Thursday, December 27, 2007

Open Darkness

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated...

I am heart broken.

I did not know Ms Bhutto. I did not know her political views. I did not know her social views. I did not know her religious views.

I believed that in an open and democratic process Ms Bhutto represented the possibility of change.

I believe that Ms Bhutto was singled out as much for her gender as for any other value she may have held or supported.

I believe that Pakistan _and_ the world has lost an opportunity to grow.

We, as a world society, are less for this atrocity.

Open Travesty

Pakistan's Bhutto killed by bombing

Updated: 2007-12-27 22:09

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wears a shawl presented by her supporters, a gesture of respect, during her visit to Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007. [Agencies]

Open Taxes

As we approach the tax season the disparity of who pays more taxes will again raise its attention grabbing head. And as a group we howl... Beth-who-does-not-blog-yet, knowing my penchant for moral puzzles, sent me this link

BUSINESS | December 25, 2007
Professor Cites Bible in Faulting Tax Policies
The work of a professor at the University of Alabama Law School has prompted some other scholars to scour religious texts to explore the moral basis of tax and spending policies.
I found this to be an interesting read as well as a fearless assertion in light of the author's criticism leveled at her home state. Without offering the specifics the gist of the article is that there is a disparity between how much the poor pay and how much the wealthy pay in taxes.

Formal notation: There is a disparity between the amount of taxes paid by the wealthy and the amount paid by the poor.

[Firestorm Alert]

The issue of the disparity between the amount of taxes paid by the wealthy and the amount of taxes paid by the poor IS A SMOKE SCREEN!!!

It effectively prevents us from focusing on the real issue.
Changing my tax rate by a couple of percentage points either way will not affect my personal economic standing significantly. Changing the tax rate for the wealthy 10's of percentage points will not affect my personal economic standing significantly!

This disparity issue only serves to obscure what will actually affect my personal economic standing: Government Spending. What is the government doing with the taxes that it is taking from us, albeit inequitably.

Here... is this really good stewardship of our taxes?

Cost of the War in Iraq
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To see more details, click here.

480 BILLION as of this writing... Those monies invested in Education and Health Care would have a significant effect on my personal economic situation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Open Weave

If you have read me before you know that I have taken a big gulp of the Google-Aid. So you won't be surprised at all to hear that I was an early adopter of the Google Browser Sync extension for Firefox. Across platforms my Firefox experience is [almost] the same. Now I should mention that this extension is just a bit idio-sync-ratic. I mean, I have lost my bookmarks once or twice but... seems that backups abound on the other platforms so... only a little blood, a little harm, so only a little foul.

Caveat: Google is a search engine. It is intent on acquiring data and then drawing conclusions, specifically merchandising meta-data.

Mozilla enters the sync-ronicity fray offering ...

The general idea is that by utilizing a Mozilla online services backend, users can store data such as bookmarks and history. That data can be synchronized with their local browser or even multiple browsers.

According to the Mozilla Labs blog post announcing the Weave effort, one of the goals of the project is to, "ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools."

Mozilla also expects the Weave effort to grow into a social effort, enabling a user's online hosted data to be shared and accessed by friends. The group also plans to build out tools and APIs so that developers can expand and utilize the platform.

- InternetNews
Just what we need...
  • YASN - Yet Another Social Network
  • "a user's online hosted data to be shared and accessed by friends" ??? Maybe someone from F*ceB00k will give them a call and explain the facts of life to them. Sheeeeesh!
  • ...and just what will Mozilla do with this wealth of meta-data? To whom will they sell my personal information?
I don't know what better fits this situation: 'Better the devil you know' or 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire'.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Open meaning

This all started for me when Jeremy at too many topics, too little time. pointed me at ...

sean cubitt's blog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crisis in the meaning of meaning

Meaning was the once-natural sequence of being, knowing, interpreting, judging, willing and acting . It is this sequence which no longer operates as it did in earlier times.
(Please read the entire post - it is well worth it. -Papa)
Which in turn prompted me to reflect on an article that Beth (who doesn't blog, yet) pointed my way from ...


Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 01:40:42 PM PST


I had thought we had decided as a nation that internment camp was a monstrous thing. What foolish thought; it needed only a new era, and someone new to exhume it and give it the kiss of diplomacy, and now even that is a reasonable pair of words to utter.

Truth, though, seems the coldest word of all. We have decided that truth does not mean truth, and from that atomic alteration, all the other words reorganize themselves in seismic shifts. If truth does not mean truth, then journalism does not mean journalism, and law does not mean law, and freedom does not mean freedom, and equitable does not mean equitable, and every other word can be decapitated as well, left on the ground like so many fallen soldiers in an unexplainable war. Is one of our presidential candidates secretly a Muslim, and hiding it from us? Who cares, if the accusation can be made? Does a new law have a claimed effect? Who cares what the facts themselves might say, if there is someone to dispute the point?

Meaning doesn't. Truth isn't. Law does not mean law. Freedom does not mean freedom.

So am I surprised at all when ... From the Desk of David Pogue

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality


In an auditorium of 500, no matter how far my questions went down that garden path, maybe two hands went up. I just could not find a spot on the spectrum that would trigger these kids' morality alarm. They listened to each example, looking at me like I was nuts.

Finally, with mock exasperation, I said, "O.K., let's try one that's a little less complicated: You want a movie or an album. You don't want to pay for it. So you download it."

There it was: the bald-faced, worst-case example, without any nuance or mitigating factors whatsoever.

"Who thinks that might be wrong?"

Two hands out of 500.


I don't pretend to know what the solution to the file-sharing issue is. (Although I'm increasingly convinced that copy protection isn't it.)

I do know, though, that the TV, movie and record companies' problems have only just begun. Right now, the customers who can't even *see* why file sharing might be wrong are still young. But 10, 20, 30 years from now, that crowd will be *everybody*. What will happen then?

Finally I stumbled upon this offering from Winston Rand...

The Appearance of Governance…

The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it. — Daniel Webster

Then again, some who neither seem to know anything, nor actually know anything, like to pretend play to be king. They are most dangerous when they really begin to believe that they are above the law of the land, that the Constitution is just a “damned piece of paper”, that they infallible since their words and deeds are directed by their god, and that their own wants and needs come before the wishes of the people they are supposedly governing. Do you know of anyone like that?

I have done justice to no individual contributor in citing these works. I suppose if anything I have used their lanehartwell images and included them in this textual further my own personal objectives.

Each in their own rite speaks to a form of cultural or social disintegration.

In my simplistic view this is a harbinger of great catastrophe. I believe that as societal and cultural values disintegrate a pervasive fear grows. It is the fear that has served as the foundation for worst of our human atrocities. This fear is not substantial or palpable but just the reverse. This fear is a societal and cultural vacuum, the very absence of values.

History is clear that horrendous things have risen up to fill such vacuums of fear. The Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Racism, the Holocaust, Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing, Terrorist Extremists, and my personal favorite; the "War on Terror". In each case oppression has been the method of resolution. In each case violence has been the tool.

When we as a society and culture surrender the meaning of our language we surrender the meaning of our thinking. Effectively we cannot think. Without the power of our intellect to mitigate the irrationality of our fears we can only react. Unscrupulous and unsavory "leaders" down through history have leveraged this reaction at each turn usually to increase their own power and wealth.

How then can I prevent this disintegration? How can I insure the meaning of my words? How can I safeguard the effectiveness of my thinking? I can do so by bonding my words to my being. My words mean who I am. In turn my life is the manifestation of the meaning of my words. I am charged with the responsibility of upholding the meaning of my words. I am responsible for my actions that are predicated on the meanings of my words.

My word is my bond.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


... the Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Open Searching

"...Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, Shura and all the remaining Islamic values which are missing.. for Raghad and Khitab (his daughters)."

Fouad Al Farhan

Saudi Arabia added yet another accolade to its freedom of speech record by arresting its first blogger. Fouad Al Farhan, considered by many as being the dean of Saudi bloggers for being among the first to blog in his country using his real name, has been arrested in Jeddah. No further news is available for the reasons for his detention.

. . .