What is happening?

Record-breaking cold spells in many places, last year there was a severe drought that impacted a vast swathe of the Midwest. The year before record flooding.

Right now in the west is a serious drought and already some communities are under pressure due to water shortage.

Is this all the kind of clusterfuck which James Kunstler has spoken about? But the clusterfuck he has written and spoken about had to do with the impending scarcity of fossil fuels and the cascading impacts and breakdowns of all the systems so intricately intertwined with their availability and use. Right now it looks like environmental clusterfuck which is another consequence of the overuse of fossil fuels. And, because of the consequences, more fossil fuels get wasted to cope with the problems, thereby feeding the vicious cycle…

The full story’s not coming out

The full story, the complete picture of what is happening right now in the USA in terms of government surveillance of citizens, is not being conveyed.

There are 35,000 people working for the NSA.  Edward Snowden clearly said that there were a lot of people like him, that it was not too difficult to get a job as he had, and that there was virtually no oversight at all.

It has not even really been discussed the extent to which other agencies like the FBI spy on US citizens, or what procedures and oversight (if any) there is.  What we know is that any activity that is deemed suspicious is viewed as justification to violate the fundamental human right to privacy of human beings, to raid their lives.

Its not just that this is occurring institutionally.  I would like to ask the further question: Who exactly is doing the raiding?  35,000 is a lot of people.  Then there are the people who work for all the other agencies which have access to some or all of the data, who have similar abilities to raid the lives of people based on suspicion.

Who are these people?  Where are they?  When you’re at the gym, is it the person on the treadmill next to you?  You know, the one who gave you a weird look earlier because perhaps they actually know who you are and read your personal communications?  Perhaps they are part of a team of people who have raided your life?  Maybe they sit in a room somewhere and laugh about the people who’s lives they raid?

There is now a class of people who exist who have this kind of power and its absolutely sickening.  It is known for a fact that local law enforcement agencies have routinely sent undercover agents to spy on all kind of groups.  Any group that is even remotely political is spied upon, that is certain.  There revelations of this over the past decades over and over again.

Yet nothing ever seems to happen, to change.  It gets brushed away – curiously – in the media.

I remember when the US started to bomb Iraq in 2003.  At first there were enormous protests with hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets.  Then, not long after, the protests dwindled.  At one point, about a week later, there were some who felt that we could not just quit voicing our protest against the insanity that was taking place.  We continued to walk along streets and protest.  And we were followed.  We were definitely followed.  By undercovers.

They followed us along the streets as we walked.  They followed us underground into the subway station and on the train.  They followed us until the end of the night when we were tired and all went home.  We were maybe 4-5 people, but we were enough of a “threat” to have been followed by more than one undercover in a manner that was conspicuous.

I have thought about other meetings I attended, other organizations I was involved with even if only briefly, and wondered about the undercovers.  Even a transgender support group I went to once I believe had an undercover pig at it.

Of course if people just shut up and obey then there’s no problem.  Nothing to worry about.  But as soon as you do anything – even join a church group as it has already been proven – then you are a suspect by your government and your right to privacy is violated.

If we know this kind of shit has happened and clearly is still happening, how much more shit is there going on – is really going on – in the cyberworld?  A massive, incomprehensibly vast and rapacious amount of it, one can only conclude.

When I’m out anywhere now and someone looks at me with a weird look, I wonder.  I wonder who they are and where they work.  I wonder what kind of information they have access to.  How many people in the circle of places I frequent for my regular shopping and entertainment are part of the pig network?  It could be many – dozens, hundreds perhaps.  And while there is a seemingly vast budget for this, when I’ve had my vehicle broken stolen once, and broken into another time, the police didn’t do shit.  They did not even come out so I could file a report for the break-in.  I’ve had thefts of parts of my bicycles and again they don’t do shit.  We’ve also had some serious issues in my building and on my street including a drug cartel operating in my building but – again – they don’t do shit.  Our streets are crumbling, and they can’t even pick up the phone to answer a call much of the time – but they have money for networks of spies and undercover pigs to raid people’s lives because we are all “suspects”.

And what sort of people are they?  Are we to trust that they are not disgusting bigots who would love the opportunity to raid and rape the life of a transsexual like me, perhaps because I’m a “suspect” for one thing or another, or perhaps just an interesting diversion for them?

This really is a fucked-up nightmare and every member of government who is not standing up for the Constitution, for fundamental human rights, should be impeached from office.

I have one point to make about NSA surveillance revelations

Ok.  Now today there’s another news story being published about how the NSA is developing or has the capability to obtain data from “leaky” Android and iOS apps (such as the popular game Angry Birds).

Now someone might read this latest story and think “Why wouldn’t the NSA develop capabilities to obtain such data?”  That’s a fair question and anyone would ask it.

But the answer I think is not so simple.  To me it is a serious problem if my government knows that certain mobile devices or their applications are insecure and, rather than help protect Americans to ensure their privacy, it allows the insecurities to go on existing and then willfully exploits them.  That is not the role that I think 99.9% of American citizens think that our government should serve.

If I have a friend – a neighbor, whatever – and I have information about something that is detrimental to him or her – and I not only willfully fail to disclose info about it to him or her but I actively develop something to take advantage of and exploit it – I think that is fucked.  I think that is reprehensible.  If I ever became such a lousy sleezebag in my relations with fellow human beings I should probably be taken out.

More and more the undercurrent of all these revelations is the tone one gets that our goverment is this shitty neighbor more than happy to see our fortunes fail and eager and willing at every opportunity to exploint any and all weaknesses or vulnerabilities we have.  That makes our government the shittiest of neighbors.  That is not what government is supposed to be, and it has everything to do with what Edward Snowden has been consistently telling us about.

Its as bad as the mobile carriers willfully failing to include a comprehensive solution to lock stolen phones and prevent them from being resold by thieves because they can milk it and sell such solutions as extra “features”.

And, by the way, its our government.  We are paying for it.

I just watched an illuminating video

about Afghanistan (link to BBC video).  The narrator says that the situation there is not like in Iraq.  Most people on the outside believe that the average person there hates the US and NATO forces and wants them to leave, yet that appears to be quite opposite the case, even among conservative Muslims.  People do not want the Taliban to return.  They want the country to have a good economy, for business to prosper, for people – especially women – to have opportunites which they never would have under a Taliban regime.

The narrator makes it seem however as though Afghanistan is on the verge of being dumped by the US and NATO.  That would be a tragedy it seems.

Watching this, and seeing the images of the men in the Afghan forces who are working to protect their country and keep it free, makes me think that America should have compulsory military service.  Such a topic is a political hot-potato perhaps, but I look around and see our society getting fat and lazy.  I see dissociated people who seem to be unable to make critical judgement and fend for themselves in fundamental ways, who will not make stands for things because they are too confused or whatever.  There is a lack of the spirit of serving together to make society stronger and more intelligent.

Also, everywhere one goes, there’s this sense of how soft and weak people are.  You see people sitting at cafes and restaurants.  We’re supposed to enjoy aesthetic pleasures.  Everywhere one goes though it just seems like a saturation of too much.  Its too easy.  People go to cafes and order a latte or whatever – its just indulgence, indulgence, indulgence.  Meanwhile people are becoming feeble in a way.  The governments are failing.  Their countries are being invaded, corporations are plundering and pillaging, and the systems that are supposed to protect them and work for them are failing.  (Meanwhile though, the government has the $billions it needs to spy on everyone and violate our fundamental human right to privacy, even while the roads are crumbling.)

I think people need to get tough.

Another thing about military service is that it would bring together all the classes of America which at this point in time are flying apart at high velocity.  People sleeping in the same dormitories, sharing bunk beds, learning about each other, and gaining training and experience even if it is doing things like civil engineering – building bridges or whatever – would be beneficial.

Another thing that makes me think this way is something I’ve seen recently in my own city.  I’ve had multiple thefts of parts off my bicycles recently which have cost me hundreds of dollars.   But it seems like everyone in the city just resigns themselves to it, even as the thieves run around in broad daylight.  They push shopping carts down the sidewalk, filled with stolen bicycle parts, in full view.  (Yet the government has an endless budget for the latest gadgetry to spy on everyone, it employs 35,000(!) people for the NSA, but it can’t even respond to theft and keep communities safe and sane.)

To me any reasonable person would respond to someone stealing their property by beating the shit out of them, or at least giving a best attempt to.  In light of the lack of law enforcement – even as we finance the billions’ worth of infrastructure and personnel to spy on everything we do – it seems reasonable that human beings who share things in common stick together and protect each other.  I don’t see any convoluted distortion of what being civilized might mean that doesn’t take into account such a basic principle as this.

If someone hurts you or your brother or sister they should get their ass whipped.  People should not be out in public view pushing stolen shopping carts filled with stolen bicycle parts down the street without the fear that some pissed off people are going to catch them and beat their royal asses.

But how many here would ever stand up?  How many have the backbone to say “fuck this” and stand up?  People allow themselves to be pushed over to such an extent that it sickens me.  And its not just with bicycle theft either – its with everything.  People don’t stand up for what’s right with society – in terms of politics, government, everything.

I think the USA should have compulsory service for men and possibly also for women (there is supposed to be equality so why not?).  Perhaps it would be good to shorten secondary education by one year and then have everyone start their service at 17.  And there can be yoga training and an organic, vegan meal option.    Whether it would be building bridges, defending the borders, or perhaps working on projects to help other countries – it would benefit everybody and help make American society more equal and more strong.

I bet if the kinds of things like the bicycle thefts happened in a place like Afghanistan that people would not  stand for it for one minute.

Vim’s spellchecker

I’ve used the Vim editor for so long yet never used its spellcheck feature. Tonight while typing a journal entry I wanted to do a spellcheck and found out how easy it is: just type :set spell

Here’s an excellent page with everything about Vim’s spellcheck feature:

webdesign10.com: How to Use Vim’s Spellchecker

The other day I was going through some old backup directories looking for a script I had written when I found a directory of all these scripts I had created and once used more often. One of the scripts was to create a new journal entry with Vim in my journal text document. The script simply opens the document and inserts the current date and time.

It made me look for where the most recent backup copy of the journal was. I actually lost track of it. I had stopped using it in favor of a somewhat similar calendar document I was using – with similar convenient script. At the time it had seemed like overkill to make entries in both the journal and the calendar documents.

Then later I started putting the most salient things into my Mozilla Lightning calendar and also bailed on the text calendar. In all these different backup directories I have I found different versions of both the journal and calendar text documents. I think I found the most recent version of both.

I’m going to start using at least one of them again. It may seem like there’s no purpose, but I feel like there is a value in writing a journal. Given the intensity of things I’ve experienced in recent times and all that is going on, I think it is even more so.

The journal is like a little mini check-in and mini check-ins are very helpful.

Its also insightful to read entries from years ago.

FWIW here’s my little journal script which I invoke in a Cygwin64 BASH shell (using Console2) by typing journal
——————————————————————–
#!/bin/bash -e

JOURNAL=”$HOME/Dropbox/journal/journal3.txt”
DATE=`date +’%A %e %B %Y %R %Z’`

printf “\n\n\n$DATE\n\n” >> $JOURNAL

vim + $JOURNAL +
——————————————————————————-

It goes to the end of the document and inserts a date like

Saturday 25 January 2014 01:33 PST

The calendar script, invoked by typing cal, is very similar, only the inserted date is like:

Sat 2014.01.25

2+2=4 patent

This is so outrageous. Judge Koh is at it again, this time slamming Samsung in favor of Apple because Apple had a patent on – get this – auto-complete. I seriously cannot believe the system is this fucked. This judge should lose her seat on the court. Apple should be slapped with a huge fine for doing this outrageous shit and clogging up the justice system.

Enslavement and murder of dolphins in Japan

This is horrible. Hundreds of dolphins have been rounded up in a cove in Taiji, Japan and are either being killed for meat or enslaved for life after being sold for large sums of money to marine parks and aquariums. If it were not for the demand from marine parks and aquariums and the exhorbitant amounts of money they pay this horrific slaughter and enslavement would not be going on.

I’m sure some marine parks might say that their enslaved dolphins were not captured this way, that they were born in captivity. But just because a being has been born into slavery does not make it right. Right? I mean, America ended slavery in the 1860’s because slavery was wrong, not just because brutally capturing and murdering people is wrong.

The U.S. has been sticking by Japan’s side throughout the islands dispute with China. I think the U.S. should now refuse to help Japan any further in this matter. Japan has now shown that it is not capable of being a good steward of marine/island habitats and should forfeit all military, political, and economic backing from the U.S.

I don’t go to marine parks. If I went to one, it would be a place with water slides and fun things to do, not a place with enslaved sentient life forms.

Meanwhile, Japan has another horrific problem: extremely radioactive water has been found to be continually leaking out of the core of reactor 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Reactor 3 has had a meltdown and it contains plutonium which is extremely, extremely toxic:

Radioactive water leaking at Fukushima Daiichi

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says water leaking in the number 3 reactor building is most likely to have come from the containment vessel.

Tokyo Electric Power Company discovered the water flow on the first floor of the reactor building on Saturday.
The stream is about 30 centimeters wide and continuously pours into a drain.

An investigation showed the water contains nearly as high a level of radioactive materials as the contaminated water accumulating in the building’s basement.

TEPCO says it detected 24 million becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, including strontium, as well as 1.7 million becquerels per liter of Cesium 137.

The water temperature is approximately 20 degrees Celsius. That is almost the same temperature as the water at the bottom of the reactor.

TEPCO officials suspect the water for cooling melted fuel in the containment vessel is leaking for some unknown reason.

They say they will continue their investigation to understand the condition of the melted fuel, as well as that of the containment vessel in their effort to find out how and where the water is leaking.

Jan. 19, 2014 – Updated 22:45 UTC

Water leaking out of the core of a reactor is extremely bad. All that extremely high radiation leaks out into the ground and disperses and makes it extremely difficult to be able to work at that location.

For some reaosn they don’t give the actual flow rate of the highly contaminated water, only stating that it is a stream 30 centimeters wide.

Furniture Ideas: Coffee Table

Found out that the type of coffee table I visualize having with my new Ikea Tidafors tullinge-grey loveseat is a mid-century or danish design. One can view Google Images for these keywords and see many different, interesting examples of types of coffee tables with these designs. The main features I like/want are: rectangular top with rounded corners, two-tier, legs angled in to give footprint that is about 2/3 smaller than the table top. One other critical factor is that it is fairly light so that I can easily move it away if I want to use the space to do yoga/Pilates/etc.

Here are a few that I thought were notable because they were close to the design I’m looking for. Obviously some of these colors will not work with the tullinge-grey – most likely I’ll end up with a dark-brown table:

9_table

1536 mid century modern coffee table 02 800x600

16172

norwegian-coffee-table3-600x423

Here is one more that was in a scene from a JDrama I just saw yesterday:

Byakuyakou ep 8 or 9 scene

These are unfortunately all too wide to match what I’m looking for with the loveseat. I kind of wish that I had a full-length sofa even though I like the way the loveseat neatly fits into my studio and will probably keep it.

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