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"Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont."
"Barack Obama used to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and in his chapter on the Constitution in The Audacity of Hope, he emphasizes that 'if there was one impulse shared by all the Founders, it was a rejection of all forms of absolute authority, whether the king, the theocrat, the general, the oligarch, the dictator, the majority. . . . George Washington declined the crown because of this impulse. . . . ' Is Obama ready to commit himself to bringing that 'impulse' back to our government?"
"Pointing out that not all telecoms complied with the request from the Bush administration to listen in on private conversation of American citizens unless they were given a court order to do so, Dodd also questioned where such violations would end, and warned the notion of Americans giving up rights in order to be safe was a 'false dichotomy that is dangerous'."
"Automattic, the company best-known for blog publishing software WordPress, has raked in $29.5 million in Series B funding. Originally reported on several blogs, the funding round was confirmed by Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg in his personal blog Tuesday evening."
"The problem is that most people don't see it for what it is. When told economic activity is slowing down, they demand that their 'leaders' and candidates assure them there is a Plan to keep them safe. The politicians are more than happy to oblige. Details don't matter much. As long as the president and the presidential aspirants adopt a somber yet hopeful and determined tone, pepper their speeches with big-sounding numbers and reassuring words, and promise to hand out money, most voters will be satisfied. They won't think about what's being said long enough to realize that none of it makes sense. They just want someone to make them feel safe, and there will be no shortage of such someones."
"The Bush Administration is serving up immunity to anyone who works with it in creating the national surveillance state. This effort is being opposed by everyone with more than a gram of gray matter who has studied the legislation."
"Seventeen years and four months seems to me to be an extraordinarily long sentence for little more than a thought crime, but when the issue of Padilla's three and a half years of suppressed torture is raised, it's difficult not to conclude that justice has been horribly twisted, that the president and his advisers have just gotten away with torturing an American citizen with impunity, and that no American citizen can be sure that what happened to Padilla will not happen to him or her. "
"Now we are all substance abusers, tormented with bottled water syndromes and new-car-smell obsessions and iPod fixations and ringtone manias and Britney-watching compulsions and reality-show fanaticisms and cutesy-wutesy baby-talking to your poochie-woochie dysfunctions."
"At the risk of being misunderstood, I am not a capitalist. Instead, I advocate the free market. Capitalism is a specific economic arrangement with reference to the ownership of property and capital. It happens to be the arrangement I prefer because I believe it is more just, a far better reflection of reality and produces more prosperity than the alternatives. But I wouldn’t crusade for capitalism the way I would crusade for freedom of speech. What I would crusade for is a free market in which individuals exchange or co-operate with each other according to their own choices."
"To: All those currently exercising positions of responsibility in the Government of the United States of America, whether elected or appointed, and whether at the federal, state, or local level...."
"So if minarchists simply hop off the train and leave the anarchists in peace to go on towards the anarchy station, then they are no longer acting as minarchists. Once we’re down to the minimal State and the anarchists start trying to withdraw and set up their own competing defense associations (or withdrawing in favor of individual self-defense, or whatever), the minarchists have only two choices. They can allow it to happen. But then what you have is 'government' where any subject can choose to refuse or withdraw her allegiance at any time, and give it to a different 'government', or to no government at all. But that wouldn’t be a minimal government, or any kind of government at all; it would just be one voluntary association amongst many in a state of anarchy."
"Whatever flaws it has, the environment Neill created allowed, and still allows, for children to be themselves, to grow up with a level of compassionate freedom that is almost unknown in most parts of the world. The actual results – see the comments from the British inspectors above – are positive enough to show up our present coercive systems for the corrupt, unhealthy frauds they are – and not only our school systems, but our political systems generally."
"I think it’s time to combine the virtues and knowledge of the Amish and the GNU/Linux Open Source organizational methods. I wouldn't call the answer local politics. I'd call it a global open community knowledge network to establish and promote sustainable micro-culture and intentional communities."
"The main reason the RIAA and MPAA can't stand college students is actually quite simple--they're the easiest target. How many times have you heard organizations blame so many of the world's problems on the 18 to 25 crowd? A quick history lesson on what happened in the '70s should be enough to satisfy that assertion. Let's face it: The 18 to 25 crowd represents change and innovation. It represents a new way of thinking and the condemnation of the old guard. And it's the old institutions like the movie and music industries that can't seem to grasp that the change that's occurring--the right to own your own digital media after purchasing it--is a rogue tidal wave that will eventually lead to their demise."
"Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic president is on stage now talking about the importance of commercial spaceflight, and how government spaceflight doesn't have a good safety record. 'Safety is crucial to Virgin because we operate three airlines. Our name has become a byword for safety.' The new White Knight 2 mothership, says Whitehorn will have four jet engines and is a significant departure from the first White Knight."
"VIA is aiming Isaiah at the same segment that Intel, AMD, and ARM are targeting with their forthcoming processors: the so-called mobile Internet device (MID) and ultramobile PC (UMPC). Right now, the fate of the UMPC as a form factor has yet to be decided, so there's no guarantee that there will even be a market there for everyone to fight over."
"As the stock market gyrates, and Federal Reserve Board meets by videoconference to inject emergency funds into the system, Chalmers Johnson's warning that the US empire is not sustainable – that 'this is the way empires end' – resonates rather ominously."
"The Lords of the West have called upon their elder chieftains of war to chart a course that will preserve their power and preeminence in the face of an ever-more uncertain future. The answer? A meaner, leaner NATO, openly committed to a nuclear first-strike strategy and stripped of all the 'consensus' garbage that has sometimes hampered the organization's American bosses."
"The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. But in fact he’s a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man. . . and Bush the president."
"One of the many things I love about Donald Rumsfeld is that he's totally unrepentant. Back in 2001, the Pentagon under his leadership created the controversial Office of Strategic Influence, which was closed down just a few months later after its existence became public. Rightly or wrongly, the Pentagon was accused of creating a propaganda office. Now, the former defense secretary has a bigger vision: he is advocating a '21st century agency for global communications'."
"What struck me, living and working in the United States, was that presidential campaigns were a parody, entertaining and often grotesque. They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullshit, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money power, human division and a culture of permanent war."
"The fact is that no presidential candidate in either party has flip-flopped as egregiously as McCain on such a wide range of issues. ... On topics ranging from immigration, to campaign finance reform, to gay marriage, to accepting support from various sleazy characters he previously shunned, McCain has either completely reversed his views, or seriously equivocated regarding what they are this week."
"South Carolina was real -- everything else for the next nine days will be virtual. Which is why Obama spent most of Saturday doing satellite interviews from South Carolina with local news hosts in the Feb. 5 states. From here on in, the least typical voters in the country will be those who actually attend a candidate's rally. Obama, Clinton and Edwards will have made more speeches and personally met more voters in a single county in Iowa than they probably will in the entire state of California before it votes on Feb. 5."
"Far from being hayseeds in a Southern [backwater], Bill and Hillary were players in the politico-financial fast lane. Sometimes the advocates of single-payer health [insurance] wonder why self-styled populists like Bill and Hillary opted for 'managed care,' a honeypot for insurance companies and law firms. The story of Beverly Enterprises opens a window to understanding."
"What if the people were given a choice? What if they were allowed to accept other forms of money, such as gold, silver, or foreign currency? What if they were allowed to reject Federal Reserve dollars?"
"Say what you want to about this system, but it is not the free market at work. Indeed, the very existence of central banking is contrary to the capitalist ideal, in which money would be no different from any other good: produced and supplied by the market in accord with the moral law against theft and fraud. For the government to authorize a counterfeiter-in-chief is a direct attack on the sound money system of a market economy."
"Political satirist P.J. O'Rourke says that the free market exists in the eyes of philosopher Adam Smith in order to decentralize our badness. "
"Wubi looks promising: it's an installer package that lets Windows users install Ubuntu Linux like any other Windows app, without worrying about disk partitions and whatnot. I've used Ubuntu exclusively for more than a year now (and yes, I know, I owe you all a 'What Ubuntu is like' post and I'll get to it RSN), and Wubi sounds like a low-threshold way to get people to try out life on the free and open side."
"Clinton would use higher taxes to pay for universal preschool, universal college, universal health care, and universal high-speed Internet access, among other taxpayer-funded goodies. These she calls 'the investments we make in each other,' and they are just like investments, except that there is no reliable test of whether they make sense, since the people paying for them have no choice in the matter and are not the ones who stand to benefit."
"Prescriptive planning attempts to control how private landowners use their land. Long-term planning attempts to look decades into the future. No one can really predict the future, so such plans do far more harm than good."
"The Bush bailout, as well as Federal Reserve Bank cuts in interest rates, is a wealth transfer from creditworthy people and taxpayers to those who made ill-advised credit decisions, and that includes banks as well as borrowers."
"[E]veryone should know by now that the Federal Reserve and its banking system is a stupid, lying pit of vipers who cannot be trusted, and that the ratings agencies are even worse, and that only an idiot would trust either of these despicable organizations to tell you the correct time of day, much less rely on them to know what they are doing in establishing risk or telling you the truth about it when they are all raking in the big bucks by being incompetent."
"Many conservatives dubiously insist that a robustly interventionist foreign policy can coexist with a free-market domestic policy. That’s why they have no compunction about supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while claiming to support limited and unintrusive government at home. On the face of it, these seem highly incompatible. War requires the accumulation and exercise of awesome powers."
"The Bushies know that if they hand off the war to McCain, he'll continue and even escalate their policy of confrontation and conquest. That's why he seems to have been anointed by the party establishment as the only viable alternative to Mike Huckabee, whose cornpone populism and outsider status make him anathema to the GOP powers-that-be."
"[T]he West has now [out-Orwelled] Orwell: The West must nuke other countries in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction! In Westernspeak, the West nuking other countries does not qualify as the use of weapons of mass destruction."
"Political analyst Azhar al-Teengane says the only Iraqis who support the occupation are those benefiting directly from it. 'The occupation is good for politicians who have made money, militiamen, contractors and opportunists,' Teengane said. 'These form not more than 5 percent of Iraqi people'."
"All things considered, the word extermination, with its crude evocation of pests and vermin, of infestations, is perhaps the more honest, more apposite word. When a set of perpetrators faces its victims, in order to go about its business of wanton killing, it must first sever any human connection with it. It must see its victims as sub-human, as parasites whose eradication would be a service to society."
"When tech came off the boil and people should have been using the pause to clean up their affairs, Greenspan made it easy for people to get themselves into a worse position. Easy money made stock market prices artificially high, so stock market investors felt rich. Worse, easy money made house prices artificially high (by about 45%), so everybody felt wealthier than they had planned or expected to." [Overall, far too generous to Greenspan (and central banking systems in general), but still I'm happy to know Canonical rests in Mr. Shuttleworth's hands. I wish I could invest in it.]
Betty Boop for President
"Ten years ago, Netscape announced it would release to the public the code of its flag ship product, Netscape Communicator 5, making it an open source product. The action came at a time when Netscape was still the dominant web browser: 65 million users and 90% market share in the educational segment according to Netscape’s own accounts. But Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was grabbing share at a furious pace thanks to it being free (at a time Netscape was about$30) and specially the fact that it came bundled with Windows 95 and upcoming Windows 98 (released on June 1998). With a sliding market share, Netscape decided to focus on its enterprise oriented products and gave away the browser but most importantly allow volunteers to work on the product. Mozilla was nothing but Netscape’s user agent (the name a browser uses to contact the web server), a reminder of the first Netscape code name."
"It is the mark of a devout statist to attribute all good things to the state. In fact, civil societies, as Thomas Paine pointed out long ago, evolve on their own. Occasionally government has protected rights, but far more often it has usurped them. As for protecting international trade, why assume only a government can do that? "
"The GOP candidates are hardly alone in calling the surge, announced a year ago, a stunning success. The administration and its allies insist that the decline in violence and U.S. casualties are proof we have turned the corner. But as with alleged breakthroughs in the past, this one turns out to be composed mostly of wishful thinking and selective vision."
"After all, even builders of great world empires - Napoleon and Hitler come to mind - had to suffer many tactical setbacks and adjust to realities on their way to continental and global domination. Not that we - God forbid! - are comparing mini W to the big H. Instead, Bush's own Truman Narrative seems to project his fantastic mindset. The War against Islamo-Fascism equals the War against Communism, and Bush like Truman established the foundations for the grand American strategy in dealing with a global menace."
"The Bush chickens--endless deficits as far as the eye can see, and a $2-trillion military debacle that has no end in sight and that is sucking money out of the country like a giant industrial vacuum cleaner--are coming home to roost."
"Although he was a large, imposing figure, with a rich, deep voice and somewhat authoritarian demeanor, he was seldom cast in villainous parts. He received great acclaim for his role as Magwitch in Great Expectations (1946), and one of his best remembered roles was as Shunderson, Cary Grant's devoted servant with a secret past, in People Will Talk (1951). "
"Zara Cully Brown will always be remembered as crotchety old Mother Olivia Jefferson, forever spoiling her son George and judging Louise."
"Hill was in effect created by television. Yet Hill was also the most traditional of comedians and his programs had strong roots in variety theatre, revolving around comic songs, routines and sketches rather than an on-going comic characterisation and situation. And although Hill had his own show on the BBC as early as 1955, his career was actually launched by the 1960s vogue for comedy on British television. ... Although all his material was original, Hill nevertheless owed a comic debt to U.S. entertainer, Red Skelton. Like Skelton, Hill worked in broad strokes and sometimes in pantomime with a series of recurring comic personae."
"For millions, Wolfman Jack--indisputably the world's most famous DJ--was the master of ceremonies for the rock 'n' roll generation of the '60s on radio, and later on television during the '70s. "
"She nodded, granting him the right to make an interminable speech even though she knew what he was going to say, by the way he held his chin, by the panther-like tension in his shoulders, and by the way every mannerism declared he knew who he was and his purpose in being."
"The abortion debate has raged since 1973, when the Supreme Court gave abortion constitutional protection, but the basic law of the land has proved immutable. Abortion is legal, and it's going to remain legal for a long time."
"Audio Excerpts from the Work of Ursula K. Le Guin"
"My expectations were high for this movie, based largely on the reviews I’d seen online for the past few days. And remarkably, I wasn’t disappointed. ... This film, in a very odd way, reminded me again that when we hear the numbers from, say, Iraq, there are flesh-and-blood people attached to those numbers. People with families and friends."
"The school-educated busy-bodies who manage my media properties inform me that it is almost time to appoint a new President. I almost cannot believe it is time for the suet-brained populace of this flagging Republic to be once again herded into the voting-booths to allegedly choose precisely which bloody-handed butcher will crack their bones and suck the marrow over the next few years."
"Does anyone know how to cancel an eBay auction?"
"Stephen is pissed at his financial advisor for not warning him about the big Dow drop this morning."
"I had planned something more dramatic in response to all the misery called by 'financial innovation', like jumping up on the table, grabbing my crotch and yelling, 'You want some financial innovation? I got your financial innovation right here, you thieving morons!' Tragically, I had to cut that terrific piece of performance art out of my routine since my wife says I can't practice the jumping-on-top-of-table move anymore, unless I go get my own coffee table, because she says I am "ruining" the one in the living room. "
"Shermer, who lives and works in Southern California and is the author of previous books such as Why Darwin Matters and The Borderlands of Science, sat down with reason.tv to talk about the intersection between evolution and capitalism, trust in a globalized world, his 'Google theory of peace,' and his ideological journey toward libertarianism."
"If someone says 'The only good Indian is a dead Indian', he or she has asserted a proposition with which other people are entitled to take issue, and one can validly infer that the speaker does not like Indians. If, however, someone says 'General Sheridan said: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”,' the only proposition asserted is that General Sheridan said a certain thing. Nothing is asserted about Indians, and in the absence of additional information, no valid inference can be drawn regarding the speaker's attitude toward Indians. There is no way to tell whether the speaker agrees with General Sheridan or disagrees with him."
"[T]oo many parents have little or no respect for their children. Instead, they shove their convenient feeding times, their ideas of the proper amount of food, their notions of what’s best in all things, on to a child beginning at birth. But even a neonate can tell when it’s hungry, and full, and will signal those states to its parents if they would just respect the baby, and pay attention to it."
"The long-awaited 4.0 release ushers in a new era for the popular open-source desktop environment and adds many intriguing new features and technologies. Unfortunately, the release comes with almost as many new bugs as it does features, and there is much work to be done before it sparkles like the 3.5.x series."
"You have a blog. You compose a new post. You click Publish and lean back to admire your work. Imperceptibly and all but instantaneously, your post slips into a vast and recursive network of software agents, where it is crawled, indexed, mined, scraped, republished, and propagated throughout the Web."
"Where does the word 'flabbergasted' come from? It’s a pretty funny sounding word, eh?"
"They decided NOT to put the ballots in the vault and the 'Seal' does NOT seal the box. Smoke and mirrors in New Hampshire recount."
"The open-source KDE desktop environment is making the jump across platforms with broad support for Windows and Mac OS X. The core KDE desktop programs, the KOffice suite, and the Amarok music player are actively being ported."
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