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WE hold these TRUTHS to be self-evident:

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There exists a chasm in the right wing between classical conservatives and neoconservatives; this division is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer of politics, even if the labels are not universally known. At any rate, the latter group seems to be obsessed with morality above all else, and thus are not associated (on the face of it) with an end-justifies-the-means approach. In viewing actual actions, however, one reaches an alternate conclusion: most neocons are willing to do just about anything to get into power, or to stay in power once there. This is evidenced by such things as the Downing Street Memo, as well as the USCCR report on the 2000 election. Both of these offer verifiable evidence of neocons committing apparent falsehood, which runs counter to the stated ideals of honesty and integrity. Is this a contradiction? Well, we must ask what meaning is there to honesty in the face of a malleable truth. Witness the changing stories as to the rationale for invading Iraq- these rationales are not constant with respect to time. On the other hand, the war was always about bringing to democracy. It was never about WMDs. Obviously, the recorded truth itself is being changed a la 1984. Therefore, what meaning honesty? Allegiance to the current party reality?

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1: Introduction.Collapse )
2: Properties of the Internet.Collapse )
3: Blogging emerges.Collapse )
4: Restating the criticisms.Collapse )
5: Addressing the signal-to-noise ratio problem.Collapse )
6: Positive feedback and egotism.Collapse )
7: Conclusion.Collapse )

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Note: this entry is an update to the previous entry entitled "Security fad costing us our security."

The Real ID Act has passed. What does that mean? That the DHS will administer driver's licences in the US. This is the same DHS who, as described in the aforementioned entry, admitted that they can't seem to get security right regardless of how much money is spent. Now, according to Real ID, anyone without such an ID card will be prohibited from opening a bank account, flying, or taking the train- to say nothing of entering federal buildings. With how much I trust DHS (read: not even close to as far as I can see them), what's a citizen to do? Move, I suppose. Canada is looking really damn nice right about now. I suppose I should have done more advocacy on the issue, but then again, I get the distinct impression that no one listens, and it was fucking finals week! As for the first point, the ultimate motivator for politicans in a representative democracy is supposed to be the election, but that is no longer a viable mechanism as the process of falsifying an election in the US has been perfected down to a science. If I seem a bit jaded, that's because I am. Any semblance of faith that I may have had in "the system" has been destroyed repeatedly. This latest instance is just that- the latest in a string of instances of the failings of the "system."

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As masstreble points out, Linux succeeds on the back of creative and inventive users (I would like to point out that not all users are such- look at me, for example), and that such users would invariably add to the Second Life community. Furthermore, more people means a higher likelyhood that a potential user already knows at least one SL resident already, and may thus be persuaded to join. Users who join having already known someone are likely to be socially active under the guidance of their SL seniors, thus strengthening and enriching the community. Look at LJ, and see what allowing all users in can do! Admitetly, making a MMOG cross-platform is more technically challenging than a web app using open standards, but the implications are the same: by allowing variety and diversity, the creative pool grows, creating a better service for all involved.

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According to this NYT article (no reg required), DHS now admits that many of their security measures were not much more than empty deterrents installed after the security craze following 9/11. What this article glosses over entirely, however, is the point made by those more versed in security than I that we excel at preventing yesterday's attacks. Furthermore, since terrorism, by definition, focuses on where people gather in order to make a large impact, by installing machines with substandard effiency, we have created another gathering place for people in a hurry- distracted people. That is directly outside the security checkpoints. Just like how strengthening a car can make it more dangerous, or how increasing the reliability of transmission lines makes the failures more severe, by increasing security, we have undermined security. As for why haven't the terrorists struck again, consider their supposed goals: to instill terror. At that they have succeeded so wonderfully that another attack would only undermine their goals by serving to inure us to violence. On the other hand, our responses have angered so many, enemies of the current administration now have no trouble finding new recruits to prepare another wave of violence.
The universe is a subtle place, and our lack of subtlety may well be our undoing. The simple-minded obsession with continuing the arms-race over security is ineffective, overly costly, destructive, and dangerous. If we continue this foolish course of action, we will find ourselves without freedom, security, and perhaps without life. In short, wake the fuck up, people.

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Heads should be rolling... and questions should be asked. Most notably, we should be asking ourselves if we care more about freedom or screwing an intern. More about trust or screwing an intern. More about the lives of the next generation, or about screwing an intern. Here we have a very incriminating memorandum, and it goes ignored in the US- at least by mass media. Word has been circling through the blogosphere, but is it enough? How many people will this reach? Enough to take some real, definitive action? This memorandum, if it is valid, would serve as strong evidence to show that the Bush administration has been manipulating the facts all along to justify his war. Even if the memorandum is not authentic, shouldn't we investigate it? This is no small charge... were Bush and Blair in the private sector, this would be racketeering. Why isn't an impeachment trial already underway?

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Browsing the web, I saw this article reporting about a Phoenix man who died from a taser shock, and the political aftermath of the incident. The article refers to a similar incident that happened in Ohio this Febuary. In the Ohio case, a man died after having been tasered nine times in a row. My response? No shit, sherlock! Tasers aren't as dangerous as many weapons, but nine times will kill most people pretty easily! The whole idea is a short spike that disables the target. Delivering so many dosages is likely to do much more than stun the target. Yet, who gets the blame? The taser manufacturers. Of course, I don't simply side with business because they're business. In fact, I don't really side with the manufacuturer in this case at all. I simply don't like to see this kind of passing of the buck. If they had shocked the victim once before he died, then the taser is probably defective and unsafe. On the other hand, how can the manufacturer be responsible for the blatant abuse of their product?

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Fellow consumers of the wonder that is BoingBoing may have noticed a post about an NYT article on Christian Gaming. I myself went through and read the article, and read a small amount about one particular example of the "movement," the "Christian" FPS entitled Spiritual War. Astute readers may have noted the heavy use of quotation marks to surround the word Christian when referencing gaming. This is because the movement is, despite what anyone may claim, economic in nature. As the power concentrated in the hands of fundamentalists grows, so do the markets which sell "Christianity" prepackaged and ready to buy for only $19.95. Certianally, those who design such "games" may convince themselves of higher motives, and may have even hold such higher motives. The problem is, that almost by definition, the movement will not succeed without an economic basis, causing the movement to become economic in nature.

As for these "higher motives," what implications do they have for the quality of games? Again, almost by definition, this means a serious reduction in quality, or variety at the very least. By restricting themselves to a narrow view of a religion as the sole source of inspiration for games, we can expect to see a seriously deteriorated standard for plotlines, character development, etc. For instance, the article mentioned the adversity of Christian studios to "moral relativism," embodied most strongly in RPGs. In other words, not only do such developers not engage in introspection, but they also actively shy away from it, and decry it. Only by taking a few steps in the shoes of the "villian" can we understand what the right so freely calls "evil."

Obviously, if there are consumers who strongly desire such gimped products, then by all means develop them- I do not advocating censorship. To do so would be nothing more or less than a complete betrayal of my stance on such issues. No, what scares me is that we live in such a day and age that we desire less functional products, less probing entertainment, less stimulating discourse, less robust drama, etc. I suppose that it does amaze me how close we are to the world of The Handmaid's Tale. Hopefully in time we can cure ourselves of the disease that is fundamentalism, milantism, and purism. Not, mind you, that I advocate the abolishment or discarding of religion. Rather, the most destructive and obnoxious expressions thereof are things I would not miss. When it comes right down to it, such a movement does not infringe upon my freedoms or rights in any way, nor does it at all impoverish me. Therefore, the sole point of this rant is to share what I see as a rather sad reflection on the state of culture. To the extent that it does not affect me, I am mostly apathetic. I have a certian weakness, however, for responding to things such as this which really do not concern me... oh, well.

PS: Sorry for a lack of links... I am feeling kinda lazy right now.

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