Saturday, May 26, 2012

I don’t want politicians who are 'above politics,' any more then I want a plumber who's 'above toilets'.'
— Ta-Nahesi Coates

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why yes, you can video police

From this article: U.S. Department of Justice Slaps Baltimore Police Over Right to Record Issue

"On Monday, the Department of Justice slapped the Baltimore Police Department with another letter, condemning it for writing such a vague general order and for allowing the harassment to continue.

"It is a very impressive read. Eleven pages of case citations and Constitutional clarifications. One of the most solid efforts from the federal government in protecting the rights of citizens to record police."

From the Letter from the U.S. Attorney General comes these tidbits, as quoted in the article above:

No individual is required to display 'press credentials' in order to exercise his/her right to observe, photograph, or video record police activity taking place in an area accessible to, or within view of, the general public.
And this:
In addition, policies should prohibit more subtle actions that may nonetheless infringe upon individuals’ First Amendment rights. Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices.
The millstones of the gods grind slowly
but they grind exceeding fine.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What does the economy look like?

"Markets do everything best – managing business and systemic risk, innovating, investing, organising executive reward – without the intervention of the supposed dead hand of the state and without any acknowledgement of wider social obligations." — A quote from The Guardian as part of an article that answers the second question.

Two questions:

1) If it works, what is it supposed to look like? How does the economy look and function?
2) Does that in any way match what the economy looks like right now?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.
— G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

Friday, May 11, 2012

When there is fear, there is tyranny

Found on a survivalist blog:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

When the government fears the people, there is tyranny. DHS/TSA for example.

Tyranny comes when there is fear in a relationship. Liberty comes when both sides have a clear understanding of each other, and agree to compromises necessary. Tyranny comes from fear, as one side, either the government or the people, tries to bludgeon the other side into submission.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
And the vigilance must also include a mirror.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WTF? Workers = Consumers?

Pundits have an incredible ability to segment information, separating out bits of data into separate categories. They see people or events as discreet bits of information, to be categorized and sorted. This is useful for many things. Scholarly analysis is one of them.

However, not for a lot of real life analysis. For example:

It was with much astonishment on my part to watch a selection of economic pundits discuss their personal confusion over the fact that consumer confidence was down. Those pundits were completely and totally flabbergasted, their eyes wide or eyebrows up with astonishment, their words spoken in tones of shock and disbelief. What piece of information caused this mental shakeup?

The statement that workers and consumers were one and the same, and the loss of jobs meant the loss of ability to consume.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

You cannot get someone to understand a foreign language by shouting.

A friend sent me a link to a marvelous article: What if a collapse happened and nobody noticed? I agree with the beginning, about what a collapse looks like. It's awesome. You should read it. I stopped agreeing when the author started blaming Peak Oil. It's easy to blame an outside force. It's easy to blame "others". It's a method used by leaders for millenia: when internal troubles can't be solved, attack someone "outside", someone "not us". Change the focus, at least until the leaders are out of power, or dead. Reminds me of Louis Whatsizname of France, and "after me, the deluge."

What I see as the current political/economic problem is an inability to see that a program doesn't work. I don't care if it's a low-level after school program started by the local women's club, or international economic policy. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. There are those who still claim trickle-down works, except for those nasty people who get in its way. In other words, in real life, it *does* *not* *work*. Get over it and move on. Austerity programs are not working. So what will? There are a lot of ideas getting tossed around. Some ideas work locally, some in larger regions, some internationally. No one idea works for all things, although people in power try to make it so. "Don't force it. Use a bigger hammer."

Unfortunately, far too many people are emotionally invested in their own ideas, and will *not* change, even in the face of creeping collapse. Too many people invested in the belief that the unemployed are lazy, no-good, and all they have to do is find a job. These true believers can't seem to see there are no jobs. They point to "see, that one company is hiring 50 people" and miss the fact that *500* people applied. People complain about "all that money being spent on space" and fail to see that the jobs, the manufacturing of equipment and parts, are *here* on this planet. There are no piles of Franklins on the Moon, Cassini does not carry gold as cargo. The area around Cape Canaveral is facing severely increasing unemployment, now that those who worked on Space Shuttle launches are unemployed. Those in charge cut that program as an austerity measure, thus decreasing those paying taxes: those no longer working for NASA, those families no longer buying at local stores, those stores that close because few are buying, those who used to be store employees in their turn not buying at other stores. None of them are now paying taxes, thus increasing the need for more austerity. Sounds like a nasty spiral down, doesn't it?

The article's statement "Of course they could just as easily come clean with all this..." Dude! What world are you living in? You seem to think all people in positions of power even recognize there's a problem. You assume they are all deliberately withholding information, when in fact they are blindly hanging on to beliefs that do not reflect the real world. It falls in the "all you have to do is..." thinking, which is just as bad as "of course it works, if people would stop interfering." It's not malice, at least not for most of them. It's just plain old ordinary willful blindness. We all suffer from it in various forms.

I have blind spots that I'm willing to have exposed, but only if the person exposing them shows me the numbers/data as they are *in* *real* *life*, not what they should be under ideal circumstances. We are humans, not ideals.

You cannot get someone to understand a foreign language by shouting.
You cannot solve a problem if you won't see the current "solution" doesn't work.