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Current Topic: Society

Houston - Hair Balls - Police Get The Wrong House In Galveston, Allegedly Assault 12-Year-Old Girl
Topic: Society 3:21 pm EST, Dec 19, 2008

It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn's home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, "You're a prostitute. You're coming with me."

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy." One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

This is completely mind boggling. They went on to charge the girl and her father with resisting arrest... because they fought back when three plain clothes men tried to drag her into an unmarked van...

More here...

Houston - Hair Balls - Police Get The Wrong House In Galveston, Allegedly Assault 12-Year-Old Girl

RE: Use Your Illusions
Topic: Society 9:25 pm EST, Nov 19, 2008

possibly noteworthy wrote:
Notwithstanding your complaints about iTulip's forward-looking views on the energy business, I will again quote from Janszen's article:

Because all asset hyperinflations revert to the mean, we can expect housing prices to decline roughly 38 percent from their peak as they return to something closer to the historical rate of monetary inflation. If the rate of decline stabilizes at between 6 and 7 percent each year, the correction has about six years to go before things stabilize, leaving the FIRE economy in need of $12 trillion. Where will that money come from?

If the market declines slowly over the next six years, how do you structure the sort of "help" that Obama aims to provide? Who gets the help, and when?

First, the rate of decline is much faster than 6 or 7 percent.

Second, I am personally opposed to anything that causes the decline in housing prices to stop. Whatever sort of process is set up, they cannot prop up house prices.

Third, iTulip seems to be saying their Alternative Energy Bull Market is going to occur in 2020. I view this as simultaneously a confirmation of my perspective, a backpedalling, and wrong.

1. Their timeframe for the end of the depression is exactly the same as mine - 8 more years. 2016.

2. FIRE needs another bubble NOW, during the depression. Once the depression is over there will be no need for another bubble as normal economic growth will be occurring. They wouldn't bother blowing one then.

3. This is wrong. Another major stock market bubble isn't going to be blown that early into the next economic cycle. It won't happen until about half way through the century, maybe a little later.

RE: Use Your Illusions

RE: Use Your Illusions
Topic: Society 9:43 am EST, Nov 19, 2008

Oh, communists. Starting a diatribe off with a reference to Noam Chomsky at this point is a bit of a warning sign even if I agree with the reference used. Just as there is a tendency by radical leftists to believe that Obama's election means something that it does not in regard to the influence of their ideas in the world, there is also a tendency by the same to believe that the global economic crisis means something that it does not in terms of the repudiation of the ideas they hate. Deeply infuriating is this question:

Which ‘flaw’ of the system as such opens up the possibility for such crises and collapses?

...when juxtaposed against the earlier hand wringing about the bailout. The purpose of the bailout is to tender the rough edges of the economic cycle. Communist systems do not have such cycles because the financial system is defacto nationalized. In effect, communism is all bailout, all the time. Comparing the amount of this bailout versus money we could be spending on feeding people in Africa is hardly a criticism when you are simultaneously arguing in favor of an economic system which has, as its central feature, a drag which vastly exceeds the sum of this bailout and is a constant reality and not just a temporary response to a temporary situation!

Nevertheless, I bothered to waste time this morning responding because I thought that this observation was valuable:

The first thing to bear in mind here is that the origin of the crisis is a ‘benevolent’ one: after the dotcom bubble burst in 2001, the decision reached across party lines was to facilitate real estate investments in order to keep the economy going and prevent recession – today’s meltdown is the price for the US having avoided a recession seven years ago.

It seems to me that something, and I don't know what, happened around 1995 that vastly increased the rate of investment in the stock market. I'd really like to know exactly what that was. At the time I thought it was excitement about developments in IT coupled with the impending millenium's effect on people's psychology. But I suspect there may be a more structural reason... some fundamental change made by the Republican Congress at the time?

In any event, the run up to 1999 was comparable in scale to the run up to 1929, and the crash would have been devastating. I think the housing bubble was intentionally blown to soften the crash.

We've essentially been having an economic depression for 8 years, but it hasn't felt like it, because we've been running a bubble. I can't really say that I can complain about that. Its not a bad idea.

I also think it was allowed to get too big, likely politicians were afraid to act to stop it because they knew they would be held responsible for the resulting crash. The longer the ruse could be kept up, the better the Republican's fortunes at the ballot box would be.

The gig is now, certainly, up. I don't think the iTulip guys have it right. I don't think we're going to blow another bubble. I certainly don't think this country is going to go rogue and blow a military spending bubble, as suggested by the linked author. The fortunate thing about America's political system is that the socialists and the nationalists are kept at opposite ends of the spectrum; this tends to limit the influence of nationalists during hard economic times.

I think we're going to take it in the chin for about 8 years, and that it will be about 8 years before the economy is really growing again. There is not much that can be done about that. However, it would be useful to know exactly what happened in 1995. It would be useful to know if there was anything that could have been done about it.

RE: Use Your Illusions

Depression 2009: What would it look like?
Topic: Society 8:58 am EST, Nov 17, 2008

Most of us, of course, think we know what a depression looks like. Open a history book and the images will be familiar: mobs at banks and lines at soup kitchens, stockbrokers in suits selling apples on the street, families piled with all their belongings into jalopies. Families scrimp on coffee and flour and sugar, rinsing off tinfoil to reuse it and re-mending their pants and dresses. A desperate government mobilizes legions of the unemployed to build bridges and airports, to blaze trails in national forests, to put on traveling plays and paint social-realist murals.

Today, however, whatever a depression would look like, that's not it. We are separated from the 1930s by decades of profound economic, technological, and political change, and a modern landscape of scarcity would reflect that.

What, then, would we see instead? And how would we even know a depression had started?

Depression 2009: What would it look like?

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama
Topic: Society 1:15 am EDT, Oct 20, 2008

Its about god damn time someone said this:

But what if he is (Muslim)? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Thank you, Mr. Powell, for having the guts to confront this issue. Living in the south, I take it for granted that the Christian majority views people who hold other religious views with suspicion. I take it for granted that the establishment is Christian even if we don't have a federal establishment of Christianity. The notion that practice of Islam ought not to disqualify a person from being President has been whispered in private for months but I take it for granted that such a perspective is not acceptable publicly... not persuasive to those who raise this as an objection to Obama's candidacy. Its easier to attack their misinformation rather than engage the fundamental questions of religious tolerance, and the identity of America. But those questions ought to be engaged, and it is heartening that our nation has leaders who are willing to do so.

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

The Fall of America, Inc.
Topic: Society 9:04 am EDT, Oct  8, 2008

Fukuyama does an excellent job of looking past the present crisis and into next era of American history.

The unedifying response to the Wall Street crisis shows that the biggest change we need to make is in our politics. The Reagan revolution broke the 50-year dominance of liberals and Democrats in American politics and opened up room for different approaches to the problems of the time. But as the years have passed, what were once fresh ideas have hardened into hoary dogmas. The quality of political debate has been coarsened by partisans who question not just the ideas but the motives of their opponents. All this makes it harder to adjust to the new and difficult reality we face. So the ultimate test for the American model will be its capacity to reinvent itself once again.

I think we're good at that.

The Fall of America, Inc.

Easy Money for Virtually Nothing
Topic: Society 8:35 pm EDT, Oct  6, 2008

There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.

For many of us -- not least adolescents -- reality is now largely a virtual experience.

If only it were that easy.

We're all losers now. There's no pleasure to it.

Easy Money for Virtually Nothing

RE: Anxiety-detecting machines could spot terrorists
Topic: Society 10:31 am EDT, Sep 20, 2008

Palindrome wrote:

A scene from the airport of the future: A man's pulse races as he walks through a checkpoint. His quickened heart rate and heavier breathing set off an alarm. A machine senses his skin temperature jumping. Screeners move in to question him.


This program has been going on for months with human screeners. The addition of automated technology doesn't change the basics. Many of the positives aren't "false," they just have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism:

Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.

The airports are quickly becoming an excuse for general criminal investigation.

RE: Anxiety-detecting machines could spot terrorists

RE: New bill would tighten rules for DHS border laptop searches
Topic: Society 11:57 am EDT, Sep 18, 2008

You should come hear my talk at Phreaknic. I'll cover all of this.

flynn23 wrote:
So is this just an end run on habeus corpus?

No. Habeus Corpus is an unrelated concept ... the notion that if the executive seizes a person they must explain their reasons and authority for doing so to an independent decision maker (the judiciary). U.S. Customs is not seizing people, just laptops. It might be more appropriate to ask if this is an end run around the 4th amendment...

Or is it a legal "grey zone" because we're dealing with border checkpoints and not terra firma?

Yes and no. Its not technically a "grey zone." The 4th amendment is said to apply at the border. However, the 4th amendment has two parts:

1. No unreasonable searches.
2. Warrants require probable cause.

The problem here is that it tells you what you need to get a warrant, but it doesn't tell you when a warrant is required. It has a loophole... It only requires that searches be reasonable, and reasonable means whatever people think it ought to.

The Supreme Court has decided that all border searches are reasonable by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border....

God, what the fuck is wrong with these people? Who is sitting in a meeting where this gets proposed and says "I think that's a good idea..."???

It doesn't happen that way. The water just keeps getting hotter until the frog starts to boil but when the frog complains the cook says "Why are you complaining now? The burner has been on for half an hour and you never said a thing! If it was OK for the burner to be on 10 minutes ago it must be OK for it to be on now! Shut up!"

In the 1790's Congress allowed customs to search shipping vessels if they had reason to suspect they contained contraban. Two months later the same Congress also passed the 4th amendment.

In the 1970's, the Supreme Court decided that the only way to reconcile these two decisions is to conclude that border searches don't require a warrant -- they are presumptively reasonable.

In 1985, during the drug war, the Supreme Court relied on that 1970's decision that all border searches are presumptively reasonable to declare that customs agents do not need a reason to perform a routine search (note that this has morphed somewhat from where we were in 1790). However, they also declared that non-routine searches still require reasonable suspicion.

In 2004, the Supreme Court relied on that 1985 decision to declare that the removal and disassembly of a gas tank from an automobile is a routine search and can be performed without any reasonable suspicion. The frogs were a bit warm at this point.

In the spring of 2008 the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled that searches of the content of laptop computers are routine searches and can be performed without any reasonable suspicion.

The frogs are now complaining that it is quite hot in here. Customs is arguing that there has been no policy change in regard to routine searches and that these court opinions just confirm prior policy. What this argument ignores is that technology has changed. People are now bring far more information across the border on a more frequent basis than they were before, and that changes the stakes. More at Phreaknic.

RE: New bill would tighten rules for DHS border laptop searches

RE: The election is basically over.
Topic: Society 5:17 pm EDT, Sep  2, 2008

flynn23 wrote:
Comparing her to Obama strictly on the level of experience and she wins.

To be perfectly clear, I am talking about comparisons of their overall qualifications for the Presidency. My point is that focusing on "number of years in an executive role" as you do is an oversimplification. I didn't really want lay out what is clearly documented elsewhere as it provides ample opportunity for partisans to continue to stick their fingers in their ears, but here goes:

Palin's background is:
1987 - BS Journalism - University of Idaho
1988 to 1992 - Television Sports Reporter
1992 to 1996 - City Council, Wasilla, Alaska
1996 - 2002 - Mayor, Wasilla
2003 - 2004 - Appointed to Alaska Oil Ethics Board
2006 - Present Governor of Alaska, the 48th smallest state in terms of population, whose largest metropolitan area is less than a quarter of the population of Nashville, Tennessee.

Obama's background is:
1983 - BA Political Science - Columbia University
1985 - 1988 - Director of a community non-profit
1988 - 1991 - JD Harvard, President of the Harvard Law Review
1992 - 2004 - Part time Professor, Constitutional Law, University of Chicago
1992 - 2002 - Lawyer - Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland
1992 - Served on the board of a large number of public interest organizations
1997 - 2004 - State legislature, Illinois (America's 5th most populous state, containing its 3rd most populous city.)
2005 - Present - United States Senator

If you were hiring a business manager, perhaps you might prefer Palin. Obama is a lawyer and like most lawyers has not had large organizations reporting to him. Palin clearly does have more time in an executive role. But thats not what we're doing here. Furthermore, just about any executive at a medium to large sized company anywhere in America would beat out Palin for executive experience. They are not all qualified to be President of the United States. The question is, what qualifies a person to be President.

Chiefly, the President of the United States is responsible for making policy decisions, which is not merely a matter of operational experience in an executive role, but a matter of understanding the long term implications of those decisions and the complicated legal and political context in which they will play out. This requires a deep understanding of our country and of world affairs.

There is absolutely nothing about Palin's background that qualifies her to grapple with the depth of these matters. If she is capable of doing so, nothing about her background indicates it or would prepare her for it. You cannot simply skip from being Mayor of a tiny town in Alaska to being President. The idea that you could hold up this person next to someone who, among other things, has taught constitutional law at one of the top law schools in the country for 12 years, and say their qualification for the Presidency is comparable...

Frankly I can't find words to express this more clearly than to say that I think thats fucking idiotic. In fact its exactly the kind of fucking idiotic thinking that partisans have been foisting on this country repeatedly over the past few years in their cynical power struggles. It is frustrating to me that so many people that I know who are otherwise reasonable and intelligent are willing to buy into something which is so transparently stupid, particularly given the gravity of whats at stake here.

Sure, I'd be more comfortable if Obama had spent time in an executive roll, thats a perfectly valid criticism of his record. But you cannot reasonably hold up Palin and say that her qualifications are comparable to Obama. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

RE: The election is basically over.

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