Archive for the 'politics' Category


On Suicide, Obligation, Family…

I’m flying out of Baltimore in a few hours to travel to icebound NH.  Taking the whole family, booked the flight a few days ago, but I can’t say I’m really excited.  See,  I’m going north to attend the memorial service for my cousin Russell O’Brien.  Sad in and of it self but made sadder still, or maybe just compounded by a greater sense of grief and guilt, because Russell took his own life.

Now Camus convinced me that a man has the right to take his life.  I believe it.  Know that that escape is available eases the burden of the absurd.  If the inherent purposelessness of life (in the cosmic and metaphysical sense) becomes unbearable, if the million slings and arrows that flesh is heir to becomes to painful and too much there is always that final and solitary escape.  Knowledge that the pain can always be ended can be the thing that makes pain bearable, especially when there is so much purpose (earthly, tangible, physical) written write into life, down to the smallest measure.

I can’t blame Russell.  He left us.  He wasn’t beholden to those left behind.  He didn’t owe us, his family, friends, colleagues anything.  Certainly not his life.  Not his suffering.  Don’t discount that.  One can never know the contents of another’s heart, the depths of his solitude and pain.  He didn’t owe us any debt so great that he was required to carry on.  He didn’t have to stay.  In the end he didn’t.  We had no hold on him.

He didn’t owe us, but I wish he hadn’t gone.  I feel we owed him.  We owed it to him to let him know that we wanted him around.  To let him know how much his continued presence was worth.  To let him know that he had folks to turn to.  Kith and kin and home and hope.  We owed it to him to let him know that he always, always had a place to turn.  That no situation was so desolate that there wasn’t hope.  That was what we owed Russell if we wanted him to stay.  That was the price.  Now we pay a different price.

I’m not trying to assign or accept blame here.  That’s not the point.  What we owe each other, always, everyday.  If we want to ensure the continued presence of those we love, of those we hold dear.  If we want to be assured of seeing that familiar face at the next wedding, the next christmas.  Our obligation, if we want that, is to make sure that no one we love, no one we’ll miss, becomes so lonely, so hopeless, so desolate,  that the deprive us of their company forever.

Russ didn’t owe us his life.  We owed him.  We owed him every expression of caring and reassurance that might have saved his life, given it sufficient meaning, sufficient value that he fought down the hoplessness, the absurdity, and the desolation, and stuck around to embrace one more time, then another, until things weren’t so desolate anymore and he could go on.

Russ is gone now.  We don’t owe him anymore, and even if we did we could never repay.  But we can pay that debt forward with everyone else.  That was why I rushed to buy a ticket to the tundra.  We can come together and settle that obligation to each other.  Every day, leave no one you love, no one you value in doubt as to their importance in the scheme of things.  Fix their value in your heart.  Fix their value in their heart.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Our tomorrows may be shockingly limited.  Tell them now. Embrace them now.


SoundExchange and the Copywrong crowd open Pandora’s box and kill the goose laying golden eggs…

So, as a geek, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I just discovered Pandora.  I’m picky about music.  I rarely buy albums,  I just don’t like much music.  Lyrics have to have a story, the politics have to resonate, the music has to be simple and elegant but catchy. Or it has to be fun and silly. Mostly I’d rather listen to NPR, or a book I don’t have time to read. Before Pandora I probably bought on album in the last four years.  It was “A Date with John Waters.”  In the same period my wife bought the Juno soundtrack. Because my 2 year old heard the theme on NPR and said “Again mommy!”

We don’t buy music.  We don’t steal it either.  I really don’t even understand who has the spare time for that.

But, (are you listening Recording Barons?)  I’ve purchased 5 albums in the a month and a half of listening to Pandora.  Are you listening recording artists?  Pandora did what web tech does best. It linked me up with shit I like.

Wake up recording industry.  You couldn’t pay for the kind of advertising Pandora paid you for.

Wake up recording artists.  SoundExchange and the copyright board are not your side.  They are parasites.  They are interested in their profits, not yours.  They are interested in their power, not your careers.

Morons.  The lot of you.

Go ahead kill the goose.


The Slightly Less Offensive Fascist Party, FKA The Party of Principal

I got an email from the LP today talking about the results of this year’s convention.  I’m saddened by the presidential ticket, disgusted by the gutted platform, and dismayed at what having a party has done to the movement.

Self identified libertarians are becoming less libertarian.  I believe this is, in no small part, caused by the political compromises vocal party members have tried to make over the years in failed attempts to win politically.

I’m convinced that liberty must be won culturally, socially, and personally.  It’s one thing to support Ron Paul as a liberty opposition candidate in a fascist party.  It is another thing entirely to associate the Party formerly known as “The Party of Principle”  with Fascist candidates.  The first is a successful tactic in  a cultural battle for the zeitgeist.  The second if a doomed-to-failure, ass-backword technique at best, and a terrible betrayal at best.  This year I won’t be voting for a president.  It’ll only encourage them.    I will mourn the passing of the Libertarian Party.  And hope these goobs choose a more accurate name, like SLOF, or the Tennis shoe on your neck Party.

I sent them this email in response to their Plea for Cash:

Take me off your list.  I'm no longer interested in
associating with a party willing to select non
libertarians as candidates.  Libertarianism is about
liberty, it has a guiding moral Principal in ZAP. 
Since you've chosen to stray from the principal I'll
stray from the party.  Hopfully you'll choose a new
name soon, like the Slightly Less Offensive Facists.

In short:


Civil unrest is participating in “Give 1, Get 1”

Information is what changes the world.  From oral tradition to cuneiform to WordPress, information has always been what changed the world.  The one child one laptop program is trying to change the third world with information.  We have decided to help, and get Molly a nifty tool in the process.   If her Daddy let’s her use it.  All politics and polemic aside,  if bloggers want to change the world getting behind Negroponte is one thing that can do it.   Not corny food aid.  Not medical assistance.  Access to computing power and information.  I challenge bloggers to Give 1, Get 1 and then use it to spread the word, develop content, change the world however you can.


I don’t know where this came from….

…but it is pretty effing brilliant.  Hat tip to Freedom Shenanigans.


Kevin Sullivan to eat shoe if Ron Paul wins nomination.

Thanks, Kevin for keeping things light. Whe RP wins I volunteer my gym shoes. ;-)

Kevin Sullivan“If Ron Paul gets the nomination, I will eat a shoe. You can hold me to it! Video and everything.”


Thoughtmerchant offers criticism of Ron Paul as a candidate for black americans.

 Thoughtmerchant blogged about how Ron Paul is not the candidate for black americans.  A rowdy converstion ensued and one respondant, ebogjonson, seems to think all ‘Paulites’ are folks ignorant of race relations and cultists in RP’s “unpersonality.” 

I beg to differ. 

Speaking only for myself I would have to say it is a difference, not in knowledge of history but of  worldview.  We ‘paulites’ tend to believe that all individuals benefit from liberty, and even the beneficiaries of the state’s ‘largess’ are victims of that state as well. Find my response below.

ebog,“The fact is that Ron Paul supporters don’t give a flying a fuck about the health of the black community.”  I personally beg to differ.  As a wary Ron Paul supporter I have to say that a great number of RP supporters do care about the black community.  Please don’t paint us all with the same brush.  Any community has its trolls.  The more conscientious among us are concerned about all our communities but my concern for black americans (not black america, I hate the collectivization of individuals in that term) is part of what leads me to support Dr. Paul.  He is the only candidate who would end the War on Drugs that, in addition to being an unnecessary and colossal failure, has disproportionately and disastrously effected black Americans.He is the only candidate who opposes ‘anti-gang,’ which we all know are just euphemistically clothed anti black, gun laws.He is the only candidate who would end the foreign policy that has led to the current imperial wars abroad where our, again disproportionately minority, soldiers are dying.He is the only candidate who will end the war swiftly, without equivocation, without starting new ones in Pakistan or Syria or Iran or Africa or the Baltics.He is the only one who wants to end a tax system where anyone with a clever lawyer can pay less than your average working family.You know what else, ebog?  You seem pretty fond of rhetoric yourself.  I ask you, did congress give anything in the Civil Rights act that blacks had not already won for themselves?  You wouldn’t be sitting in the back of the bus now.  Rosa Parks and the Montgomery church leaders won your seat on the bus through direct action.  It was the courage of civil right leaders, their courage and humanity, that did the most to end racism and segregation in this country.  Don’t rob them of the accomplishment by attributing so much to the actions of reluctant and halfhearted congresscritters.  It is the continued hard work, talent and interconnectedness of brave and good People that will erase racism for all time.   Don’t let yourself be fooled.  The government hasn’t improved the situation. In spite of integration we have a public school system, especially in urban areas, more segregated than ever.  We have a failing education system that delivers less learning to black children.We have a criminal justice system obviously biased against blacks.And your solution is to criticize the one candidate who is not offering more of the same failed state?  I think you might be a little rhetoric over substance.