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Notes From The Flip Side: 07.11.2004

"At every stage of my life I've found it necessary to leave behind the familiar and easy ways and to set out into uncharted territory. It's been a lonely and sometimes harsh existence, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I would have stopped growing and started dying 20 years ago if I hadn't been willing to constantly reinvent myself. Each time, I go through a stage of thinking: now look what you've done, you've thrown away everything you've accomplished so far and you're out here all on your own again."

Larry Livermore

Permanent Link.


It's Not Your Imagination ...

There really is a gun in your back. I feel it too, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision that you can be arrested for refusing to provide your name to a police officer. When you combine that with the wireless devices that some cities have provided to their police forces and that police officers are in turn using to connect to databases which contain personal information, that strikes me as a clear violation of the 4th Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. While I'm sure that some people would argue that a police officer would never do something like that, those people are probably still looking for the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Of course, electronic devices don't fare too well against EMPs. On the other hand, people without pacemakers - or other electronic systems like them - do just fine. And all of this points to one thing - the increasingly limited scope of our rights ... and how quickly those few remaining rights are eroding.

FUBAR Your System With DRM ...

Digital Rights Management is all the rage in media companies right now. As is the case in so many industries, this will somehow:

Sadly, none of this is true. Not even the pixie dust. However, DRM is quite likely to, as some Beastie Boys fans learned the hard way, piss people off. The primary issue you need to understand with DRM is that it modifies your computer without your knowledge or consent. Installing any software - much less software which is being forced on you - can result in conflicts which affect system stability or open your system to exploits which compromise your system's security. This meets the technical definition of malware and could, in theory, meet the legal standard of hacking. I wonder if the new spyware legislation being pushed through could be used against DRM companies ...

Turn On The News ...

This update features far more in the way of news bits than it does in writing. Anyone paying attention to the news these days should be writing more about what's happening. While I sympathize with the families of people killed in mass shootings, the liberties that are being systematically stripped from our hands by an administration that wasn't even elected are far more important. Large corporations are acting in concert with an administration that is sympathetic to their concerns; to put it more plainly, these greedheads are grabbing as much as they can as quickly as they can and I don't want to wake up one morning in the not too distant future and realize that there's nothing left for us.

Fuck You And Your Proposed Amendments To Protect Marriage ...

I believe I've said it before, but I will note - again - that marriage is a religious institution. We don't need an amendment to protect it because we'd probably just change it in 50 or 100 years anyway. In case no one remembers, the 18th Amendment of the Constitution prohibited alcohol sales, manufacturing and the like within the United States. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th and, as a result, I was able to buy a few bottles of fine bourbon the other week - thus, we can see how well that restriction worked. It is worth noting that this is the only amendment which sought to strip the population of a right. The other amendments guarantee voting rights, protect the population's privacy and so forth. Arguing for an amendment to ban gay marriage is not only a violation of the spirit of amendments, it seems to tread on both the 9th and 10th Amendments - which specifically note that rights listed in the Constitution are not the only rights that we have and that if the power is not specifically given to the federal government or prohibited from use by the states that the authority to make such decisions is reserved by the states and the people.

Obviously, marriage is something so profoundly sacrosanct that we can overlook Ronald Reagan enacting the nation's first no-fault divorce law because that certainly did nothing to undermine the power of marriage or make divorce easier. Clearly, the problem with marriage isn't Britney Spears' annulment after 55 hours; it's some uppity gay men who have been in relationships for decades wanting to be able to show the same sort of commitment as heterosexual couples. Of course, the tax break probably doesn't suck much either.

So let's just be blunt - marriage is a religious, not a social, institution. The new issue of Clamor focuses on the family and shifting family relationships, examining some other cultures in which marriage doesn't exist in any practical form. We can learn from this that marriage is not a universal concept. Marriage is also an inherently discriminatory institution - in the United States, married couples are given preferential treatment with respect to taxation. Cohabiting couples, regardless of the length of their relationship, do not receive these benefits. In short, a couple married for two years gets a tax benefit. A couple living together for 20 years gets nothing. On its face, this treatment is arbitrary and discriminatory.

Recommended reading:

[House Of Representatives] The United States Constitution
[House Of Representatives] Amendments To The United States Constitution

How Much Genocide Can You Take?

So we missed the boat in Rwanda when that genocide was occurring. Now there is fairly concrete evidence that Africans in Darfur are being systematically killed. Naturally, the U.N. is debating whether to apply sanctions since that's been so successful in the past.

It never fails to amaze me that never again really didn't mean never again; that the rhetoric in the wake of the Holocaust was apparently empty promises constructed from words which had no intent or integrity behind them. While the judicious application of force is desirable and negotiation should always occur, the negotiations preceding the judicious application of force should not take long.

Luckily, the U.S. has an excuse for sitting this one out since we're so busy stopping Saddam Hussein from supporting Al Qaeda and developing weapons of mass destruction while making Afghanistan safe for its first elections. Maybe a handful of the other members of the coalition of the willing will contribute a troop or two to stop the killing in Darfur. Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. The Register totally fucking rules. "'The removal was ordered because the commanding officer did not feel it accurately reflected his vision of the base,' said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Mike Kafka. (Yes, you're reading that correctly. A man named Kafka has been deployed to field questions about a prison where the criminals are only vaguely charged with crimes, can't speak to lawyers and likely will never get out.)" Seriously, does news reporting get any better than that?
  2. I love the EFF. Their newest foray into shit-disturbing is patent busting. After identifying 10 patents which are overly broad, restrict innovation and pose threats to free expression, the EFF is now calling for help to petition the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO) to revoke these patents. What can you do? Find examples of what these patents claimed to invent before they were issued. Prior art is one easy way to provide ammunition to revoke a patent ... and get some of your freedom back.
  3. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Tom Daschle are trying to amend the copyright act in such a way that intentionally aiding, abetting, inducing or procuring copyright infringement would be a criminal offense. While this doesn't make buying a VCR illegal, it might make purchasing a DVD burner a criminal act. The CDT offered some pointed feedback [PDF file]. The CDT also offers more valuable insight about copyright.
  4. If it isn't the best punk release this year, the Altaira / Dukes Of Hillsborough split is certainly among the best. Never mind that Davey sings on one of the tunes and that song sounds like the best thing tiltWheel hasn't recorded in the last two years, the rest of the tracks - all of them - fucking rip in that Florida / San Diego drunk-core way. By that description, you know whether you'd like it. And if you don't think you would, you should probably go to another Web site.
  5. And in the shitty news department, Give Up The Ghost broke up. In case you're wondering, that one gets filed under Suck. On the other hand, Tim from GUTG, Kevin from The Hope Conspiracy and Jarrod Alexander have teamed up with Matt Woods and Adam Wentworth to form Bars. File that one under Awesome.
  6. David Rovics. Sure, I listen to folk. Do you have a problem with that? Rovics follows in the tradition of lefties like Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger - you get the idea. I can't help but laugh at some of these songs ... and then feel ashamed that my sense of humor is so fucked up and that I'm so desensitized to the horror around me that I can chuckle at the idea of Coke paying death squad members in soda for a couple of assassinations in Colombia.
  7. Fennesz. Ethereal, soothing, atmospheric, glitchy ... to me, this sounds like the hazy sort of summer days that I've been having for a while now.
  8. John Cage's "As Slow As Possible." The Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany is home to an organ built to play this composition. The concert began in 2000 and is scheduled to finish in 2639. Why is it noteworthy now? On July 5, an organist added two additional notes to the first three ... which began on February 5, 2003. And I thought it took me a long time to transcribe interviews!

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Dntel. The Ladybug Transistor. Wayne McGhie. Viki. Hair Police. Elf Power. On! Air! Library!. Les Savy Fav. Kill Me Tomorrow. The Dukes Of Hillsborough. Altaira. Enon. David Rovics. Hankshaw. Leatherface. The Postal Service. The One AM Radio. The Wind-Up Bird. Tortoise. Vaz. Mojave 3. The Thumbs. Broadcast. Sleater-Kinney. One AM Radio. Black Dice. Fennesz. Pedro The Lion. Nathan Michel. Death Cab For Cutie. Wauvenfold. Múm. The Good Life. !!!.

Now Watching:

"The Hidden Fortress," "Igby Goes Down"

Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008