Monthly Archives: September 2004

Voting issues


You may have seen this story earlier about overseas ISPs being blocked from accessing government sites (more). That is, if you're using or a number of the big European ISPs, you can not access US government servers. The DOD is claiming that this is due to the potential of “hackers”, but that's ludicrous — first, only the big ISPs are blocked, not all of them (too difficult), and second, even if a hacker was using a big ISP, they could bounce off some owned box and get around this in their sleep.

This block is in for one reason: to keep expats and other Americans living overseas from voting, since they usually vote Democrat. It's the same as the systematic moves to keep blacks from voting, since statistically blacks, unlike poor white folk, actually are bright enough to see who their enemy is.

The Pentagon as well confirmed (more, more) that they have begun “begun restricting international access to the official Web site intended to help overseas absentee voters cast ballots.” I've mentioned in the past about how military personnel overseas are not being allowed to vote privately in many cases, and other basic violations of the Democratic process… But I'm consistently shocked at how brazen all this is, and how Americans totally seem unwilling to look in the general direction of these issues.

You know, I don't care what you think of the Iraq war, gay marriage, or anything else. Bush and the Republican's total disrespect for democracy and their willingness to bend the law (more) to their advantage even when it means disenfranchising voters should be singularly enough to induce every patriotic American, of any political leaning, to throw these people out.

I have a simple question for Republicans:
What do you love more — America, or the Republican Party?

Of course, the average patriot is an idiot, which makes it easy to mold them. One of the things that always surprises me is that the polls of Kerry v. Bush I see in the international media (of domestic Americans) are very close, often with Kerry in the lead. On the other hand, the polls in the heavily right leaning US media have Bush with often outrageous leads (more, more) — and even though the pro-Bush ones have been shown to be fundamentally flawed (because they interviewed mostly Republicans; more). It just blows my mind that people can't clue in that they're taking advice not from impartial journalists, but from big corporations that are profiting from the big government systems, and stand to profit a lot more from Bush than they do from Kerry.

Simple truth: Since the big media are all publicly owned corporations, they have a legal obligation to maximize profit, not truth. In addition, the law dictates that they must lie if it means profit, assuming the lie is legal (which it is). But still, we hold on to these laughably preposterous idealistic notions that there's some “magical journalism spirit” that keeps them noble. Hello Santa.

So why are these polls inaccurate? For the same reason that a right wing paper will tell you that there were 100,000 people at a protest while the slightly less right wing paper will tell you there were 150,000… while in reality there were 250,000. Because people are cowardly sheep and want to be doing — and thinking — what everyone else is doing. That's also why they're so scared of people with tattooed faces, but I digress… So they tell you Bush is a “regular guy”. They tell you over and over (more), and they're doing it with $259 million dollars worth of money (more) coming almost exclusively from the richest people and companies in America (more).

And then there's the nonstop lying by both Bush, the Republican party, Republican-sponsored thinktanks, and of course the pundits. For example, Rush just said that half of Kerry's base “hate America”… and people take crazy old Limbaugh seriously? Then you've got the RNC currently warning voters in West Virginia (more) that Kerry is planning on banning the Bible and approving gay marriage — neither of which Kerry has ever suggested he'd do in any way and obviously wouldn't do (because banning the Bible is illegal, and because he's been very clear he won't support gay marriage — hell, Cheney is more pro-gay than Kerry). Then there's all his little lies — such as his stupid “more than 10 million voters” thing below, or even just the over-and-over mixup between Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas (more). I don't know what's more insulting… that he can do this with total impunity, or that anyone that questions it is labeled a kook and the mainstream media can't talk about it.

Do the rich really think Americans are this stupid (or at least ignorant and gullible)?

If they actually are, maybe rich people deserve to be rich, and the rest of y'all deserve to be poor?

NOTE: Before you start saying, “hey, aren't you better off than me, fucker!? maybe YOU are my enemy”, realize that while Rachel and I are well off on the whole, we're nothing in comparison to the genuinely rich folks who are paying to put politicians (on both sides) in place. So please don't chop off our heads.


I thought that those of you who are cutting (and to a lesser extent scarification) fetishists would like this photo c/o Hallmark from Yuriy Kalmikov in Kiew (Crazy Art Tattoo). More interesting work from Yuriy is in today's update (to be posted later this evening).

"Liberty's Century"

Not sure how many people watched Bush's speech at the UN a few minutes ago but I wanted to make a couple of quick comments. A lot of glaring — and even open derisive laughing — from the audience, but really, this speech was for the US voters, not for the UN.


Bush is pushing for the UN to enact a worldwide treaty banning human cloning, which is just another step in his ignorant and anti-science adminstration's strategy to keep humanity from moving forward. If we really want to move into the future, cloning could be an essential technology. And even if it's not, short of bizarroworld sci-fi scenarios of dubious likelihood, it's not as if there's even a reason why this type of science is dangerous — unless you buy the “they'll be born without souls” voodoo crap.


It always blows my mind to watch Bush preach about liberty and how other nations need to do this or do that… when in relative terms he's slashed more civil rights than any US President of the last fifty years. He's opposed to science, he's opposed to women's rights, gay rights, he's opposed to gun ownership, he's opposed to a free press, and so on and so on… Scary that there are people who actually believe the opposite in face of all his actions.


Now, I do buy the theory that if Iraq were to have a legitimate democracy that it would be a very good thing for the Middle East. However, I also buy the theory that America can't force democracy on anyone — that Iraq has to do it for themselves, on their own (as I've said many times before).

But the one that really got me was when he was talking about Afghanistan. He said something along the lines of “if you want to know if a Muslim society can be democractic, look at Afghanistan”. Then he went on to say how there are “over ten million registered voters, four million of them women”. Here's the problem. The population of Afghanistan that is elligible to vote is 9.8 million. While the UN does believe that there was a very high voter registration rate, the fact is that it's not over 100%.

Bush knows this because he's been publicly called on it multiple times. The international media knows this. The people sitting in the UN know this. The only people who don't know it are the uneducated and uninformed US voters, and, like I said, that is who Bush was blabbing at the UN at.

Kit cars

What's your wackiest home-brew project? There are always interesting kitcars on eBay. I'm consistently blown away at what an impressive marketplace they have there — none of the kit-dedicated publications (even mine) have ever been able to keep up. Anyway, for those of you with some money to spend on a new toy, there are three kits up right now that I think are worth it.

Marauder GT MkII

This is a car that I've never seen on eBay before, and I can't imagine there are even a dozen of them on the planet. It's a replica of the legendary Chevron B/16 Can-Am car (using the original car as reference when Maurader bought out all the B/16s) and is genuinely stunning. This one is built around a rotary engine but you could change that if you wanted. Anyway, it's a very cool car… last time I talked to the owner was something like seven years ago and he was already liquidating his stuff due to terminal illness, so I'm actually surprised he's still around (sorry if that's morbid).

Fiberfab Banshee

Also a very rare care, modelled after the Daytona Cobra. It's got the same sort of appeal and characteristics of my Vette or any number of cars I've mentioned here… That said, I don't know how well this car handles — certainly the Marauder on the left is going to far outperform both this and the Valkyrie. The Banshee is also very rare and I think this is the first I've seen for sale — usually you see Jamaican's for sale, which are a lot more common (and far less radical).

Fiberfab Valkyrie

Fiberfab built a number of GT40-styled kits. Avengers, which are VW-based were made in the thousands and are very common in this market. The Valkyrie, far more rare, was the high performance version built around a tube chassis and a V8/Porsche transmission driveline. This car is incredibly low in person and terrifyingly powerful, although it's still going to be far outhandled by the Marauder.

All that said, when I've finally got access to a workshop again I think the first thing I'm building is a Universal Hovercraft UH-19P… Very cool, very fast hovercraft that currently holds the speed record in its class. That said, their ground effect vehicle, the UH-18PSW is really cool. Click it:

I keep talking up ragnarok, but it never comes

You know how occasionally there are candid Q&A's posted on BME? Have you ever wished that Presidential candidates would do that? Well, Michael Badnarik who's running as the Libertarian Presidential candidate just did that over on Slashdot. It's worth a read; here are some quotes to get you started. Please do give it a chance even if you're a “I'm voting for Kerry/Bush” loyalist.

"A lot of Americans don't know that until the 1890s, the government didn't print ballots at all. Voters wrote their own, or used pre-printed ballots provided by the party of their choice. The adoption of the 'Australian ballot' gave the politicians control of what choices were put in front of voters. Personally, I prefer Approval Voting. In this method, each voter can select as many candidates as he likes — he can vote for all the candidates whom he can live with. All of the votes are counted, and the candidate with the most votes wins. The result is that the winner is not necessarily 'the most popular,' but 'the one that the most voters are okay with.'"

"We could argue all day about whether Bush or Kerry is the "lesser evil." The fact is that they both support the war in Iraq. They both oppose gun rights. They both supported the PATRIOT Act. They both support the war on drugs. They both support confiscatory taxation. They both support ruinously high levels of spending, huge deficits and increasing debt. It's hard to tell them apart on the real issues. All I can tell the 'lesser of two evils' folks is that if they keep voting for evil, they'll keep getting evil. If you don't like the way things are, how do you change it by voting for more of the same?"

"Ever since the inception of government schooling in the 19th century under Horace Mann, the US has been on a downward trend in literacy, numeracy and science learning. Sometimes that trend is briefly halted, but it always continues."


While I do believe that Kerry is a “better” choice if we're to choose between two evils, I more strongly believe in what Badnarik is saying about voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. Given the political similarity between Bush and Kerry, I don't see that either of them is a solution — Americans desperately need the kind of reforms that the LP and other groups are fighting for if it's to prosper through the 21st century. America needs a government that represents its people and their needs.

On to more environmental scaring, but first let me show you what's in the workshop… Watch out for this probably tomorrow in BMEshop. As always, first come, first served.

Anyway, let's get going with the fear mongering.

Remember the plague from the Middle Ages? It killed about 25 million people across Europe. What you may not know is that there have been far more fatal plagues recently. For example, in 1918 there was an influenza (aka the flu) outbreak that killed upwards of 40 million people. It was deadly enough “luckily” that it wiped itself out over the next year. 28% of Americans were infected and almost three quarters of a million died. Statistically this lowered American life expectancy at the time by ten years, but, by the end of 1918 it was gone.

Influenza is usually not so dangerous — this was a unique and mutated variation of the disease, and it hasn't been studied because we simply didn't have the medical knowledge back then to do so. However, a few years ago scientists managed to extract the influenza strain's viral DNA (if you want to really scare yourself, I'll tell you that it was dug up by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and you're welcome to guess what the army wants this virus for), and the University of Washington just got a grant (more) to inject monkeys with the stuff. But here's the punchline.

As I said before, this is an unusually deadly strain of influenza. Because most influenza is really not that dangerous, no special precautions are required to do research on it. Since the University has neither the money nor the legal requirement to have full biocontainment, and there are no plans to do so (although it's certainly still being debated), we have to worry about the potential consequences. The university has gone so far to say as they refuse to have a complete containment for the study.

Yeah, this could turn out really well.

In other news — some of you who are programmers working with H1B folks may already know about this because they've started to show up domestically in codefarms — a new set of strains of highly drug and antibiotic resistant tuberculosis are making the rounds (more). Even today, “normal” TB kills about two million people a year and infects over three times that number. Like the influenza above, it's spread through the air and lungs — this isn't some STD where you've got to trade fluids. All you have to do is breathe near someone who's infected.

The World Health Organization states that their efforts to fight TB are failing. Many areas have simply stopped treating most TB patients, focusing only on the decreasing number that have older strains that can still be treated by drugs.

My crazy advice? Invest heavily in media stocks. If no one can safely leave their homes, broadcast entertainment will become even more profitable than it is now.