Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If You're Reading This, Go Watch the Inauguration!

Hey! Scram! You ought to be watching President Obama and company on this historic day. Go watch it here.

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posted by Brian at 1:56 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 05, 2009

End Corporate "Personhood"


Now here's an idea I have to support -- eliminate the legal "personhood" that all American public corporations have. Because corporations have the rights of people without the responsibilities and considerably more money than regular people, they have become exploitive monsters above Law and Government. Commerce worked quite well, arguably, before when corporations were not people under the Law. They should be made lesser beings, and while we're at it, programmed to seek profit responsibly rather than exclusively.

Of course I can just hear the corporate lawyers saying it's unconstitutional to take rights away from people and therefore this can't be done.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Support Mentors!

Please help support Citizen School's mentoring campaign by clicking on the link above and voting. Only 140 60 22 more votes needed to get their cause to the next level! Now in 2nd place and off to the second round, but please vote if you haven't yet!

UPDATE:Thanks for voting! Citizen School made it to the next round and needs about 200 more votes to be in the top 10 of all ideas in the running. Please vote on the widget to the right.

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posted by Brian at 4:58 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Case You Thought Saturday Night Live Was Exaggerating Palin's Scariness...


This would have been a good opportunity for Palin to dispel the negative press, to quell those that question her experience, to prove she's a competent, knowledgeable, strong woman ready to rule the country.

Ooops. And this is just one example.

And so predictable is her speaking style that someone made a random Sara Palin interview generator.

Though I disliked Clinton, she was 10,000 times smarter and more qualified than this lady. Even infamous and often mocked Vice President Quayle seems a better candidate.

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posted by Brian at 9:14 AM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 29, 2008

How Our Government is Abusing Democracy: The Bailout Bill

Glenn Greenwald wrote on his blog about why the proposed $700 Billion taxpayer dollar payment -- demanded by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (to be paid to him with very little accountability, and which would likely be paid to his buddies in the banking business who made the poor decisions that caused the collapse) -- is not unlike the other examples of how the recent Administration has undermined the democratic process. These are his 10 principles, which all recent crises our country has faced have in common:
  1. Incredibly complex and consequential new laws are negotiated in secret and then enacted immediately, with no hearings, no real debate, no transparency.

  2. Those who created the crisis, were wrong about everything, drive the process. Experts who dissent from the prevailing Washington orthodoxy, particularly ones who were presciently warning about what was happening, are simply ignored -- systematically excluded from the process.

  3. Public opinion is largely ignored, as always, and public anger is placated through illusory, symbolic and largely meaningless concessions.

  4. The Government begins with demands for absolute power so brazen and absurd that anything, by comparison, seems reasonable ... [P]eople thus end up grateful for what is, by any measure, an extreme outcome, all because it's not quite as extreme as what the Bush administration began by demanding.

  5. Wall Street, large corporations and their lobbyists own the Federal Government and both parties, and (therefore) they always win.

  6. The people who run the Washington Establishment are drowning in conflicts of interest.

  7. For all the anger over what Wall St. has done, the Government -- as it bails them out -- isn't doing anything to rein in their practices.

  8. When the Government wants greater and greater power and wants to engage in pure corruption, it need only put the population in extreme fear and it gets its way in every case.

  9. On the most consequential and fundamental questions that define the country, the establishment/leadership of both political parties are in full agreement, and insulate themselves from any political ramifications by acting jointly.

  10. Whenever you think that the Government has done things so extreme that it can't top itself -- torture, theories of presidential lawbreaking, a six-year war justified by blatantly false pretenses -- it always tops itself.


I believe these behaviors are what emerges when self-interest is allowed to run rampant; when key rules of democracy designed to reduce corruption are eliminated, business and government become indistinguishable. Democrats and Republicans become indistinguishable. All that's left are rich people (and their friends) doing what's best for themselves and fooling everyone else into believing all is well. Unfortunately, THIS is what needs to be changed.

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posted by Brian at 12:35 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Cartoon In Honor of 9/11

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Republican Media Bias In Action: MSNBC Demotes Its Highest-Rated Anchors

Media analyst Glenn Greenwald wrote on his blog today about the recent demotion of MSNBC's highest rated anchor-people and how the only rationale for it is political pressures from the White House, McCain, and Republicans.
The single dumbest claim in our political culture is that the huge corporations which own our establishment media outlets promote a "liberal" ideology. Why would General Electric ever use NBC and its other media assets to promote political liberalism? They lavishly benefit from the whole panoply of right-wing policies -- from endlessly expanding defense spending to deregulation. Their multiple businesses depend upon maintaining good relations with the right-wing ideologues who run our Government. Even ignoring all of the above-documented empirical facts, the very idea that a corporation like GE -- or Viacom (CBS), Disney (ABC) and Time Warner (CNN) -- would actively promote a left-wing agenda in its news divisions and undermine the very Government power centers on which they rely has been the most self-evidently moronic premise one can imagine. As Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone confessed in 2004:
Senator Kerry is a good man. I've known him for many years. But it happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican Administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.
And yet the myth of the large-corporation-owned "Liberal Media" persists, and even intensifies.

This decision by MSNBC is as alarming as it is illustrative. They just implicitly chided and overtly demoted their most popular and valuable news personality because the White House, the McCain campaign and the Right demanded that they do so. It's fine for Brit Hume to host a "news program" and for hard-core right-wing ideologues to dominate cable news. The fact that Dick Cheney (understandably) viewed Tim Russert's Meet the Press as the ideal forum to allow the White House to "control the message" bothered nobody outside of a few online critics, and didn't remotely impede the perception of Russert as the Beacon of Tough and Objective Journalism. But MSNBC's ratings-based decision to feature Keith Olbermann is a grave threat to modern journalism and must be stopped. So decrees the White House and the McCain campaign, and so the GE-owned MSNBC complies.
Basically, the Right is cheating. Rather than let we the people decide who to vote for, what better way to win than to cry foul: "The Liberals have too much coverage!" Grab the media corporations by the balls, tell them "Remove your Liberal content or there will be consequences." Corruption at its finest and most blatant. Bye bye Journalism, informed Electorate. Hello government-controlled media.

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posted by Brian at 1:30 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What If Voting Were Global?

Thought of the Day:
What would the world be like if instead of being confined to vote locally and federally, we could also vote internationally?

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posted by Brian at 7:36 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, March 09, 2007

Animation about How We're Becoming a Surveillance Society



So what's wrong with being watched, if it means a better sense of security? Having the FBI and police know everything about you. Having corporations and governments know everything about you. Having insurance companies know everything about you. Whether or not you think you've done something wrong, some entitiy out there will, or associate you with someone who has. Sooner or later, self-interest will take advantage of this information and use it against you. This is the theme of the German Academy Award Winning film, "The Lives of Others," and we're quietly allowing our government to move in this direction in the name of fighting terrorism.

Given how sloppy a lot of the software and procedures are in these systems, expect massive numbers of false positives. Expect data leaks to end up in enemy hands. None of this is worth it. No gradual improvement of technology over time designed to improve accuracy will be worth losing Democracy. We do not want to be China. It does not take much to flick off the checks & balances built into our system. We can't assume America is immune from despotism and Big Brother Syndrome.

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posted by Brian at 4:11 PM 2 comments links to this post

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Consumers To Be Punished for Modifying or Doing Things with Products They Buy?

Reuters.com has a blurb about the new Blu-Ray DVD format that will be forced upon us in the near future. I work at Sony, and hear that Blu-Ray is technically great, but the following part disturbs me:
On top of that, consumers should expect punishment for tinkering with their Blu-ray players, as many have done with current DVD players, for instance to remove regional coding. The new, Internet-connected and secure players will report any "hack" and the device can be disabled remotely.

"A hacked player is any player that is doing something it's not supposed to do," Andy Setos (engineer at News Corp) said, adding the jury was still out if regional coding would be maintained or scrapped.

Not supposed to do? Like what? Show porn? Show material that the religious minority finds offensive? Play DVDs criticizing the government? Show material that isn't licensed by the Hollywood cartel? Shows material supporting the ideas of public domain or open source? Play back DVDs or music more than the number of times that Hollywood executives want you to? Play back movies from other countries?

Come on! No corporate entity, just because it's acting as a creator of a product, should claim infinite rule-making abilities under patent and copyright laws. Infinite scope is not protected, only the right to control copying with the priviso of Fair Use. That's it. The D.M.C.A. added the ability to sue folks who tried to go around their rules, but there's nothing from stopping them from expanding the scope of whatever rules they want. Hence, Andy's quote of "Anything it's not supposed to" meaning "what we say it should do." You want to try make your DVD player work in your car? Too bad. That's a crime. You want to hook it up to Linux since Hollywood doesn't want to support it? Too bad. That's a crime.

I feel like I'm in the former Soviet Union more and more every day. A centralized design committee declaring that consumers have no rights to change what they buy. Not for safety reasons (like you shouldn't use rat poison in cooking or to make bombs), but because the committee feels it is against their interests.

The good news is, any device that uses the Internet to tattle tale on you can be thwarted by having something listening for its outgoing signals. But if Hollywood gets to build the "uncopyable" DVD player, that doesn't mean we have to buy it. If they want to cry "Oh oh, we're losing so much money because the DVD spec before was so easily copied", and then turn around and make more profit in DVDs over the last several years than regular movies, I couldn't care less. I'll go on renting Netflix until they require me to let my DVD player tattle tale on me.

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posted by Brian at 11:42 AM 0 comments links to this post