Posted by toadstar on 4:03 PM
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The Road Goes Ever On:

It's a bit strange and bittersweet to come to the end of one journey and start off at the foothills of another. Last Friday I had my last therapy session. I have spent the past few months shedding the layers of my former self and rebuilding myself as a happier, better person. All along this path I was guided by my guardo camino, my therapist. She helped me to fix myself, she gave me the tools to make my wife say that she doesn't want to rip my throat out any longer.

So after my last session I got up to say goodbye feeling like I was in a eddy of emotion; on the one hand happy and excited, the world is at my feet. On the other hand nervous and scared like a bird leaving it's nest for the very first time. But that's the thing about journeys, isn't it? You don't know whats going to happen and that's part of the wonder of it.

Posted by toadstar on 2:09 PM

Possible Health Effects of Global Warming And Some Other Passing Thoughts:

*Many illnesses that have effected drought plagued countries are malaria, dengue fever and hantavirus and we could expect to see these in greater numbers if global warming succeeds in raising the median temperature, creating drought like conditions in the United States (I mention only the United States, because a) I live there and b) the article that I'm about to link to focuses primarily on the U.S. of A. but rest assured that these condition will happen globally and already are). In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers predict that rising temperatures will make kidney stones more common.

"By 2050, say University of Texas urologists Tom Brikowski and Margaret Pearle, most Americans will live in areas considered high-risk zones for the painful deposits, caused when minerals crystallize into chunks too large [to] leave the bladder."

It's interesting to ponder the many different ways that global warming will effect us. Interestingly enough the first commenter said the one big cause of kidney stones are High Oxalate foods. So I googled High Oxalate foods and found a list here. Yea that list pretty much everything I eat except for yellow dock and Swiss chard, so I'll happily give those up...

*In other news, Viacom has agreed to let Youtube mask all user Id's and Internet addresses, which means that we shouldn't expect strange Amazon like emails like-As someone who has purchased or rated videos by 2 girls and 1 cup**, you might like to know.....
**not that I would watch that you dirty, dirty people...

*I'm not sure what this guy is thinking, but a disgruntled engineer hijacked San Francisco's computer system. "When the Department of Technology tried to fire him, he disabled all administrative passwords other than his own." So either a) he's going the wrong way towards getting his job back or b) he just pwned San Francisco. I can't tell if he's a hero or a douche (we've all had dreams of exacting revenge on former bosses-I'm looking at you MiL).

*I had more, but I've run out of time-I have a doctors appointment shortly. I'll post more tomorrow.

Posted by toadstar on 3:09 PM

Epic Fail*

"To no man will we deny, To no man will we delay, Justice and Right." -- The Magna Carta.

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. --U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure--

Bush signs bill overhauling eavesdropping rules. Wow, I don't even think that the ink was dry from the Senate passing this giant pile of tripe. I guess that he wanted to pass that sucker into law before the Senate came to their senses. I hope that the Senators that sold out the constitution enjoy spending their $8359-hey we understand, gas is expensive.

From the former article: "Its passage was a major victory for Bush, an unpopular lame-duck president who nevertheless has been able to prevail over Congress on most issues of national security and intelligence disputes." The democrats have control of both the House and Senate and have a lame-duck President with one of the lowest approval ratings-why do they keep on catering to the status quo?

"In the aftermath of 9/11," Bush said, "few would have imagined that we would be standing here seven years later without another attack on American soil. The fact that the terrorists have failed to strike our shores again does not mean that our enemies have given up." But why would they go through all the trouble of planning another attack when our own government is winning the war on terror for them? In his new article, 'Don't let 'Brave New Britain' remove our fundamental rights' Bob Geldof states:

What terrorises the terrorists is our civilisation. What those unthinking fools of fundamentalism fear most are the freedoms our representatives now strip away. This "war on terror" is against Islamist forces that reject the Enlightenment.

How can we ever succeed, if we side with our opponents in rejecting those ideals? Every moment we are spied on by the invisible watchers, every time we are monitored, every time we are logged on databanks, they win. And every time we accept it, we lose.

I concur entirely (even though the article is directly about events in England, this article is the most righteous defence of civil liberties I think that I have ever read-please do yourself a favor and read it.) The way that we win the war on terror is to carry on, to not let our civil liberties erode, to stand up for the constitution and the ideals that it represents.

Sen. Barack Obama [D, IL] -- Aye
I have tried not to get swept up in the Obama movement, I've just become so skeptical of politicians that he seemed too good to be true, but the truth is I want to believe. I got swept up in it, because I felt that change is what we need, I've sat by and watched my government disregard common law, the constitution and the bill of rights and we need someone to take it back for the people, and I thought that it would be Obama. I remember after Super Tuesday hearing him on the radio chanting "yes we can, yes we can!" and tearing up, it just moved me so much. Something so simple, but it meant so much, it meant hope, an end to fear and lies, but after this week, however, I'm not so sure anymore. I am so disappointed in his voting for this bill, this bill that effectively destroys the fourth amendment, and what's most disgusting of all is that he stands to be the one to benefit most from it. I went to and joined the Senator Obama, Please Vote Against FISA group, hoping that we could usher change from within. We failed.

I'll still vote for Obama, but with a heavier heart and perhaps a twinge of guilt.

To end on a positive note, I just want to say how exciting it is to be a part of something as big as this. In the past week I have opened up a new part of myself, one that instead of just complaining about the problems facing America, and is actually doing something to fix it. This morning I got an email from the head of the Please vote against FISA Group, it filled me with hope, we may have lost a battle, but we will continue to fight on-I think that something good will come out of this. Glen Greenwald at has written of how a Left-Right coalition has been spawned in the midst of this battle, a coalition that will carry on the struggle to protect our liberties into the next Presidency. I hope we do.

*I borrowed the tittle and gravestone picture from Wil Wheaton. Once again, I hope he doesn't mind.

Posted by toadstar on 2:15 PM

Today My Little Logo Is 10 Months Old:

Today my youngest son is ten months old, but don't tell him that. He seems to think that he is at least two. He's walking, he's talking, playing, throwing balls, and wrestling with his brother and Daddy. He is such an amazing kid-just look at that big bright, shining face, he is in love with life, and it's contagious. He wants everyone he passes to smile and say hello to him. A couple of weeks ago we were at Target and this boy leaned backwards in my arms until he was almost parallel with the ground, just to get the attention of the people next to us. He was getting frustrated that they were not paying him any attention.

At work we started working four ten hour shifts so that we can get Fridays off and save some gas. This is the first week and it's been a difficult adjustment, but what makes it all worth while is walking through my front door and having my kids be so excited to see me. Yesterday Logan said "Hi Daddy" and its the cutest thing, he sticks out his tongue and his voice goes up a couple of octaves, its sweet and its tender, and its the highlight of my day.

A couple of months ago we went to my wife's La Leche League couples meeting and the group leader said something along the lines of "Daddies have to earn the love of their babies." And its true. Babies have that instant bond with the baby, mom is comfort and safety mom is home. Daddy can provide comfort, but baby needs mommy. But somewhere along that first year baby and daddy bond. I told my wife the other day that I had always loved Logan, but right now I'm falling in love with him. Each day Logan and I open ourselves up to each other and grow closer, and each moment I get to spend with him is simply amazing.

Posted by toadstar on 5:07 PM

I For One Welcome Our Government Overseer's:

In a 69-28, lopsided vote the US Senate bows to Bush's continuing war on the Constitution and voted to approve his surveillance bill. Bush says that the legislation will protect citizens' rights of privacy from government intrusion as well as Americans' security.

"This bill will help our intelligence professionals learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they're saying and what they're planning."

Does it really? Has anyone thought to explain to him the paradox of the false positive? In Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother, he explains this theory thusly:

Terrorists are really rare. In a city of twenty million like New York, there
might be one or two terrorists. Maybe ten of them at the outside. 10/20,000,000
= 0.00005 percent. One twenty-thousandth of a percent.

That's pretty rare all right. Now, say you've got some software that can sift through all the bank-records, or toll-pass records, or public transit records, or phone-call
records in the city and catch terrorists 99 percent of the time.

In a pool of twenty million people, a 99 percent accurate test will identify two hundred thousand people as being terrorists. But only ten of them are terrorists. To
catch ten bad guys, you have to haul in and investigate two hundred thousand
innocent people.

Guess what? Terrorism tests aren't anywhere close to 99 percent accurate. More like 60 percent accurate. Even 40 percent accurate, sometimes.

What this all meant was that the Department of Homeland Security had set itself up to fail badly. They were trying to spot incredibly rare events -- a person is a terrorist -- with inaccurate systems.

So what good is it all? If the odds of catching an actual terrorist in this method is this small, why continue to eavesdrop? What is there to gain? Control. Control in two different ways. 1) Waving the specter of the terrorist bogey man over our heads creating fear a fearful populace is more willing to let the government take away their civil rights in the name of protecting us from said bogey man. They are creating oppression through fear. 2) Now they have control of all our information, bank records, medical records, what we buy at the grocery store, bus trips, who we call and how often. Now they can tag us and track us and keep us in line-we have become spime. But did they really need to go through all this political posturing? No, apparently domestic spying is a large portion of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies and goes far beyond mere wiretapping. "They sift, store and analyze the communications, spending habits and travel patters of U.S. Citizens, searching for suspicious activity."

"There's virtually no branch of the U.S. government that isn't in some way involved in monitoring or surveillance," said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and fellow at the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "We're operating in a brave new world."

Apparently, however the government wants to be the only entities that track our online use. "Executives from major Internet players-Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and facebook Inc.- are due for a grilling about online privacy in a Senate committee Wednesday, [...] NebuAd had drawn fierce criticism from privacy advocates in recent weeks for working with Internet service providers to track the online behavior of their customers and then serve up targeted banner ads based on that behavior."

Pot meet Kettle...

[edited to add more links]

Posted by toadstar on 3:58 PM

Saving the Environment-You're Doing It Wrong:

So the G-8 have gotten together and have agreed to reduce greenhouse emissions in half by (you ready for this....) 2050. Forty-two years! I don't honestly think that we have that much time-and that's only by half how much longer to reduce it further? In forty-two years, I'll be 76 living on an iron lung from all the crap in the air (not kidding just look at these pictures of China)* and living in a house floating over what use to be Houston Texas, but is now the Gulf of Mexico.

Although it's not surprising given the new revelations that 'Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change'. Six pages of testimony from the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were cut in an attempt to avoid having to regulate greenhouse gases. The White House claims that the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers questioning the accuracy of the science and we all know how much the White House cares about accuracy in regards to science.

At a news conference, Boxer said the heavy editing of the CDC testimony
last October was "not haphazard" but part of broader efforts to downplay the
consequences of climate change. She said the goal was to assure EPA's response
to a Supreme Court directive to examine whether to regulate carbon dioxide
"would be as weak as possible."

So there it is pandering to the automotive industry and the oil companies is more important than the health and lives of the people that they are suppose to represent.

*Yes I realize that part of the reason that the air quality in China is so bad is due to outsourcing manufacturing jobs to China that could be done here, but I use this as merely an example-I could have easily linked a picture of Denver or LA, but I chose instead to link this article, because I found it interesting and the picture illustrated my point.

The War On Photography Part III And Some Quick Ones:

Last May Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the National Union of journalists wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to protest against police serveilling journalists and photographers. In the letter Dear stated that "journalists and photographers are being monitored and recorded by the Metropolitan Police's Forward Intelligence Team (FIT), adding that this surveillance amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to the journalists' right to carry out their work."

On June 26 the Union secretary general responded. So what is the official stance of the Home Secretary? Simple, you have the right to take pictures in public spaces. There is no law prohibiting that, however, local restrictions may be enforced. "Decisions may be make locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.

It is for the local Chief Constable, in the case of your letter the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection."

So basically you have the right to take pictures and we have the right to harass you about it.

* Over on boing boing they discuss the draft bill proposed by members of the Iranian Parliament that seeks to "toughen punishment for disturbing mental security in society." This bill would add, "establishing websites and weblogs promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy," to the list of crimes punishable by death.

How does one "disturb mental security in society"? Would exposing to some new thought process qualify? What if I open your mind to some greater understanding of the world around you, would that qualify? And how many people would it have to effect? This blog may disturb mental security, but my readership is so low could it be considered disturbing the mental security of the society at large?

*I decided to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try and do what little I can to stop my Senators from voting for Telecom Immunity. Do your part too, go here for details. Remember this Union was created by the people for the people, let our Representatives know what the people want-then hold them accountable when they don't.

*And finally: under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves. Matt Fraction sets the record straight.

Posted by toadstar on 4:01 PM

Some Quick Ones:

*Another example of police bullying someone with a camera, this time the videographer wins.

*The RIAA's suggestions for the content of ACTA-I haven't made it all the way through yet, but so far these are the ones that will make my stuff turn white, if you know what I mean:
-Provide law enforcement authorities ex officio powers to investigate criminal infringements of intellectual property rights and initiate criminal actions on their own initiative.
-Ensure that courts have the authority to issue ex parte search orders.
-Provide that orders by judicial authorities need not individually identify the items subject to seizure, so long as they fall within general categories specified in the order.
-Provide that goods determined to be infringing are subject to forfeiture and destruction regardless of whether any action for infringement is initiated, whether civil, administrative or criminal and without any compensation of any kind to the defendant, and regardless of whether there has been any finding of liability on the part of any person.
-Provide remedies and injunctive relief against any entity that: (a) Creates or otherwise maintains directories of infringing materials((like Google people)); (b) Provides "deeplinks" to infringing files ((Linking is not a crime, that's like trying to arrest me for saying look over there, that house is a brothel...))

*It looks like Obama's supporters are trying to force his hand to take a stand against telecom amnesty-I for one hope it works.

*Microsoft has filed a patent for a "digital manners policy," or DMP for short. So be good for goodness sake-or Bill will turn off your gadget.... can you say fascism? Bruce Schneier explains why this is a bad idea on this post.

*And finally Big Brother, is coming to Colorado-Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as “Terrorism Liaison Officers” in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for “suspicious activity” — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases. So be really nice to that utility guy when he cuts off your power....

Posted by toadstar on 3:15 PM

More On The British War Against Photography:

Last week I wrote about the British war on photography and how such an attempt to change public perception may effect the participatory panopticon. So I figured who would know better than Jamais Cascio himself. I sent him an email asking him what he thought and he was kind enough to write a response to me. Here it is:

My first blush response is that the initial effect of such regulation is to
drive photography underground, or make surreptitious photography more likely. We
change how we hold cameras, for example, or cameraphones, to make it less
obvious. We use devices harder to identify easily as cameras. That sort of

I suspect, however, that before that happens we'll see more significant
public pushback on the issue. Right now, the accelerated restrictions on
photography (in the UK primarily, but increasingly in the US) is coming close to
what I've called in the past an "auto-immune society" disorder, where the
measures taken to protect ourselves -- our "immune system" -- end up harming us
more than the threat being responded to.

That is to say, I suspect that we'll correct this problem before it
gets much worse. I hope, at least.

Longer term, these kinds of restrictions become impossible to enforce
without DRM-style controls put into every recording device.

I'll have to think on this some more. Thanks for asking.

Which makes me think that we'll be seeing a lot more of these.

It also begs the question of governments using psyops against their own people as a measure of control. To change public perception by equating photography to pedophilia and terrorism is just another way to reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the watchers' objectives, which is to take away our ability to pushback and bring us back in line with the rest of the sheep.

I love to take pictures of buildings. I love to take pictures of powerlines and street lights-I like the man made artifice against the perfect beauty of nature. I have stood downtown and taken pictures of buildings. Does this simple act make me a terrorist. No, it makes me an artist, a photographer, someone that loves nature and patterns and the marvel of mankind's intellect.

I hope that Jamais is right and we will correct this problem before it gets worse, because there is a whole world out there just begging to be photographed.

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas