The Friends of California Libre...

17 January 2006

If Martin Luther King Died for Your Sins

Greetings, friends,
I hate to rub it in during the winter, but today was one of those remarkable days when the Santa Anas blow after a storm passes through, warm and clear. Not only were the snowy peak of Mount San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) and la Isla Santa Catalina easily visible, but from higher altitudes in Griffith Park, we could easily see la Isla Santa Barbara, a tiny island almost 50 miles from Downtown Los Angeles. Nice.

A hike is a good way to celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or so I hope, a believer in non-violence shot in the head when I was just over 2 years old. It's also the anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake of 1994, not really anything any of us will celebrate except to say, "Shit, it's been TWELVE years?"

Anyway, another anniversary we've recently celebrated, and gladly this time, is the landing of the two Martian robots Spirit and Opportunity, built right here in Southern California; they were meant to last for 90 days and have been going strong for over 2 Earth years now, thanks to JPL know-how and the Martian winds keeping dust off their solar panels. An IMAX movie is coming out in a few weeks here in the US (hint) but you can follow their interplanetary adventure here:

The other day I received this question: Joel, why was Bill Clinton almost impeached for lying about a blow-job and Richard Nixon almost impeached for covering up a burglary of the Democratic National Committee, and yet no one is seriously talking about impeaching George W. Bush for using the NSA to spy directly on his own citizens, an act as blatantly illegal as any other? Answer: because he didn't cover it up, he just said he could do it. Oh, duh.

In the midst of this spying business, I noticed this article, which naturally should alarm all my friend abroad:
Wiretaps Said to Sift All Overseas Contacts
By Charlie Savage
The Boston Globe

The operative word there is ALL, all overseas contacts. They've been spying on our e-mail for a long time already:
The NSA Spy Engine: Echelon
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Investigative Report

Over the years I've toyed with using e-mail encryption, and it's not so very difficult. With the Federal Government outright bragging how they spy on us, I'd like to try again. If any tech-heads out there would like to try, there are two steps:
1) Get encryption software (if you use Outlook for Mac, uh oh. If you use Eudora as I do, I have the *NEW* S/MIME plugin for Eudora 7.0 with a very easy to understand readme file that I will send you on request. If you use Microsoft Outlook, the S/MIME capability is already up on your software. For other e-mail programs, try googling the name of your software with "S/MIME".)
2) Get a "personal certificate". This is the "key" you will attach to scramble your e-mail so only people you send the certificate to will be able to unscramble. You can then "sign" a message only, verifying your identity, or "encrypt" it, scrambling the message as well.

You can get a free personal certificate here:

Please let me know when you are ready to PLAY and I will start signing/encrypting my personal messages to you!

Here a few more tech goodies I've been saving up for a rainy about an excellent music channel (I'm using it at work now) which will play music based on what you tell it you like (thanks, Andrea)?
Subject: amazing music website
you have to check out it's part of the "music genome project" that seems to be an experiment in linking artists together by people's tastes. if you create an account and then type in an artist or song name, such as "kurt rosenwinkel" the site turns into an internet radio station that plays one song after another in the same style. so far i've liked every song i've heard, and three of 6 have
been artists i hadn't heard of. the streaming audio quality is also really, really good. very close to broadcast radio quality. i would even recommend that you try "kurt rosenwinkel" as your first preset. you won't be disappointed.

There are, of course, plenty of low-tech options for you "slow food" folks that like your music popping and hissing in the background...or how about silent for months at a time?
Second chord sounds in world's longest lasting concert

Here's some more high-tech kibbitzing for youse with international keyboards, or needing them, or just trying them out:

Computing With Accents, Symbols & Foreign Scripts

Extensive information about using foreign letters and other special characters in computer-generated documents such as word processing or web pages. Features characters by language, "Unicode Entity Codes for Phonetic Symbols" by letter (such as , "c hachek" and , "Welsh w circumflex"), information for configuring browsers to display character sets, tips for website developers, links to related information, and more. Some information is specific to Penn State University.

And here's the skivvy on the BS known as "changing the traffic signal with my high beams":

And so on to the madness...I think besides taking a long stroll in Griffith Park, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., might have organized a little march today on his birthday, if that cracker in Tennessee hadn't shot him in the head. What would the march be about, you ask, prejudice, the Darfur, AIDS? No, I think Rev. King would go for the most egregious bit of overkill bullying on "popular TV", Iraq.

First of all, if you have broadband, check out this video of US contractors driving around in Iraq, machine-gunning any car that gets too close...this stuff is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS:
US Military Probing Video of Road Violence
By Jonathan Finer and Ellen Knickmeyer
The Washington Post

As far as I'm concerned, firing a machine-gun at someone's windshield is NOT a great way to "work things out" in their country. But that's the American Way, "back off, motherfucker".
What I Heard about Iraq in 2005
By Eliot Weinberger
The London Review of Books
The Government Men in Masks Who Terrorize Iraq
By Dahr Jamail and Harb al-Mukhtar
The Asia Times
US Troops Seize Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist
The Guardian UK
War Crimes Made Easy
By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
Tom Dispatch

I mean, you have to wonder if the people in charge of this military "adventure" operate under any restraint at all. Let's see; breaking into houses to intimidate reporters or shelling their hotels and killing them, driving around shooting into the cars of ordinary citizens, and then spying on your own "subjects" without so much as a "please, dahling". I'd say our democracy is working pretty well...for the "Christian" people in charge.

But, you say, we "Christians" don't condone torture in this country:
Bush and McCain Reach Deal on Treatment of Torture Suspects
By Brian Knowlton
The International Herald Tribune

Unless, natch, we really, really have to torture someone:
As Torture Amendment Nears Passage, Pentagon Rewrites Army Detainee Standards
Bush Could Bypass New Torture Ban
By Charlie Savage
The Boston Globe

This following speech was criticized, even within England, as the ravings of a bitter old man, but I'll have to side with Harold Pinter on this issue:
The Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth and Politics
By Harold Pinter
The Guardian UK

Because I take everybody at their word, even if I know they're lying:
I'm a fascist, but not racist, says Di Canio

That's one thing I give George W. credit for: he's straight up in his treachery. If I lived in New Orleans, I would be very worried about now:
Bush pulls the plug on Iraq reconstruction
$18bn funding to stop at end of year
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
The Guardian
The Bush administration has scaled back its ambitions to rebuild Iraq from the devastation wrought by war and dictatorship and does not intend to seek new funds for reconstruction, it emerged yesterday.,2763,1676911,00.html
White House to Withdraw Funding for Rebuilding Iraq
By Andrew Gumbel
The Independent UK

It's the signal for equal candor from his flunkies:
Bremer Claims He Was Used as Iraq 'Fall Guy'
By Edward Alden and Guy Dinmore
The Financial Times

Nope, I agree with the radical "exit now" crowd; all Americans out of Iraq, and let them sort it out:
Mr. Bush, Have I Got an Exit Strategy for You
By Gus R. Stelzer
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
By Farhad Manjoo
If America Left Iraq
By Nir Rosen
The Atlantic Monthly

I even think this joke response is better than the ugly truth:
The recommended page is:
U.S. Troops Draw Up Own Exit Strategy

Our "coalition" is just about done, and that's more honesty, and Bush prefers buying off his friends for a short time rather than giving into the international responsibilities of something like NATO; PS, note to my Belgian friends, NATO doesn't have long to live:
US Allies in Iraq: Valuable but Dwindling
By Mark Sappenfield
The Christian Science Monitor
US Allies in Iraq Want Out, Adding to Bush Pressure
By Celestine Bohlen
US Sees Coalitions of the Willing as Best Ally
By Guy Dinmore
The Financial Times

More treachery; with Iraq a mess, the Persians are doing more 1984 experiments, and the idiots in the White House are dumb enough to take the bait:
Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq from Iran
By Dexter Filkinks
The New York Times
Iran's President Dismisses Nazi Holocaust as 'Myth'
Point of No Return
By Jean-Marcel Bouguereau
Le Nouvel Observateur
By Patrick Sabatier
US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?
Axis of Fanatics: Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad
By Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t Perspective

I hate to say it, but Mr. Sharon having a stroke might put a dent in this plan:
Israel Readies Forces for Strike on Nuclear Iran
By Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter
The Times UK

There's an unpleasant prospect, even dark for these screedlings...I mean, if the Jews use an A-bomb, we've even past the Revelations...yeah, past religion and into the realm of science, which has very little to encourage us.

We can keep the rest of world on track, however, that's a helpful thought, that's what Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt would say. Keep the warlike dancing!
Attack on Iran: A Looming Folly
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective

I'll bet my friends out in the California desert believe in this model for our immediate survival as a species:
"Doomsday vault" to house world's seeds

Like the Rev. King, however, I'm more encouraged by this future:
Iran's Future? Watch the Streets
By Peter Ackerman and Ramin Ahmadi
The International Herald Tribune

At the same time, here's more ammo for the home front, and how we're now fighting what I say should be declared, already, yikes: War Against Religious Fanatics (WARF). I think this is a character on the new(er) Star Trek, a thoroughly anti-religious "philosophy".
Cult of Character
By Silja J.A. Talvi
In These Times
How the 'secular' Character Training Institute is working to build evangelist Bill Gothard's vision of a First-Century Kingdom of God-one city, one state, one school board, one police force and one mind at a time.
1st Suit in California to Attack 'Intelligent Design' Filed
By Henry Weinstein
The Los Angeles Times

With that second plug for California, I feel much relieved. Here's some more useful advice for you:
Many Refuse to Pay 'War Tax' on Phone Bill
By M.L. Lyke
The Seattle Post Intelligencer

Now that I've blown off some of my steam, I'd like to address a question some of you have had for me, "What is it that you do at work?" On one occasion I was introduced by a drunk friend as the head librarian for the entire City, a job I have never held; nor have I shared this fellow's career path:
Blog: ricklibrarian
Post: A Day in the Life of a Reference Librarian 2005

No, I like my libraries more on the edge, and yet successfully projecting our chequered past into the future (thanks, Lucas):
Libraries Have Books Bound In Human Skin
Libraries Have Books Bound in Human Skin

Well, who cares. How about a rather lame riff on the "I'm Sorry" website, one that offers some opportunities for my sadistic friends:

43 Things

This social networking site allows registered users to post a list of 43 goals and comment on others' goals. (Registration not required to browse site.) Browse by user, goal, or geographic area. From the Robot Co-op, "a privately held start-up based in Seattle" that is "funded by"

And also in the "self-realization" category, this rather agonizing e-mail breakup nonsense passed along to me by one of these same sadistic friends:

Thanks to Adam for the tributes to M. Sarkozy in France. Finally, my first goal of 2006, I think, should be to exercise my mind without worrying over the small stuff, but in the meantime, a final way to kill time, as I stagger to the end, lots of time...

Web Sudoku

"The rules of Sudoku are simple. Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square." This site features billions of interactive games with easy, medium, hard, and evil levels of difficulty (users can receive hints). The site also supplies puzzles for newspapers, magazines, and other media for a fee.

I'd like to think Rev. King would agree, here's toast to him, clink!
Vive le screed!

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