Obama & Change; Crypto & the 2nd Amendment

Thought the first: Apropos Obama and change. He’s getting flak for choosing experienced politicians to flesh out his administration. For instance, in the NYTimes today, in an article regarding his meeting with Clinton to discuss her taking the Secretary of State role:

… there are clear dangers for Mr. Obama as well … her appointment could undercut his argument that he is bringing true change to Washington.

I get why people are concerned that choosing Washington insiders might undercut Obama’s message. We’re all sick to death of the secret memos, the corruption, and the spinelessness we’ve seen over the past eight years. But change is not simply about the people. It’s about the process.  Obama’s message was that he wanted to change the way politics is played in Washington. Reaching out to former rivals in substantive ways is, guess what;  a change! And using people who have experience in getting things done when the country is in this current state of crisis seems like a wise move to me…. As long as he combines this reaching out with a willingness to hold the criminals accountable.

Thought the second: I got a grin out of xkcd’s latest comic. I’m so there…

Remember, kids: you read it here first. As I said then:

The Second Amendment was clearly intended to protect from seizure the tools the citizenry need to defend themselves from tyranny. Muskets and bullets were the tool of choice back then, but it’s quite clear that the underlying intent was to uphold ordinary people’s ability to defend themselves from a government gone wrong.

In a very real sense, the right to privacy and a free internet is the new “right of people to bear arms.” Even the expression “forewarned is forearmed” gives this notion a nod. Access to information is the new equalizer. There may be no way an ordinary citizen, even armed with an uzi, can stand against the assembled might of the US government, as our founders intended, should our government fail in its duty to not abuse its authority. But we can keep them honest, with access to information and the right to protect our personal information from unreasonable search and seizure.

The struggle against tyranny has graduated from bullets to bits.

Stuff We Did This Weekend

You know how I am… It’s all a blur to me. I kinda almost remember stuff. Sometimes.


Lessee… what did I do this weekend? I remember riding into Austin on my Shadow on Friday evening. She Who Is Awesome and Jesse and I ended up eating dinner at the all-you-can-eat place, because the upscale places were all overloaded with those people who are about three cuts above my normal social class and prefer the restaurant music to be so GODDAM LOUD that you can’t hear your own intestines explode when the salmonella kicks in.


I normally don’t like the all-you-can-eat food places, but this one was quieter than usual and the food was extremely tasty, and apparently did not contain any salmonella. Jesse was taking us out to celebrate because he just got a new job installing cutting-edge solar technology to power laser-beam death rays on people’s roofs. I spilled ice cream on my shirt and licked it off, but it didn’t get really clean, actually.


Jesse had to go to bed early because he had to go in the next morning to start collimating the death rays. Me and Rach rode over to the nearest movie plex and saw ‘The Dark Knight’. I kinda remember it being pretty good. It was long, but didn’t seem that way at the time. I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom even once during the movie, which was nice.


Slept very late Saturday morning. Washed clothes, as I had forgotten to bring any clean underwear with me. Took a shower, and got back into the sweaty underwear, as the clean underwear wasn’t dry yet. Yeah, I know – gross.


Got to band rehearsal after the scheduled begin time that afternoon, as usual. We jammed out until about nine. We were mind-blastingly great, as usual, and everybody even seemed to enjoy it, despite the mandatory bitching and whining. I got to play loud, some. Caroline’s cello solo on the not-quite-last song (which is a secret song for the wedding gig, so shush!) was sublime.


Jesse was out shooting pool with friends when I got back to the apartment, so me and Rach wandered off and had TexMex at this quiet place tucked away in the wilderness that is Pflugerville. It was late, so we were the last customers to leave before they closed. I left a larger than usual tip, because I felt guilty about that.


We weren’t tired yet, so we rode off down I-35 looking for trouble, and… What did we do then?..


Oh, yeah, now I remember.


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A Wild and Crazy Truth

Let's Get Small 

I usually dislike books labeled as “memoir” (though I occasionally read them), because I’ve always known they can’t be trusted.

In fact, when the whole Million-Little-Pieces debacle unfolded a few years ago, I was bemused by the “Shocked! Shocked!” reaction it provoked. Seriously, now: Were daytime-television bookclubbers really surprised to discover that “memoir” is French for “big fat self-serving lie”?

Besides, even if a memoirist endeavors to be as truthful as memory allows, he or she will still get something wrong. I myself, the earthly avatar of Honesty and Cub-Scoutiness, have discovered that I often just flat misremember things. Last year, for example, I wrote an essay for Eat Our Brains in which I described a childhood game that I said had no name, but that I would refer to as “Dizzy Idiots.” Then, a few months ago, my Baby Brother (who could now crush me ‘twixt his thumb and forefinger like an overripe grape) reminded me that the game I had described did have a name. It was called “Tornado.”

[Well, Baby Brother would have a better memory of that game than I would. He was the one who wound up in the Emergency Room because of it.]

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Hedwig (No, not the owl, silly)

If you have for some insane reason chosen to not yet view ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch‘, hold still and we’ll fix you right now.

Here’s a clip of ‘The Origin of Love’ from it. It’s the most shattering explanation I’ve ever seen regarding the essential tragedy and glory of being human:



If that made you bleed a little, here’s the deepest cut.



Don’t Sue My Buddies!

George wants his buddies in the telecommunication biz not to face the consequences of helping him illegally tap phones.  From the Washington Post:

Referring to the phone companies’ need for relief, Bush said: “They’re facing billions of dollars of lawsuits.”

Five coordinated, class-action lawsuits are pending against the phone companies, but substantial damages would be awarded only if courts rule that they participated in illegal surveillance affecting millions of people, not just communications involving terrorism suspects overseas. If all the claims were added up, the statutory penalties could be $13,000 per person or $200 per person per day of violation.

* * *

Referring to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Bush said: “I don’t want to try to get inside their head; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train.”

Two nonprofit groups are overseeing the five class-action cases: the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. But each case has at least one for-profit law firm assisting the plaintiffs. At least one law firm is seeking no compensation. There is no prospect that financial damages would be awarded soon.

My favorite Commie rag says:

 US President George Bush used a Thursday White House press conference to issue a belligerent demand that Congress pass a bill effectively gutting Constitutional protections against government spying while granting immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the administration break the law.

The bullying tone of the president, who repeatedly banged the podium while warning of supposed imminent dangers posed by the Congressional delay in renewing the administration’s unfettered power to conduct domestic wiretapping, stood in sharp contradiction with the overwhelming popular hostility towards Bush, whose standing in the polls has fallen to record lows. Despite his deepening political isolation, the Republican president is justifiably confident that the Democratic majority in Congress will ultimately bow to his demands.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU:

“Contrary to the president’s false claim that those suing the telecoms are doing so because of a ‘financial gravy train,” those who are seeking justice against the companies that sold out their privacy are not in it for the money. This is about the rule of law, and about insisting that corporations not be treated as above the law. You follow the rules, you don’t get sued. It’s as simple as that. Americans deserve their day in court.

“As for getting the help of these companies in the future, the president conveniently fails to mention that the companies will have immunity if they follow the law – namely FISA. For years, the telephone companies knowingly violated that law and should be held accountable.  Because the administration does not want this lawlessness aired publicly, Bush is trying to prevent the courts from doing their job and is now goading Congress to bait them into aiding his administration’s cover-up. A full and public airing of the facts is necessary and overdue. The bottom line in all of these cases is that these giant companies must be held accountable for violating the law and dissuaded from violating the law in the future.”

But here’s my favorite comment:

The Billboard Liberation Front today announced a major new advertising improvement campaign executed on behalf of clients AT&T and the National Security Agency. Focusing on billboards in the San Francisco area, this improvement action is designed to promote and celebrate the innovative collaboration of these two global communications giants.


Extrusions Into the Third Dimension

Noble Girl made me my Headcrab Zombie doll and her mom was so impressed (and jealous!) that NG has been working on a project specifically for Laura. From the Analog cover for Glass Houses, Laura J. Mixon’s 1992 critically acclaimed novel, comes Golem and Ruby.

You can see a C-Print of the original cover in the background.

Click to embiggen.

Sock Robots Rule!