constitution and the Congress because both are inconvenient, that's a fairly indiscreet version of bad.
Our current administration is acting suspiciously like a petulant child, eager push and push...until they get a response. I suspect they are perilously close.
(Delayed post from 11/17/2010 - still seems timely)
Regrettably, this has been perverted over the years to a system of entitlement for production houses (publishers, recording & movie studio's, etc.) with an additional level of parasitical agents and attorneys practiced in the exotic ins and outs of licensing, profit-skimming, and IP law dwelling in a slime-filled chasm between the creator of the work, the producer, and ultimately the consumer of the work. Often, all of the middlemen between the creator and the consumer result in, IMHO, a fair number of starving creative sorts who - with greater and lesser degrees of culpability - are effectively deprived of any significant compensation for their works.
And then we have the Disney Mouse Protection Act(s) extending the term of copyright to between 70 and 120 years...which tends to promote producing one or two successes and then taking a comfy (or semi-comfy) retirement wallowing in royalties (if one lucked into an honest agent/attorney that knew their stuff well enough to navigate the treacherous waters of copyright and intellectual property law, and garner at least a pittance for the creator of the work in question).
And all of this is protected not by the civil courts, but by the full force of criminal law - complete with not only fines, but seizure of property (always an opportunity for petty power and empire building, not to mention illicit profit). and prison sentences.
Toss in what is effectively a copying machine and distribution service in every house in the land, and we have a new legal industry. Suing folks who may (or may not) have downloaded various works without sprinkling money on all the right heads - for what appears to be as closely as can be calculated, a few hundred dollars less than it would take for them to hire an attorney and mount an effective defense - in effect, judicially endorsed extortion.
This business model stands up pretty well - send out a few thousand summons, and watch the cash roll in - as long as cost-benefit analysis is in favor of capitulation rather than fighting. It tends to fall apart when some uppity lawyer with ethical imperatives publishes a self-help kit to mounting the beginnings of an effective defense at $20 a copy.
Not surprisingly, the US Copyright Group and its' attorneys are unamused at having to actually work for their money rather than simply cashing the checks of their targets. It is likely even more unamusing when the expense model is effectively reversed, however briefly.
They have sued attorney Graham Syfert of Jacksonville, FL for having the temerity to actually provide an affordable ($20) beginnings of a legal defense to the targets of their scheme and costing them money in actually having to argue their cases.
It's this sort of predatory (IMHO) legal behavior that leaves me leaning towards the notion that simply abolishing copyright and IP laws might not be such a disaster after all.
The attempt to meld together in a single polity, welded together by bureaucracy and socialism, the nations of what is (for the moment) the European Union was doomed from the start by the and differing conditions/languages/cultures/economic realities of the member nations and the long-established rivalries and hostilities amongst them.
And those nations, each of them, have much worth preserving among them free from the deadening hand of supra-national regulation.
Trying to force something over a double dozen randomly polygonal pegs of varying size simultaneously into a single rather smallish round hole is not a project with good odds of success.
For the stability of Europe, and of the European and word economy in the long term, devolving back to national currencies and national economic planning and regulation offers the benefit of allowing for failure - if one sovereign nation fails (or even several) fiscally, it is unlikely to take others with it. In the current system, it appears that the EU is a mutual economic suicide pact.
As a bonus, national borders and sovereign nations allow individuals - when political or social conditions become to oppressive (or the stupidity level rises beyond tolerance) - some place to go TO.
Again, from where I sit, there will be rough times and a difficult transition back to sanity - but the day the EU falls is a day all of us, world wide, should celebrate.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The question shifts to how best to respond to a heavily armed regime led by barbarians and madmen. Diplomacy has obviously failed in the face of repeated duplicity on the part of the N. Korean regime.
Thus, I offer a modest proposal (unlikely as it is to even be heard of, let alone endorsed by our own executive branch gaggle of idiots and miscreants) as a preliminary response to this latest shelling, with "doing it on the cheap" a clear factor in my thinking, both in terms of blood and money.
Send food, information, guns, and money - distributed randomly by unmarked low-cost, low-radar signature, and low-flying unguided or primitively guided drones. Each drone, under this proposal, should cost less than $5,000 fully loaded with 80lbs of rice, 20lbs of dried meat, 10 FP45 Liberator pistol kits (current production), a dozen wire garrotes, a wind-up radio, and 10,000,000 N. Korean won (the NK currency, in this instance printed by vendor of choice). Every Nth such drone, swap out 10lbs of meat for 9lbs of c4, a detonator, and instructions/suggestions for use.
Ideally, these little CARE packages would be sent north from S. Korea numbered in the hundreds...making life more festive for the barbarians and madmen ruling that rogue nation state.
80lbs of rice and 20lbs of dried meat landing in the N. Korean countryside in the depths of winter is not an inconsiderable bounty - one which could tend to lead to questions about just how hostile the provider of such benefits truly be to the recipient. And serve as bait, to those as would otherwise be wary of life's little surprises - after all, that could make the difference for a family in the depths of a N. Korean winter.
Pistols and garrotes (and the occasional c4 fun kit) are a bit less friendly, but certainly likely - in the hands of a hungry/angry populace - to add a bit of festive chaos to a regime for whom order and control hold a near fetish-like devotion. Not to mention it's harder to control a populace that can fight back, all of a sudden. Toss in a guide on body disposal, and stand well back.
The currency? A multi-purpose package - destabilizing a nations currency is never a nice thing to do, and starving peasants almost *never* see it that way. It's time to go buy some food, a shovel, or bribe ones way outta the country!! But there's a second, more subtle, reason - payback is a bitch.
For decades, N. Korea has been busy about counterfeiting U.S. currency with the dual goals of de-stabilizing our economy and funding their weapons development and production programs. We may not be able to fund anything buy dropping millions of fake N. Korean won into the country - but we sure can de-stabilize what is laughingly called their economy. With the eager assistance of their impoverished populace, who are unlikely to see the downside of gifts of large sums of unmarked cash in small bills.
The drones? For nostalgia, one could go lighter than air...but a more likely approach would be to construct the primitive drones using a lawnmower engine or two, wood and fabric construction, and absolutely primitive guidance (perhaps simply aiming it north and varying "range to crash" by modifying fuel load?).
Obviously, the goal is two-fold - low radar/visual signature and minimal expense. To blow something out of the sky, you must first see (acquire) it either visually or using some other means (radar, etc). Acoustic acquisition really isn't all that effective at this point, to the best of my knowledge. Fiberglass, bamboo, wood, and fabric all create a lower radar profile than metallic surfaces - and are typically cheaper to work. A lawnmower engine is cheap, and a light wood or fiberglass prop is similarly fairly low-profile. If one wants to go ground following, toss in passive GPS and minimal controls and guidance designed for low emissions.
Send them north unmarked, or marked as N. Korean Gov't emergency relief craft...and stand well back.
Not the answer, but certainly a way to disorganize the hostiles while we formulate such an answer.
Of course, this would require an administration both opposed to N. Korean aggression and willing to do something about it.
When we use the word "racist", as an example, to mean "a small-minded and possibly hateful person of any particular color who judges individuals on the basis of their membership in a real or perceived racial grouping, rather than on their individual merits or lack thereof" - we can then look upon such an individual for the fool and asshat that they are, and depending on the circumstances, engage in either ridicule or self-defense activities with proper vigor.
When we change the definition to "a small-minded and possibly hateful white (or blue, black, brown, or polka-dotted) person
When we further demean the term by referring to any criticism of a person of color (say, a President or his/her policies) as (for the purposes of this example) racist, we shortly get to the point where the sting is lost nearly entirely, as thinking individuals lose swiftly lose the ability to take such ludicrous accusations seriously - followed shortly by, as a result of our own actions, skepticism even when legitimate claims of racism are raised.
This is not a new concept. One might describe it as the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" error, simply writ in different terms. When folks start, after offering criticism of the current administration and their policies, to *laugh* and call themselves racist, we can be fairly sure that not only the term has lost its' sting, but that through sheer overuse we've diminished the very concept.
Handy example used, and now set aside, we now have the Ladies of the View opining that the founders of "National Opt Out Day" are, by seeking to cause some level of economic pain or inconvenience (oh, perhaps, similar to when a union strikes?) to our
Will those of you with more than two simultaneously firing neurons please raise your hand and draw the analogy alluded to above?
Anyone who disagrees, peaceably, utilizing established measures to lawfully protest (including, within sharply defined limits, procedurally monkey-wrenching the system) is now a terrorist? By encouraging folks to not fly, to opt out (as is their legal right), and to exercises their constitutional rights is now a bad scary terrorist in the eyes of The View?
Y'all can f* right off.
Ladies. Find an English Teacher, by preference one that uses a clue stick as a training device, and take a remedial course NOW. I'd normally suggest a dictionary, but I'm less than optimistic that it would be sufficient to the task of remedying your misunderstanding.
Clue: If bullets aren't flying and shrapnel isn't in the air, nothing is exploding or falling out of the sky, there aren't dead or bleeding bodies bouncing about, or bio/chem agents aren't in play (and nobody is planning to make any of the above so), you may have a lot of things (including strenous disagreement, perhaps with the use of traditional non-violent protest mechanisms), but you don't have terrorism.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm thankful for my friends, both in Seattle and around the world. Bulwarks in time of need, a comfort in times of stress, and a constant source of joy.
I'm thankful that, for the moment, I still live in a nation where we may speak our minds, publish our thoughts, and access the worlds greatest conversation - the internet - without fear of retribution or harassment from our government.
I'm thankful for those court decisions in the last two years that have expanded the Second Amendment rights of private individuals, as I believe it both a bulwark against the depredations of the criminally frisky and a deterrent to overenthusiastic governance.
I'm grateful for my co-workers, and that I am employed in this Great Recession (oh, let's be honest...it's a depression! Don't ya feel better for being up front about it?) . I pray I can say the same in a years time.
I'm grateful that I have a place to live, and opportunities to be of service to those I care about, of my own free will.
I'm grateful to the service men and women past and present around the world who have gone and continue to go in harms way to preserve our liberties, our constitution, and our nation. Similarly, my thanks go to our domestic protectors - honorable fire, police, and emergency services folks going in harms way that we might not, and striving to protect our dignity and rights as they do so under the most trying of circumstances. My prayers, such as they are, are with them all.
And finally, as we wake and feast on this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful that I've had time to get old enough to be somewhat less dim and dizzy than I was in the past. I still make errors, small and large - for such is life - but I'm thankful that they are fewer and smaller than they once might have been, and the number of required apologies is significantly reduced...a trend I hope continues as the years pass.
God (or your very own preferred deity) bless you one and all, and may your feast be satisfying and you be surrounded by those you love - whether of the family you were born to or of the family you chose to gather.
I'm reminded of that this morning, an old memory of old stupid brought back, that led to decisions over a period of years as the lesson was re-applied with vigor to give up some opportunities for happiness in exchange for missing out on the near certainty of self-induced idiocy and drama. Now I'm an interested spectator to some games, a cheerleader on the sidelines, and occasionally am tempted to dabble. But I'm largely resigned from that set of games, for down that path lays (for me) only insanity in my experience.
Still, the wound is sufficiently fresh that a swift prod produces a wince of embarrassment at past foolishness, obliviousness, and jerkhood.
Growing old lets us look back and revel in some memories, and in others, inquire how we could have been so stupid or boorish.
This morning wasn't one of the fun ones. But part of what makes such things bearable is the knowledge that we don't have to "do it again", and in some cases, some forms of dumb are best avoided by simply avoiding the precursor events.
I think I shall go pet the cat.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
If true, the secret memo cited (and leaked) from TSA lays the foundation for a suppression of free speech and expression (and of the press) unlike anything we've seen since the bad old days of Woodrow Wilson - defining "those who are opposed to, or engaged in the disruption of the implementation of the enhanced airport screening procedures as “domestic extremists.”"
Read this article. Think it through. That it is believable is alone enough to merit concern. If it is true, it does not bode well for our nation - as it has never boded well when our government has gone so far as to begin designating law-abiding citizens for watch lists and (usually) special attention.
And it would appear all of us who do not go meekly along with the latest whimsy of our betters, applauding those putting on the airs of power with proper enthusiasm, are upon it.
Making a list and checking it twice, when a government is busy about it, is seldom an indication of the creation of a list of persons to whom maple-filled bon-bon's should be delivered.
It's called creating an "enemies list".
Why am I so twitchy about this? I remember Nixon. And the FBI of Herbert Hoover's day. And Woodrow Wilson. Not every moment in the history of the United States can precisely be described as a hallowed celebration of civil rights and individual liberty, much as we might wish otherwise - and it's been a long and hard battle for the freedom of speech, press, and communication we enjoy, and the freedom to go about our affairs with our persons and belongings inviolate from random inspection, search and seizure by government agents without a lawfully sworn warrant.
Enough blood and misery have been sacrificed to get us as far as we've gotten that I'm not eager to see those gains lost to prop up the whims of petty bureaucrats and elitists out to control us for our own good in thought, action, and deed.
And to those who would say "it can't happen here?" or tell us that once won, freedom cannot be lost? Let them speak to the ghosts of the past. All is temporary - held, won, or lost - by each generation, with some bastions of law and culture weathering the whimsy of current opinions and individual ambition with greater tenacity than others. Are we expanding individual rights today? Or are they contracting? And which ones?
At the same time, just for fun, let us assume for a bright shining moment that this is simply a journalistic mis-step. What does it say that such a mis-step is so believable to so many people? And what does it tell us of the intensity of the division deepening in our land?
If you aren't worried, you aren't paying attention.
Start paying attention.
From TSA grunts picking women for the Porn Scan based on their breast size, to rumors of strategic shutdowns of the PornScans and suspension of the Gate Rape process in an effort to defeat the National Opt Out Day protest.
The mainstream media is finally noticing the extra-special treatment that the TSA gives to the medically challenged and prosthetic users.
Meanwhile, the ever-regrettable Homeland Security Secretary gleefully announced on Tuesday that we could soon be seeing similarly invasive and unconstitutional measures (swiftly evolving into random fishing expeditions) inflicted on users of U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.
But what can we expect from an agency that recruits it's staff using pizza boxes for advertising?
And a question worth considering? Those gloves the TSA grunts wear for screening? How often do they change those after fondling various folks genitalia and dank private bits where various critters and diseases live?
Yeast infections? Herpes? Lice? MRSA? HPV? Scabies? Ringworm? Ebola?
I've only included the tamer images here - for a really horrifying moment or three, try googling for images of genital warts or Ebola survival rates.
Obviously, some of these options are less probable than others - but are included to illustrate the importance of avoiding cross-contamination when processing large numbers of individuals of highly varied hygiene, infectious state, and immune system vulnerability. TSA grunts need to change their gloves *every time* and if you should be forced to fly, insist that the TSA grunt about to search you don a new set of gloves fresh out of box (not out of pocket).
Think about it, and the TSA - the gift that keeps on giving....
Travelers are beginning to be *helpful* to the TSA in new and different ways, disrobing or arriving in dishabille.
Man arrives at TSA Gate in Speedo's
Not surprisingly, travelers are ALSO expressing their dismay with TSA staff using less than generous language - WELL DONE, TRAVELERS!! "Just following orders" isn't a valid shield from intense criticism, ridicule, and downright hostility - unless you honorably resign from your position with the TSA, you have *volunteered* to simply sit there and take it every time you strip-search a child, grope a teen, or go on a fishing expedition for criminal evidence during what's supposed to be a strict security check. Eat it up, or get out of the frying pan, kids.
When grandmothers have to explain to their granddaughters why a strange man is touching their "special girl spots", it's probably a hint that things have gone too far. For some reason, said grandmothers refer to such procedures as molestation. With even ABC producers describing the new TSA Gate Rape patdown as more intrusive than a gynecological exam, perhaps it's time to reign in our wannabe lords and masters a few notches.
Meanwhile, it becomes a reasonable bet (in my opinion, YMMV - draw your own conclusions) that a big reason for this new sort of involuntary radiation therapy bolstered with the threat of Gate Rape is the infusion over millions of dollars of lobbying money by the Porn Scan machine makers. That the CEO of Rapiscan (the largest backscatter x-ray machine maker) (unfortunate name, that) tags along to India with Obama only raises the eyebrow a bit further, given common Chicago political practice.
Just to keep things from getting boring, it's also now coming out that the TSA Gate Rapes & Porn Scans are turning from obnoxious (and possibly unconstitutional) irritants into warrantless fishing expeditions looking for any little irregularities, with seizure of property and persons at whim - a fairly clear violation of Fourth Amendment protections, and equally clearly, unconstitutional.
And...to add icing to the obscenity, we now have a list of Special Ones (pilots, congress critters, federal officials, TSA managers, etc...) *exempt* from the PornScan/GateRape adventure...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
"I had to fly on something like 8 trips last year. I'm flying at least twice in 2011. (DragonCon Atlanta, StellerCon North Carolina). I kind of have to fly if I want to do the book tours.
I think I'm going to wear a kilt, not wear any underwear, and liberally apply Vasaline to my genitals. (maybe paint a happy face or something, I'll get creative) When we get to the pat down I'm going to act all excited and tell them that this is my favorite part and that I usually have to pay extra for this level of service."
- Larry Correia (Author, Accountant, Firearms Guru, Superhero), We The Armed, 11/16/2010
I'm not seeing this as, umm, an indicator that folks are growing *less* annoyed.
The good news is that the "united front" of the Obama Administration re TSA seems to be fracturing a bit with these comments from no less than Hillary Clinton. (Update) It seems that the front line staff at the TSA aren't *enjoying* the reception they are getting...keep it legal, but turn up the volume, folks.
However, with record lines already at O'Hare, even Matt Drudge is raising questions about TSA workers engaging in work slowdowns as petty vengeance against the public. Intrusive patdowns (aka Gate Rape) continue from O'Hare to SeaTac - and 68yo bladder cancer survivors left in tears and covered in their own urine.
And then we have the TSA insisting a passenger put more clothes on so that they can properly search him. And arresting folks for filming the idiocy. Apparently the theme song starts "YOU WILL SUBMIT", and concludes "YOU WILL NOT SHOW US BEING *REALLY, REALLY* STUPID."
Shut down the punitive, petty, farce - implement real security, not theater, and respect folks civil rights specifically, and folks generally barring probable cause of wrongdoing.
Commonly known as the Felony Murder rule, this legal concept holds that if, whilst committing a felony, ANYONE gets dead (and in some cases any injury or harm occurs to ANY party), as the committing felon(s) it is ALL your fault.
This doctrine long predates the Castle Doctrine, and is the common rule, rather than the exception.
The presumption is that if you'd not been busy about your favorite felonious activity(ies), the death/injury/property damage resulting from your unlawful actions or from others responses to that offensive activity fall solely upon you - as but for your bad acts, the deaths/injuries/property damages would not have occurred.
This is typically a matter of state law, and varies widely from state to state and is inherited from English Common Law which goes back into the depths of history. YMMV.
IANAL. This is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact a lawyer.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
From forcing breast cancer survivors to remove their prosthetics for inspection, to patting down a passenger with such vigor as to lift them off their heels when the groin was hit, to travelers making strong arguments that *enhanced patdown by skin-to-skin genitalia fondling* constitutes sexual assault the TSA seems, in the face of criticism, to hunker down and embrace tone-deafness as a defense - the "if we just ignore them long enough, they'll get used to it and give us what we want" theory.
This problem is far from new - our power-drunk TSA drones have been misbehaving and exercising their "authoriteh" for quite some while, as evidenced by the 2008 experiences of Robert Perry's forced public pantsing, Mandi Hamlin's coerced nipple-ring removal (pliers were required), and the Angone case.
However, with celebrities such as former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura declaring they will not fly commercially under such conditions, it seems steam is only gathering behind the TSA abolition/reform movement, with no sign of a slowdown in sight.
It could be the TSA's loudly proclaiming their intention to continue engaging in unlawful detention of those not submitting to their program of using assault and harassment to drive the public through a unreasonably revealing device of uncertain medical and radiological provenance, and impose "unappealable" fines of $10,000 or $11,000 (they don't appear quite sure which) on those who, on discovering this once inside the checkpoint, have temerity to prefer to leave rather than put up with the harassment is only fueling the public outrage.
Or perhaps the outrage is fueled by not merely the sheer insensitivity displayed by the TSA drones, but by the constantly startling level of stupid. Refusing to let a couple of hundred lawfully and fully armed U.S. soldiers pass until a nail file is surrendered, as one commenter puts it, takes a VERY special kind of stupid - particularly when they are on their way home after a tour in Afghanistan.
Or perhaps both the stupidity and the insensitivity of the TSA, long rising to a boil heated by idiocy and incompetence, when combined with the quaint American notion that our government works for us (not the other way around) and that we are innocent until proven guilty (and demand to be treated accordingly), have incited this wholly justified tsunami of ill will against this mis-managed, ill-considered, and overly authoritarian agency composed of glorified rent-a-cops and the rejects of federal and local law enforcement (the only way I can explain their actions without assuming actual treasonous malice...).
If you must fly...
Remember National Opt-Out day...and subsequently, No-Fly Wednesdays.
Be painfully helpful and chatty with every TSA staffer you encounter if you must fly. Be certain to ask for hard copy of every regulation they cite, and decline to go *any place* out of the public view with them. Inquire if you are under arrest if at any point any person tries to detain you - if they continue, loudly ask for probable cause. Wear bulky clothing, even if you normally wouldn't. Consider wearing clothing that, if you follow common TSA directions, will promptly fall to the ground providing a full naked view of your person to all within eyeshot.
Ask questions - lots of questions. Ask follow-up questions. If lawful in your jurisdiction, record all interactions w/ TSA personnel.
If you believe anything untoward has been done to you, or in your presence, call 911 and press charges.
And, with all that, try and keep an upbeat attitude. And now, for a final message from John Pistole of the TSA.
Why is this silly/stupid?
Disposable netbooks. With a cheap netbook available for under $300, they become disposable - i.e., if seized or inspected while outside of your direct line of sight, they become garbage as they may be potentially corrupted (sell it on craigslist or some such)...and since you never EVER put anything on the hard drive (booting from a USB stick and accessing your files in a variety of creative ways)...you should be about as safe as it's practical to get. If you really want to be sure, find an appropriate data transmission method, move your data before attempting to re-enter the United States, then sell the netbook before you get on the homeward bound plane.
Nothing says you need to physically carry files these days, and even should you choose to do so, there are a number of ways to do so well outside of a recognizable electronic device.
Now, all that said, I'm not the geekiest kid on the block, nor do I have the kind of super-secret experience that some folks do. But that's just my take on it all...that the linked incident is just yet another sense-free punitive and petty measure enacted by a power-hungry administration out of control.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Abolish the TSA. Now. Until then....National Opt Out day is coming, along with No-Fly Wednesdays.
"Queen Napolitano when informed that the peasants were upset about her TSA:
She added that “if people want to travel by some other means,” they have that right."
In other news, the arrogance of the TSA knows no bounds as TSA leaders prepare to engage in a retaliatory investigation against blogger John Tyner who not only had the temerity to decline to play a role in TSA Security Kabuki Theatre, but followed directions when told to leave the airport.
Especially offensive, apparently, was that Tyner recorded the encounter and broadcast it to the web, subjecting the TSA to harsh criticism.
Last I heard, this is still America. If you don't arrest me or get a judge to agree that I'm either crazy or infectious (or crazy AND infectious), you have no right to detain me from going about my lawful affairs.
At most, you can ask me to leave your private facility at whim (public facilities typically have a somewhat higher standard). As long as I leave upon receiving and understanding your lawful request, no harm and no foul.
You don't get to order me to leave and then impose a $10,000 (or $11,000 - seems the TSA kids can't get their unlawful punitive measures straight) when I, in fact, leave. You don't even get to do that if, struck by your utter obnoxiousness, I loudly announce "fuck you and the horse you rode in on, I'd rather *drive* five days than put up with you" and promptly depart mid-patdown.
I am not under arrest. I am not a prisoner. And you don't get to treat me, or anyone else, that way - barring an arrest taking place.
Further, you don't get to respond to my (or others) criticism of you or your agency by engaging in punitive investigations against myself or the aforementioned theoretical others - or by soliciting other agencies to commit retaliatory harassment investigations on your behalf.
Lese Majeste is not a crime in the United States - it is a founding principal and a virtue that has kept our government more reigned in than most. It's not something you arrest folks for, it's something you celebrate and encourage. Ask the hard questions! Be skeptical!
At this point, the new GOP initiative to abolish the TSA and encourage airports to opt out of using TSA for screening immediately (it was only mandatory for two years after its creation) both seem appropriate steps. As do not only National Opt Out Day, but subsequent No Fly Wednesdays until the idiocy ends.
If you create an entity, and give it unlimited power while carefully insulating it from any sort of realistic negative feedback mechanism, it is only a matter of time until that power is abused - likely to the extent of inspiring rebellion in the masses, whether that rebellion takes the form of work-arounds ("screw flying and the TSA, I'll drive"), ridicule, white mutiny, litigation, bringing criminal charges, or outright confrontation with a sprinkling of violence to keep things from getting boring.
For those that cannot - or will not - submit to the indignities of these invasive procedures (such as myself), document each instance where the TSA costs the airlines money. Because the TSA is an unelected government agency - and thereby largely unaccountable to mere mortals - our only recompense is to deny them (the TSA) the opportunity to grope, fondle, X-ray, fold, spindle, or mutilate us by refusing to fly and thus declining their tender ministrations.
Sadly, this will damage an already fragile airline industry – an industry that, coincidentally, has lobbyists and influence in DC circles. If we can demonstrate the degree to which the TSA costs the airlines business, they will notice - and help reign in the TSA. Or perish.
That the entity in question is keeping a list of the non-submissive that they are apparently willing to pass along...is a hint that the stimuli for rebellion phase has been passed a while back, and the recent "Nuke or Grope" for profit policy is simply the hurling of the phosphorus torch into the giant lake of gasoline, in addition to being an indication of a loss of sanity (and perhaps a claim to decency and status as civilized persons) by TSA leadership and those who perpetrate such acts of petty tyranny while “just following orders”.
The list should, obviously, be destroyed and the creators disciplined (if not unemployed) as a fundamental violation of privacy. A bunch of glorified rent-a-cops with delusions of grandeur led by wanna-be’s making it up as they go along have no business keeping a list of "those to be harassed" – nor, for that matter, does any other agency.
Every chance you get - each time you drive (Skype, stay home,take a train, etc) to a destination that you would otherwise have flown to, get a quote from several different airlines and send them a note telling them about the business they are losing. Drive home the fault of the TSA - that you would rather burn time than health or dignity.
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." – Benjamin Franklin
It would seem we’ve given up a whole range of essential liberties in exchange for some rather questionable illusions of security as executed by a legion of petty tyrants. Getting them back isn’t likely to be easy. And creating a two-tier system with less offensive procedures for an “elite” while letting the full range of privacy-invading fondle-measures rain down on the rest of us, is simply not acceptable.
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." – Benjamin Franklin
“Unions that represent pilots for American Airlines and US Airways, representing a total of 16,500 pilots, say they want a more efficient screening process for pilots instead of having them pass through the security procedures used for passengers. Pilots have compared the new pat-downs to "sexual molestation."” – Fox News, Stephen Clark, 11/15/10.
Separate but equal has never worked out terribly well for our nation. Just this once, let’s not stumble down that well-beaten path to idiocy and litigation.
Events would tend to bear out the notion we’ve given up essential liberties in the name of a false sense of safety.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
– Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution - December 15, 1791
At what point did we surrender our freedom and, by passive submission, become cowardly accomplices to TSA Porn-o-Scans’ and the punitive molestation of men, women, and perhaps most offensively, children?
The most insulting part is that these measures are mere theater, inflicting humiliation and civil rights violations for no gain better than “looking busy”. Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber”, was not stopped by airport security, he was stopped by the passengers on the plane. He got on the plane in England with everything he needed to cause havoc and mayhem. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber”, got on board a plane in Amsterdam with 80 grams of PETN sewn into his shorts. Once again, technical incompetence, combined with the help of passengers, averted a tragedy. The recent “printer” bombs sent via UPS also failed due to human intelligence and legwork, not from scanning.
All of these plots have two critical things in common: First off, they were not stopped by screeners. Secondly, and more importantly, all of these attempts originated outside of the United States - yet the TSA responds by forcing American citizens to endure humiliating, most likely unconstitutional, and pointless assaults (and yes, assault is precisely what this is) because of the inability of screeners in areas outside of our control. We are being forced to remove our shoes and submit to strip searches because Yemen, Amsterdam, and the UK have failed to prevent persons with illegal items from getting on airplanes.
It also ignores a very basic truism: you could make every single person get on board the plane stark naked and keep them in a drug-induced stasis the entire flight, and all it takes is one fanatic with 100 grams of PETN implanted in his gullet to bring down the plane. These folks are ready to give their lives to take down airplanes - setting themselves up as organic bombs won’t phase them in the least.
The recent media coverage of the San Diego blogger (follow-up 11/14/10)first barred from the secure area of the airport (and thus prevented from boarding his flight) when he declined both the back scatter X-Ray Scanner (aka, TSA Genitalia Examination Device) and the enhanced “Grope’n’Molest” pat-down is but the tip of the iceberg. While subsequently having been directed to do so, the blogger was then assailed by a TSA supervisor threatening him with lawsuits and unappealable $10,000 civil fines if he left prior to completing the screening he’d objected to.
“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
-Seventh Amendment, United States Constitution– December 15, 1791
Reports are still coming in, but the author of Nobody Asked Me recounts his recent experience which certainly bore out, in my opinion, the kind of fun we’re all destined to enjoy if we keep flying or tolerating this sort of vaudevillian Security Theater. But these were far from the first, or only, incidents indicating a culture of reckless incompetence and disregard for civil rights over in the Homeland Security/TSA cesspool. Reported on November 14th over at HotAir.com (and since “mysteriously” vanished down the memory hole) the “forced body search”/molestation of a screaming and crying three year old girl by TSA officers. Forcing an 8 year old boy to remove leg braces and walk unassisted through a scanner, apologizing only after the incident became public. A rape survivor re-traumatized by an invasive pat-down.
And for little or no benefit, as illustrated in Part III.
Being puny humans, most of us needed a larger clue-bat applied upside our collective heads. A clue-bat the TSA is only too happy to provide. We don’t have rights, they tell us, if we buy an airplane ticket – we waived them when we bought the ticket. Foo on that silly Bill of Rights, anyway.
That the “Grope Option” appears to be primarily punitive in nature, intended to compel compliance via humiliation, fear, and embarrassment with the “Nuke Option” doesn’t make things any better. One is given the choice of a potential health risk and significant privacy violation vs. emotional, physical, and mental harassment.
Clearly, neither choice is acceptable – particularly with the additional knowledge that the only way to keep an electronic image or data private is to never create or record said picture or data in the first place (various banks, credit card companies, and institutions have been gracious enough to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt with repetitive massive data losses and exposures despite of what we are assured are absolute top-notch security measures).
Late as it is, however, a series of responses seems to be gelling. National Opt-Out Day on November 24th, where *all* passengers are encouraged (website here) to opt out of the invasive body scanners (scanners with questionable safety and certain invasion of privacy) is one such measure. Others are both more public and more personal, ranging from Tam’s notion, to a few cynical thoughts, to letters to the airline industry, vows to give up flying, more direct means, mainstream calls to abolish the TSA in its’ entirety, and more.
When direct confrontation can carry unwanted consequences, the approach of malicious cooperation (historically referred to as a white mutiny).
To the extent practical, we would endorse making *EVERY* Wednesday a “no-fly” day after the November 24th event until both the “Nude Nuke Option” scanners are gone from our nations
airports, and the punitive pat-down has been ended. Punish the airlines with our lack of custom until they pressure Congress to take appropriate action.
We support all those finding other means of travel allowing them to avoid what we consider a violation of both privacy and what we suggest are fundamental civil rights. We believe that the leadership and staff of the TSA have long since forfeited any claim to civility, let alone all but the most insincere and unhelpfully enthusiastic cooperation. We favor filing criminal charges against TSA personnel at the vaguest hint of impropriety. We actively suggest asking every question, however trivial, regarding procedure and acceptable items vs. contraband that you can imagine. We encourage immediately reporting *anything* you observe that is even *slightly* out of place in or near any secure area in a fearful and panicked tone of voice. We hint that it is NEVER a good thing to go ANYWHERE with a TSA agent, demanding that unless you are actually under arrest that all interactions take place of full view of the public, so you can be certain of witnesses.
We cannot suggest the use of body functions as a communications tool, as that would (in many jurisdictions) be considered assault – which, regrettably, gets in the way of pointing and laughing at those who offend you.
We suggest loud orgasmic sound effects and requests for further stimulation as a viable alternative, though you may wish to consult an attorney prior to employing this approach. Almost as embarrassing, and in our lay opinion, less likely to produce jail time and other complications. Teaching children that it is especially appropriate to scream “RAPE!!” and “BAD TOUCH!! BAD TOUCH!!” when inappropriate fondling is performed by persons wearing a TSA uniform occurs seems to us, as non-attorneys, to likely be well inside the safe zone – if they can cry on command for the camera, it’s a bonus. It seems likely that such a technique might also be useful for teens and adults, as well.
We are annoyed, and believe that the “system” – which depends for its function upon cooperation, reason, and submission - harbors a vast array of mechanisms with which to vent our annoyance while remaining utterly within the law. We urge you to select strategies for maximum effect and an acceptable level of risk for yourself and those you care about.
Until such time as sanity starts to rear its head at the security gate, I will not fly.
Until you have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you understand the difference between true security and the sick farce you foist upon us, I will drive or find another way to my destination - or I will simply not go. You have managed to make any destination in a 10 hour driving radius pretty much the same time as flying: 1.5 hour flight with 1 hour on either end to/from the airport and arriving 2 hours ahead for probulation = 5.5 hours total to fly. I’ll give up four and a half hours to not have to subject myself to the indignities you force upon us.
The TSA has shown us, time and time again, that they prefer Security Theater to actual security.
To hassle those defenseless by virtue of their age, gender, disability, or generally law-abiding nature. The TSA would rather an eight year old boy be humiliated going through a metal detector, or a three year old girl be scarred for life from a grope-down, or humiliate a grandmother than take actual security measures. It is time those abuses not only end, but result in consequences.
Humiliating children has nothing to do with keeping people safe on an airplane. Molesting a rape victim doesn’t improve air security. Harassing elders and the disabled certainly cannot be considered a valid preventative measure that requires ignoring 4th Amendment guarantees. There are, perhaps, other reasons for such measures – whether simply a political drama or for more sinister purposes matters little, as these measures are sufficiently objectionable as to make the reason for them largely irrelevant. They simply must cease. Swiftly, lest a law-abiding American trained from birth to expect his or her civil rights to be respected, their children well-treated, and their friends and parents not be ill-used at bureaucratic whim – simply snap.
I refuse to be that American - therefore I will not fly until these intrusions end.
I, also, will not be that American. I will also not be the American who remains silent and asks "who or what's next?" or meekly goes along to get along. I will avoid flight where practical, and employ painfully lawful strategies to express my dismay when I must fly.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Verily, the latest actions of the TSA (implementing punitive and invasive pat-downs, complete with crotch-grope for everyone and titty-squeezes for the ladies, for those daring to opt out of the TSA Nudie Show Scanner) merit a great and mighty filking with a country-western twang.
Ridicule seems the best response - scathing, snarky, painfully cruel ridicule.
Of course, some suggest a more measured response. Summoning local law enforcement and filing sexual assault charges, or filing civil rights complaints, number among the approaches discussed. So is training small children to cry out "BAD PLACE! BAD PLACE! S/HE TOUCHED ME IN A BAD PLACE"....
A general recommendation - never, EVER, consent to be taken to a private place to be searched. Keep it public, and remember, witnesses can be a very good thing!
Now, on to MY suggestion. Girls and Boys, the uniform of the day is skirts'n'kilts...with the happy bits swinging in the wind. Lubrication is optional. Coating oneself in vaseline is just extra.
But, as you are publicly groped...any time you are touched inappropriately, moan loudly and begin simulating your best-ever orgasm. Repeatedly. With details. And requests for more. And compliments on technique.
Humiliation. It's a two way street.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
HOWEVER, this post isn't about that.
It happens I also like guns, and tend to approve of many of their uses. Today we discuss the Fey Armory - it's past, and perhaps a few items I hope to add.
We all (well, an awful lot of us) have guns we used to own...some of them we miss, and some of them we're really grateful we managed to get rid of in one fashion or another...
I miss my 1911 - it's been gone for well over a decade, and one of these times that stainless .45acp hand-cannon really will need to be replaced in my collection with another of its' ilk. I learned to shoot on that gun, and put several thousand rounds down range from it.
The Walther PPK/S in .380 was my first sub-compact semi - sure, there was the Charter Arms snubby .38, but it was never fun to shoot and I never did find a happy holster for it. The Walther, on the other hand...I still regret being sufficiently young and dumb to trade it for a motorcycle, some 20 years later. It was a nice shooter, and reliable as all get out. Silly, SILLY me.
The Mauser 98k in the late '80's I was talked into buying and butchering into a sporterized .30-06? Pass. Glad I sold it, and wouldn't do that again to a fine old gun anyway. The Raven Arms .22? Gack. Unreliable, inaccurate at even short distances, and a mouse gun to boot - but it did persuade me, relatively cheaply, of the truth of "you get what you pay for".
Marlin Centerfire Lever's *will* return to my collection. I still have the .22LR, but I miss the .45-70. Post-medical adventure when I was still fairly sure that *all* centerfire rifles were simply off-limits to me, it and a few other things went away at the same time - a Keltec P32, a Firestar 9mm, a Rossi .22 SAA clone, and a Mossberg tacti-shotgun. Made some pistol upgrades that day.
In 2009 and 2010 I had the immense good fortune to visit the Midwest and amidst a crowd of friends be persuaded to cautious recoil adventure - discovering that I can get away with .223 in an AR platform, and 7.62x39mm in a Ruger No. 1 Action. And the wonders of the Ruger 10/22 as a varmint-getter. And that bifocals and optics are not necessarily a bad combination.
As a result, I have a sad lonely little AR lower that awaits its .223 upper to turn into a complete rifle, and I'm already fretting whether to get a second AR upper in a deer-legal caliber....or go with a second rifle in 7.62x39mm...while at the same time considering some discussions that with a sufficiently heavy rifle (Garand, anyone?) I can get away with .308 without spending quality time under medical care regretting my foolishness. And on the Marlin front, a .30-30 is in the future - when, and which one, are yet to be determined. While I'm at it, I'd like to shoot both an AR10 and a Garand, if my evil co-conspirators agree that to be a not-stupid course, and eventually add one or both to my collection.
On the pistol front, my calibers today are .380, .45LC (the favorite), and .45acp (the compromise). I'd like to add, at some point, a 1911 in .45acp again, and a Glock or two (that double stack just feels right in my hand) in .45acp - and just because I like the way they shoot and feel, a Para-Ordnance (I can hear the wincing now) .45 double-stack (if someone knows a better manufacturer of a 1911 pattern double-stack .45, I'm listening), and it'd make me happy (sentiment is just a bitch sometimes) to re-add a Walther PPK/S back to the Fey Armory eventually.
Moving along, we examine the Silly Toy and Very Silly Toy category...
Most of the Silly Toys I'd like to lay hands on are so designated either because of obscene price or limited to marginal practical use, or in a few instances, licensing issues. Very Silly Toys are simply silly dialed up about 10 notches.
A .45-70 Gatling is all the way over to Very Silly. A headache to store, pricey to feed, and darned expensive to boot in the first place, it's main virtues are prettiness, ooh-ah value, and as a historic display piece. I can think of quite a few ways to drop $10,000 plus that make more sense than as the admission price for having a full-scale functional piece of history that I can't afford to shoot.
A Thompson Sub-Machine Gun (and yes, I'm ok w/ modern fully functional replicas) would, as a piece of history, be very nice to add. As the iconic gun of the Prohibition Era, it's another "history piece" that, at least, is vaguely affordable to shoot. Of course, there are both federal licensing issues and a need to move to a Class III state that'd need to be resolved, even before dealing with the acquisition price. Thus, a Silly Gun.
An M2 .50 tripod mounted. Ok, we're in Very Silly land again. BIG money to get, serious licensing issues, and very pricey to shoot. On the other hand, we venture again into "history" looking at a gun that's served in every conflict from WWII forward and remains in service today. Yes, I'd like one for the history of it - not for any practical reason.
Well, that's enough dreaming and exploration of the Fey Armory...off to catch some sleep before rushing off to earn some dollars to begin the "saving pennies" process.
Ms. Malkin is, about 80-90% of the time insightful, passionate, and consistently a good and thought-provoking writer - and then she gets within a thousand yards of an LGBT issue and goes all hind-brain on us, demonstrating a startling amount of fear/anger/bigotry and just plain ignorance of LGBT folks that is startling in anyone that's survived as a journalist in Seattle or gone on to the national media.
The author of Crusader Rabbit, politically incorrect at the best of times (which, as my friends know, isn't something that rattles my cage with any regularity) has at long last managed to cross the boundaries of what I am willing to wade through to get at what I consider the "good stuff" with his rants on "homosexual activists" and routine implications of some byzantine agenda for the destruction of civilization by said activists. His vitriolic opposition to same sex marriage and vilification of its supporters doesn't particularly score points with me, and thus...he's no longer on the blogroll.
There are other talented writers on the web that don't leave me with the feeling of having to wade neck deep through a sewage pond in order to get access to the occasional insight or interestingly different perspective.
If y'all enjoy the pond, have at it...but I'm certainly not going to provide anyone the instructions to the diving board.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Oh, my bad. Re Barney Frank?
I don’t use the word fag myself, because of negative associations from the past…and don’t much care for others using it.
But in Franks case, I *especially* don’t use it because I’m ashamed he’s a member of the LGBT Community and because there are so many, many ways to describe him in vitriolic detail with ever so much more precision. Without being forced to mention his membership in the community.
Alright. Given that I'm seeing a friend being unjustly abused by those over-eager to use broad brushes inappropriately and more interested in the abuse of stereotypes than in exploring the diversity of individual experience and celebrating the differences therein, I'll join this little party at the end of a long and cranky-making work-week.
First off, my "chops". I'm a gay man. I've been one for a good long while now - and no, I am not older than dirt, despite allegations to the contrary. Second, I've been around the block a time or three - I've co-chaired a Pride Parade, chaired security/safety for one, helped found a Pink Pistols chapter, served on a couple of community boards, and helped lead a protest or two.
I've been (and am) a plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit, acted as a mentor to the leader of a new civil rights group in my area, and just completed a run for elective office. I've had friends bashed, been a bar bouncer and sorted out bashers (and general issue idiots), and spent more than my fair share of time in and around gay bars specifically and the LGBT community generally. I'm old enough and have been out long enough to remember, and miss even as I'm pleased with the lack of driving need, the gay ghettos of the past.
In short, this ain't my first rodeo, and I'm pretty darned sure that I can identify and, if necessary, deal with bigotry both up close and at a distance.
First off, tolerance is all we get to demand.
And it's one hell of an improvement, and we should be grateful to queens of Stonewall, the leather folks, and the drag community (and THEIR predecessors) for the huge progress we've seen as a community since WWII and specifically within the last twenty years.
We don't get to demand that folks like us (or hate us, which of course would be particularly silly). We get to demand that they damned well keep their paws to themselves, that they mind their own damned business (i.e., what consenting and competent adults do amongst themselves sexually is none of anybody elses business outside of an absolutely tiny number of circumstances), we get to demand equality before the law (including an end to DADT & DOMA [and the variously named offshoots thereof]). Peoples minds and feelings, so long as they conform with the above, are none of our business.
Secondly, Newbius, a careful sort, very cautiously refuses to attempt mind-reading as a hobby. He comments on directly observed behaviors in his personal experience rather than on second or third hand data. He acknowledges the limits of his data. Given the lack of verifiable data about the mental state of those he has observed (or that any of us observe) the very most he can with any certainty claim to have seen is "outward tolerance" short of public declarations of affection at one level or another (which many American and other subcultures do not encourage).
His experience is that Republicans of his personal acquaintance do not have an issue with LGBT folks. Dandy. Could be, just perhaps, that you and he are not dealing with the same Republicans. Could be they don't cut Republicans out with cookie-cutters such that they all fit the same mold. Might even be that the GOP is changing from what it was 10, 15, 20 years (or longer) ago...
Dandy. That he honestly relates his experience and observations thus far is reason to attack him?
Next off, as a libertarian lawfully gun-owning gay guy cursed with an activist streak I struggle to control...I've had occasion to play with a pretty wide array of conservative folks...and as a former pride co-chair and as a community member, perhaps an above average number of opportunities for personal growth and appreciation of diversity.
I've walked the walk, and tried when practical to bridge the gap, between both communities - at least partly because I believe they have an awful lot to offer each other.
And I've seen the saints and the bastards on both sides. And frankly, I've seen more tolerance - more willingness to stretch a mind or to tolerate a different viewpoint more often - amongst the gun-folks and the conservatives, particularly and especially in the under-40 crowed (though by no means exclusively) than I have run into on average among liberal/progressive crowd for those who dare to think or believe differently, or make choices outside of that particular philosophical norm.
And I can't count the number of times, on hearing of a gay bashing or a close call, that a conservative straight friend expresses a deep desire that the LGBT person had been armed....and reduced the number of bigots on planet precipitously. Or the number of gun-folks that I know that go out of their way, spending time and cash to teach firearms use and safety to folks generally, and to women and lgbt folks particularly. Not precisely an indication of "I hate
In neither case do I claim universality, nor do I claim to have engaged in extensive scientific studies. I merely relate my experience.
My experience is that, per capita, the ratio of bigots, elitists, and hypocrites per capita is far higher among the liberal/progressive crowd than among conservatives generally and the more libertarian-oriented specifically.
Your mileage may vary.
Libertarian=Member of the Libertarian Party or a grammatical issue. Usage should indicate which.
libertarian=shorthand for "someone that believes society is best served by folks, particularly governmental folks, minding their own damned business and leaving the unconsenting alone to the extent practical". Much easier to spell, and fewer keystrokes to boot.