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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I can't find this on PRWEB, but even if it's bogus it's still great

Original post from the Lobster Messiah:

"Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Got my ACLU renewal notice in the mail

I got my ACLU renewal notice in the mail the other day. Gonna have to mail that back in soon. It's worth the dues just to know how much their very existence pisses off the right wing-nuts. >:)

What led me to join in the first place was having spent almost a year on an implementation project for Patriot Act compliance software. That was enough.

Essentially, the SDN reporting provisions of the Patriot Act are a police state's wet dream. They force businesses, at their own expense, to seek out and report any and all financial transactions conducted by anyone matching a name on a list. From a distance, it sounds fairly prudent in that the stated purpose is to keep money out of the hands of people who'd use it to kill other people.

Here's the problem: It doesn't work very well, for a number of reasons.
  1. The kind of surveillence requried by the Patriot Act's SDN provisions tends to work very well against law-abiding citizens, but fails miserably when applied to people who move around often, don't establish stable employment histories and change their names a lot (i.e., terrorists.)

    By enforcing the Patriot Act, the government fails at its publically stated objective but still manages to put in place an essentially free infrastructure that is very effective at monitoring its own citizens' behavior. Slip something through the Senate tacked to an appropriations bill, add a new compliance list and voila... instant tracking of all 'non-traditional' religious groups, political dissidents, gun owners, bedwetters, or whomever you want. Think it can't happen? Hope you're right.

  2. It's very difficult to scrub and parse name data correctly, especially if you have a mix of business and individual names without an entity-type indicator of some kind. For companies like my employer, which has a lot of old, spaghetti-coded systems, no universal customer relationship management, and a compliance need to scan millions of names on a regular basis, installing and configuring the software to do this for you automatically is something of a major bitch. (Trust me on this one.) If you use compliance software 'out of the box' the way many companies do, your results aren't very accurate or consistent.

    To my employer's credit, we were extremely conscious of our customers' privacy and we (by which I mean yours truly) did a lot of fine-tuning of the software to only review and report results that were right on the money, but I can guarantee you that we were the exception. I base this observation totally on the compliance vendor's feedback, and take it totally as a compliment.

  3. Guidelines on how to comply are very vague, but the penalties for non-compliance are severe. This tends to encourage companies to take a very cautious approach - in some cases delaying or suspending payments to anyone whose name matches the name of someone on the OFAC list until they can clear it with the Treasury Department.

    The problem is, some of the names on that list are the Latino or Arabic equivalent of 'John Smith'. News flash: If your last name is Mohammed, Gonzales, Estrada or Morales and it seems to take an awfully long time to get checks in the mail from just about everyone, guess what? It's not a coincidence.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rummy's Tar Baby

Apparently, as long as we plan to keep troops in Iraq, oh, forever, then everything will be ok.

As a fitting tribute, I present to you Donnie Rumsfeld and the Tar Baby:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Heise Strikes Back

Last week, I mentioned the Boner/Heise showdown. At that point, the Boner was on top.

As of Monday morning, though, Heise has struck back, repainting a coat of orange over Boner's most recent effort.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Rowdy Scots, a high-strung bride and too much wine -- my little sister's wedding

My sister got married on Saturday to a Scottish guy she met while attending Edinburgh University as an exchange student. He's a great guy and I couldn't be happier for her.

She's a bit of a perfectionist, and I think she let things overwhelm her a few times while she was planning everything. He was still living overseas. She was living alone in the Harrisburg area several hours away from family and friends and had an awful lot of time on her hands. Got really stressed out on several occasions, over things that seemed very minor to the rest of us. (My wife and I decided to get married on a Monday and did so that same Wednesday, so it's kind of hard to sympathize.)

All's well that ends well, though, I guess. It was a very nice ceremony and an excellent reception. Not every day in Pennsylvania where the groom's father plays the bagpipes outside the church for incoming guests and half the wedding party is in kilts! I do have to note that there was no haggis at the reception. What happened, guys???

The groom's brothers conducted a tag-team roast during the best man's speech. Very funny. They even presented a 'receipt' for the groom with a 'no returns for any reason whatsoever' policy. One of his brothers lives in the UK and the other lives in Tokyo, so now that he's living in the US the sun never sets on their clan.

For my part, I just drink way too damned much when I visit my parents' house -- especially when my brother is in town. We end up sitting out on the deck half the night drinking chianti or dago red, even though I know I'm probably going to have to get up with one of the kids a few hours later. And the "discussion" is usually still going long after I crawl off to bed.

For the record, there's no compliment to a hangover like a wound-up, well-rested two-year-old who likes to pounce when you're laying on the couch. P. relieved me and sent me back to bed for power naps after I'd had a couple of early morning shifts this weekend, which helped tremendously. Very nice of her as she needs the sleep more than I do, being seven months pregnant now.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fucktard Feeny R-Florida

From a CNN article regarding the rollback of Patriot Act provisions:

"If there are terrorists in libraries studying how to fly planes, how to put together biological weapons, how to put together chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, ... we have to have an avenue through the federal court system so that we can stop the attack before it occurs," said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Florida.

Um, maybe I'm being dense here, but doesn't this hypothetical terrorist actually have to check the book out of the library in order to raise a red flag? And if said terrorist knew that the Patriot Act existed, a possibility that I'd categorize as PRETTY FUCKING LIKELY, wouldn't said terrorist just photocopy or rip out the pages he needed or simply steal the book?

Maybe we're just not going far enough here to keep America safe. Maybe we need a system of hidden cameras and biometrics in every library and bookstore. But that doesn't do anything about the thousands of unsecured books that contain potentially dangerous knowledge and subversive ideas. Holy shit, what are we gonna do, boss??? Maybe we just need to lock down Internet access like China. And get rid of all the books. Just burn them. What do we need books for anyway, if they're just helping the terrorists? We've got reality TV, what more do we need?

Here's a thought, folks. Read a fucking book: Fahrenheit 451.

News flash for you all. The Patriot Act isn't about stopping terrorism. It's about eliminating judicial oversight of federal law enforcement. It's about rolling back privacy safeguards that were enacted in response to well-documented abuses of power. And it's about allowing the FBI to spy on the American people with impunity.

Revenge of the Boner

During my daily drive to drop off the kids at their babysitter's house, I go past an auto engine shop called Heise Rebuild. Between their gravel parking lot and the road, there is a set of five large concrete blocks spaced about 6 feet apart.

Quite a while ago, someone spray-painted one letter on each of the blocks to spell B O N E R. Just one of those things you notice the first time you see it and never pay attention to again.

Last week, the company repainted the blocks, covering over the grafitti. A day or so later, it was back. You just can't keep a good boner down, I guess.

I'll be fascinated to see who's more stubborn, Heise or Boner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

File this one under "You can't even make this kind of shit up"


If you had asked me yesterday, "Joe, what's the difference between a porn star and a politician?" I would have said:

"One's a sleazy, corrupt whore with no soul. The other's a gal trying to make a living."

As of today the answer would have to be, "What do you mean by 'the difference'?"

Support federal medical marijuana legislation now

The federal government has been arresting patients using marijuana for medical purposes, when their doctors have prescribed it and state law permits it. Are you cool with that?

There's a bill in the House right now. The DOJ has no business interfering with physicians who prescribe a treatment that's been used successfully for thousands of years, or with the patients who follow their doctors' advice. Click here to ask your congressional rep. to respect state laws and order the feds to leave med pot patients alone.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Duality of Man

Last night, the guy standing behind me in line at Dairy Queen must have thought I was totally insane. Standing alone, and for no visible reason, I just started laughing hysterically. A mayfly had landed next to me at the order window.

Here's what he didn't know:

When our oldest daughter was about two years old, my wife brought her to the office after a doctor's appointment. It so happened that this was the week when the mayflies were swarming.

I don't know how local this is to Erie, but for about a week every summer here, hordes of mayflies cover entire building surfaces near the lakeshore. They flock to every bright window and lightbulb after dark, molt, mate and disappear to wherever it is that they go for the other 51 weeks of the year.

Anyway, it was mayfly week. When my daughter got out of the car, she noticed one on the sidewalk. "Mommy, look," she said, bending down and stroking the mayfly's wings with one pudgy little finger, "it's so cute."

Then she stood up and promptly squashed it flat with her sandal.

This is what's known as The Duality of Man.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, in our great-grandparents' day, America had a drug problem. There was no regulation of narcotics whatsoever -- you could buy opium-based childrens' cough medicine over the counter or a bottle of Coca-Cola loaded with a little pick-me-up called cocaine. And a small percentage of the population became addicted to these drugs. Some overdosed and died, or simply wrecked their lives.

Rightfully concerned about this but convinced that prohibition and prison sentences were the answer, the US government came to our great-grandparents and said (dumbing it down a bit) "Opium is being used to ensnare your daughters so they can be sold into white slavery by the Chinese. Cocaine makes those uppity Negroes dangerous and bulletproof. Let us take these evil drugs away and protect you from the bad people who sell them."

So our great-grandparents let this come to pass, opened their wallets and forked over the tax dollars for enforcement year after year. Drug addiction was treated as a crime, not a disease. Demand was unaffected.

Even after the fall of alcohol prohibition, these policies remained in effect because the percentage of the population abusing drugs other than alcohol remained very low.

Once upon a time, in our grandparents' day, a timber and publishing baron named Rudolph William Hearst and a number of his cronies had a problem. A device called a decoricator machine had just been invented. This device made it commercially lucrative, for the very first time, to process hemp into paper. It therefore threatened the demise of the timber-based paper industry and Mr. Hearst's personal fortune.

Knowing that some Mexican laborers smoked hemp, and conscious of the success of the racist propaganda that had succeeded in making cocaine and opiates illegal, Hearst launched a major media and legal campaign to prohibit hemp the same way that cocaine and heroin had been prohibited. Hemp was given a new name to make it scary: marijuana. And despite recognizing that hemp was not physically addictive, the government agencies enforcing cocaine and opiate prohibition went along.

So our grandparents let this come to pass, opened their wallets and forked over the tax dollars for enforcement year after year. Drug addiction was treated as a crime, not a disease. Demand was unaffected.

Once upon a time, in our parents' day, there was a cultural revolution. Young adults rebelled against an unpopular war, an involuntary draft and the stifling social conformity that had defined the previous decade. And suddenly, everything was open to reinterpretation -- including drug use. Alarmed, ignoring his own commission's recommendations, and still convinced that hard-line law enforcement was the answer, Richard Nixon launched what came to be known as the War on Drugs.

Despite -- or maybe fueled by -- this, cocaine made a comeback. A few sports figures and celebrities ODed, and the same old propaganda machine convinced America that more money, tougher laws and more enforcement were needed.

So our parents let this come to pass, opened their wallets and forked over the tax dollars for enforcement year after year. Drug addiction was treated as a crime, not a disease. Demand was unaffected.

From that time on, more and more money has been funneled into drug law enforcement every year. Federal government involvement has ballooned as well, leading to a massive, self-serving bureaucracy, the erosion of privacy rights, property seizure laws, the intrusion of law enforcement into pain management therapy, an arms race between the police and street gangs, and a prison incarceration rate that is the shame of the free world. Lured by steady demand and high profits, organized crime and terrorist groups have become the major suppliers of drugs throughout the world.

And so I ask you, how long are we going to continue to open our wallets and fork over our tax dollars? Until something changes, drug addiction will be treated as a crime, not a disease. And demand will be unaffected.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Church Sign Generator

Now this is just too much fun!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Narc on your family members or go to jail -- Senator McCarthy would've been so proud


The politicians want You -- to be a snitch (or go to jail)

What's so bad about this bill (HR 1528)? After all, it's "for the children?" Well, we especially like how the Drug Policy Alliance explained this dangerous proposal...


Congressman Sensenbrenner's (R-Wis.) draconian mandatory minimum sentencing bill will have serious consequences for our democracy, requiring you to spy on all your neighbors, including going undercover and wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to become a spy for the government would be punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of at least two years.

If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" that they took place you would have to report the offense to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance" in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory two year prison sentence.

Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to the police within 24 hours:

  • You see someone you know pass a joint to a 20-year old college student.

  • Your cousin mentions that he bought Ecstasy for some of his college friends.

  • You find out that your brother, who has kids, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife.

  • Your substance-abusing daughter recently begged her boyfriend to find her some drugs even though they're both in drug treatment.

Click here to fill out a form and (politely) tell your congressional reps. where to shove this legislation.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Create your own South Park character

Now you can make yourself into an unlicensed, potentially copyright-infringing South Park character. Cause let's face it, you're just as f***ed up as they are. Beefcake!!!