Monthly Archives: December 2002

Ultra Fisheye

A courier just delivered the lense. It took some fiddling to figure out how to use the bayonette mounting, but it's hooked up now and working great. Here are a few quick test shots off the video camera. I can't wait to shoot the New Year's BBQ!

     

     

Another long entry

BME News Feed
Dec 23: UK: Police ID body by tattoo
Dec 23: CA: Hep C: the silent epidemic
Dec 22: NY: Over-40 Rebels With a Caus…
Dec 22: CA: Some athletes marked for life
Dec 20: MI: Man pleads guilty in kitchen…
Dec 20: ME: Bra wires and body piercing…
Dec 19: NJ: Apprenticeship legally requi…
Dec 19: FL: Scratcher gets scratched
Dec 18: WI: Brookfield considers reversin…
Dec 18: CA: Fontana sets tattoo regulati…

First of all, sorry about all the password emails last night, I have no idea what happened and I'm getting to the bottom of it now. Some kind of delayed Y2K thing probably (what I'm saying is it was totally unexpected). Anyway, it's being dealt with now.

A supreme court judge in Mississipi just said that gays and lesbians should be institutionalised. The exact and shocking quote, from a letter to the editor he wrote earlier this year regarding gay and lesbian partners being able to sue in wrongful death cases, not just an off-the-cuff comment, is:

In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a [domestic partnership] law like this passed for them. I got sick on my stomach as I read the news story... The last verse of chapter one of the book of Romans in our HOLY BIBLE is my reason for responding.

Now, I think it's important to now go and read that verse — it's where it gets scary.

Who knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

That is, this Supreme Court Judge is actually advocating the death sentence for gays and lesbians. People regularly say to me, “Oh, Shannon, you shouldn't complain so much about these legal things — there's a system of checks whereby if a lower court violates civil rights, appeals to higher courts can fix the mistake.”

His statement was made in March. While a state commission on Friday recommended that he be given a $150 fine. And that's just a recommendation. So here's the deal: if a Supreme Court Judge advocates the death penalty for gays and homosexuals, they might get a fine that's less than an hour's pay. Yeah, I'm sure that'll stop them. Good going, checks and balances.

A judge that publicly states that they are unable to think rationally regarding ten to twenty percent of the population should be immediately removed from office. Come on! What if he'd said, “blacks are not human, and as such be put to death if they commit a crime?”

Why is this tolerable?

When plunder has become a way of life for a group of people living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.

- Frederic Bastiat

But then again, it seems to be hard to find a Republican, at least a Republican politician that's not a racist. Dunno why. For all I know it's the same for the Democrats as well; thanks to Lott though, the Republicans are getting all their bigoted skeletons dragged out of the closet. (There are more stories on this subject on sites like cursor.org)

I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this story. Basically, the US government just intervened to stop inexpensive drugs from getting to third world nations. As a result, millions of people will probably die horribly because they can't afford treatments. However, the core issue is international patent protection; the US is left with two choices on this:

  1. Relax patent laws, allow drugs to be copied in certain developing nations. Save a lot of lives, but make no significant extra profit.
  2. Don't relax patent laws, don't allow drugs to be copied in these nations. No lives saved, no profit made either.

However, the second example isn't entirely true, as it ignores international aid. The US government sends massive amounts of aid to foreign countries, and the above gives you a peek into why. Let's assume that the US continues to stick with the second policy (which it is). That means that any aid group fighting HIV, malaria, TB, etc. in Africa has to buy the drugs at full commercial markup, using taxpayer money and donations.

It's just another policy that works best for big business, and worst for the people of this planet. At the same time though, I'm not sure if we should be able to force companies to hand over their research just because it's in the general good… The question is, how much freedom is lost by not protecting the freedom to make evil choices? (I certainly don't have an answer for that.)

The average family pays more in taxes than it spends on food, clothing, and shelter combined.

- Dick Armey

I'll mention now that one of the many reasons most of my news regards the US government is because the US is “cutting edge” when it comes to defining the new corporate run world and rides at least ten to twenty years ahead on the corruption wave. What's happening in the US right now will happen in Canada and then the rest of the West as well. It is an inevitable conclusion of a system that allows the existence of large corporate bodies.

To get another angle on how a government manages to enact such misguided policies, take a look at how Bush chooses his scientific advisors. Basically, the primary screening is political and ideological, rather than scientific. That is, poor science is chosen over good science if it serves the political goals of the administration. Which in the long run equates to no science at all — which equates to a short sighted and dangerous foundation.

To speak of atrocious crimes in mild language is treason to virtue.

- Edmund Burke

There's an interesting new study over at the Pew Research Center. I downloaded the complete report; here are “some” of the numbers that struck me (sorry, it's longer than it should be, just scroll over it if you get bored):

  • Over 75% of Americans think they are better off today or the same as they were five years ago (which is clearly insane given that the economy has plummeted in the last five years and civil rights have been slashed). Americans also almost universally stated that in five years again things would be even better. However, 55% said they were dissatisfied with the way the country is going (hello doublethink).
  • That said, only a very small amount of other countries state marked improvement in the last five years: Nigeria and Ghana. Many African nations reported that in the future they believed they'd be great nations. South America and Asia reported the same, whereas Europe pretty universally identified itself as a dying continent.
  • 74% of North Americans said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their household income.
  • No country said that they were happier with their income than their family life, so that's good I think. The only countries to rank their family satisfaction below 50% were Ghana and Uganda.
  • Only two countries stated that they felt they were satisfied with their country's actions today: Uzbekistan and Canada. Every other country interviewed citizen's reported overall dissatisfaction, with notable lows being Argentina (3%), Bulgaria (4%), Turkey (4%), and India (9%).
  • When asked about general satisfaction with the world, most countries report about an 80% dissatisfaction level. Several countries ranked lower because of the bulk of “I don't know” answers such as China, and only Pakistan reported a significantly higher rate, with almost double the world satisfaction of other nations.
  • When asked what the greatest threat to the world is, US citizens mostly said nuclear weapons. While many countries agreed, other leaders included bigotry (Canada, UK and most of Europe, and many others), AIDS and disease (Egypt and much of Africa and South America), and pollution (a couple Asian countries). Only Eastern Europe and Argentina named the rich/poor gap as a leading threat.
  • 50% of Americans and 23% of Britain citizens consider terrorism a very big problem. Of all Western countries, Canadians, who listed their biggest problem (of the options presented) as political corruption and disease, are least concerned with terrorism.
  • Of all countires excluding African nations, America is dramatically the most happy with its military.
  • The only country in the world to be very happy with its immigrants is Canada.
  • Americans are happier with Bush (himself) than they are with both the government as a whole or their religious leaders.
  • Africans still get most of their news from radio, whereas TV is dominant in the rest of the world.
  • TV leads newspapers by a dramatic margin in most of the world for general news, but when it comes to international news, newspapers dominate. Only Bangladesh gets most of its international news from TV.
  • 78% of Canadians have a favorable opinion of Americans, with Europe falling between 63% and 83% (about the same). Notable lows include Egypt (13%) and Pakistan (17%).
  • Americans believe that America almost always take into account the interests of other countries when acting internationally. Very few countries agree, but there are a few that do, surprisingly including Vietnam.
  • Every country surveyed agreed that having a second superpower equivalent to America would make the world more dangerous. This question was not asked in China for obvious reasons.
  • While nearly four in five Americans said other countries would be better off if they adopted American ideals, the only countries to agree with that statement were the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
  • That said, almost every country on the planet said they like US movies, TV, and music, with Canada liking it more than any other Western country (including the US!). Notable haters of US media culture include Bolivia, Russia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan (bottom of the list, with only 4% saying they like it).
  • Every country except Pakistan and Russia said it admired the US for its technological innovation.
  • Of Western countries, Canada most objected to the war on terror. Agentina, Senegal, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey all significantly opposed it.
  • Americans are the least travelled citizens of any Western nation, and know the least people in other nations.
  • Europeans report the least personal financial difficulties, followed closely by North America. The rest of the world is not doing so well, to put it lightly. America has the poorest citizens of all Western nations, although this number is skewed by medical costs being much higher in America.

Damn, I just wasted way too much time reading that. Oh, and those are based on about a thousand interviews in each nation. For a more anecdotal version of the above, here's a story about Pakistan.

A piece of freedom is no longer enough for human beings... unlike bread, a slice of liberty does not finish hunger. Freedom is like life. It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible - we have it all, or we are not free.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The UN is already making plans to clean up the mess the US is about to make in Iraq: 900,000 refugees, plus a potential ecological disaster. A pack of lies and strange omissions designed not to fight terror, but to fuel the defense industry and guarantee this planet is covered with weapons that have the potential to destroy it.

Which means that when (if) Korea goes through with reunification we're back to a cold war mutually assured destruction standoff. Are you really looking forward to drug addicted pilots dropping fire on a nuclear nation lead by a genuine madman?

Anyway, to finish with a precis of Charley Reese's colum today, Anti-War Not The Same As Anti-Defense, (click his name to read the whole thing):

People should make a distinction between someone being anti-war and being anti-defense. The best way, as George Washington said, to preserve the peace is to be prepared for war. The worst thing politicians can do is to squander the nation's resources in unnecessary wars.

Look at Vietnam. We know in retrospect that it doesn't make one iota's difference to us that Vietnam is communist. American politicians and businessmen have flocked to do business with the communists. Yet politicians wasted 57,000 American lives presumably to prevent Vietnam from going communist. Another 40,000 were wasted in Korea, as if the politics of the Korea peninsula mattered to us one way or another. I hasten to add, of course, that in both instances it matters a great deal to the Vietnamese and the Korean people.

PS. This just came in via ServMe: Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wifes Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?. Yes, it's what it sounds like. Now to “fight terror”, airline officials are forcing pregnant women to take their clothes off in public to prove that they're really pregnant, not just wearing a body suit.

Yay for freedom!

A society that will trade a little order for a little freedom will lose both, and deserve neither.

- Thomas Jefferson


Anyway, I'm off to do more year-end work for BME right now (thanks to help from PluR and Vanilla) so it's not just more of the same-old. Sorry this entry was so long, I just got wrapped up in that survey!

The times call for courage. The times call for hard work. But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher. They are nothing less than the future of human liberty, which means the future of civilization.

- Henry Hazlitt

Oh, and the new lense should get here today (thanks Phil) so I'll post some shots from it when it does…

Slow

I'm on my third build of this video now, trying to get the filtering just perfect. It really sucks having my main machine tied up. I'm at the point in the year where every single minute that I'm not working is a minute of sleep that I'm going to have to lose, so I really can't afford to have it tied up for so long.

The fact is that if I don't get this work done, I can't pay for IAM and various other things I care about. So if it means long hours and no sleep, so be it. It's not like there are any other options anyway.


While waiting this morning I read some copies of TIME magazine from a couple months ago. What a depressing load of shit that was. A pile of lies about the war that only an utterly uninformed and short-sighted fool would believe, and not only that, stories that when compared against current news stories don't even line up. I really have no idea how the average news reader doesn't call their bluff a la The Emperor Has No Clothes. Why doesn't it happen? Is the average person a fucking moron? Do they simply not care?

I'm sorry if it sounds insulting, but more and more I believe that as long as you keep giving people their soma, you can murder in their name indefinitely, and rape them to pay the bill. It's a very sad comment on the illusionary freedom of modern Western “democratic” capitalism.

The West is still a slave-based economy, and it will be as long as it retains capitalism. It's a simple fact. I challenge any economist to deny that fact. It's the core fact that is required for a capitalist system to succeed, as it is an inherently predatory/parasitic pyramid scheme which can only function by enslaving and abusing the majority of its people.

Anyway, then in the TIME magazines there were a bunch of articles about how white-collar workers are becoming unemployed in high numbers and not finding replacement work. Boo-fucking-hoo. That's like telling me that soldiers are out of work because there's no more people to kill. Here's a hint: it's because your job was bullshit, and never should have existed in the first place.

The fact is, work is work. Skilled and/or educated work is still work. What I do for example may require more skills, but I certainly can't say that what I do is any more difficult or noble or back-breaking than a manual laborer working the same hours. Work is work. Human is human. An hour is an hour.

Question: Why do people doing “my job” deserve $300 an hour?
Answer: They don't.

As I've said before, every piece of wealth, every dollar on this planet is created by physically processing the world's natural resources. Food, water, land, trees, minerals, oil, and so on. But somehow we've gotten to a place where the people who actually make that happen make very little in terms of power, money, and quality of life, whereas the people who force them to do it — the people higher up on the pyramid — become rich by circumstance.

Don't put up with it.

Wealth is in a good meal and a warm bed and good friends laughing around a fire. You don't have to play their game. You really don't. Land is cheap. A home is cheap. The planet and the sun will do the rest if your heart is pure and you have faith in your path.

Alice in Wonderland

“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat. “We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.”

“How do you know I'm mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”

Guide me, guilds.

In my cleaning and reorganizing I found the box from an old product of mine. Sort of anyway; at this point the product had already been made obsolete by the explosion of fax modems (we built the product in the 80's; here it's being sold in 1993). Anyway, this is what it looked like after we'd sold it to a group laundering Columbian drug money (yet another reason I am a no-go person in the US):

I was also reading an old interview* with Walter Wriston, the former CEO of Citicorp (Citibank) who retired in 1984. Anyway, he is asked,

What's the future of one-stop shopping for all your banking, insurance, and investment needs?

The real issue is who is going to run these financial supermarkets. Will it be something called a bank? Or will it be General Electric, Merrill Lynch, or Fannie Mae? All I can tell you is the banking business used to have about 70 percent of the financial assets of the world. Now we have about 30 percent. Do you know any industry that went from 70 down to 30 percent of market share and survived?

It's still an unancerwed question if America's heavily regulated banks can compete against huge corporations with massive cash flows. All I'm saying is that the share of financial assets administered by banks is shrinking every day, while the share administrated by the General Electrics of the world is growing.

Banks are regulated. Tightly regulated. International megacorps are not only totally unregulated, but they have more money and power than most smaller nations, and have more than enough power (as we've seen) to dictate the actions of even the biggest countries in the world.

Remember, when I say revolution now I'm talking about killing the corporation. It's an abomination and should not exist. We need to go back to small businesses, craftspeople, and guilds. Hmmm… Maybe we should start a body modification guild.


* WIRED 4.10 US, October 1996