Food for thought…

Niek Hockx points to a link that links up with Blackwater, the apotheosis of free marketry really.

Artie Shaw died.  Who knew he was 94?  Decline of the licorice stick…

Amy Wohl may be giving Jaron Lanier more credit than he has coming.  Based on what I heard at Accelerating Change, and what I’ve read most recently, I think the lad has stagnated.  The "debate" with Will Wright really wasn’t, and Wright would have eaten poor Jaron alive had they engaged in a clash of ideas.  Fortunately for all present, the exchange was mild and boring, a chance for the audience to bask in the presence of the cultural icons, a chance for the icons to chill and collect (one assumes) a decent honorarium for the chillage.

… and that Helen Keller, what a rabble rouser:

We are not free unless the men who frame and execute the laws represent the interests of the lives of the people and no other interest. The ballot does not make a free man out of a wage slave. There has never existed a truly free and democratic nation in the world. From time immemorial men have followed with blind loyalty the strong men who had the power of money and of armies. Even while battlefields were piled high with their own dead they have tilled the lands of the rulers and have been robbed of the fruits of their labor. They have built palaces and pyramids, temples and cathedrals that held no real shrine of liberty.

Read this for a better understanding of visually dominant cultures.

And then as homework, prepare and present a paper on the importance of standards and why XML is a standard but RSS is not.


Give me a farging break…

Bloggers are people of the year?  ABC news reports this.  I’d link to them but I don’t want to give them the traffic.  Goof balls.

Here is the Person of the Year…

Ms. Emmy Rossum


Somewhere Near Salinas, Lord…

Well, score another one for Bush and the Enron team…

three Salinas Public Libraries will close for an indefinite period of
time soon after January 1, 2024. These closures are part of the 9.2
million dollars in the service reductions incurred by the City of
due to loss of revenues from the State of California, higher
fees imposed by Monterey County, slower than expected economic
recovery, and increased costs of employee health insurance and
retirement benefits."

What would Steinbeck do?

James Dean would be pissed.

I’m pissed.

Guess somebody has to do it

Al Jazeera reports:

Khasawna said on Wednesday that [Ramsey] Clark, who held the office of
attorney-general under US president Lyndon Johnson, had "honoured and
inspired" the legal team by agreeing to help defend Saddam.

The Loudest Car Audio – A Competition

"…they are nothing like the trunk-rattling thugs most people see at traffic lights. They are louder."

Ben Paynter writes: (from this week’s Kansas City Pitch, written in large part over the Thanksgiving weekend at our kitchen table…)

Mechanics sneak nips from longnecks. Others clench cigarettes
between their lips as they twist wires and pump bass-heavy tracks from
Outkast and Eminem, which grow louder with each component added to the
electrical daisy chain. A green Ford Metropolitan, lifted on 6-foot
wheels and 5-ton axles, rises above the sea of polished metal. The
truck has a detachable, touch-screen CD player, three amps and six
15-inch speakers wired to eight car batteries. A black van from
Moberly, Missouri, blasts test tones that trigger car alarms — its
open rear doors reveal a cargo of amps stacked like shipping boxes.
Some cars have enough raw power to torch amplifiers, shatter glass
windshields, rend metal.

Welcome to the 17th annual Tuner Jam: the largest, loudest
car-stereo competition on the planet. Stereo geeks from around the
country converge here once a year, morphing their cars into the world’s
most powerful portable boomboxes, pitting sound system against sound
system to find out whose is loudest.  Read more…

Susan Sontag

She’s dead.  Quintessential pop-culture critic, feminist, novelist, essayist and proto blogger – gone at 71…

"I know of no other
intellectual who is so clear-minded with a capacity to link, to
connect, to relate," Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist, once said.

Secular Humanism

Secular humanism is generally a good thing and fundamentalist religion is generally a bad thing.  Humanists are all about opening, broadening, inclusion.  Fundamentalists are about closing, narrowing, exclusion.  Humanists support distinctions without prejudice.  Fundamentalist distinctions create prejudice.

The label of "secular humanist" has some baggage attached to it based on the bad press it gets from true believers.  Much like the invidious distinction that Limbaugh laid on us around the phrase "tax and spend liberalism," secular humanism is, in some quarters, thought to be a bad thing, faithless, a position to be avoided.

For me it is easy to posit a metaphysical context beyond my understanding.  I’m pretty good in three spatial and one temporal dimension.  Beyond that, it starts to get metaphysical.  But so far it hasn’t required a god for me to grasp that there are limits to my sensoria and my understanding.  On the other hand, the concept of god, the joy, the love, the boundless concern and care we can share with each other, these things have a spiritual aspect that I enjoy.

In the United States, we assert a constitutional separation of church and state under the first and fourteenth amendments to the constitution.  There are those that would tear down this wall, people who assert that their biblical beliefs should be taught in public schools, and worse – that information contrary to their beliefs should NOT be taught, or should somehow be qualified as contrary to their precepts.

I think we should respect these people.  I think we should put all their churches’ property on our local property tax rolls and tax their churches’ income, and exercise eminent domain over any holdings that could be used for community purposes and respect their rights to have a say in the way our public schools are run.  They are, after all, citizens, and by putting their church property on the tax rolls they will have a stake in the game.

Here in Madison we have some lovely church properties that we could assess at a fair market value and improve our ability to fund the teaching of evolution, and the public health provision of sexual health care including birth control and abortions.