Monday, January 22, 2018

Drewkitty's Fiction:

Drewkitty's Fiction: A broad range of fiction is available at I will eventually migrate a few non-fiction pieces there to here, and mine my various hard drives, posts, Usenet, etc. for fiction to post there. Please don't get confused by some of the fiction I write. My viewpoint characters are unreliable narrators and I rarely agree with any of their opinions. This post brought to you by a nightmare I had recently -- all of my characters versus me in a dark alley, with them knowing that I was the author of their suffering.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

21st Century Challenge: Forests Not Trees

My training is as a social ecologist. That means seeing the flow of energy through systems and processes, or viewing social problems from a holistic, ecologist perspective.

This training is literally worthless. While it has occasional shocking insights into issues such as crime, homelessness, politics, etc. -- there is no money to be made by telling the powerful the obvious. "Speaking truth to power" is how grad students got called out for extinction in the 2018 GOP budget.

This Thanksgiving Day 2018, I am instead going to tell the powerless -- essentially everyone reading this -- some "generally accepted"* basic truths about 21st century civilization. None of this first part should be controversial - this is 'can't see the forest for the trees' type stuff. But I am expecting some knee jerk reactions from ideologues.

-> The carrying capacity of the planet to support human beings, barring truly major technological changes (aka nanotech), is fixed. The human population is growing and will continue to grow absent major war or sustained genocide.

-> The only major ecological variable outside potential human control at this time is the weather itself, whether this is couched in the language of 'climate change' or is seen as changes in global trends over time. Everything else is politics: whether Japanese continue to "research" (read: eat) whales, China industrializes using oil previously sold to America, we exploit oil reserves in the global North or feed the starving South ... we can solve all these problems, we choose not to.

-> The sheer destructive power of weapons available to humanity has exceeded the capacity of humanity to withstand same. The planet will survive; the humans will not be so fortunate. Thus 'proliferation' (unauthorized access to nuclear arms) continues to be a major concern, but compare to the next point.

-> There is little to no effective disagreement between the power blocs that control the world. Trump is Putin is China is Japan. The future is planned.

-> It would be awfully convenient for a lot of people who make money if the population of the planet were to stabilize soon. It would be a little less convenient for a smaller set of people if the population were to radically fall ... but watch this space for updates, as this is a major if hidden goal of the globalist left. There is much internal (and for obvious reasons, confidential debate) about who to throw off Starship Earth, but not much debate that the 'starving billions' (and therefore unprofitable) need to somehow wander off.

-> The complexity of human problems, general and specific, is starting to exceed our ingenuity in understanding and solving them. We have tools for handling very complicated problems -- but those very tools create much more complicated problems we do not have tools for! This 'complexity' dilemma cannot be solved through simplistic actions no matter how anyone tries. The most forward looking organizations realize that they are in a complexity crisis ... others have their heads buried in the sand (or in the case of the US Navy, the mud) ...

Now for my _commentary_ on the above. None of what I am about to say carries any particular truth or weight -- merely my uneducated opinions of the above.

From this point on, I am being political as all get out. I am taking certain positions on the facts above.

-> The weapons of the 20th century war emphasized physical destruction, the burned out building. The weapons of the 21st century war will emphasize intellectual destruction or the literal destruction of your human opponents. Either your enemy changes his mind or you burn out his brain. (Then you loot his stuff.)

-> The major capabilities of X-weapons have yet to be demonstrated. ("X" for "we don't know, it's still classified.) The limits of nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, etc. are relatively understood. But esoteric weapons are another story ... Steve Jackson Games jokes about "Orbital Mind Control Lasers" but a lot of digging at the spot marked X was cut off, like a switch, in the mid 1960s. There is a lot to worry about here.

-> In my professional opinion, major war or genocide will call into question humanity's continued existence on the planet in at least three ways. 1) Massive psychological damage, even to the alleged victors. 2) Chains of retaliation leading to humanity turning away from the potential of peaceful paths. 3) Inability to unite humanity in the future against existential threats, natural or manmade or even alien.

-> Nonetheless, there are members of the major power blocs who continue to flirt with genocide and limited war as methods of population control. One method is 'benign neglect' -- permit natural disaster, and simply do not respond to it ... or respond in punitive ways. I view the introduction of cholera to Haiti in this light, as essentially deliberate biological warfare little different from giving out smallpox infected blankets to starving Native Americans.

-> Given the problem of population control, and respecting that it is real, my own proposed solutions are simple and radical. They must necessarily be grass roots to have any hope of success. 1) Appropriate technology to spread the benefits of advanced technology without the costs of a fossil fuel driven society. 2) Mass deployment of effective basic medical care through patient education, community health aides, and flattening of global health costs. 3) Free birth control on demand and support for do it yourself birth control options globally. 4) A global safety net to discourage having more than two children, probably structured as a regressive tax and a negative income tax (subsidy payment) for not having children.

-> A useful middle step towards the above is to increase the survivability of individuals, villages, geographic areas and particular cultures _through their own efforts_. "If you set a fire for a man, you warm him for a day. If you set a man on fire, you warm him for the rest of his life." On this scale, I am somewhere between passing out matches and passing out flyers on how to make hand bows.

-> Explicitly to make genocide more difficult, I support the spread of appropriate technology and defensive memetics across all human populations in all areas. The alleged gains from genocide are far outweighed by the losses, even if one adopts Stalin's hoary adage that "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic." The ideology of inalienable human rights, such as the right to speak a language or to possess weapons, is one such memetic element. Note that these are essentially defensive in application... no one is going to go massacre their neighbors with hunting rifles no matter how many adjectives one applies to them (the neighbors or the rifles).

-> To improve survivability from natural and man-made disaster, I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about survival and community building. There is the language of the "first responder" (first designated reaction on scene) and even the "zeroth responder" (first trained person already on scene). I am circling in the direction of the "enabled bystander" ... that every person should not only be trained in the basics of emergency response, but able and willing to act within their skill level and training and _work together cooperatively_ to resolve complex incidents through simple safe efforts.

-> We need a major breakthrough in how we solve social and economic problems due to the complexity dilemma. I have ideas; I am open to many other ideas. But any ideas which do not enjoy deep popular support will fail.

I think the solution might be mass but weighted participation in decision making that will make direct democracy look like freewheeling anarchy. The joy of the capitalist system is that it leverages so many different people making decisions into the organization process. Command economies just don't work - not enough decision makers and not enough analysis. Our problems are becoming too complex for mere bureaucracy

This is the kind of stuff I think about for fun. If I could find someone to pay me to think about it, I would leap at the chance. But people who think they know all the answers don't have any use for comments from the peanut gallery.

* "Generally accepted" for planning purposes by major governments, insurance carriers, global capital accumulations, brokerages, etc. Note that this may or may not be a public position statement, but is taken into account in planning.

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Open Letter to Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

I am writing to express my outrage and contempt for your YES vote to extend the Patriot Act. If it were possible, I would be even more infuriated by the decision by Democrats to attempt to hide the vote within another measure to escape public scrutiny.

This is the second time you have voted on major legislation against your own stated interest and the interests of the vast majority of your constituents. The first was with respect to the bank "bailouts" which are now recognized to have been a loot job of the Federal treasury.

You took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is very specific on this point:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
I am a voter in your district. The Democratic Party will never get another vote from me as long as I live and you, you personally, in your cowardice and hypocrisy in supporting an extension of the blatantly unConstitutional Patriot Act when the Democrats hold the majority and you hold the power to vote your conscience, are the reason why.

"That’s the vote on whether to extend the Patriot Act without any reforms of its abusive spying programs. It doesn’t look like it, of course, but the Patriot Act extension is what’s referred to by “Senate Amendments”. The Senate Democrats sneaked the Patriot Act extension into a Medicare reform bill, and then voted by voice vote to approve the amendment so that no politician would have to have their name attached to this shameless abandonment of liberty. The House Democrats benefited from the maneuver as well, being able to vote on unnamed amendments related to Medicare reform, rather than having it on the record for everyone to see that they voted to renew the worst abuses of the Patriot Act without any effort to protect Americans from their spying powers at all."

"We here at Irregular Times refuse to go along with this underhanded political charade. We’re naming names. "

Posted to my blog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 2010: BOHICA

I am once again getting my electronic act together.

I am drewkitty on Twitter and on Facebook. I am actually set up to tweet from the field now, so feel free to follow along. I can't promise much on Facebook except Mafia Wars posts, but it all depends on how you look at those :)

BOHICA is an acronym which stands for "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!"

In this case we're talking about the ongoing crash of the American economy, the War Of Terror, and the creeping tide of bureaucracy and corporate greed which race to overcome the unwary.

This is a great time to be ready. Ready for what? Good question. I may blog about it, or I may not. Zombie apocalypse? Probably not. Nanotechnological warfare? Not just yet. Robot assassins cruising the skies? We're there now.

Food on the shelves and gas in your tank? Roof over your head? Hits a little closer to home, does it not?


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Super Tuesday

Ah, too bad. Obama and Clinton want my guns. McCain and Romney just want the rest of my freedoms.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

traitor to America

"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God,” Huckabee told a Warren, Michigan audience Monday night, “and that's what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards, rather than try to change God's standards."

Here's our fundamentalist candidate, firmly outed.

He must be defeated so soundly that no one ever tries to monkey with the Constitution in the name of religion again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

media censorship at work

A decision has been made that Ron Paul is not newsworthy. AP won't write full articles on him, only local newspapers and international media. Fox News even edits Ron Paul's name out of AP news stories that briefly mention him!

Only the writer's strike has gotten Ron Paul any media exposure, his invitation to the Jay Leno show. Otherwise there is an echoing silence on the #5 candidate in the Republican primary, with $20 million in the bank (!!!) and a serious possibility of running a third party bid.

I have heard an unconfirmed report that when CNN broadcast the pie chart for the Republican primary, Giuliani's 9% was labeled but Paul's 8% was not.

Remember what I used to do for a living. The word has gone out, don't write stories on Ron Paul.

(from CNN)


McCain 86,802 37%
Romney 73,806 32%
Huckabee 26,035 11%
Giuliani 20,054 9%
Paul 17,831 8%
Thompson 2,808 1%
Hunter 1,195 0% "Ron Paul" and compare to Rudy Giuliani
Results 1 - 10 of about 31,934 for Rudy Giuliani. (0.31 seconds)
Results 1 - 10 of about 16,713 for Ron Paul. (0.31 seconds)


Reference links (sorry, HTML broken, no time to fix)

Background and reaction pieces

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Contradicting Terrorist Lies

I have set myself the challenge of replying to 'antimedia' only with Web links, so that others can get some use out of this discussion. Wikipedia: Nanking Massacre Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941 German Declaration of War with the United States: December 11, 1941 Clinton defends bin Laden efforts, rips host

"Claim: The Clinton administration failed to track down the perpetrators of several terrorist attacks against Americans. Status: False." Wikipedia: Osama bin Laden
Executive Order 13099 of August 20, 1998 Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process [PDF],2933,216480,00.html Clinton's Braggadocio Will Haunt U.S. in War on Terror Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed Wikipedia: Fourth Geneva Convention Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949

"Art 85. Prisoners of war prosecuted under the laws of the Detaining Power for acts committed prior to capture shall retain, even if convicted, the benefits of the present Convention." Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949

"Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals."$File/IHL_and_other_related_Treaties.pdf State Parties to the Following International Humanitarian Law and Other Related Treaties as of 5-Dec-2007

Excerpt: "GC I-IV 1949: Afghanistan 26.09.1956 Iraq 14.02.1956 USA 10.04.1975" 10 September 2007 - Maps and Charts to Accompany the Testimony of General Petraeus [PDF] Slides 1, 4, 10 and 11.
Department of Defense Briefing on Humane Treatment of Iraqi and U.S. POWs Under Geneva Convention

"And Article V of the Prisoner of War Convention, it specifies that if there is any doubt as to the status of a person, that person is entitled to prisoner-of-war protection until his or her status has been determined. That determination can be done by an Article 5 tribunal, which is a tribunal, set up by the military to look at the facts and circumstances of the capture and any other information. They then make a determination or recommendation. Our past practice, in Vietnam as well as in the first Gulf War, was that if at any time there remains any doubt, that person will be entitled to prisoner-of- war status." Old war's victims forgotten no longer

"During the War of 1812, Canada was still part of the British Empire, and Halifax served as the Royal Navy's most important base in North America. According to Admiralty records, more than 8,100 American prisoners of war were held at a military detention camp on Melville Island." CIA Flying Suspects To Torture? CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described Inside the CIA's notorious "black sites",2933,316382,00.html Report: CIA Agent Says Waterboarding is 'Torture, But Necessary' CIA Interrogation Tapes: A Search for Answers Dear Senators - CIA Letter on Torture

"We believe it is important to combat the hatred and vitriol espoused by Islamic extremists, but not at the expense of being viewed as a nation who justifies or excuses torture and incarceration without recourse to a judicial procedure." Signed by 11 CIA, 3 DoD, 1 FBI and 2 State Dept. employees.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What does a "Trillion" look like?!?!?

(excerpted from an LJ comment I made about current budget claims by the Bush administration, which I will not dignify by citing here)

Does anyone have any conception of what a "trillion" dollars looks like?

The last time I looked, it cost about $4.5 billion to buy a modern aircraft carrier (warship) and another $5 billion to buy its aircraft. So call it $10 billion per carrier.

We have about ten carriers, counting two conventional carriers in place of the one nuclear carrier which is typically refueling, in refit, etc. and thus unavailable.

A trillion dollars is ONE HUNDRED AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, or TEN TIMES the US Navy's present carrier fleet. This is enough military power to operate at sea over 7,000 combat aircraft, able to handily devastate any armed power on the planet except maybe Russia or China (and even then, give them hives and fits).

The University of California system plows through something like $8 billion per year. That's right, the entire UC system with its training and education benefits, libraries, repositories of scientific knowledge, cutting-edge scientific research and medical advancements . . . costs less than one carrier. Given all of the long term benefits to society and civilization generally, a cheap bargain for taxpayers despite amazing levels of waste and corruption.

A "trillion dollars" is ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY Universities of California, or a UC caliber higher education system for every nation on the planet.

The UC hospitals cost another $4 billion and provide four (4) Level I trauma centers out of nine hospitals, treating 135,000 inpatients; 240,000 emergency cases and 3.6 million outpatients while training over 12,000 medical professionals.

A "trillion dollars" is TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY UC hospital systems providing First World outpatient care to 900 million people, or four times the population of the United States. Call it buying a hospital system for all of China.

California's state budget is $145 billion.

A "trillion dollars" is the state budget (including schools, prisons and three (!) college systems) for SEVEN states the size of California! In rough terms, this is buying a strong, multi-tiered K through grad school educational system for the entire United States of America -- plus large chunks of a police and prison system, just in case.

A back-of-envelope calculation elsewhere suggested that $1 trillion could purchase enough solar panels to provide 15% of America's electric power.

Best estimate of the Iraq War to date costs range from $500 billion to $1 trillion. This does not include care for disabled veterans, loss of productivity from casualties, or secondary effects of retasking of persons and companies from civil to military work.

A single trillion is a scary amount of power, makes a megawatt look tame.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I am pleased to see that one of my favorite Spider Robinson stories has been posted to the Internet as part of his Lifehouse trilogy.

"God Is An Iron" by Spider Robinson

I can't promise that it's a fun read. But it makes a worthwhile point.

The entire series is quite good. Among other feats, Spider makes a reasonable case for circumstances under which torture is morally acceptable, and a hypothetical (if wildly unlikely) way in which humanity could retroactively invent God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What Do We Owe Our Iraq Veterans?

Rather a lot.

If you've been reading my blog at all, you know that I am a bit left wing. As a friend of mine puts it, "[drewkitty], you're a moderate, but the country went so far right you fell off the left wingtip about a decade ago."

That said, recent events have caused me to think a bit about what we as a nation owe our soldiers and sailors and Marines and aviators who have gone in harm's way and paid with sanity, limb and life.

My opinion about the Iraq War boils down to "We broke it, we bought it." Having committed to this strategy in the Middle East, we simply MUST see it through. The national security and perhaps the ultimate survival of the United States now depend on a victory in Iraq or a departure that does not weaken us in the eyes of our (more numerous) enemies worldwide.

The members of our armed forces have lived up to their side of the deal. Sign up for dangerous work (that sometimes kills in peacetime), some training, mediocre pay and benefits . . . and receive the indifference of a distracted nation.

What about our side of the deal? Yes, the Iraq War is a stupid and unjust war. So? We called, they hauled. Consider how much harder it is to fight a war under these conditions, when it's pretty blatant that it's an American power grab.

What about military objectors to the war who chose to suffer disciplinary action or courts martial instead of going? Good for them, putting their lives and futures where their hearts and mouths are. Better, that they serve our nation by challenging and helping to define our rules while pricking our conscience. Sad but necessary that they will be found guilty and do their time. We need an armed forces that does what the civilians tell them to do, that goes where directed and stays where needed.

Thank a vet. Be nice to a vet. No matter how you feel about the war, they deserve your respect and your thanks. The Iraq War may have more to do with protecting your SUV's gas tank than the city of New York, but that does NOTHING to lessen what we as a nation -- and those of us who are civilians individually -- owe to those who put their bodies between "home and the war's desolation."

Also we need to do our part. VOTE VOTE VOTE! You don't like America's foreign policy, vote in a President who will do something about it! Unhappy with the Iraq War? Look up your Congresscritter's voting record and decide how much blood is on whose hands, and vote accordingly.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Golden Compass

Apparently, the most coherent objections to the new movie "The Golden Compass" are hidden behind a $5.00 download of an E-pamphlet from the Catholic League. The best Web search I was able to conduct (with limited time on breaks) found five major points of objection.

On the drewkitty scale of morality, we are zero for five! Let's throw down.

* Blasphemy against the Judeo-Christian concept of God

Even if I were devout, this one would be silly. Blasphemy is a religious crime to begin with. If God's a fact, all He has to do is laugh and point and say "Here I am!" If their version of God is a lie, those who call it blasphemy are double liars; triple if they're hypocrites.

* Depiction of Catholic Church as evil, and religion in general as obscurant

No disagreement on either point. If the movie portrays this accurately, more power to them. I have held for a long time that "If the Devil were to set out to create an organization to promote and maximize human suffering, he could do no better than to create the Catholic Church."

* Promotion of the occult

Um, hey, I'm Wiccan.

* Endorsement of relativism as an acceptable system of belief

Depends. If the right to make your own decisions as to what is morally right and wrong is relativist, I'm four square on the side of human empowerment. If the definition of "relativism" is situational ethics or "do-it-if-it-feels-good" then I have a problem with relativism.

* Heretical portrayal of the human person

What the dickens is this supposed to mean?

"Every man and woman is a star!"

If you deny the spark of divinity that is in every person, in my opinion you deny the essence of deity itself.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

LJ "Content Protection Feature"

Back when I was an academic (yes, I know, shameful) I wrote a few papers on issues of content regulation and the Internet. In that research I identified "the default" as a most important variable. Most people can't be bothered* to change their technical settings, so the decision of the program author as to what privacy / security settings are automatic tends to be final for a big chunk of the installed base.

LJ just forced all LJ users into accepting "filtered content" as their defaults, and worse, created a misleading system by which any user who responsibly selected "adult concepts" found their material cut-tagged and blacklisted.

This is a horrible act of censorship. I recognize this and therefore I'm gone. Blogger it is.

* Bothered could mean not knowing how to change the settings (12:00 blinking VCRs anyone?); not having time to read the manual or the fine print; or simply trusting in the program authors to know what is best.

Abandoning Live Journal

The "adult content protection" change on LiveJournal has been the last straw. I went from being a paid user back to unpaid out of frustration with how LJ has been treating its user base.

Now I'm switching to Blogger. I'll read LJ and you'll see my posts there (a little late) courtesy of syndication, but I refuse to contribute another sentence of my copyrighted work (i.e. everything I type) to these pixel thieves.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

the serpent of radical Islam

Why do we nurture the serpent that is radical Islam? Granting them an endless state of war, cheerfully embracing the role of Great Satan (and acting accordingly), funding Islamists behind the scenes in Iraq and Pakistan . . . I fail to see how we could do more to prop up the Caliphate.

Where we should be corrupting fundamentalist Islam with the weapons of wealth, Baywatch and human sexuality, we are instead cementing their world view and paying to do it with the blood of our sons and daughters.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

One Laptop Per Jihad

I recently had the opportunity (at Baycon) to play with a working OLPC ("One Laptop Per Child") unit. |

Any self respecting insurgent wants one. Easily flashable, ruggedized, deniable, small keyboard but sealed, USB ports, small screen not as vulnerable to detection.

Children's mileage may vary. Aside from the very real risk of having an insurgent haul it out of the kid's hand, it is neither self-explanatory nor easy to use.

current status

For the moment I'm going to do most of my public posts on blogger, mostly because I'm peeved at LJ. Friends posts will still be on LJ, but this whole thing motivates me to want to set up my own discussion wiki and/or learn how to use aggregators. Any suggestions?

I can't talk about work, except that we are reaching a decision point after which I will either be far busier, or unemployed. Remains to be seen.

My other major project requires some wiki-support as well. Due to the LJ issue, I need third party hosting for it. It will need to be password protected. Any suggestions?

*hugs* to all. I hope to catch up on sleep this weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

LJ! Dangerbot!

You may know by this time about the great LJ censorship project and about SixApart's cowardice. If not, look around. :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

what is the habeus in this corpus?

I assume everyone's heard of the Attorney General of the United States saying that habeus corpus is not a right.

>>> The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

>> In the absence of rebellion or invasion, the courts may require that the executive branch produce a prisoner and bring that prisoner within the jurisdiction of the court, for adjudication of their fate according to law.

>>Impeach. Not fire. High crimes sounds about right.

says LJ-user jordan179:

> I would imagine that Elian Gonzalez would argue that terrorism against America would constitute exactly that ... "rebellion or invasion," depending upon whether or not the terrorist was an American citizen.
> Why would you argue that it wasn't?

Herewith my reply:

The fallacy is treating the individual citizen or non-citizen as if they were a state rather than an individual subject to the power of the state (in the case of non-citzens) or a member of the body politics (in the case of the citizen).

Certainly the government has the power to preserve its own existence, and in cases of rebellion or invasion, a threat to the continuity of government -- however remote -- exists.

In cases of simple crime or even terrorism, no threat to the government itself exists. Therefore, suspending the right of habeus corpus is itself a greater threat to society than a criminal or terrorist act, however horrific.

Treating terrorist crime as a warlike act seems to impute the status of prisoners of war to criminals, or alternatively to create a class of persons who are neither criminal nor POW, and thus placed outside the bounds of civilized law.

Such a class should not exist. Civilization is not something we can set aside for temporary expediency or convenience.

Even if we were to posture that such a class should exist, to suggest that an American citizen, however monstrous (Timothy McVeigh comes to mind) should be stripped of citizenship and placed outside the rule of law ... is itself an attack on the rights of every American citizen.

Further, the right of habeus corpus is an essential part of the checks and balances between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. In particular, it is the right of the judiciary to assert criminal jurisdiction over an individual person for their actions -- whether accused of a crime unjustly, or ostensibly able to defy the law through control of police and/or soldiers. This is essential to preventing executive officials in particular from breaking the law at whim -- which is exactly what the Bush regime has been doing, by its own admission, for years now. (It is worthy of note that legislators in session are immune from executive action, but not from judicial action, and that immunity for the executive subject to impeachment only extends to making the House into the triers of fact and the Senate into the final judges.)

Elian Gonzalez has violated his oath to the Constitution of the United States and should immediately resign. If he does not resign, he should be impeached and his unfitness to hold an office of trust or profit thereby established. Either he is grossly ignorant (which fails the laugh test due to his considerable judicial experience) or he believes that his executive position gives him the right to run rampant over the rights of any person, citizen or non-citizen, prior to any finding of fact by court or jury.

Even the meanest condemned criminal has the right to pray for justice, and to have that justice meted out by the court. Taking away this right is not just an offense against him personally (which is a small thing in the grand scale) . . . but an offense against every citizen and every person with rights, and a weakening of the judiciary's ability to protect each and every one of us from false accusations, unjust arrest and interrogation, torture and even murder.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

fish sauce, cheap pawns and why "jihadis are good for your children"

The academics have been warning about the threat of Muslim extremism since at least the 1970s. The destruction of the towers was not only the second attack on the towers but also the second Al Queda plot involving hijacked aircraft! So 9/11 was a wakeup call only to those who didn't know.

I believe that The Powers That Be are setting the Islamic jihadis up as the next "Great Enemy" and that in fact, to make it a worthy struggle, we are quietly pumping them up behind the scenes and doing all sorts of things that only boost their numbers, their finances, their arsenal (an enormous chunk of which is being sold to them by the USA and Europe!!!) . . . and certainly causing our allies to desert us in greater numbers. Iraq has certainly worked well for this purpose.

It's a race between the cultural assimilation of the radical Muslim (the positive factor that will end the War of Terror) and the use of terror by fanatics on both sides to enrage and blind the West as well as the East. Gitmo and Abu Ghraib (and by extension, most of what we've actually done in Iraq, if not the invasion itself) are stupid moves . . . unless, of course, you're recruiting for Al Queda. Failing to clean up Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . goes beyond tragic. Always remember that Pakistan is a nuclear armed power!

Iran can see the writing on the wall, and while they don't particularly want to be cast as the Great Enemy, they certainly don't want to go down without a fight the way Iraq did. Ironically, with a little quiet effort in supporting Iranian opposition parties, we could actually have a counter-revolution in Iran. The fact that we're not trying this seems proof to me that we don't want a weak Iran, rather the opposite.

I think a lot of American soldiers are beginning to realize that they are being used up like cheap pawns in a war we don't really want to win. (Sound familiar . . . is that black pyjamas and tire sandals and fish sauce I smell?) Unfortunately, many of them are being encouraged to blame "leftist" Americans instead of the neocons who are doing it to them.

We are about to live in Interesting Times.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

regarding the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

Summary: the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project desires to sell $100 laptops to developing country governments, with which to educate their children into 21st century digerati and close the gap between global North and South.

I'm pessimistic. Herewith my commentary, as posted within

The Cult of the Individual and the OLPC

I have been following the OLPC project with some interest. I've read through chunks of this Wiki and various public articles. I've also read the article in the MIT Quarterly publication.

I fear that the OLPC team will come up with a great technological achievement that will be a dismal failure at deployment time.

The sociocultural baggage carried by the OLPC ("One Laptop Per Child") may well get in the way of the project's own objectives.

OLPC is essentially individualist. Empower the child through access to advanced information technology . . . and get out of the way.

However, in the bulk of the world, children are not seen as individuals and, just as important, do not see themselves as individuals. The essential social relation is that of the family and NOT of the individual. The poorer the family, the stronger the family bond, as long as the family itself has hope of survival. Children are expected to contribute, and do contribute, to the survival of the family. Children also represent the investment capital of the family -- to the extent that children go to school, it is in order to improve their skills and earning power to support their parents in their old age.

An African proverb sums this up best: "Me against my brother; me and my brother against my family; me and my family against my village; me and my village against my tribe; me and my tribe against my country; me and my country against the world."

The involvement of the family group in the OLPC project is essential. Will the older brother watch the cows so that younger brother can spend more time on the OLPC? Does Father's need to keep his small business books on the OLPC override his son's need to learn to read? Will the OLPC end up used primarily as a backlight so that Mother can keep sewing into the evening?

To introduce the OLPC into the family without considering the effects on the family -- and the village, and the tribe -- is to add yet another destabilizing influence. From the perspective of the individual (and of the Western 'cult of the individual') this is a positive factor.

From the perspective of the actual gatekeepers and stakeholders in the OLPC process, from Ministers of Education through regional train-the-trainers, local schoolteachers, village elders, heads of household and their families . . not necessarily so.

No one in authority feels that they will gain from something that diminishes that authority, no matter the apparent good that "other people" might derive from it.

I am concerned that the local petty authorities will -- correctly if the technology is haphazardly deployed -- see the OLPC as a disruptive, destabilizing influence and either "lose" the OLPCs, sell them on what will clearly be a hot black market, or (perhaps worst) lock them in a closet and only let kids handle them when a dust plume from a visiting inspector's vehicle is seen on the horizon.

The alternative is to use the OLPC as what sociologists call a "change agent." Make the OLPC accessible and usable by the entire family group. Tackle the equally arduous challenge of adult literacy at the same time as educating the next generation. If the parents get X amount of good out of the OLPC, they will be more likely to support their children in getting exponentially more good (X to the Y) out of the OLPC, even if they never quite understand the benefits themselves.

To misquote Shakespeare, my advice to the project team is "Get thee to a sociologist, quick!"

In all seriousness, the initial deployment in each major cultural grouping (which may be several per country!) should include a researcher with local language skills and some exposure to ethnographic techniques and/or anthropology, tasked to get feedback not only from students and teachers but from the communities in which the OLPCs are deployed.

Social facts are exactly that -- facts, which the outsider ignores at the very real risk of failure.

[drewkitty] M.A. [degree], University of California, Irvine (I am no longer affiliated with UCI and my opinions are my own.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

How To Win The War On Terror

Let's assume that a War on Terror is a good idea. This is a huge assumption. I've written oodles on the idea that declaring "war" on anything is a recipe for utter failure and disaster, for reasons ranging from reification to the government agency budget cycle. The utter success and minimal cost of the War on Drugs certainly shows that "Wars" are a great way to solve embedded sociological problems. NOT.

Now, let's go back to the dictionary.

War. 1 a (1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) : a period of such armed conflict (3) : STATE OF WAR b : the art or science of warfare c (1) obsolete : weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic : soldiers armed and equipped for war . . . 2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end a class war a war against disease

Terror. 1 : a state of intense fear 2 a : one that inspires fear : SCOURGE b : a frightening aspect c : a cause of anxiety : WORRY d : an appalling person or thing; especially : BRAT. . . 4 : violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands insurrection and revolutionary terror

Let's go with War 2(b) and Terror (4) to get a definition for the War on Terror.

"a struggle . . . between opposing forces or for a particular end [against] violent or destructive acts [ . . ] committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands"

I see several ways of achieving this.

1) Identify and destroy the terrorist groups. This implies a working intelligence apparat with the necessary tools (i.e. SpecOps) and national will (i.e. politicians with balls). The latter, America has. The former, we do not.

2) Harden populations and governments so that terrorist demands will be ignored and never granted. This requires that the majority of governments around the world actually be in tune with their populations. There are some problems with this:

a) Most of our "allies" in the developing world are NOT popular governments. The population and the government do NOT agree, and the latter stays in power because of activity by the security forces largely financed by the United States and Europe.

b) Many of the terrorist demands that are made, seem reasonable to a chunk of people around the world. Palestinians, fanatic Muslims, the governments of Syria and Iran, etc. are in agreement with certain terrorist goals.

We must either change their minds, or kill them all. In a "War" there is no middle ground. Direct occupation of Islamic territory is ruinously expensive (c.f. Iraq) and massacre is not only morally bankrupt, but likely to have very negative long-term effects for the so-called victors.

Any weapon can be used in two ways. You can use a weapon to kill and destroy. You can use a weapon to change a person's mind, temporarily, by threatening them with it.

I submit that there is no threat that will permanently change the mind of a religious fanatic.

So if threats do not work, how about bribery?

Don't laugh. Paying people to not commit acts of terror is a popular tradition of the Western liberal democracy. We call it by various names: public education, food stamps, student loans, welfare, the GI Bill, etc. What it is, however, is direct payments to those people who do not presently support themselves by work, that feeds them anyway.

I'm not fond of the idea of paying Danegeld. But this is what we do now when we purchase oil from the Middle East. The problem is that a tithe (literally) of the money that goes into the gas tank of your SUV, pays for the training camps and the IEDS.

Let's do a Marshall Plan for the Middle East. The goal is to consciously and deliberately corrupt the Islamic world. Broadcast not only Voice of America, but the BBC and CNN in hundreds of languages. Put up a few satellites over the Arab nations for the express purpose of giving satellite links to schools, Internet cafes, opposition groups, etc. Air-drop AM and FM hand-crank radios to every village in Asia and Africa. Develop a solid curriculum for education to the American high school level, in all the languages of interest (Arabic, Farsi, etc.) and start broadcasting it for free. Use the Chinese village satellite pack (two solar panels, a deep cycle battery, a TV, satellite dish and receiver, with inverter) and start giving them away. Pop! Instant high school in a box.

Baywatch is already the ideological Marine landing on the beachhead of the Islamist. Crank up the tit power and start broadcasting free hard-core porn, mixed with a bit of street level education about freedom of speech and democracy. Focus at first on Saudi Arabia, where the locals are already so obsessed with porn that they dial up into AOL in the United States over cellular links to evade national-level censorship.

We can't do anything about Ahmed the terrorist. We can do something about Ahmed's brothers and sisters and cousins, and the opinion of his community.

Today: "Celebrate! Ahmed has gloriously given his life to fight the American infidels! He will eat and drink in Paradise! Who will take up the fight against the evil of the Westerners and their heresies?" (Me! Me!)

Tomorrow: "Oh, the poor Ahmed family. They are so ashamed. Ahmed was killed by Americans when he tried to bomb a convoy. He should have known better. The Westerners and their ideas are everywhere. Life in the villages has become so much better since the Americans dug the new well and installed the satellite dish. We see that the Americans are people, just like us."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

LJ-Cut tag functionality

I am consciously giving up one thing in the move from LJ to blogspot -- the illusion of privacy in posting "friends only."

I don't want to give up the usefulness of the LJ-cut tag. However, implementing this is beyond me on a Christmas Eve.

Interlude: Boundaries

Interlude: Boundaries
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comment: it has not escaped my notice that I seem to have a life filled with people who have boundary issues, that my profession involves the enforcement and maintenance of boundaries, and last but not least, that my worst problems have been with people who are either blissfully oblivious to boundaries, or simply do not care enough to recognize that they exist. So this is a bit more personal, but in my arrogant opinion, no less relevant.]

Boundaries are about the difference between driving over the yellow line because you don't see it, and knowing that you're driving over the yellow line but not giving a damn.

Accordingly, here is some advice, which is worth what was paid for it.

  • I own my actions. You own your actions. Unless your duties involve calling me to account for my actions, don't try. I will disrespect your attempt. I may even mock you. If I am feeling particularly patient, I may choose to explain the boundaries involved . . . but then again, I may not.
  • You own your feelings. The management (that would be me) assumes neither responsibility nor obligation for any feelings you may choose to have or not have.
  • I do not set out to hurt other people's feelings. Nor do I treat adult people as fragile cockleshells that would crumple under the weight of a drewkitty thought. Treating people, and especially young women, as if they are fragile and helpless is the fastest way to make them so in fact, and make it easier for predators to victimize them.
  • "As brethren, fight ye." My friends do not have to be friends with each other. However, I expect fights to be fair and within reasonable boundaries intended to minimize drama and splashback on innocent bystanders. (I am not an innocent bystander in direct proportion to my involvement.)
  • Incoming fire has the right of way. Friendly fire isn't.
  • You have the right to negative emotions about me. You have the right to express these to me, within appropriate boundaries and in the context of any interpersonal relationship we may have. Your negative emotions do not privilege you to be rude to third parties, or to behave like an asshat, or to break rules you've agreed to (such as convention policies) or for that matter, the law.
  • As in a duel, if you choose to exchange fire with me, once you have taken your best shot you are expected to stand your ground like a gentleman (or lady) and take fire in return. If not, I won't make you . . . but I'll lose all respect for you.
  • You may ask for my time and energy. I may choose to offer it. I may choose not to. The only people who can demand my time and energy, and get away with it, are my employer and those few persons who have a deep friendship or romantic relationship with me. Even they are advised to consider whether they are loading the drewkitty with more than he can bear -- and I will tell them so, because we have a trust level that can support this.
  • Everyone manipulates. What matters is what one chooses to manipulate for. I choose consciously to manipulate situations in such a way that the best results occur for everyone. My people come first, myself second, innocent bystanders third and active aggressors / asshats a distant fourth.
  • I place a high value on truth. Lying to me is a fast way to get on my shit list. I don't have time to sort through bullshit. Neither do you. The clock is ticking, Death waits for us all, and Satan laughs every time a lie hurts a person.
  • Don't ask me unless you want the truth. However, I will listen to almost any question, and will usually give a thoughtful answer. The answer will be true, but may not be complete.
  • "Never do an enemy a small injury." If I did you a small injury, sorry. The good news is that you're probably not my enemy.
  • I don't have many enemies. It takes hard work and long effort to become a foe of mine. However, once someone achieves this vaunted status, I shall never forget and shall always plan accordingly. If I am ever found dead, at least one of my enemies will be very surprised to be speaking to the homicide detectives.
  • Users will find that they can take advantage of me for about twice as long as they can most ordinary people. However, they will also find that once I finally wise up, my tolerance turns to implacable disdain, which I can with difficulty override if there seems to be a good reason. (Rarely.)
  • I like making good things happen to and for people. I am resigned to the idea that it does not work the other way around. But don't expect me to be cheerful about this.
  • "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." I strongly believe this quote by Solomon Short (David Gerrold). "The defining quality of truth is its ability to disturb."
  • I have good reason to keep the secrets that I do. Don't be offended if you ask about a secret, minor or major, and I simply tell you, "Sorry, I can't share that with you." I may be able to explain why, I may not. Either way, if you take it personally, I have to assume that you're the type of person who can't be trusted with secrets.
  • I have a very, very high tolerance for deviant behavior. Never assume that this tolerance extends to my professional life, or to obscene behavior in public that offends or hurts others.
  • Last but not least, the drama llama feeds on injudicious and hasty comments, especially online. Think before you post. Admit it when (not if) you screw up. Being right is the booby prize -- no one wants to hang with someone who is right all the time. One reason I have so few real friends. It would be funny, but it's not.

Practicum: (Counter-)Terrorism Survival

Practicum: (Counter-)Terrorism Survival
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I am ashamed to have to write this post. I'm embarrassed for my government, for the lack of moral courage exhibited by most politicians and many judges and most police officers. (I am unsurprised by the total corporate roll-over -- it's in their interest.)

But I am very scared for my friends, not just my friends who are out there but my kin in spirit, the weirdos and very different people and those who don't like being conformist but are still good people.

Herewith: counter terrorism and what it will mean to you as a deviant.

Terrorism is the use of force to achieve a political or ideological objective.

Counter terrorism should be the use of lavish government resources and necessary force to hunt down and incapacitate those who would employ the techniques and tactics of terrorism. I have no problem with counter-intelligence agents infiltrating legitimate political organizations in order to pursue terrorists. I have no problem with unlimited roving wiretaps in the hands of counter terrorism task forces. I do have a BIG problem with extending these powers WITH NO OVERSIGHT to a newly minted Federal government agency filled with rabid fanatics.

Counter terrorism is the excuse being used to justify outrageous and unlimited expansions of the power of government. You no longer enjoy your Fourth Amendment right to "be secure in your persons, places and personal effects." Your home (or computer) may be tossed by Federal agents because they feel like it. If they find anything they consider "suspicious" (NOT UNLAWFUL) they can initiate an investigation, detain you on what may well turn into an indefinite basis, and wreck your life.

Here is a list of some of the behaviors that public and private agents are expected to report to law enforcement designated Terrorism Officers immediately:

  • Suspicious persons around or near your home or workplace.
  • Unusual dress, behavior or mannerisms.
  • Confrontation with local, state or Federal officials.
  • Any behavior that is not consistent with others in the area.
  • New persons in your neighborhood with no obvious means of employment.
  • Attendance at political or ideological rallies.
  • Cars with bumper stickers for unpopular political or ideological causes.
  • Passing out flyers or leaflets regarding unpopular political or ideological issues.
  • Engaging in conversations on controversial subjects.
  • Holding secret meetings.
  • Discussions of bombs, weapons or terrorism in public.
  • Unrelated persons living in the same apartment or house.
  • Paying rent in cash. Paying bills in cash. Renting a car with cash.
  • Having no fixed address or visible means of support.
  • Having multiple cell phones, radio scanners or amateur radio equipment.

Do you fit any of these profiles? Do you see any problems with this?

My friends, please take great care to avoid fitting any of the terrorist profiles. Get to know your neighbors. Be polite to authority figures. Maintain a valid address and know the names of two solid citizens who will vouch for you. Be ready to blend in. Keep your IDs and registrations current.

And last but not least, if you see any of the following real signs of real terrorist activity, call security, police and/or 911 at once and be ready to report your location and your concern:

  • persons with binoculars, still or video cameras, and/or recording devices sitting in vehicles or conducting surveillance of public buildings or major terrorist targets (NOT Podunk Courthouse -- think more like the Transamerica Building in SF) [surveillance]
  • one or more persons in a public place who are moving quickly and oddly, referring to a stopwatch as they do so, and engaging in inexplicable behavior such as walking to a spot, reaching down, and walking away quickly -- especially if the person(s) are then picked up by a car which races away [rehearsal]
  • unauthorized persons asking about security procedures, techniques or practices -- especially emergency response and evacuations [social engineering]
  • any unknown person inside a secured area with a badging policy who is not displaying a visible badge, REGARDLESS OF CLOTHING (business suit, coveralls, toolbox, etc. irrelevant) [penetration exercise / casing]
  • any abandoned package in any secure public venue such as a BART station, train station, airport, etc. -- THIS JUSTIFIES GETTING IMMEDIATE HELP FROM ANY EMPLOYEE (train operator, station agent, ticket clerk) [bomb]
  • any vehicle, but especially a van or truck parked illegally in an unusual spot, especially next to a high-rise building or a venue with large numbers of people in it [bomb]
  • if said vehicle smells of fertilizer, fuel oil, or unusual chemicals, RUN LIKE HELL [pray]
  • if you see people falling down or throwing up or twitching, DON'T go over to help -- RUN LIKE HELL [hazmat]
  • if you hear gunfire, FIRST take cover, then run away, THEN call for help [overt attack]
  • last but not least, the most important sign of a real terrorist attack:


  • except in downtown New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago . . . where alert security and police officers have in sober point of fact, stopped terrorists using these guidelines

I would love to see the next terrorist attack aborted or stopped by some punk rockers, drug dealers and/or anarchist skinheads.