athelind: (veteran)
This was not our era's Pearl Harbor.

This was our era's Reichstag Fire.


After reading the responses, and being asked privately, "Does that mean you're a 'truther'?", I feel the need to restate this more clearly:

The events of 11 September 2011 more closely resemble the Reichstag Fire than Pearl Harbor, most significantly in our response to them as a nation.

Certainly, it is not a one-to-one congruence -- but the "Pearl Harbor" comparison is bandied about far more often, with few objections, and the correspondence is no more exact.

The sticking point for most respondents seems to be the identity of the perpetrators of the Fire. That's a niggling detail, irrelevant to the thesis. I find the nature of our national response to be a matter of far greater importance, because we, lashing out in terror for a decade, have done far more damage to ourselves, to our freedoms, and to the world than the people in those planes ever could have.

The Most Significant Point of Similarity is not whether or not it was an "inside job", but in the fact that it allowed the ugly strain of authoritarianism that had been seeping into into our national political culture for years to finally consolidate its power and win the hearts and minds of the public.

If you want more discussion of "the nature of our national response", feel free to consult Mr. Hicks for his opinion thereon.


athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent has traveled a lot in his life. Throughout his high school years, his family lived in a motor home, and would take any excuse to pull up stakes and hit the road for a weekend or a week or a month, however long we could get away from work and school.

Needless to say, in those days when the TLA for "map" was "AAA" rather than "GPS", our navigation was not always perfect.

We were never lost, though. Whenever we took an unanticipated turn, whenever the highway underscored Dr. Korzybski's adage that "the map is not the territory", whenever our best-laid plans gang agly ... my mother or my sister or I would say, in a voice full of deliberately-synthetic cheer:

It's an adventure!


And it was. New vistas, unexpected discoveries, experiences that we'd never have had if we'd stayed in the Comfort Zone of interstate highways and Good Sam Parks.

It was an adventure. Every wrong turn, every misread map. Never lost, always seeking.

And those words, that rule that we were never allowed to say "lost"—it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It became an adventure.

This is a metaphor that extends past the road.

A friend of mine, a good friend who's been there through my own recent fumblings with life's map, is about to head off into new territory. His life has taken some unanticipated turns lately, and he's been stuck by the side of the road, unsure where he's going.

He's moving, now. Moving away, alas, but in motion, heading out on the highway. It's not any place he ever anticipated he'd be headed, but it looks like it's full of possibility and potential that just hasn't been available here, in his Comfort Zone.

It's an Adventure.

And, despite the stress behind the move, despite the sorrow that he'll no longer be local ... it is just so cool that he's got this opportunity, this adventure ahead of him.

I'm sad that he's going, but I'm excited for him.


athelind: (cronkite)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Should websites like Wikileaks be defended for sharing confidential corporate and government information with the public, and why?

Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy ... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything—you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
—Robert A. Heinlein, If This Goes On— (Emphasis mine.)


Since the Internet first became available to the general public, I've heard people who defend the government prying into one's online activities on the basis that "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide."

These same people are the ones who argue, in turn, that Wikileaks is revealing things that should best be kept secret, that the internal workings of business and government are best left under lock and key "for our own good".

This is exactly backwards.

Yes, we should know these things. We must know these things. We are not disinterested parties. What the banks and megacorps do, they do to us, their customers, their employees. What the government does, it does in our name.

There are things that I would not have done in my name.

If those I have elected to serve the machinery of government seek to tell me that I am forbidden to know of them, I would name them tyrant, and would remind them with whose consent they govern.

Wikileaks is performing a function vital and necessary to democracy and to the governance of free human beings. The wealthy and powerful must be called to account, they must know that their actions run the risk of being brought to light.

Once upon a time, this function was called journalism, and it was practiced by such diverse outlets as the Washington Post that backed Woodward and Bernstein, and CBS News under the auspices of Walter Cronkite, who earned and deserved the title of "The Most Trusted Man in America". Investigative journalism is a thing of the past, though, smothered in favor of gossip and Official Press Releases by budget-slashing corporate masters who see no profit in baring secrets to the rank and file.

Wikileaks has picked up the fallen torch of the Fourth Estate, and shoved it square in the face of the banksters and the Shadow Cabinet. Do they "deserve" protection? By the laws of the United States of America, they have it. They are entitled to the same legal precedents that have protected journalists and their sources for most of the 20th century ... and if those protections do not extend into the One-and-Twenty, then we have abdicated any claims we might have had to freedom.


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
And so, another year ends, and Your Obedient Serpent will be more than happy to be shed of this one. I bid 2010 adieu with two upraised middle fingers and a shout of defiance.

It's time to face forward.

I've mentioned that sometimes, the radio talks to me, that the station I most often tune to has a tendency to play certain songs over and over again, and sometimes, the songs that cycle into that repetitious rotation are ones that directly address my moods and circumstances.

Back in November, as I was preparing to move a lifetime of belongings out of [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's garage, this one played nearly every day.

I was going to post it tomorrow, but it played again, just minutes ago.

This, then, is my New Year: No Resolutions, Just Resolve.

I've got a world and a life and a future in front of me.

And it's mine.






I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams ... )

Happy New Year, one and all!

athelind: (cronkite)
Due to recent events, I haven't been as politically vocal in this forum as I once was. So It Goes.

We've got an election coming up in this country next week, though, and The Big Picture matters, especially with Big Media so happily wedded to Big Stupidity these days.

Let's lead off with Senator Al "won by 312 votes" Franken's reminder that every vote counts. Even yours. That's right, you. He also opines:

The month Barack Obama was sworn in we lost 750,000 jobs in this country. With all due respect to the President, I think his analogy that the economy was a car in a ditch when he took office is just a little too static. Here's my analogy, which, in my opinion, is both more kinetic and, frankly, far more accurate.

When the President took office, not only had the car gone into a ditch, the car had flipped over and was rolling down a steep embankment. We, the American people, were in the back seat, and the Bush Administration had removed all the seat belts, so we were all flying around the interior of this car as it was rolling and flipping and careening down this steep embankment, headed to a 2,000 foot cliff. And at the bottom of that cliff were jagged rocks. And alligators.

Now, at noon on January 20th, 2009, as the car was careening toward the cliff, George W. Bush jumped out of the car.

President Obama somehow managed to dive in through the window, take the wheel and get control of the thing just inches before it went over the precipice. Then, he and Congress starting pushing this wreck back up the embankment. Now you can't push a car up an embankment as fast as it careens down the embankment, especially if some people are trying to push against you. But we got it going in the right direction. And slowly we've gotten ourselves up the embankment, out of the ditch and onto the shoulder of the road.

[Italics mine ... and I confess I'm not quite as optimistic as Sen. Franken that we're quite "up the embankment" yet. Then again, I count things like "war without end" and "condoning torture" as part of the mud on the slippery slope.]


To expand the "every vote counts" theme into one of Solidarity, [livejournal.com profile] velvetpage gives a concrete example from this week's Canadian elections:

Toronto: the vote on the left was split several ways, while the vote on the right was concentrated on one right-wing ideologue who got the ear of the suburbs by promising an end to corruption and a drastic reduction in social services that the suburbs use less anyway. Want to know how it is that a country where most people lean to the left of centre manages to keep electing these clowns? Here's how: there are so many good ideas and decent people on the left that people can't settle on just one, and with a first-past-the-post system, it means the right-wing guy with less than a majority often comes up from behind.


And with the preliminaries out of the way, some Quick Links:




Thanks to Mark Evanier, [livejournal.com profile] velvetpage, and most especially [livejournal.com profile] pseudomanitou for links and leads. Seriously, folks, [livejournal.com profile] pseudomanitou's LJ is the best Progressive News Aggregator I've encountered. I have a lot of news feeds, but PM's news posts put all the best stuff in one place.
athelind: (eco-rant)
Okay, one reason, and one alone:

The United States of America consumes a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and produces a disproportionate amount of its pollution. Even a massive socio-economic catastrophe isn't going to do more than moderate that, at least over the next half-century or so. this is an issue that I can't run away from, because the ripples affect the entire world, and not just economically.

I am an Earth Systems Scientist.

If I have any hope of having an effect on this globe-threatening situation, it's gotta be here.

I've got my lever, rusty as it may be, and I think I'm narrowing down my places to stand.


athelind: (politics)
This was originally tacked on as a footnote to my last post, but I think it needs to stand on its own.

For the record, the "Divided States of America" is only a "worst-case scenario" if the Balkanization is violent. That's not unlikely, because we're all pretty pissed at each other right now, and we do like our guns.

On the other claw, the Soviet Union managed to spin off its component without devolving into all-out war, though, even if there were border skirmishes; if the U.S. pulled off the same trick, California might wind up better off than we are now, with the Federal Government funneling money out of the eighth-largest economy in the world and into Red States who rant against taxation, welfare and government interference.


athelind: (prisoner)
Mostly for my own reference: some thoughtful and measured words about emigration.

I'll tell ya: ever since reading Toffler's predictions for the future of the two "Second Wave" superpowers in 1990's Powershift, and watching it come true in the Soviet Union less than a year later, there's a part of me that's been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Yes, I'm fully aware that this kind of apocalyptic paranoia has contributed to the paralyzing stasis of my life since graduation.

Still, there's an important truth in play: things aren't getting any better in the Untidy States, and the best-case scenario is to hope that the continual erosion of our rights and freedoms will be sufficiently gradual that we won't notice.

And the alternatives ... well, we seem to be using all the worst clichés of Cyberpunk as a road map as it is, why not that one, too?*

I would really like to convince myself that this is just pessimism due to the latest economic downturn, but even during the boom years of the '90s, I saw the "New Democrats" quietly and casually continuing the trends of restricting the rights of biological individuals and increasing the freedoms of "corporate persons". Some oppressed groups have made a few advances in acceptance, but really, it's just welcoming them to the same Village that the rest of us live in. One step forward, two steps back.

I'm in the process of reevaluating my life, realigning my goals, and trying to get a better grip on how the "real world" works.

And around here ... it doesn't. Not very well. Not in ways that will do me any good, now or in the future.

Realistically, if I'm trying to reconstruct my present to make plans for my future, "emigration" needs to be one of my options—even and especially if I land the elusive "Real Job" locally.

The big issue, of course, is that the other Anglophone nations don't really want more USian expatriates.


This is not a post about pessimism or defeatism. This is a post about options.
*See next post.

athelind: (Warning: Caustic)
One of the recurrent themes in yesterday's discussions of "Draw Mohammad Day" was that when you deliberately go out to provoke people, there are going to be consequences.

Well, after my post about Fundamentalism and Atheism, the comment threads that followed, and my own flippant, insensitive responses, I just wound up losing one of my oldest friends.

Yeah. Go me.


athelind: (cronkite)
I was in a black mood yesterday, and posted some deliberately inflammatory things in this journal.

Some of what I posted was frankly contrafactual, and does not hold up even to a cursory examination of the evidence.


A Retraction and a Correction Follow: )

This was an ignorant, insulting mistake that promulgated misinformation about a group that receives a great deal of abuse, and I apologize.


athelind: (Default)
A comment over at [livejournal.com profile] toob's journal prompted me to finally put down in words something that I've mulled over for a very long time.

Over the decades, I've seen a great deal of evidence to support the hypothesis that, no matter what faith they might nominally adhere to, Fundamentalists of any creed have more in common with each other than they do with more moderate adherents of their own creed.

From my observations, the common keystone in the Fundamentalist worldview is this:

We and we alone know the One True and Proper Path, and those who disagree with us are not merely in error, they are evil, they are our enemies, and any abuse we can deliver unto them is not only justified, but for their own good.


All too often, this becomes the Fundamentalist's primary tenet -- the specific details of his or her faith all become a distant second to the pure, blind assertion that I am right and you are not.

This is their true religion.

Proportionally, I've seen just as many Fundamentalists who think they're Atheists as I have Fundamentalists who think they're Anything Else, and their reaction to Thoughtcrime is just as zealous.

Did that last sentence piss you off?

Might want to run some diagnostics.


athelind: (flames)
Yes, I get it. We all have the right to be assholes.

That doesn't mean we have an obligation to be assholes.


Maybe I wouldn't be in such a foul mood this week if I didn't keep posting flamebait.
athelind: (cronkite)
"Draw Mohammad Day" offends me, despite the fact that I read Gods Playing Poker, which depicts Mohammad in every single strip.

GPP is irreverent and snarky, but it isn't in the least mean-spirited, and this "crusade" most certainly is.

(Of course, it's in "defense" of one of the most mean-spirited shows in U.S. television history, so yeah.)

This little stunt offends me because it's not just aimed at the Fundamentalists; this is a deliberate slap at moderate and progressive Muslims, as well (not that many of the Draw Mohammed Day crowd actually bother to acknowledge that there's a difference). It's a wide-sweeping smackdown of an entire group, and it's saying the same damned thing that the real offenders keep saying: "all of them hate all of us."

Gods damn it, people. how hard is it to grasp? If you're really opposed to an ideology, don't let its adherents frame the argument.

I'm not saying "don't do this". I'm not saying "it shouldn't be allowed". I am saying that we need to examine the motives and sincerity behind it. So much of the output is a tedious repetition of hackneyed Prophet-As-Terrorist memes that it's hard to see it as a statement of "artistic freedom".

If this were really about "free speech", we'd be following it with "Draw Christ Getting Raped In The Nail-Holes Day".


Wow. I think that's the most Regrettably Appropriate use of the word "crusade" I've invoked in a long time.
athelind: (big ideas)
Elsewhere, I just started to type "corporate plutocracy", and left out the "l".

After a moment's thought, I realized that the typo, if taken as a Spanish root instead of Latin, made at least as much sense, if not more.

So I left it.


athelind: (tell it like it IS)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Do you celebrate your country's independence? If so, how?

When it finally happens, I'll celebrate it.


athelind: (pennyfarthing)
AMC has made all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan's classic series, The Prisoner, available online.

This series is required viewing for anyone who's ever ...

Well, for anyone.

Anywhere.

Especially in this day and age.


I am not a number!
I am a free man!


athelind: (Default)
AMC has made all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan's classic series, The Prisoner, available online.

This series is required viewing for anyone who's ever ...

Well, for anyone.

Anywhere.

Especially in this day and age.


I am not a number!
I am a free man!


athelind: (outrage)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[livejournal.com profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.


*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.
athelind: (Default)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[livejournal.com profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.


*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.
athelind: (Tiananmen Rebel)
The only place I've seen this is in a locked post, so I'm gonna put it right out here in the open:

If you're on Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians' access to the internet. Cut & paste & pass it on.


I'm not on Twitter, but I know a bunch of you out there who read this are -- so help throw a wrench in the Fundamentalist machine. There's not a lot we can do from here, but this one little thing could have a disproportional impact.


athelind: (Default)
The only place I've seen this is in a locked post, so I'm gonna put it right out here in the open:

If you're on Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians' access to the internet. Cut & paste & pass it on.


I'm not on Twitter, but I know a bunch of you out there who read this are -- so help throw a wrench in the Fundamentalist machine. There's not a lot we can do from here, but this one little thing could have a disproportional impact.


athelind: (veteran)
It doesn't matter if you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veteran's Day.

It doesn't matter what you think of the current war, or war in general.

What matters is that every day, there are those who put their lives on the line for others, on the battlefield or on the streets, in raging fires or in the face of raging storms, or striving to reach beyond the sky.

Some of them don't come back. Some of them do.

Honor them all. They've honored you.


November 2016

S M T W T F S
  12345
6 78 9101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   

Tags

Page generated Apr. 23rd, 2017 07:48 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios