Neo-Hippie Ramblings - I'm a Non-Conformist Just Like All My Friends: February 2005

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Alabama Sex Toy Ban Stands

It seems that Alabama has declared the sale of sex toys to be illegal. And consistent with its ongoing battle against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the Supreme Court has refused to review the case.

One question: Given the kind of mentality that would lead to a ban on the sale of sex toys to adults for private personal use, does that mean that they'll also have to pull copies of Deliverance and packages of pork butt off the shelves as 'erotic objects'?

Marijuana Potency Through the Years

As you can see below, the prospects of ever more potent types of marijuana have kept the fires stoked over the devil's weed. Obviously, the same claims can be heard today about how super potent weed is even more dangerous than the mild benign weed your parents and grandparents were smoking. To assuage fears about what happens when the THC content hits 100 percent, simply observe that "hippies" figured out how to make synthetic THC back in 1967, and that you can now easily obtain 100 percent pure synthetic THC by prescription. Visit the manufacturer's site: What they have to say about the safety of their THC product and their advice about driving while under the influence of it are particularly interesting -- especially when contrasted with the hysteria over "drugged driving." By the way, you can get a free sample: ask your doctor.

Article continues at the original site:

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The word 'gullible' is not in the dictionary...

...but if it were, this guy's picture would be next to it:

I can't decide which is higher here, the guy's level of stupidity/gullibility, or the woman's level of cruelty.

But the truly innocent victim here, as my friend Heidi pointed out, is the poor bastard from the utility company who had to muck through the flushed pipes to retrieve the 'evidence'.

"How was work today, honey?"

"Don't ask. What's for dinner?"



Sunday, February 20, 2005

Steal This Election - Part IV - Election Fraud Investigation Reform

Steal This Election

Part IV - Election Fraud Investigation Reform

Premise: Whether an incumbent be innocent or complicit in an apparent election fraud, it is against the best interests of that incumbent to support a fair and thorough investigation of such fraud.

Worst case: The incumbent to a position of power is involved in an election fraud. Obviously, the incumbent will do anything possible to keep the fraudulent activity from coming to light. Further, the incumbent-- who's already demonstrated a willingness to act illegally -- now has additional resources available with which to divert, block or disallow a fair investigation.

Best case: The incumbent is totally innocent of any involvement in an apparent election fraud and has no reason to suspect that fraud truly occurred. Supporting an investigation is still a no-win prospect. If an investigation uncovers fraud, it could cost the incumbent the newly won position, especially if the election were closely contested.

However, even if no fraud is found, the incumbent has still cast suspicion upon at least a portion of the support structure which elected him, probably alienating that group. This is a difficult position for anyone who intends to have a political future.

How can we get around this?

Through the development of an established, consistent process and a standard audit procedure for all elections, to be conducted by a disinterested third party. The UN has been more than willing to send in election monitors and it's certainly not in The People's best interests to refuse their help!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism

Nobody's said it better than this.

Karl Rove and Toht - Separated at Birth?

I suspected that Karl Rove was something of a Nazi, but i hadn't realized that he'd modeled himself after a fictional Nazi...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Calif. County Wants Pot Certified Organic

Sure, California might let you certify your marijuana as organic....

...but, when the DEA kicks down your door and gives you the boot to da head, can the state guarantee that you'll only be sprayed in the face with organic pepper spray???

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Steal This Election - Part III - Electoral Process Reform

Steal This Election

Part III - Electoral Process Reform

Premise: The electoral process is broken, and the degree to which it is broken increases exponentially at each level of government.

By broken, I mean that it is vulnerable to inappropriate influence due through legislative maneuvering, manipulation of the media or outright fraud.

Legislative maneuvering: To see the effect of legislative maneuvering in the electoral process all you need do is to follow the political news. Tune in a few months before, during and directly after any US election and you'll see it ad nauseum. It's neither subtle nor confined to a particular ideology. It's often easier to block access to votes & voters than it is to win them over, so the temptation to fight dirty is very real.

From the right, we've seen a number of specific geographical areas (i.e., those that are too liberal) being subject to pre-election or election activities that were highly suspicious, at best - people being dropped from registered voter lists, last minute street closings, you name it.

Likewise, we've also seen a concentrated effort from the left to keep candidates like Nader from even making the presidential ballot. (Apparently, addressing the issues that had disenfranchised us in the first place would be too much work.)

Media manipulation: It's only too easy. A candidate who's willing to explore the complexity of any given issue in a public forum is generally unelectable, because he or she is at the mercy of the five-second sound bite and an opponent's willingness to misrepresent that complexity to an audience with a case of cultural ADD. Putting forth an intelligent, complex position on a hot-button issue is assisted political suicide, regardless of the issue or the position.

Case in point, prior to this November's Pennsylvania election, I carried on a rather extensive e-mail dialogue with Steven Porter, the Democratic challenger to Phil English. Porter was civil, reasonable and obviously far more intelligent than the incumbent English. We disagreed on a some things (he was a little more conservative than I am), but his views were solid and he defended them well, developing point-by-point positions. Unfortunately, he was maybe a little too smart for public office. Phil English just absolutely creamed him with a negative smear campaign, reducing his arguments to the most simplistic cariacatures possible and plastering them all over the local TV stations.

To a lesser degree, Bush was able to do the same thing to Kerry on the national security issue during the 2004 election. Kerry's (entirely valid) point that terrorism is being exploited as a boogeyman to fuel an expansionist agenda was spun in order to stoke the underlying fears that had allowed that expansionism to occur in the first place. Net result: A very effective political ad with scary music and a sinister "he doesn't understand the threat" voiceover, in which Kerry comes off as being soft on terrorism and generally clueless.

Fraud: Election fraud is a fact of life in any society that holds elections. We're particularly unfortunate in that our country has no consistency of process and no universally accepted standards, so it's difficult to make a wide assessment of the integrity of our electoral process.

It's pretty obvious, though, that things are not as healthy as one might hope. This issue is discussed at length here:

In Part VI, I'll talk more about what might be done to mitigate fraud.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Rock & Roll Fonts

Here's a page for anyone else who spent hours in high school decorating book covers and notebooks with band logos...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Can you say Orwellian, boys and girls?

Why don't we just cut the bullshit and start tattooing bar codes on the backs of their necks?

Radio ID Tags for Students

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Few Anagrams for George Walker Bush


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Steal This Election - Part II - Campaign Finance Reform

Steal This Election

Part II - Campaign Finance Reform

Premise: Without significant reform in campaign finance, a truly representative government cannot exist.

Taxation without representation was one of the major factors given as justification for the American Revolution. That condition exists in America today.

Despite both parties claims to the contrary, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party currently represents the best interests of Americans. Rather, members of both parties are significantly beholden to the interests of the lobbyists who finance their campaigns and, as a result, both parties act primarily in those lobbyists' interests.

Sometimes the interests of lobbyists match those of the People; at other times they are very different. It would not be fair to make a categorical claim either way. Regardless, though, it is still not appropriate in a democratic society that political lobbies should affect policy and legislation to a degree disproportionate to the segment of the population that they directly represent.

Free speech is granted by the Bill of Rights to American citizens. Corporate entities are not themselves citizens, and are granted no such right. So long as a political lobby or party represents a group of citizens, its existence is an extension of that group's political will, and the right to free political speech should logically be extended to the lobby or party.

However, at this time the only clear correlation between any given lobby and its relative degree of influence is the amount of financial power that the lobby happens to wield. Unfortunately, this creates situations in which corporate-backed lobbies can direct vast amounts of money into major politicial campaigns through PACs in order to protect interests that are of questionable benefit, at best, to the average American.

This brings us to a dilemma. It takes a significant amount of money to wage a successful political campaign at the state or national level, regardless of party or platform. While individual donations make up a portion of this funding, the lion's share is funneled through PACs. And so while only individual citizens are granted the right to elect candidates, the candidates available to them have been pre-selected, for all intents and purposes, by a few very wealthy investors and the agents of large corporate interests.

In many cases, these contributors hedge their bets by giving money to both major candidates. In fact, seven of the top twenty campaign contributors to the 2004 election gave large sums of money (over $160,000) to both George W. Bush and John Kerry.

As far as those groups were concerned, the election was over long before November 2nd, 2004. And their guy had won by a landslide. Depressed yet?

So what's the answer... ...abolish PACs? ...make it harder for an employee or family member of a Fortune 100 company to make a campaign contribution? ...campaign spending limits? ...equal airtime?

No, those answers are all bullshit because they violate free speech in some manner, there are ways to weasel around all of them and they only treat symptoms, not the underlying problem. The answer is simply this:

Give back control to the American people by giving them the
opportunity to support their political interests directly.

Here's how it would work:

  1. Create a standardized national registry of election committees, political parties and PACs. Require that each group develop a concise statement of purpose, a set of guiding principles and an independent financial audit process. Make this information publicly available via the internet, post offices and public libraries.

  2. Amend the IRS W-4 form to allow for the election of a pre-tax deduction of up to $2000/yr per household for the purpose of campaign support. In 2003, the Census Bureau reported 111 million US households. With a modest 10% rate of participation at the maximum level, this would provide 22 billion dollars per year in campaign funding. Give the American people the feeling that they have a real stake in the political process and the selection of electoral candidates, and I think you'll see an even higher rate of return.

  3. Amend the various IRS 1040 forms to allow for the confidential designation of campaign funding in percentile increments. Each of the individuals and groups in the standardized registry would have a unique contributor code, and would receive designated funds assigned by taxpayers when they completed their income tax returns.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Steal this Election -- Part I - Introduction

Steal this Election

Part I - Introduction

In 1970, Abbie Hoffman published an interesting little book called, appropriately enough, Steal this Book. Its major premise is that corporate America has screwed up our society to the degree that many illegal behaviors have ceased to be immoral, and have become moral imperatives instead.

The book then proceeds to explain, in step-by-step detail, practical ways to lie, cheat and steal as a revolutionary lifestyle -- with the end goal being the collapse of capitalism and the US government.

While I can't say that I agree with Hoffman's underlying premise, I still think it's a fascinating work and I intend to use it as a model for a thought experiment -- imagine a loosely coordinated group of techies and non-techies, mechanics, technicians and accountants, all engaged in civil disobedience.

This civil disobedience would take the form of the intentional and obvious manipulation of the electoral process at all levels of American government, with the end goal of significant election reform and a return to the pursuit of a noble ideal: a democratic republic of the People, for the People and by the People.

Now, before I spin this thought experiment, let me lay out some premises of my own:
  1. Without significant reform in campaign finance, a truly representative government cannot exist.
  2. The electoral process is broken, and the degree to which it is broken increases exponentially at each level of government.
  3. Whether an incumbent be innocent or complicit in an apparent election fraud, it is always against the best interests of that incumbent to support a fair and thorough investigation of such fraud.
  4. No one group is 'to blame' for the sorry state of the electoral process.
  5. Some degree of election fraud will always exist, but this can be mitigated.

The Latest Round of Microsoft Security Patches

A coworker recently asked me for my perspective on the latest round of Microsoft security patches, quoting an article that accused the company of being short-sighted. This was my response:

In a sense, the success of Microsoft's existing products is it's biggest impediment to any kind of future development of secure software. The de-facto business requirements for anything new that Redmond rolls out are that the new product:
  1. Reproduce all existing functionality
  2. Be backwardly compatible
  3. Add new functionality to fill known gaps or trump competitive products

With these as the primary business drivers, it only makes sense to re-use as much code as possible. The reality is, security will only become truly important to Microsoft when it's absence becomes a critical liability.

Because Microsoft is such an entrenched monopoly and has the resources necessary to manipulate legislation at the federal level (just like big tobacco or the NRA), it's highly unlikely that government intervention of any kind will force the issue.

For a number of years now, business need has dictated that any company with a significant investment in publically accessible services manage its own software security via third party products and/or in-house solutions.

The uncontrolled spread of malicious code to individuals' PCs via the internet has further extended the need for these third party products and even increased the exposure of large corporations by creating the potential for massive, coordinated denial of service attacks orchestrated over IRC to zombied PCs. (Remember the day eBay and the other big sites went down?)

Let's face it, the Windows XP firewall is a freakin' joke. Third party firewalls and anti-virus products have now become a significant and necessary investment for anyone with broadband internet access - figure $40-70/year for subscriptions and upgrades for decent security.

I have a hardware firewall, NIS and Spy Sweeper on my PC at home, I update definitions and firmware religiously, and I still managed to pick up a W32 variant virus last week that my e-mail and download virus scans somehow missed. I caught it because I run scans on a regular basis, but it's not practical to assume that the average AOLer has a clue about stuff like this, or should reasonably be expected to have to care.

So, there's now some impetus forming in both the private sector and the public sector to get someone to 'do it better'.

However, I still don't believe that we're going to see a secure product come out of Redmond until someone else comes up with a secure, competitive OS and office suite that:
  1. Runs on the PC platform
  2. Runs Windows-based apps in a manner that short circuits latent Windows security flaws
  3. Imports/uses MS Office documents cleanly and effectively

Build a secure OS & office suite like that and people and corporations are going to line up to throw money at you. At that point, insecurity will be a critical liability to Microsoft.

In response, they'll clone the new competitor's products under a Windows flag, attempt to drive the competitor out of business based on a dual strategy of market saturation + lawsuits claiming copyright infringement (irony, anyone???) and pat themselves on the back for setting new security standards.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Rage Against the Machine

I really miss these guys.

Some very timely lyrics:

Killing in the Name

Bulls on Parade


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Takeoffs on the "Got Milk?" Campaign

Given the success of the "Got Milk?" campaign, I'd like to suggest the following promotions:

Got Beaver?

Got Meth?

Got Laid?

Got Cooter?

Got Hash?

Got Balls?

Got Crabs?

Got Oral?

Got Boobies?

Got Dick?

Got Grass?

Got Nads?

Got Head?

Got Coke?

Got Nuts?

Got Pussy?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Awesome quote from Steal this Book

As much as I have to take issue with some of Abbie Hoffman's ideals, this is just an awesome quote:

"Smoking dope and hanging up Che's picture is no more a commitment than drinking milk and collecting postage stamps. A revolution in consciousness is an empty high without a revolution in the distribution of power."

- Abbie Hoffman, Steal this Book

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Groundhog Day Recipe

Stuffed Groundhog with Sage Stuffing

Oven 325°F

1 groundhog, cleaned and dressed
½ C beef broth
4 C bread crumbs
½ C diced onion
½ C diced celery
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Rub groundhog inside and out with salt and pepper.

Sautee onion and celery in butter until tender. Toss the onion and celery together with the remaining ingredients. Stuff groundhog.

Place in a shallow roasting pan and cook to an internal temperature of 160°F, basting occasionally.