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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

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Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

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Monday, October 22, 2007

You mean he's happy?

On a lighter note, apparently Dumbledore is gay.


Land of the Free

If the United States is going to manifest its foreign policy on the justification of spreading freedom throughout the world, I'd like to understand a bit more about how freedom is defined in the United States, these days.

No decent definition of freedom I know of would stand up under the domestic assaults on US citizens' liberty we see reported in the press on a weekly basis.

Three stories from BoingBoing, from just the last few days:

Man appeals conviction for standing in Times Square

In June of 2004 Matthew Jones of Brooklyn was standing in Times Square, talking with friends. Police arrested him for it. More than three years later, he is fighting the charge.

In the prosecution’s view, it appears, the innocent do not dawdle. According to the original complaint against Mr. Jones, the officer “observed defendant along with a number of other individuals standing around” on a public sidewalk in June 2004. Mr. Jones was “not moving, and that as a result of defendants’ behavior, numerous pedestrians in the area had to walk around defendants.”

Mr. Jones refused to move when asked, said the officer, Momen Attia, and then tried to run away. When Officer Attia tried to handcuff him, he “flailed his arms,” earning a second charge for resisting arrest.

After spending the night in jail, Mr. Jones contested the main charge and asked that it be dismissed. When the judge demurred, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation the next day and received no further sentence. But he soon filed an appeal, arguing that there had been no basis for the arrest in the first place.

The New York Times visited Times Square and noted several people standing around: "a man eating clams out of a Styrofoam container; two men smoking cigarettes together; a man waiting for a woman to finish a phone call; a guy looking at a map; a young woman sending a text message; two men handing out tour brochures; and a family of five, including an infant in a stroller, who stopped to look at the brochures." No one was arrested. Link to NYT story.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrests newspaper owners for complaining about grand jury investigation

Lulu says: New Times owners arrested for publishing a story about a grand jury investigation in which they (the newspaper) are asked to provide (among other things) Web addresses, shopping habits and information about what Internet sites readers visited before logging onto the New Times.

The alternative weekly newspaper, in its cover story, said the subpoena was part of an investigation orchestrated to get back at its reporters and the critical stories they wrote of County Attorney Andrew Thomas' political ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The scope of the subpoena is unusually broad: It not only demands information from the reporters but also information about all the online readers of the publication since Jan.1, 2004, including their Internet domain names and browsers and what other Web sites they visited before reading New Times.

Outside the jail this morning, New Times editor Rick Barrs told assembled media that the arrests had been an attack by Thomas' attorney.

"They're trying to muzzle us," Barrs said. "This is retaliation against us. And it's not just retaliation against us, it's retaliation against the press." Link

Death Cab for Cutie guitarist's album disappears down the DHS memory-hole

JM sez, "Death Cab for Cutie Guitarist Chris Walla had a hard drive containing his next album confiscated at the US-Canada border for no apparent reason by the Department of Homeland Security. Wow, for some reason that doesn't make me feel like my homeland is secure - when art is blindly confiscated by authority figures."

"It's a true story. Barsuk [Records, which is putting out the record] had hired a courier — who does international stuff all the time and who they had used before — to bring [the album] back from Canada, where I was working on it. And he got to the border and he had all his paperwork and it was all cool, only they turned him away, and they confiscated the drive and gave it to the computer-forensics division of our Homeland Security-type people," sighed Walla, who has produced nearly all Death Cab's output, as well as records by the Decemberists, Hot Hot Heat, Nada Surf, Tegan and Sara and others. "And now I couldn't even venture a guess as to where it is, or what it's doing there. I mean, I can't just call their customer-service center and ask about my drive. There's nothing I can do. I don't know if we can hire an attorney ... is there a black-hole attorney? You can't take a black hole to court." Link

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back in time. Timeless.

Flame-Haired Angel and I have been watching The West Wing. We've never seen it, even though it's written by the creator of our favourite TV series ever.

We just passed: "The greatest threat to democracy is the unbridled power of the state."

So, I'm grooving on it.

If you check this space semi-regularly, I apologize for the lack of updates. I've been rebuilding my home computer from scratch. My old French chop-shop job finally gave up the ghost for good.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

John's righteously frustrated

From my friend Truck-Man:

AP has the following today:

Cynthia Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, said the United States tries to ensure that repatriated detainees are not abused.

“Detainees are not repatriated to countries where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured,'' she told AP in an e-mail.

If you believe that condoning torture is reasonable government policy, please feel free to stop reading here. The rest of my e-mail will not entertain you.

A spokesperson for the largest segment of our government says that we bet the come line on torture. She didn’t say this:

Detainees are not repatriated to countries where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured,

She says that we need 51% or above assurance of the likelihood of torture before we refuse to transfer.

And she couldn’t say:

Detainees are not repatriated to countries where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured,

My government cannot get close to such a statement, for fear of legal action.

And she could not possibly have said:

Detainees are not repatriated to countries where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured,

It was a great country, founded on luminous, transcendant ideals, captured in luminous, transcendant sentences. “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”

“We the People . . .”

“ . . . nor cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.”

I’m sorry, beyond words, to see it dying.


Monday, October 08, 2007

The first thread to unravel

Ontario's Information & Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian:

Privacy is integral to freedom. You cannot have a free and democratic society without privacy. When a state morphs from a democracy into a totalitarian regime, the first thread to unravel is privacy.

More of that at the Federal level would be nice. And in the US, too.

From BoingBoing.