flying kites and sailing

the berkeley kite festival is this weekend, and phil and i sailed the boate just off the marina breakwater to get an unparalelled view of the kites. it was as good a day as you get in the bay area, and for a while as we cruised along near angel island i dragged my hands along in the water off the stern, which would normally turn my fingers into little popsicles. not today, it was beautiful and inviting, and over at ayala cove lots of boaters were swimming, swinging from halyards over the water.
i made this photo into my desktop, click on the image to go over to flickr and download the large size of it if you want to do the same. it’s nice.
berkeley kite festival

a new song: supers are the new meat market

i was in trader joe’s on tuesday, thinking about how i’ve read that supermarkets are the new singles meeting places. they certainly have always been a bit of a scene where i grew up, in hollywood. plenty of hot dudes and chicks strolling the aisles looking to be “discovered”. here in berkeley you don’t get much of that, but you more than occasionally will see someone who looks like they dressed to stalk panties rather than stock the pantry. or catch a man rather than buy a ham. you know the ones, leering over the tops of their mirrored sunglasses at the charmin. this song, supers are the new meat market, is for those people.
if you hadn’t heard, mundane is the new punk.

admitting you were wrong

i received an email today that contained this quote from bertrand russell’s essay on power.

“One of the advantages of democracy, from the governmental point of view, is that it makes the average citizen easier to deceive, since he regards the government as his government. Opposition to a war which is not swiftly successful arises much less readily in a democracy than under any other form of constitution. In a democracy a majority can only turn against the government by first admitting to themselves that they were mistaken in formerly thinking well of their chosen leaders, which is difficult and unpleasant.”

the war in iraq is 100% wrong. always was, always will be. the bush administration had to lie to the american people in order to start the war, and karl rove got the democratic leadership on board by calling them pussies. of course, it is difficult for the democrats to admit at this point, but they largely went along with the program because they were afraid to look soft on terrorism, and even though iraq had absolutely NOTHING to do with terrorism, the white house propoganda machine had a majority of the people in this country convinced that it did. it was all about politics and cynicism and winning elections, and the dems STILL lost big when rove cooked up the swift boat veterans horseshit and smeared john kerry. but the republicans were right, the democrats flip-flopped on the war. they knew better, and went along because they were afraid to lose votes. they lost them anyhow.
so where does that leave us now? if we are to be honest, the purpose of this war was to install a government friendly to the united states. that’s what is really meant by “bringing the joys of democracy and freedom” to the iraqi people. the problem is that’s not going to happen, and the longer we are there shooting people, the less likely it is.
so who is going to stand up and admit they were wrong? who is going to tell all those parents, spouses and children of servicemen who died over there that, in fact the whole thing was wrong, that far from acheiving the objective we set out, things have been made worse? i don’t have to. i always knew and said it was wrong. but once again, most people don’t really give a shit. and the easiest answer to give at a cocktail party is that you “support our troops”. why? because you have been lied to, and that’s almost as hard to admit as having not believed the lies and gone along anyhow as a strategic political decision.

of, by, and for the people (of chevron, exxon mobil, et. al.)

the oil and gas industry has spent $367 million over the last two years lobbying congress to pass energy legislation, and it looks like their investment is going to pay off to the tune of $11.5 billion in energy tax credits and incentives. even the white house “…criticized the bill’s tax credits for oil companies at a time when crude is well above $50 a barrel.”
this is why the free market theory is largely fiction. the idea that markets should always be left alone to do what they do best is dubious to begin with, and then in practice, governments get bought off by huge corporations that persuade legislators to interfere in the markets by SUBSIDIZING their businesses. this is a most flagrant and egregious case for a couple of reasons. business has NEVER IN HISTORY been better for the gas and oil industry. they are breaking and breaking again record profits, quarter after quarter. exxon mobil alone is sitting on $30 billion in cash. this is NOT an industry that needs handouts.
and here’s the other problem. if the government were truly functioning to protect OUR interests, the bulk of these incentives would go to the development of alternative energy sources, conservation, and efficiency. as it is, only $4.4 billion is earmarked to these areas.
government’s role in this case should be to encourage research and development into technologies for which there is a demonstrated social good, and to encourage protections for the environment for which there is no economic incentive. our dependence on petroleum is fast becoming a major problem for our society. it is a serious national security risk, and the problem is getting bigger, not smaller. the problem with global warming is the same. bigger, not smaller, not going away. i was at a dinner party last night and someone said that clearing the way to expanded oil exploration in alaska would help solve the problem. i wanted to laugh, but realized that she believed it. hell, the president said it, so it must be true.
our representatives are being bribed into voting to help fund the deeper entrenchment and perpetuation of an energy monopoly that is endangering our country, drawing us into increasing millitary conflicts around the world, and dramatically and permanently altering our environment. the most alarming thing these days is that noone really seems to care. there are just too many distractions, too many entertainments, too many consumer choices diverting our attention. these things just fly past. a smaller and smaller percentage of people i talk to are aware of the decisions made on their behalf, and an even smaller percentage of those folks understand issues beyond a brief one sentence summary drenched in a propoganda-flavored reduction sauce.
the next time you pay your taxes, just remember that a significant portion is going to handouts to some of the wealthiest people on the face of the planet. why? because most people just don’t give a shit.

unreasonable search and seizure

random search and seizures started today on the new york subway system.

Riders on the nation’s largest subway system waited patiently while officers at various stations around the city combed through their briefcases and knapsacks on the first day of what Mayor Michael Bloomberg said would be a practice that would go on indefinitely.
“One of the dangers of random searches is that they can invite the possibility of racial, ethnic or religious profiling,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said.
Police promised there would be no racial profiling, and Bloomberg too said the practice would not be allowed.
Searches at a subway station near the city’s bustling Port Authority bus station certainly appeared random, as police stopped white tourists, a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, an Asian man, a young black woman and a man wearing a turban.

so in other words, the whole notion of probable cause, one of the CORE tenets of our criminal justice system, is being COMPLETELY disregarded, but with promises to violate EVERYONE’S civil rights EQUALLY. we are ALL potential terrorists.
here’s another quote. this is the fourth amendment of our constitution. this is the what’s being trampled on so that NYPD can increase their quota of small quantity narcotics possession arrests. because that’s all they’re going to catch.

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.

warcraft for REAL

tonight i played warcraft for a few hours on my new machine. i haven’t been playing all that much over the last couple of months, but i wanted to see how much of a difference the ATI X850 graphics card makes. before, i was playing on the nvidia geforce 4 MX, which i thought was a pretty good card.
oh, i have never been so wrong. world of warcraft is one of the most seductive and immersive pieces of eyecandy going when you move every one of the video quality sliders over to the “ultra-high” position. every texture is soft and inviting and has a glow around the edges, and there is a major difference in the perception of three dimensional depth. in short, the difference is huge.
there is also a big difference in the amount of heat that this thing throws off. it is HOT in this room.

buying the blogosphere

tonight i went to the eff’s fight for blogger’s rights party over at minna. i got back and my rss reader was filled with posts about how mind-blowingly awesome boeing’s new connexion plane is (there, i linked to it, increasing the mileage they are getting out of the whole thing). it seems that boeing staged a marketing coup: just invite a bunch of bloggers onto your new wifi-equipped plane, fill them with fine wine and rich food, and they will, as scoble puts it, have “a circle jerk” talking about how INSANELY INCREDIBLY AWESOME boeing is.
of course, all those involved are A-LIST blogger VIPs (!), or else they wouldn’t have been invited. in other words, boeing and their marketing team definitely was working their hand vigorously in the circle, giving everyone concerned a proper sense of celebrity and entitlement to board the plane in the first place.
well it certainly worked. boeing is getting terrific blog press for its dollars, and has paved the way for many other companies to dive in and wine and dine their way into the hearts of “blog celebrities”.
i had already been thinking about the whole notion of blogger “authority” and an a-list in the first place, as a result of some things that were discussed at the eff event. you know what an a-list is? when you are casting a film, you get a list of actors and the amount of box office dollars they can be expected to bring in if they appear in the film. the ones at the top are the a-listers. it is a list, for your consideration, of “bankable talent”. completely devoid of all considerations of ability or talent.
i picked up an activist quarterly, impact press, before i got on the train home, and the first thing i read was this:

every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
–franz kafka

i threw some ads up here for the hell of it. get in on the gold rush, see how the whole thing works. yesterday i made 4¢.

al gore and video ipod

i had forgotten about this one, but my brother just IMed me an article and it jogged my memory. al gore’s current tv is all about quick video shorts. in fact, from their vision statement:

So, we’re creating a network in short form. Whenever you tune in to Current, you’ll see something amusing, inspiring or interesting. And then, three minutes later, you’ll see something new. It’ll be a video iPod stocked with a stream of short segments and set to shuffle.

al gore is on the board of directors of apple. well there’s one major source of content. viewed as such, current tv, with its emphasis on educating people how to produce their own video and then get it out on the internet is a way of jumpstarting vlogging to fuel the sales of video ipods.