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Echoes and Mirrors » jerks

Archive for the ‘jerks’ Category

Is it so Absurd? An Argument About Class and Access

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Recently, I celebrated a birthday. What happens on my birthday every year is that I also have to renew my vehicle registration.

The Ohio BMV (Does that not sound like a child mispronouncing DMV? Ohio, you are a joke.) was within walking distance from campus. So, on my birthday, I walked from school down there to find out that they moved across town. I wasn’t upset about having to give the state money on my birthday; I’ve had to renew vehicle registration for years and I was working anyway. No big deal.

But when I got there, I found a sign informing me that they’d moved to a location clear across town. One that I couldn’t walk to. Inside the mall. Which is important because by time I got out of work, they were closed and I couldn’t drive.

Now, I’ve been trying to make time to take a bus out to the new location, which simply hasn’t worked with their hours and my work schedule being about evenly matched.

Granted, I could have done my renewal prior to the last day possible. But I drive maybe once a week and hadn’t driven anywhere in almost three weeks leading up to it. I just forgot about it. I live in town and generally walk everywhere.

And so I suppose I would be inclined to argue that moving an essential government office to a location that can only be reached by motor vehicle presupposes an ability to either spend an hour or two taking public transit or the ability to legally drive already. Having a car or other motor vehicle is really more of a necessity than a privilege outside of major metropolitan areas.

Also consider those who are simply attempting to get a valid identification card (and can’t drive, by choice or otherwise). They now have to find some sort of transportation to the office instead of being able to walk.

This strikes me as a form of class warfare. A minor blow, perhaps, but it makes assumptions about minimum ability. Specifically, it makes an assumption of what I would call a middle class ability, or middle class access. That is access to either the time to arrange for transportation or the transportation itself.

Having access and having convenient access are completely different things. Purposeful inconvenience is a method of restricting the level of access and is somewhat evil. Coincidental inconvenience, on the other hand, would simply be a form of ignorance. I’m not sure what we’re dealing with in this case but I would highly doubt any intent was had. It seems more like someone simply didn’t consider the broader consequences of moving the BMV. That is, they did not consider anyone with less than a certain level of access.

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In Which I End Up Sounding Like a Conspiracy Theorist

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I’m not big on conspiracy theories. Some are more entertaining than others, sure. And some are right in pointing out that something isn’t right in re whatever it is they’re theorizing conspiracies about. And I have one of my own.

I’m really concerned that I haven’t heard much really about this:

Artificial Leaf Could Be More Efficient Than the Real Thing
Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

Nocera’s leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day.

And it’s ready for production use. A gallon of water per day (probably more like 3-4 for American households, but really, that’s still not very much). In fact, they’re going to make them. And sell them in third-world countries that lack centralized power grids.

Couple it with a little wind turbine and a solar panel, and you’ll never pay for electricity again.

But we will never see this in America. Except as a niche market sold to eco-warriors and survivalists. (Not that anyone seems to have much of a problem with either group, but most of those who claim association are readily identified in some way as a nut.) Now here’s my crazy bit: it’s okay to lower your power use, but it’s impossible to cut yourself off from the power grid. I think it’s even illegal in most places (I could be wrong about that, but it seems like something a housing code would include for making a house livable).

And it’s not about electricity. It’s not about people being lazy. It’s not about economics. Or the environment.

It’s about power. Not the electrical kind. But big-industry, centralized power. As long as there is a very small number of places generating everyone’s electricity, they have America by the nutsack.

Oh, and according to the Japanese, Nuclear Power plants can get really dangerous sometimes. We have a pretty good track-record here in the US, sure. I guess that will last forever. We will never have a problem like that, right?

So it’s like this: they have figured out a way to dispose of a multi-billion dollar industry that, when faced with a natural disaster or a drunk engineer or a crack in some concrete, could irradiate huge sections of the planet. And that industry will instead continue building nuclear reactors really close to me.

And it’s not just in electricity or utilities industries – the federal government has been continually centralizing law enforcement and other things for decades. Everyone wants to do away with distributed computing that doesn’t have a centralized host (this new Cloud Computing thing is the solution to decentralized internet gibberish). There is a war against anarchism. They powers that be are insisting that for everything, somebody has to be in charge. And to that I say, no. No there doesn’t. Fuck off.

You wanted to see my crazy: there it is. I think that corporatism is going to destroy what’s left of humanity with e-books and fucking cloud computing. We’ll all be hooked up to the same power, internet, and ‘distributed’ systems. All traffic will be monitored or be pay-per-view/use and being outside of its grasp will make you an outsider in the truest sense. It’s going to taxonomize and categorize everything until we can’t fucking breath. And we’re going to shell out cash to the big centralized machines that give us our little happiness. And don’t forget to update your fucking facebook status either, to let the marketing drones watching that you’re upset or happy.

Yes, I’m on the power grid. That doesn’t make me hypocritical. If I shunned the power grid I wouldn’t be able to do anything. There is a line between being ideological and being stupid. We can still choose quite a bit right now. And we can still be anonymous (I don’t mean Anonymous, but you can be that too, if you like) for the moment. And when that changes, I’ll be in Peru, with a leaf-powered home, drinking Ayahuasca and laughing at everyone. I hope.

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I’ve been slack haven’t I? Oh bother.

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Yes, yes, I know that nobody reads my drivel anyway, but I still feel sort of bad about not having posted anything since mid-December (is that right? I didn’t even look to see when my last real post was.). I’ve been awfully busy with schoolwork. With luck I’ll actually manage to keep some kind of schedule for posting again. I need to start taking notes of shit I’d like to rant about. It’ll be rad if I can manage that. My coursework is a little lighter than it was last semester. It’s still pretty heavy though.

In the mean time, I’ll just drop off a couple things I’ve found really interesting. Well, I had more things to talk about — Wisconsin, in particular — but I sort of got frustrated with it and gave up. There’s revolution going on everywhere but here. We need some good old-fashioned late-90’s Seattle anarchist-style protests. People smashing up a Starbucks or something, you know? I digress.

This is pretty rad. I think I’m actually going to buy it. Because I’m not nerdy enough, as it is.

There is a flash doohicky of the LROC WAC mosaic of the lunar nearside. It’s like google-maps satellite view for the moon. M-O-O-N that spells fucking awesome. Yeah, so it’s just a ball of rock that creates tides, looks pretty in the sky, avoids attempts to be lassoed, was once confused with a god, and shelters moon-men who plot to take over once we’ve killed ourselves off one day, but it’s still pretty awesome. The moon doesn’t get enough credit for causing lunacy anymore, in my opinion.

I might be alone in this, but Charlie Sheen is my fucking hero. Now, I don’t have predilections towards mountains of cocaine and hookers per se, but I’ll be damned if that lifestyle doesn’t have at least a slight bit of appeal. I’m a bit envious, honestly. I know a lot of people are giving him a lot of flack for his recent shenanigans but that’s just kinda sad, really. He says, “I’m winning” and I look at it and say, “yup.” Why? He’s doing shit we all wish we could and being unapologetic for it. I’m not saying he’s doing the specific things we want to do, but he’s doing what he wants to do and not backing down. So when he called into the Alex Jones radio program and ranted for 18 minutes, it was pure gold. He does not give a flying fuck what we think. Which is sort of admirable. Oh, and don’t do cocaine. It makes you all wacky. If you don’t believe me, follow the link and listen.

The revolutions in the middle-east are going well I guess. I’m sort of interested in seeing how it all pans out. The US’s involvement and interests can only muck things up, but hopefully our el presidente has a decent head on his shoulders and won’t send the CIA in to work their nastiness. It’s never really seemed to work out for us. That whole Taliban thing sure bit us in the ass. So did a few others, I guess. These revolutions and their decision to be democratic could possible end with them simply choosing a new dictator, but I’d like to believe that wouldn’t happen. And just because a certain cretin will be favorable to us in the short-run doesn’t mean we need to help them into power. If we do something like that again, I think Canada should wait until we revolt and install a leader of their choosing into the position of US President. Maybe then we can get some decent hockey coverage on broadcast television.

I have no comment on the Wisconsin Teacher’s union business. I’m a product of Wisconsin’s public education system and it was top-notch while I attended school there (for a public system, it’s fantastic).

Or maybe I’m not seriously paying attention anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m starting to believe that anybody with any gravitas or voice in the media is simply trolling us now. Nobody can seriously believe half the stuff said on television. It’s just not possible. Bill O’Reilly is a prime example: he’s just fucking with us. Plain and simple. Or maybe not, at which point, I’ll go back to my book and pretend not to care some more.

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We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The Huffington Post takes it out on the media that let this whole mess get out of control:

Yesterday afternoon, the leader of a microscopic cult of idiots who announced plans to stage an “international” day of Quran burning in Gainesville, Florida held a press conference, for a rapt media which decided that his moronic plans were the single most important thing going on in America. At that press conference, in front of “9/11 Truther” signs, this cult leader lied to everyone who was watching, telling them that he was going to call off his 9/11 book burning festival because he had successfully reached a deal with the people behind the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan, in which they would move their facility away from the site of the World Trade Center.

Not a word of this was true, but it was amazing, all the same — at one fell swoop, we had finally knit up the strands of a season of irrationality into one big, shiny, synergized knot. This was supposed to be the end of Recovery Summer? More like Relapse Summer.

The media was culpable because nobody would have noticed if they had neglected to report on a bunch of nobodies doing something of little importance. They blew the whole story out of proportion. They reported a lot of opinions and hot air as fact. The whole ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ that never was, and so on. I hope what we’re seeing is the death rattles of contemporary news media, otherwise I think things are going to get far uglier than we can imagine before they get better.

PZ Meyers, of course, looks at it from a much different perspective:

So I’m looking at this recent episode with Terry Jones — a fellow I don’t like at all, and I think he’s a fanatical goofball — and I see that the serious problem here isn’t Jones at all…it’s all the lunatics who are insisting that burning the Koran is a major international catastrophe.

It’s just a frackin’ book, people.

From an Atheist perspective, burning a bible or a korrah or a koran are all the same. I don’t see a difference, either. Of course, being a lover of literature, I can’t condone burning books for their content, whether or not you disagree with it. All books hold some value, whether they be dissenting viewpoints, historical context, etc.,etc.. Try to figure out Renaissance literature without the bible as a reference and you’ll regret it. The same goes for other world literature.

But the media is using this as a way to remind us that there are Muslim boogeymen out there still. That is all. By saying “hey, don’t burn their book, they’re dangerous!” they’re asserting that Muslims are inherently dangerous fanatics. Which isn’t true. I’m sure there are some dangerous radicals out there, somewhere. But all religions have those, even the Christian denominations (they kill people for performing abortions, blow up federal buildings in Oklahoma, etc.).

Of course, I can say that I was opposed to the whole idea of burning the books because they think their silly religion is better than the silly religion of the book they’re burning.

To sum up:

News Media: 0 , Religious Nutbags, Warmongers, Trolls: 1

I give up. It’s 9/11. Remember how religion killed a few thousand people that didn’t need to die. If you don’t consider the US to be a Christian Nation, this seems really, really sad. I’ll pour one out for my homies, and I’ll drink one for the brothers I have deployed right now, but I won’t admit that anyone has died for any noble purpose. They’ve died for the arrogance and stupidity of others. My sympathy to all.

From Wonkette:

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Border Thugs

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Mexico has demanded a full inquiry after a Mexican teenager died after a US border patrol agent opened fire from the US side of the border.

“Using firearms to respond to an attack with rocks is a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from officials that are specially trained,” the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.

Mexican kid throws rocks, US Border Guards shoot to kill.

I don’t care what his reasoning is, there simply no excuse for this.

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I got yer distopian future right here, ya jerks.

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

I have pretty much lost all hope of trying to highlight the fact that things are getting worse. It’s simply become so pervasive and so common place.  People I talk to seem think one of a few things:

  • I have a tin-foil hat hidden somewhere out of sight.
  • The current status quo is ‘fine’ because “they aren’t doing anything wrong.”
  • That free-market economics is synonymous with pr0-corporate economics, and that what we have right now is the former.
  • Education will get them a job. Because, you know, all that school earned it for them.

And you know, for a good majority, they won’t ever encounter any serious problems resulting from an extra speeding ticket. Sure, they’ll be out a couple hundred bucks, but that’s no big deal. And when their children go to school, they can expect that they’ll be held to the same standards as all the other kids.

And they can be safe knowing that the police are free to do their jobs, enforcing the laws that keep them safe, without interference from the unwashed masses and the rabble-rousers:

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

And good for them – they get a clean, standardized, safe America where:

  • They are forking up unnecessary speeding tickets to generate revenue to pay for unnecessary enforcement of silly ordinances and vice laws. And pensions for people that still work in the public sector.
  • Their kids are being drilled to only do rote memorization instead of learning critical thinking skills, turning them into vapid robots.
  • The police can act with impunity because civil rights only get in the way of law enforcement.

For that, America, fuck you.

Yours truly,

The idealist

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Canaries in the coalmine

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

To borrow the analogy from John Robb over at Global Guerillas, who sees the recent Joe Stack incident as such a marker.

In addition to that, I’d point out the guy who bulldozed his own house in retaliation of forclosure:

As well as the ridiculousness of the Tea Party. These people don’t know what they want, but they are determined to get it. And I’m not sure the GOP can use Sarah Palin to destroy the Tea Party the same way they did Pat Buchanan to destroy the Reform Party. These people aren’t just pissed off – they’re desperately clinging to The American Way.

If we start seeing uncontrollable road gangs killing people and stealing gasoline ala Mad Max, we’ll really know we’re in trouble.

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Possible SCOTUS openings

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Oh boy. There is a chance that anything that resembles property rights could outright disappear. Of course, the Daily Beast is putting Hillary Clinton’s name out there for this already. Because, you know, she has had such a long and glorious legal career.

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Nothing fishy here. Move along.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Here’s an article that basically spells out why privately contracted probation is wrong:

She described the case of Hills McGee, a man who was originally charged with public drunkenness and obstruction of a law enforcement officer back in October 2008.

After spending the night in jail after his arrest, McGee appeared in state court to face the charges. Although McGee was indigent, he signed a form that waived his rights to an attorney and entered a guilty plea.

McGee was sentenced to 12 months on each count to run consecutively and was ordered to pay a fine of $270 and a monthly probation supervision fee of $30 per month plus a $9 monthly fee for the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Program.

Even though McGee completed 41 hours of community service in lieu of the $270 fine, because he was indigent, his probation wasrevoked because he couldn’t pay the $186 in fees he owed Sentinel, according to Long’s petition filed in Richmond County Superior Court.

As a result, McGee was thrown into jail.

And here’s another tasty bit from the same article. I found this one out myself several months ago first-hand and was appalled. Anytime it comes up in discussion, I make it my civic duty to inform them that there is no such thing as a free defense attorney in these parts:

“I am asking, is it constitutional to come in and tell people that there is a $50 application fee for a court-appointed attorney when the Constitution says, if you are indigent and a judge has the power to put you in jail, you are entitled to have a lawyer at no charge,” Long said, adding a judge can waive the $50 fee if the defendant is indigent. “It disturbs me that people are being treated that way.”

On March 18, 1963, in the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S.Supreme Court established the right to alawyer for any poor criminal defendant charged in felony cases, stating “lawyers in criminal cases are necessities, not luxuries.”

That’s right: you have to pay $50 to be represented… or prove that you can’t scrape up $50. Depending on the charges, most people might find it less frustrating (albeit more expensive) to just pony up the fine money and carry on with their lives.

I should probably just keep my mouth shut if I don’t want the the sheriff’s department knocking on my door anytime soon, so I’ll just quickly mention how the Augusta-Richmond County Commission just decided not to install parking meters downtown in an attempt to raise revenue. The plan would have called for a private contractor to provide the meter maids. Whose paychecks (and likely, bonuses) would be provided by a portion of the revenue raised by parking tickets. Thankfully the citizens of Richmond County were vocal enough to stop that from happening.

Law enforcement is probably the only thing I can think of that the government should have a monopoly on. As a lefty-libertarian, I actually support public education (although it certainly needs a reboot). The rest of it… no.

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This should be common sense

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Cracked has a humourous little piece up called 7 Bullshit Police Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies), but I find myself knowing better for all of them (in part from interactions with the judicial system, sadly).

In regards to #5 — not talking to the police is obstruction of justice — you don’t have to and, more importantly, you should never, ever talk to the police. Under any circumstance. If they are questioning you, there is a good chance you’ve gotten yourself into a YOU vs. THEM situation.

Of course, in regards to a DUI, they cannot punish you judicially, but the state’s DMV can take administrative actions like suspending your license. Keep that in mind.

As far as being forced to identify yourself or be arrested, in Georgia you have to be loitering or prowling or otherwise up to no good. They require that you be “in a place at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity” Ga. Code Ann. §16-11-36(b) (loitering statute). Because there are so many states, Your Mileage May Vary. This is how they harass many of the homeless (whom don’t have ID) here in Augusta – they threaten them with arrest because they are obviously not in the area for legitimate business. It is an unofficial policy, of course.

#3 (Tracing a Call Takes a Long Time) is amusing because with a few tricks, you can change the number it appears you are calling from (which is very easy with a VOIP phone). Tracking a call through a poorly secured PBX isn’t impossible, but probably beyond the means of a most police departments.

Remember, everyone breaks the law at least once a day and (normally) it is unintentional. It is important to be informed.

Also, in addition to watching the “Never talk to police video” you should watch this.

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