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|Wednesday, October 5th, 2011|
|Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Coming soon to Anytown, USA
First there were drones in Pakistan and I said nothing because I wasn't Pakistani. Then there were drones in Yemen and I said nothing because I wasn't Yemeni. Now there are drones in the US and everyone is afraid to speak.
Now let’s bring all the pieces together.
1) Drone strikes against US citizens branded “terrorists” are ok.2) Collateral Damage of US citizens during Drone strikes is ok.
3) The definition of “combatant” has drifted to include inciteful speech.
4) The definition of “terrorist” has drifted to include crimes of dissent.
5) Drones are being programed to detect dissent.
6) Domestic police will soon be using unmanned aerial vehicles.
7) Military technology trickles down to local law enforcement.
Are you seeing the pattern yet?
|Monday, October 3rd, 2011|
|To Astaiwah: Somalia 2030 - The Dark Hour
It was impossibly quiet. Away from city lights, on moonless nights, the stars appear more brilliant than most people have ever seen. But to the ancients the night sky was a tapestry of signs.
"The dark hour" a voice pierced the cool air.
"What is the dark hour?" asked another, and then the night returned to reverent silence.
"It is the darkest part of the night. Before dawn is when it happens. Soon the false dawn will appear."
"What is the false dawn?"
The two looked into the darkness.
In the East a vertical beam of white light extended upward from the horizon across the arc of the sky. As it grew it was followed by a cold milky haze.
“The false dawn is brightest near the autumn equinox. But there’s no rosy hue like the true dawn, just a pale grey. There is a special blessing in the hours before the true dawn. A tranquility in the air. A spiritual traveler should always wake before the sun, when our minds and bodies are refreshed. It is a time of reflection and rumination before the business of the day clouds our minds.”
“So what should we be reflecting on?”
"Sit child, I will tell you the story of The Herdsman and the Lion.” ( Read more...Collapse )
|Solidarity: Can the Tea Party and Occupy Wall St find common cause?
Many libertarians will point out that the definition of “liberal” has changed. What used to be a philosophy of small government and economic freedom. To elucidate this distinction many call themselves, “classical liberals.” What’s less often discussed is the history of “Solidarity.” Today “Solidarity” is often used to mean unity among international socialists and communist organizations. Although at rallies they espouse massages of peace, diversity and freedom, which I stand behind, their literature usually preaches a kind of class war, and big government solution.
The history of “Solidarity” is quite different however. The term comes from the Polish “Solidarność” which was a non-governmental trade union, or more accurately a black market resistance movement operating within the Soviet-bloc in the 1980s. Solidarity was a non-violent, anti-communist movement that was instrumental to the fall of the Soviet Union, and it could easily be described as a “classical liberal” movement. In 1986 free market economist Murray Rothbard visited Poland with warm reception from Solidarity, and the movement was flush with translations of Mises and Hayek, which were contraband.
One lesson to be learned from this is the folly of Utopianism. Prior to the Solidarity movement many anti-Soviet groups held the belief that an activist must hold a Utopian ideal to keep them motivated. The result was infighting between groups who shared the same goal. In short, Utopianism made them easy to divide and conquer. Solidarity proposed a different strategy whereby the emphasis was not on what activists favored, but instead a broad agreement on what they opposed. This was equally motivating, but without the divisiveness.Read More
|Thursday, September 29th, 2011|
|Dear Federal Reserve Bureaucrat,
If you’re reading this you were probably recently hired as part of the Federal Reserve’s new social media monitoring program. Chances are you’re a recent high school drop out, or part of some make-work federal job placement program. You probably don’t completely understand who it is that you’re working for, and what it is that you’re doing. So, I can’t really hold it against you. I’d like to welcome you to our little corner of the Internet, and offer you some sincere advice.
You’re a bureaucrat now, so it’s important that you learn ways to avoid doing work. Otherwise you’re going to raise the bar for all your new bureaucrat friends, and they won’t like you anymore. I mean let’s face it, you’ve got a pretty sweet gig. Wouldn’t want to mess that up. So, let’s take a look at this recent “request for proposal” your bosses sent out for the creation of a “social listening platform” and see if we can’t find some corners you can cut.
You’re looking for a social media monitoring company to design a program for you that can, “gather data from various social media outlets and news sources” to “guide the organization’s public relations group.” I was wondering if you’d ever heard of a website called, “Google.” It’s pretty useful for that, and it’s got a lot of interesting tools that might make your job a lot easier, if not completely obsolete. Stop me if I’m going too fast. I know how you bureaucrats are easily confused, and some of this may seem a little newfangled.
You’ve asked that the program “be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube.” and that it should also be able to, “aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc.” Boy are you going to be excited! If you go over to Google there’s this thing called a “Search Engine.” It does all of that! There’s even a navigation bar at the top that lets you limit your searches to news, or video, or blogs. You can even search in the shopping section and see who’s selling anti-Fed merchandise. Just don’t bother with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. It’s totally useless.Read More
|Wednesday, June 30th, 2010|
|The Genesis of the Shire Society
Legend records that when delegates gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence their courage wavered. Signing would be an act of treason under British law, and no one wished to be the first. From the back of the room, a stranger stood and delivered an oration which galvanized their courage. This became known as "The Speech of the Unknown."
On June 26th a new crop of delegates gathers in New Hampshire. Though they may not fear the scaffold they understand that the behemoth created that day in Philadelphia has grown larger and more intrusive than the British crown could have ever dreamed of being.
And if your courage wavers, consider this. These words will not only reach the tyrants, who have trampled on mankind long enough. They will speak to those trodden beneath the tyrant’s boot. They will say to a persecuted world, “Behold! The illusions of the old world are dead, and you stand on the threshold of Liberty.” So, if your heart bears witness to the truth of it, than shake the shackles of the world and sign.
The Genesis of the Shire Society
|Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010|
|Ask the candidates: How do you define government?
Last Saturday I attended a Candidates Forum with candidates running in various local races. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. Two Green Party. The Libertarians were MIA as usual. Candidates introduced themselves and fielded questions from the audience.
The candidates were all equally frustrating. I suppose in the grand scheme of things I prefer a thief to a murderer, and in that sense I fall on the left side of the spectrum. But the political murderer must first steal the money to buy his weapon, and the political thief must first threaten the tax cattle with death if they don't pay. So, neither has my moral sanction.
During the Q&A I asked, “How do you define government?” Here's their answers
But what's your answer? What is the definition of government? What are it's essential responsibilities and limitations? I believe that Obama was correct when he said, "What essentially sets the nation start apart (from the private sector) is a Monopoly on Violence
." This comes from Max Weber's book "Politics as a Vocation" where he defined government as "that entity which claims a monopoly on violence in a given area.” What's your definition?
|Thursday, May 27th, 2010|
|Ruminations on the difference between "moral" and "legal"
Have you ever pirated music? Do you speed? Have you ever refilled a milk container with water? That’s illegal in some states. This society is so over regulated that it is physically impossible to know all the laws we are expected to obey. Congress doesn't read a fraction of the bills they pass. Police will tell you that "ignorance of the law is no excuse," but they are equally ignorant, if not more so.
So, why are people uncomfortable admitting they are criminals? For many, especially the jingoist “law-abiding citizen” crowd, this is because "legal” and “moral” are synonymous in their mind.
Let's acknowledge some similarities. Both "moral" and "legal" attempt to prescribe right action. In Criminal Law "moral turpitude" describes criminal behavior that is considered "contrary to community standards or good morals". Although this can be very ambiguous, and subject to disagreement among legal scholars, most agree that it includes theft, rape, murder and those transgressions which are clearly acts of willful evil. These overlaps between "moral" and "legal" are likely the source of the confusion. For some reason people can't separate crimes of moral turpitude from the myriad of other statutes that have no moral content at all. So let's separate them.Read More
|Wednesday, May 26th, 2010|
|I saw this posted on a bbs I frequent. Had to share
Say gang, I've got this GREAT IDEA!
Today at 11:29:03 AM by John Shaw
I have this awesome, totally
moral idea peeps.
I think that a bunch of friends of mine and I should gather up a bunch of guns, steal a large parcel of land by slaughtering the people who live there until they give us the deed, and build a town. Anyone who doesn't agree with our rules should be shot or locked in a steel cage with other people of the same sex who will inevitably start raping them. Rules are subject to change any time we feel like it. Everyone who lives in our town has to chip in money or they are shot/put into the rape cage. No one can come into our town unless we say, so rape cages or death for outside intruders who aren't like us. We also don't like that plant you have, so rape cages for people who grow or possess that plant. No one is allowed to own their house in our town. Everyone pays rent. Don't pay? Rape cage or death. If you wanna open a business? Gotta pay an extra special rent. Don't pay? Rape cage. Everyone in our town has to accept the money we print, just an FYI. If you use some other money we can't keep track of how you chip in for everything. No using other money. Do it? Rape cage.
Here's what we give you in return -
1. If someone rapes you who we didn't permit, give us a call and we'll check it out. If we find them, we'll throw them into a rape cage for a couple years, maybe.
2. If someone murders you, we'll show up after the fact and look around and have someone look at your corpse and maybe see who did it. If we find them, rape cage or death.
3. If someone steals your shit. we'll take a report.
4. We'll make sure the roads are usable.
5. We'll let you call yourself "Free"
I think that this idea is totally awesome and it's how everyone else should live. If some other town does things differently, we round up a bunch of folks from our town and send them over to this other town and have them put to death or put into rape cages. Of course you'll have to pay to get our guys over to the other town, and pay for when they get hurt, and pay for them to eat. Everybody has to chip in. Don't chip in? Rape cage or death.
So who else wants to join in with my awesome plan? (Mind you, if you don't... RAPE CAGE OR DEATH)
|Tuesday, May 18th, 2010|
|Three Palestinian girls win applied electronics award in Intel International Science Fair
Aseel Abu Aleil, Aseel Alshaar and Noor Alarada traveled to San Jose from the West Bank to represent Palestine in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last week. The competition is the largest pre-college science fair in the world.
The three 14-year-olds attend a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school located at Aska Refugee Camp in Nablus where their project was developed from concept to prototype. It began as a simple idea, born of necessity, in a region where streets and sidewalks are seldom smoothly paved and obstacles such as holes and debris pose significant challenges for the visually impaired. The girls developed an electronic obstacle-detecting walking stick which senses the terrain ahead and informs the user by various non visual signals.Read More
|The South Park Muhammad Cartoon
On April 14th South Park celebrated its 200th episode with a parade of inside jokes which were largely lost on those of us who don't watch the show regularly. The small mountain town faces a class action lawsuit from every celebrity they have ever offended which will end in certain ruin unless they can meet the demands of Tom Cruise to deliver to him the Prophet Muhammad.
Following the episode a New York based group called "Revolution Muslim
" published a veiled threat against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In full disclosure, their website was shut down before I actually saw it, but they reportedly published grotesque photos of Theo Van Gogh, who was killed by Muslim extremists in 2004.
Clearly the South Park creators where trying to provoke a response, although I doubt they were hoping for a violent response. I think there is a serious discussion to be had about whether or not mockery of this kind is good for a society, but something I am absolutely certain of is that violence is not an appropriate tool to deter offensive speech. The moment the threat of violence enters the conversation you can no longer have a civil discussion.
To me it is now clear that it's not about Muhammad at all. Defending Muhammad is just a cloak of religious sanction these Muslims use to legitimize their behavior. Trey Parker and Matt Stone laid the trap, and Revolution Muslim jumped in. This episode was not a criticism of Muhammad, or a criticism of Islam, it was a criticism of the behavior of some Muslims. It was a punch in the ego of those Muslims who who use intimidation and fear to impose their will on others.Read More
|Thursday, April 15th, 2010|
|The Domestic Crusaders: A play about cultural scar tissue
On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a two-act play by Wajahat Ali at the Durham Studio Theater at Berkeley University. The Domestic Crusaders centers around Ghafur, played by Adeel Ahmed, the youngest of three children in a Pakistani American family who have come together to celebrate his 21st birthday. It sounds benign, but quickly spins into a wild nuanced conflict, as the title suggests, when Ghafur brings news of his college plans to his father, played by Imran Javaid. I found the performance convincing and intimate. No stumbled lines. No Awkward pauses. No missed cues. If there were any errors in the delivery they were known only to the actors themselves. Admittedly, I am not much qualified to critique theater. The last time I saw a play was a high school field trip to the San Jose Repertory Theater. So, I'm no gauge of quality, but more experienced critics are saying this is on par with Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neil. I thought I would share my more amateur observations of the playwright's treatment of culture.Read More
|The Verse of the Sword: an unqualified tafsir
"9:5 Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)."
Sounds scary right? It's known as "The Verse of the Sword", and admittedly many Muslims have used this verse to justify their corrupt intentions. However, it does not establish a doctrine of perpetual violent jihad against all non-Muslims for all time, as the Anti-Muslim Brain Trust would have you believe. I will show this, and then we'll discuss some principles which I believe can be derived from this verse and it's context. Read More
|Wednesday, April 7th, 2010|
|Collateral Murder - WikiLeaks exposes classified military malfeasance
In 1970 a woman appeared crying out in grief over the fatally wounded body of a man after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed peace activists at Kent State University. In 1972 a nine-year-old girl appeared running down a street naked after being burned by a napalm attack in Vietnam. In 1989 an unnamed civilian known only as "Tank Man" appeared boldly standing in the way of a line of tanks in China. These iconic images not only etched these historic moments in the minds of the people, they each marked a turning point where public attitudes shifted against their respective wars. Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Eddie Adams once said, "Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world." So what happens when soldiers are killing photographers?
Yesterday WikiLeaks, an Internet clearinghouse for leaked evidence of government malfeasance, released a distressing video of a US Air-strike in July 2007 recorded from an Apache helicopter. In it US soldiers fire mercilessly upon a group of men standing on a street corner, killing twelve, and then laughing at the dead. Among them was Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver Saeed Chmagh, who were carrying cameras... not weapons.Read More
|Friday, April 2nd, 2010|
|Police Cheif George Gascón upsets San Francisco Arab community
Many San Francisco residents were calling for Police Chief George Gascón to be relieved of his position for his uniquely bumbling slurs against the city's Arab community. Today he's meeting with members of the Arab American community to smooth things over, but Gascón's desire to reinstitute a controversial intelligence unit that would spy on the citizens of San Francisco has many wondering if he hasn't tipped his hand and revealed more Draconian prejudices.
|Wednesday, March 31st, 2010|
|George's Famous Baklava: civil disobedience never tasted so good!
Who doesn't love baklava? That decadent Mediterranean morsel historically beloved by Byzantine and Ottoman alike. Made with paper-thin leaves of fillo dough, hearty walnuts, and golden honey, now this succulent homemade treat is available on the internet for home delivery.
Let me introduce George "Mandrik" Skouras. George began with his grandmother's family recipe, brought over by his parents from Greece. Obsessed with the delicate nuances of flavor, he spent 16 years modifying that original recipe to produce his own signature ambrosia. From his premium ingredients to his anti authoritarian politics, George's Famous Baklava promises to deliver a uniquely satisfying culinary delight.
|Sunday, March 21st, 2010|
|Halal Lamb Down Under
An interesting thing about the halal market in American is how much meat, specifically lamb, doesn’t come from America, or even Canada, but is raised, slaughtered and certified "down under" in New Zealand and Australia. The temperate climate of that region makes it perfect for the raising of livestock. Consistently mild weather allows the grasses used to feed livestock to grow eight to twelve months out of the year. Further, the wide open pastures allow for natural rotational grazing instead of the use of feedlots. As a result agriculture and livestock remain one of the regions chief exports.Read MoreOutback Steakhouse serves Halal Lamb FoodMaxx Lamb Supplier Loses Halal CertificationCostco sells Halal Lamb
|Thursday, March 18th, 2010|
|Free State Project hits 10,000 pledged-to-move
Anyone who has debated politics for very long has had some flag worshiping authoritarian resort to that classic cop out that killed Socrates, "If you don't like it you can get out!" Indeed, few oppressed people in history have found freedom in their lifetime without picking up their life and seeking a better destiny elsewhere. This week a political project known as the Free State Project
officially reached 10,000 participants
dedicated to just such a proposition, and I am proud to be in that number. It's a movement of like-minded liberty loving individuals moving to New Hampshire to get active toward the creation of a free society.Read More
|The pledge of allegiance and the religion of the State
An appellate court has rejected arguments that the pledge of allegiance violates the wall of separation between church and state. Judge Carlos Bea noted that schools do not require students to recite the pledge. Tell that to the 10-year-old Arkansas boy
who was yelled at by teachers and mocked by students for refusing to stand. Tell that to the 13-year-old Maryland girl
who was escorted out of the classroom by armed police officers for refusing to stand. According to ACLU representatives she is now too traumatized to return to school. Or just tell it to me. When I was 10-years-old I was given detention for asking what the words actually meant and refusing to stand until I understood. People take issue with the pledge including the words, "under God" but I would argue that even without this phrase the pledge of allegiance is designed to inculcate the most nefarious form of idolatry, the worship of an omnipotent, omniscient omnibenevolent government.
|Intro to Libertarianism: government schools
CAIR and the Youth Committee for the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara held an Introduction to Politics program for some of the High School students in our Community. The opening presentation was made by Santa Clara City Council member, Jamie McLeod. Then representatives from the Republican, Democrat, Green and Libertarian parties were invited to speak about the origins and philosophies of their party. Not being able to find an actual representative of the Libertarian Party, I was invited to speak on their behalf. It’s funny because I’m not actually a member of the party. The program described me as a “Ron Paul Campaign Volunteer.” Which is also funny, because participating in the Ron Paul Revolution was pretty much the last nail in the coffin of my belief in the efficacy of conventional methods in the political process. None the less, I am a philosophical libertarian. As is often the advice from experienced libertarian presenters, when you have only a small window of opportunity to cover what is a deep and nuanced philosophy, there are two important things to accomplish. First, explain the non aggression principle. Second, apply it to a subject that affects the audience you’re talking to. I chose public school.Read More