Tag Archives: crime

Digital Culture Killed My Dog

anonymous-16114-400x250This week, aaronJacob and I examine the state of the digital world, wondering whether our state of technological growth is a good thing or a bad thing, much the same, or if that growth is perhaps a little overstated. Is it making us mentally unstable? Does it help us escape or confirm our biases? Does new technology annihilate old modalities? We’ll spend our electronically-scored time delving into as many aspects of our collective computer culture and online ouvre as we can in two hours, everything from viral videomemes and remix art to pitched copyright battles and very real cyberwars, piracy and hacktivism to censorship and surveillance. Not to mention the insidious, darkest corners of the web; conspiracy, violence, cyberbullies, trolls,  and even hauntings.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-01-19: Digital Culture Killed My Dog by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Galaxee Trance
Katamari on the Swing – We Love Katamari Soundtrack
my favorite james taylor song – (8BitPeoples) yuppster
Hard Reset – Eats Tapes
Gimme the Mermaid – Negativland
Circumlocution – The Quiet American
Human After All (Alter Ego Remix) – Daft Punk
Scratch Bass – Lamb
Slow This Bird Down – Boards Of Canada
Verbal (Prefuse 73 Dipped Escalade mix) – Amon Tobin
Roboshuffle – Kid Koala
Spread Teamer – Yip-Yip
Super Mario Bros. Dirty Mix OC ReMix – A Scholar & A Physician
Spy vs Spy II (Drunk n’ Basement Mix) – 8-Bit Weapon
Lavender Town – Pokemon
Clocktown Backwards – Majora’s Mask
Wood Man Theme – Mega Man 2
Town (Day) – Castlevania 2
Hydrocity Zone Act 1 – Sonic the Hedgehog 3
no more memory – cyriak
Return of the God – Dreadnots
A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld – The Orb
CHange FRom ONe FOrm TO ANother – The Royal You
Upgrade (A Brymar College Course) – Deltron
Sattellite Surfer – F/i

January 18 marks an online holiday: Internet Freedom Day, or#InternetFreedomDay. The day a massive online protest successfully defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). But as the EFF points out, we must remain ever-vigilant against such threats:

  • Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Demand Patent Reform
  • Reform Draconian Computer Crime Law
  • Protect Cell Phone Location Data
  • Stop new Internet Surveillance Laws

We recognize the value of fair use when artists are free to express their creative, political and social statements by repurposing and remixing such classics:

Whatever new aesthetic form our digital art takes, such as data moshing or augmented reality. Heck, there is even value to preserving the nature of piracy in some regard.

So while our leaders are trying to convince us that foreign entities and idealistic individuals are to blame for the viruses and espionage around the globe, but in reality our own massively overpowered governments are spying and prying into our personal affairs, unleashing damage and persecuting the free every day.

In response to a FOIA request, the FBI sent the ACLU of empty and redacted pages (PDF), providing zero insight into what this policy actually is. The FBI says that information is “private (privileged) and confidential.”

“The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant” ~Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney

All this while human rights monitors document the rise in surveillance and censorship technology being exported from America to other (arguably) more repressive nations.

Human rights monitors have documented the use of US-manufactured Internet surveillance and censorship gear in 21 countries, some with checkered human rights policies such as Syria, China, and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela. Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The technology isn’t subject to US State Department export restrictions except to countries such as Syria, Iran, and North Korea (all on an embargo list).

So while we idly worry about threats to our online privacy, diligent crusaders and information liberators are actively targeted by government prosecutors.

Reddit co-founder and internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz tragically committed suicide on January 11, 2013. He had been arrested and charged back in 2009 for having downloaded a massive cache of documents from JSTOR., and was facing up to 13 felony counts, 50 years in prison, and millions of dollars in fines. MIT and JSTOR had already settled over the ‘Terms of Use’ breach, but prosecutors only dropped the charges after his death.

Prosecutors allege that Swartz downloaded the articles because he intended to distribute them for free online, though Swartz was arrested before any articles were made public. He had often spoken publicly about the importance of making academic research freely available. His actions were criminalized under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), an act was designed to prosecute hackers.

JSTOR did acknowledge it was “deeply saddened” by the Swartz tragedy.

“The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge,” the organization wrote in an unsigned, undated statement. “At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011.”

Law professor Lawrence Lessig, a friend and mentor to Swartz, wrote a post called “Prosecutor as Bully”:

The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

They don’t prosecute Wall Street for destroying the world’s economy, they don’t prosecute HSBC for laundering billions for the drug cartels and terrorists, and they don’t prosecute war criminals. But they’ll prosecute Aaron Swartz, Bradley Manning and other activists.

Some Senators are demanding answers:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introducedAaron’s law,” which would reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was used to prosecute Swartz. Another member of the House Judiciary Committee, Darrell Issa (R-CA), said he wanted to investigate the actions of the US Attorney who authorized the prosecution, Carmen Ortiz of Massachusetts.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter this morning to Attorney General Eric Holder, suggesting the case against Swartz may have been retaliation for prior investigations of Swartz, or his use of FOIA.

But US Attorney Carmen Ortiz released a statement defending her prosecution of Aaron Swartz, calling it an ‘appropriate handling of the case’, even though many are claiming that it may have prompted the 26-year-old’s suicide.

“At no time did this office ever seek – or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to see – maximum penalties under the law,” Ortiz said. She claims she would have recommended that the judge offer a deal that came with six-month prison sentence in a low-security setting.

Elliot Peters, Swartz’s lawyer, said that prosecutors planned to argue for a seven to eight year prison sentence if their client had rejected the six-month offer.

So while Zoe Lofgren’s terrific changes are a good start, the EFF vowed to continue Aaron’s work and ‘attack‘ the obsolete, vague, and abused computer and communications laws:

EFF vows to continue his work to open up closed and entrenched systems that prevent ordinary people from having access to the world’s knowledge, especially the knowledge created with our tax dollars… to attack the computer crime laws that were so horribly misused in the prosecution of Aaron.

First, [to] ensure that when a user breaks a private contract like a terms of service or other contractual obligation or duty, the government can’t charge them criminally under the CFAA or wire fraud law—two statutes the Justice Department used against Aaron.

The second set of changes ensures that no criminal liability can attach to people who simply want to exercise their right to navigate online without wearing a digital nametag. It ensures that changing a device ID or IP address cannot by itself be the basis of a CFAA or wire fraud conviction.

Meanwhile, a group of online archivists released the “Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator.” The initiative is a JavaScript-based bookmarklet that lets Internet users “liberate” an article, already in the public domain, from the online academic archive JSTOR. This is in the hope that free knowledge can be taken from behind academic paywalls and put into the public domain, to liberate information and do to publishing what has already been done to other forms of media.

But as Swartz’s and other “hacktivist” cases demonstrate, you don’t necessarily have to be a hacker to be viewed as one under federal law. Are activists like Swartz committing civil disobedience, or online crimes?

  • Publishing Documents – Accessing and downloading documents from private servers or behind paywalls with the intent of making them publicly available.
  • Distributed Denial of Service  – Some web activists have pressed for DDoS to be legalized as a form of protest, claiming that disrupting web traffic by occupying a server is the same as clogging streets when staging a sit-in. A petition started on the White House’s “We the People” site a few days before Swartz’s death has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.

“Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is not any form of hacking in any way. It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any ‘occupy’ protest.”

  • Doxing – Doxing involves finding and publishing a target’s personal or corporate information.
  • Website Defacement

As we’ve seen, hackers can be a lot more benefit than harm, and the internet, if it is to be the most democratizing system on the planet, must allow for radical transparency of information. Even if you disagree with much of it, or find the bulk of it stupid or offensive. Reactionary censorship and oppression are never righteous, or even permanently effective, solutions.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-01-19: Digital Culture Killed My Dog by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

“whether we know it or not, all of us are being influenced by the net. The machines have changed everything in our lives. As you know, if you use the internet, there is a tremendous evil available at your fingertips. Do not- DO NOT allow the machines to take control over your lives. Don’t do that.”

~Bill O’Reilly

“the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”

~Ted Stevens

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Smart Guns Don’t Kill People

This article originally appeared on Disinfo.com

Technologist and New York Times columnist Nick Bilton explores the development of ‘smart guns‘ designed only to work with the owner’s grip or palmprint. These biometric devices are not entirely new, but are still unable to make it into the marketplace. Smart gun tech may have appeased the most idealogical contenders of either side of the debate on Sandy Hook and other gun massacres: they would not have prevented the killers from being able to use any of the firearms in question, but allowed the original owners to keep them without any infringement of their rights.

Nick Bilton via the NYT’s Bits Blog:

For example, the iGun, made by Mossberg Group, cannot be fired unless its owner is wearing a ring with a chip that activates the gun.

But you would be hard pressed to find this technology on many weapons sold in stores. “The gun industry has no interest in making smart-guns. There is no incentive for them,” said Robert J. Spitzer, a professor of political science at SUNY Cortland and the author of four books on gun policy. “There is also no appetite by the government to press ahead with any kind of regulation requiring smart-guns. These safety options exist today.”

But gun advocates are staunchly against these technologies, partly because so many guns are bought not in gun shops, but in private sales. “Many guns are bought and sold on the secondary market without background checks, and that kind of sale would be inhibited with fingerprinting-safety technologies in guns,” he said.

I called several major gun makers and the National Rifle Association. No one thinks a smart-gun will stop a determined killer. But I thought Smith & Wesson and Remington, for instance, would want to discuss how technology might help reduce accidental shootings, which killed 600 people and injured more than 14,000 in the United States in 2010. The gunmakers did not respond, and neither did the N.R.A.

A Wired magazine article from 2002 gives a glimpse of the N.R.A.’s thinking. “Mere mention of ‘smart-gun’ technology elicited sneers and snickers faster than a speeding bullet,” the magazine wrote. It quoted the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, as saying, “Tragic victims couldn’t have been saved by trigger locks or magazine bans or ‘smart-gun’ technology, or some new government commission running our firearms companies.”

TriggerSmart, an Irish company, has patented a childproof smart-gun. One feature is a “safe zone” that can be installed in schools and acts as a force field, disabling any TriggerSmart gun that enters a designated area. Robert McNamara, the company’s founder, has been trying to persuade gun makers to adopt the technology. He isn’t having much luck. “One gun manufacturer told us if we put this technology in one particular gun and some kid gets shot with another gun, then they will have to put them in all guns,” he said.

“We believe we could have helped prevent the Newtown massacre.”

You’ll notice how quickly the NRA equates reasonable proposals like smart gun technology with outright bans and government seizure. The impediments reveal the true, insidious nature of despicable groups like the NRA, who don’t care about human beings unless they have a large pocketbook. They don’t lobby for gun owners, but for large gun manufacturers; gun owners are the window dressing, support for them is incidental, tertiary, and superficial.

This is not the sole solution in a)the rampant problem with hundreds of thousands of unregistered guns, b)the irresponsibility of gun policy in this country, which can be well-regulated without violation of rights, or c)search of a problem, depending on your stance. Obviously ‘smart guns’ would not do anything about illegal guns or second sale or heirloom firearms, which account for a large percentage of sales and crime. This is the problem with most of the proposed legislation and ‘fixes’ from the left; they disproportionately affect responsible gun owners and not criminal use of guns.

Wayne LaPierre, no better than Diane Feinstein, used the tragedy as a pulpit to distract towards everything else besides his own moneyed lobby. It was the culture. It was vidyuh games (thanks, Jack Thompson). It wasHollywood. It was Jon Stewart. It was *as always* the atheists and gays. It was those damn mentally infirm. Hold! For a moment, my heart skipped a beat, would the NRA take an official and humanitarian position on our crumbling mental health care infrastructure? Would they promise millions in direly needed aid to prevent tragedies wrought by unfortunately afflicted people (and not their guns)? No, of course, the NRA’s position is that the mentally unfit should be registered, locked down, locked up, controlled, banned, pushed, filed,stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. So the people themselves can be infringed upon and violated, but a material possession like guns cannot? Riiiight.

They are unforgivable hypocrites at best, and monstrous profiteers at worst; they have done their part to arm the mentally illAnd in 2007, the NRA fought to allow suspected terrorists of having guns.

My eyes began to glaze over and drool formed around the zombified corners of my mouths as gun advocates praised ideas like putting more guns in schools, more armed guards in our police state children’s vicinity, arm the teachers and principals, FUCK IT, ARM THE KIDS THEMSELVES! None of this makes any goddamned sense, of course, when we look at instances of armed people (including cops) who make shootings even worse by playing hero and spraying more bullets in our combat zones public spaces, often getting themselves and others injured or killed.

And while I don’t believe that there is any NWO scheme to take the guns out of our cold dead hands, I do think that Democrats view it as an easy P.R. win. Another insincere and empty gesture, fully knowing that the final legislation will be watered down, ineffective, meaningless and probably contain a few provisions for special interests and corporations. It might even contain a payout for the NRA, if they play their cards right. Whatever bill is passed will expire or be struck down a few years later, and the whole dance can begin again. The whole hysteria, you’ll notice, is great for gun sales.

Neither LaPierre, Feinstein, nor any other mainstream pundit is proposing any combination of rational and evidence-based approaches to guns or mental health. Even Obama’s statements about making mental health care more easily accessible were lacking any resolution, detail or conviction. They are all knee-jerk reactions based on ideological bias and false, dystopic views of how the world really works.

As FactCheck.org points out, it is a complicated issue with seemingly contradictory statistics and no clear answers. There is academic disagreement and dubious causation for what is happening in America, where gun manufacturing and sales are up, but violent crime and crimes committed with guns are down. However, “non-fatal gun injuries from assaults increased last year for the third straight year“, so there are other factors. We don’t know if there are more gun owners, or more of the same people buying more guns. And still the maniacal massacres continue. Include suicides in the number of gun deaths, and the whole story changes. Gun deaths may outstrip falling rates of automobile deaths by 2015.

I’m not an advocate for any sort of ban at this point, but conflating handguns to assault rifles is like apples to oranges. Or comparing guns to fists and hammers. Or small businesses to multinational corporations. Or fracking done in the 50′s to fracking done today. Ad nauseam. It’s absurd. Guns still account for over double all other murder weapons in the US combined.

I’m sure to ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle whenever I talk about guns, but I just don’t see the problem with treating them like automobiles. Responsible people register them, irresponsible people don’t. If you want to keep it in your garage and not use it, don’t register it and don’t take it out. If you want to take it out and not pay a hefty fine or punishment, then register it. They only get banned when they get used irresponsibly.

So guns don’t kill people. Smart guns don’t kill people. Sane and insane people use guns to kill lots of people (more people than other weapons can in a single shot), including themselves. And those in power each have vested interests in not being reasonable.

Perhaps the best coverage of the shootings in 2012 was summed up in The Onion’s headline: Fuck Everything.

Redux!

With the mysterious digital wraith’s de-atomization of last week’s show, The Stranger attempts to quantum entangle and mystically fuse two weeks worth of music and politics into one Strange Land, an experiment that may result in a rerun, a redux, Groundhog’s Day, or an alternate parallel pocket universe.

Hopefully the eerie, lonely, pensive, eclectic and syncopated rhythms will challenge you on a visceral and cerebral level. Failing that, some monkey news!

PLAYLIST
Hall Of The Mountain King/Louie Louie – Half Japanese
Ife (Fast) – Miles Davis (Tribute)
Pink Elephants On Parade – Sun Ra
Troubleman – Nina Miranda – Buddha-Bar
Stem / Long Stem / Transmission 2 – DJ Shadow
Sordid – Amon Tobin
We No Speak Americano (Original mix) – Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup
Homesick (Bonustrack) – Parov Stelar
Kagemusha – Akira Kurosawa
Radar Maker – Mogwai
Tribulations – LCD Soundsystem
Is This The Last Time – Spoon
Cowboy Junkies – Common Disaster
Cherry – RATATAT
Emotion – Daft Punk
Necromancer – Gnarls Barkley
Quest for the 12 Monkeys – Astor Piazzolla
the count dance – (8BitPeoples) – twilight electric
Radio Nufonia – Kid Koala
Not Happy – Pere Ubu

Yet again I am forced to cover ridiculous news such as the sabre-rattling of “not if but when” in Iran, while even the president himself cannot seem to align with either direct talks or “not bluffs” on attack, “thus again routinely violating the U.N. Charter, the foundation of international law” as Noam Chomsky puts it. In fact, he writes that most of the nations in the world agree that Iran is no more or less dangerous and unpredictable than a nuclear-powered Israel.

And while I am NOT a conspiracy theorist adherent to the hoax of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion… there is a minority of powerful political elites (just like in this country) with a classist, racist, neoconservative bent in opposition of their own people and neighbors.

But isn’t it interesting that the same things that we could legitimately criticize Iran for: right-wing theocracy, crushing free speech and dissemination of information, women’s rights… are the same issues that this neoconservative government is corrupting in our democracy…

The federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security-related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security alone has doled out somewhere between $30 billion and $40 billion in direct grants to state and local law enforcement, as well as other first responders to build out the police state… The Obama White House itself has directly funded part of the New York Police Department’s anti-Muslim surveillance program. Top officials of New York’s finest have, however, repeatedly refused to disclose just how much anti-terrorism money it has been spending, citing, of course, security.

Drones are already patrolling our skies, the Obama admin. is looking for warrantless access to your cell phone location data, and now, only days after clearing Congress, US President Barack Obama has signed his name to H.R. 347, officially making it a federal offense to cause a disturbance at certain political events — essentially criminalizing protest in the States. Another attempt to strip the power of speech from a disenfranchised majority and limit what little recourse they have against plundering criminals.

This ‘attack the rich’ motif is nothing new. When we talk about revulsion of the extremely super-wealthy, we’re talking about accountability, we’re talking about having clear evidence that there is an entire class of people whose crimes go unpunished. And whenever there is a crime wave on, the American people suddenly get all upset and want the police to do something about it. After a wave of child kidnappings and molestations in the late 70’s and 80’s, it became our paranoid nation’s major fear. When the Saving and Loan scandal rocked the nation, people were writing their representatives. When terrorists actually dared to hit us on our own turf, people finally started to care what radical Islam was, or the names of some of those Middle Eastern countries. Riots, gang violence, murder sprees, rapists, and everything else on the evening news that scared the bejeesus out of us in a news cycle, our very life cycle! The exception here being that there is little to no law enforcement action to stop these multi-million or multi-billion or multi-trillion dollar crimes! And if nothing is being done, then it becomes a more and more legitimate concern.

We finally have the estimated data for 2010 by income percentile, and it turns out that the top 1 percent had a fantastic year. According to the data is in the World Top Income Database, as well as Emmanuel Saez’s updated “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States”, “the top 1 percent captured 93 percent of the income gains in the first year of recovery.” Pre-recession, inequality hadn’t been that high since the Great Depression, and we are quickly returning to that state.

We need more transparency, not less! We need open-source software for replicable science. We need criminals brought to justice. We need a government that is for the people, not targeting their own citizenry at the behest of the elites. We need to root out the cheats in our technologically trusting age. We need dogged journalists (which are more and more being represented by hackers and not mainstream media sellouts) to keep corporate kings and “elected” officials on their toes.

But three years into his presidency, critics say Obama’s administration has failed to deliver the refreshing blast of transparency that the president promised. “Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.”

And last September, the CIA quietly changed its long-standing policy for how it would process certain records requests by implementing a new fee structure that will essentially discourage the public from trying to get the agency to declassify secret government documents with costs up to $72 per hour, “even if no information is found or released,” wrote Nate Jones of George Washington University’s National Security Archive, a historical research group that files numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and publishes declassified documents.

At the same time, the intelligencia beat the drums of cyberwar against activists instead of attempting to fix or even address the problems that are making them activist out in the first place! And though they have recently been able to turn well-connected Anon Sabu against other hacktivists such as Stratfor-infiltrating aficionado Anarchaos, Anonymous itself has no leadership. The juxtaposition of the FBI’s triumphant announcement: “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec,” and the group’s own mantra “Anonymous is a hydra, cut off one head and we grow two back.” illustrate the disconnect between the power elite and the freedom fighters. Further undermining their goals, the FBI is making their message clear; the FBI indictment says Sabu’s crimes can get him 124 years and 6 months of prison time. Help us by turning on your fellows and go to prison for life.

The information itself, leaked like the dam in the old fable, is showing us once again which side is in the right. How soon some forget that Bradley Manning is facing trial for whistle-blowing on horrific war crimes. As more secrets are being leaked proving these conspiracy theories true (corporate spying, faked science reporting, intimidation, bribery, collusion) the old Mark Twain phrase “two can keep a secret of one of them is dead” rings more true in this digital age than ever before. Whether you’re the U.S. Military trying to cover up war crimes, or a corporation illegally spying on or manipulating the state, the citizens, their customers, and their competition.

In a post-national future, protest movements like Anonymous, Occupy, the Arab Spring, riseup.net, and others with common goals will have to learn how to overcome their oppressors by balancing mass actions with individual traditions and religions to be respected! For there have been many questions these past weeks of ideological difference, mostly from the myopic and bigoted Santorum, conservative preachers and loudmouth radio hosts, and while these GOPers are learning hard lessons about alienating the all-important independent votes, so too should progressives learn what social issues and ideologies they can share, overlook, reach out on, or reject with grass roots activists on the right.

We cannot ignore religion permeating every thing that is done in this country, and while we should keep a strict wall between church and state to restrict any one group from becoming the theocrats, it is wrong to think that religious thinking and morality are not the basis for our very system of law. The problem is, there are those who use and subvert the predominately Christian doctrine to their twisted, evil way of fundamentalist thinking, just like is being done to Islam in the Middle East. Many power-brokers in this country emphasize the angry, jealous God, and promote a dark bastardized version of the religion in which Greed, selfishness, and emphasis on the “me” economy forsake Jesus the philosopher’s greatest wisdom:

“The Jesus of the Gospels, especially of Matthew, Mark and Luke was one of the great progressive thinkers in human history. His great passion was helping the poor, the sick, those most oppressed and reviled by the rest of society. His teachings focused on mercy, kindness, forgiveness, not judging others, and loving one’s neighbors as much as yourself. His “Golden Rule” was that we should treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated. He taught that we would ultimately be judged by how we treated the hungry and the ill, by whether we visited those in prison and whether we treated strangers with kindness. He said we should forgive our enemies, “turn the other cheek” when slapped, and that only those who had never sinned (in other words, none of us) should cast the first stone to condemn the sinner.”

NOT the dogmatic, Draconian and Machiavellian form that has routinely taken total control and power in Western Civilization. Because of course, these monied interests don’t represent what most of America believes or thinks or aspires to. Some of them may be taken in by the propaganda machines, but don’t think for a second that this is where our true moralities lie.

It is imperative that regardless of ideology, all of us in the attacked classes remain each other’s keepers against the predators! Don’t let the federal government enslave us! This year, as many as five million eligible voters will lose their right to vote due to already passed measures to make voting MORE difficult, not less. In FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MAINE, OHIO, TEXAS, ALABAMA, KANSAS, TENNESSEE, GEORGIA, WEST VIRGINIA, IOWA, MISSISSIPPI, SOUTH CAROLINA & RHODE ISLAND New measures include  restrictions on where people can register to vote, less time for *early* voting and stricter laws requiring people to provide government issued photo IDs. “African Amercans, and other racial and ethnic minorities are very heavily targeted,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau.  “The poor, those who don’t drive cars or have cars are also very heavily targeted.” In Florida, Iowa,  Virginia and Kentucky, anyone convicted of a felony has their right to vote denied permanently.

Don’t let corporations scam you! Don’t refinance you home, sending the debt into a spiral of wholly subsidiary collections and inflations! Take advantage of the desperate universities, don’t let them take advantage of you! Stanford had over 150,000 people sign up for a single course on artificial intelligence Suddenly, prestigious, invite-only events for the intellectual elite like TED are being opened up to licensees all over the world. There are even Floating Universities, offering knowledge and access to Big Thinkers from prestigious universities, all at a fraction of the cost of a liberal arts education. And now more than ever, small claims court is benefitting and helping the lower classes in their local systems to fight back against the corporate giants!

The United States Constitution is, at 225 years, the oldest of its kind, and has been the go-to model for over 160 countries wishing to write their own. By 1987, almost 95% of countries with constitutions had versions based on the American one. The oldest standing constitution had come to be relied upon as a framework to develop newer ones. And though Al Franken lauded our constitution as a ‘living document’ that can change with technology changing our lives, (in reference to consumer privacy bills), the time’s they are a-changing! With widespread realization that our democracy has been thoroughly co-opted and corropted, it might be time to bring a new constitutional document to life. One that will relevantly address the future reality we find ourselves entering.

Social media has upturned the social pecking order, with access to crowdsourcing, individual branding, prosumer equipment, instant access to formerly obscure knowledge, and a freelance economy, all coupled with the increasingly unpopularity of wealth, we are seeing dramatic changes to what status actually defines or means.

We see that protest movements and activist groups are empowered online by community, and hopefully even people with differences fight for common goals and interests, in a digital buffet of similarly-minded humans.

Anti-science quantum mysticism, synchronicity and confirmation bias may be flipped on its head! We have a populace of frail, fragile, scared humans, obsessed with the future (some go so far as to convince themselves they have some kind of psychic relationship with the future). But in the future, as advances in science, agriculture and medicine allow many of our worries to fall away gradually, we will also be so enmeshed with machine-thinking so that we will no longer obsess over such uncertainties. And while we may not be obsessed by the past either, we will have total recall of what is known or theorized at every point in our recorded history, whether the secrets of the time of Jesus, our unusual and forgotten bisected sleep patterns of old, or the obfuscated origins of our economic collapse!

A technology-fueled society is even now coalescing into three distinct tiers: the hyper-connected digital elite, the well-connected middle class and the aspiring majority (who don’t have any real access to technology).

According to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a small privileged group within society will become the new Digital Snobs:

“The privileged few, the hyper-connected, are likely to face a future that will only be limited by what technology can do. They will have access to unlimited processing power and high-speed networks in most major cities. In Schmidt’s vision, this group will soon be represented by robots at multiple events at the same time while sitting in your office. For them, technologies that once looked like science fiction, will soon be available. Driverless cars, for example, will soon reduce accidents. At the same time, though, technology will actually become much easier to use and ideally just disappear.”

Imagine if information, knowledge, education, 3-d printed goods and digital services, communications, access to legal medical or civic resources, and even the rights over your own identity were reserved for a new brand of higher ups! The same cycle of oppression and liberation must be fought anew.

So once we get past our current threats and moral imperatives, our species faces a whole set of new ones.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-03-10: Redux! by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger

thestranger@earthling.net

“Once that coup is reversed, everything else falls into place” – Chris Hedges

I haven’t posted in a while, let’s catch up on (na na nanana) good times…

Tiger Kills Man at San Francisco Zoo on Christmas no less!

Long story short (because I have a lot to say about it, go read the articles)Three guys get mauled by an escaped tiger at the zoo, police respond. It is dark. They move in on the tiger, which moves in on them. They fire. Tiger dead. One of the guys dead. Two others in stable condition. Mayor Gavin Newsome ‘deeply saddened.’

So it is thought by the police that the ‘victims’ were ‘playfully’ taunting the tiger by dangling their foot over the wall, as police found a shoe and some blood in between the barriers (though I’m sure the city’s best detectives are still confused at what this actually means). Then, the tiger ‘accidentally’ escaped. These are words mostly from articles I’ve read. Here’s the skinny: the word ‘Victims’ implies some guy was just walking around, maybe at the mall, and then a tiger jumps out of the G.Thanks and eviscerates him. Maybe that guy was just fired, or dumped by his longtime girlfriend, I don’t know. ‘Playfully’ implies that the people dangling their feet over the wall weren’t aware that a tiger is three-hundred pounds of hell-fury on claws. And ‘accidentally’ escaped implies that the tiger didn’t escape on purpose, with some ease, because the zoo apparently is full of idiots.

Which brings me to further scathing indictments: Where were the zoo workers with their tranquilizer guns in the twenty minutes before Tatiana the tiger was being pumped full of lead? Couldn’t they have at least tased her, bro? And now evidence is coming out (though I didn’t read this, the source was my mother, who quotes the source as the “National Zoo Enclosure… uh… Association”) that the dimensions of the tiger habitat, the wall, and barriers were all incorrect. If there’s any veracity to this statement, then bravo. Way to cut corners… on the TIGER CAGE! We’ll use all our best materials and architectural savvy on the flamingo exhibit, but don’t worry too much about the tigers, they’re harmless little fuzzies!

The police now call that area of the zoo a ‘crime scene,’ raising the question of whether the tiger, if it had lived, would have gotten a fair trial in a court of law. Echoes of Oswald. The mother of one of the ‘victims’ said “Our Christmas is with him,” she said. “No.. more.. Christmas.”

Every article you read is also going to reiterate that this ‘killer tiger’ has a history of violence, the terrible maneater! It attacked its poor widdle zookeeper last year, lacerating an arm. The zoo was fined by the city, and the keeper was denied recompense from the city, (which doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’ll leave that for now). All in all, judging this dead tiger after the fact to shift blame away from the living, because we find the actions of an animal to be morally reprehensible in our society(end in question mark?) There’s even an article titled Did This Tiger Hold a Grudge?. Though some parts of the article seem to excuse the tiger for being a tiger, the title is misleading an inappropriate, something the article even admits further down the page.

The very utility of a tiger is maul and attack things! That, and like all other life: make more of itself. In this case, more tigers to maul and attack things! Do we get mad at pie when it is delicious? Do we self-righteously judge our ceilings for keeping rain off of us? Or is it the same indignation and frustration we have when men are stubborn and when women are irrational? Accepted functions of the subjects in question, but certainly not as desirable as delicious pie. And tigers are no exception!

Perhaps then it is the role of the tiger in THIS incident that changed its intrinsic qualities. That is to say, by putting the tiger in a zoo, we hold it to a different standard. True, if I had read that in farthest India, a tiger was dragging off the children of a small town to devour them, then clearly that tiger must be put down, as a matter of survival on our part. However, humans put this tiger in this zoo. Humans were *supposed* to control the environment, if certainly not the tiger itself. Humans have access to higher brain functions than, as yet, primitive beasts do. If anything, we should be exonerating this tiger based on these conditional factors.

So the clear answer to why the humans are going to be faultless as we can allow, and the tiger as faulted as such, is that we hold humans (who now number 6.6 billion) in higher value of life or esteem than Siberian tigers (who now number about 400). There’s a basic economics principle that doesn’t quite hold here, and I’m at a loss to explain. Then again, I’m the person who, after Virginia Tech, told people at school and work that all of those people ‘lost’ including the shooter, because they’re dead and I’m not. Maybe video games have conditioned me, perhaps it was thousands of years of death-instinct-culture, but then why am I bothered by this incident? I’m still alive, the tiger’s not. It loses, I win, right? Maybe its the same conflicting sense of injustice I have for Mumia Abu-Jamal, or anyone killed while in police custody.

Now, I think a lot of things are ‘lame’. Babies; they’re just dumb little retarded people who don’t know anything and can’t carry on an interesting conversation. Talk to me when you’re seven. Birds: They’re even dumber, abuse their gift of flight by crashing into windows, shit on whatever they feel like, carry disease, and all around suck. And cats are lame because just when you start to really like them they die of acute kidney failure, and then the vet loses the blood tests too explain why, or in this case, get dropped by the m*th*rf*ckin’ 5-0. So maybe that has something to do with it.

I’m all for killing animals. If there’s a lot of deer in your hometown, and you really like venison, and feel like wasting money on a little laminated card, then by all means, Oregon Trail it up. And I am a strong opponent to Peta and vegans everywhere, as I understand that the role of a pig in our society is to be eaten, and very little else. Most food animals would not exist in such successful proliferation if it weren’t for the fact we were going to eat them. If all the humans died tomorrow, these animals would have a great statistical advantage over animals in the wild, though probably just as many domesticated handicaps.

And I for one, think that we wasted our time all those thousands of years domesticating dogs and cats and, to a lesser extent, useless ferrets. Though an arbitrary point now, it would seem to make more sense to have tigers protecting your house than Irish Setters, to farm manatee meat instead of cows, and (my personal favorite), to walk your rhinoceros down the street instead of your pit bull. I want my rhinoceros! And a pandasteak, too!

But perhaps the real reason I’m upset is that the night of December 24th, I had a dream that a tiger was escaping from the zoo, and then I was eaten alive by a hippopotamus.

Now I’m going to watch some “Planet Earth.”