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Current Topic: Society

RE: Jim Cramer Blows a Head Gasket 8/3/07
Topic: Society 10:33 am EDT, Aug  9, 2007

Dagmar wrote:

w1ld wrote:
He goes way to far, but he is trying to make a point.

I dunno, man. Millions of people losing their homes is serious bad juju.

Greg Saunders, a guest blogger on This Modern World, describes the situation succinctly:

So let me get this straight. For a few years now, the financial industry has made billions in risky subprime loans by essentially tricking people into believing they can borrow more than they’ll be able to pay back and now that this brilliant idea is going south, people are floating the idea of a government bailout. Well, screw ‘em. If you’re foolish enough to loan hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who can’t even balance their checkbooks, then you deserve to be as poor as your customers.

Then again, this is all assuming that these creditors were giving out loans in good faith in the first place. The way it looks to me is that these subprime loans were always about locking people into high interest loans for a few years until they went broke after which the banks would take back the house and any more money they can squeeze out of the debtors (thanks, bankruptcy reform!). Once they unload the house, which has almost certainly grown in value, they make a nice profit on top of the cash they gouged out of their now-homeless former customers.

The reason this has all come back to bite lenders in the ass is because they lacked the foresight to realize that when their customers were going broke, everybody else would be going broke as well, which would drive down the value of their repossessed houses and make them harder to unload to the next poor sucker who just wants to move out of an apartment.

In a truly free market economy, we’d be pointing these idiots towards the back of the line at the local soup kitchen, but these guys had a backup plan. They bribed (I mean, “lobbied”) every level of government that’s willing to cash their checks, insisting that if they pay the price for their moronic business practices, the entire economy will suffer. In short, they don’t need government bailouts to help themselves, but to help us.

RE: Jim Cramer Blows a Head Gasket 8/3/07

RE: Feds Corner Hmoe of Ed and Elaine Brown Over Tax Issue
Topic: Society 1:34 pm EDT, Jun 15, 2007

skullaria wrote:

I don't know if that is true or not, but why can't someone very publically show them a law?

What do people mean when they say this? I'm curious. I've watched Aaron Russo's "Freedom To Fascism" and basically this is what I gathered he believes:

* The 16th amendment wasn't properly ratified!
* Show me the law!

The problem with that logic is that the 16th amendment was properly ratified. That's the law!

Seems like they start with a flawed premise and just run with that straw man arguement after that.

Am I missing something?

RE: Feds Corner Hmoe of Ed and Elaine Brown Over Tax Issue

RE: YouTube - ABC of Sex Education for Trainable Persons (1975)
Topic: Society 12:27 pm EDT, May 27, 2007

Catonic wrote:
1970s film explaining how to teach "trainable persons" about sex. NSFW, of course (and you already clicked play, didn't you?)

20 minutes. Of course, I didn't watch all of it.

This is included on the DVD "The Educational Archives, Vol. 1 - Sex & Drugs." Lots of classic stuff on that DVD.

RE: YouTube - ABC of Sex Education for Trainable Persons (1975)

Lean and Mean: 150,000 U.S. layoffs for IBM?
Topic: Society 12:08 pm EDT, May  4, 2007

Cringely's latest column is about IBM possibly cleaning house at Global Services to the tune of 100,000+ plus jobs. The plan is:

"For two years Big Blue has been ramping up its operations in India and China with what I have been told is the ultimate goal of laying off at least one American worker for every overseas hire. The BIG PLAN is to continue until at least half of Global Services, or about 150,000 workers, have been cut from the U.S. division."

If this turns out to be true, he makes an interesting point:

"It is especially disconcerting for an action of this scale to take place at a time when many companies (including IBM) are complaining about a shortage of technical workers to justify a proposed expansion of H1B and other guest worker visa programs. What's wrong with all those U.S. IBM engineers that they can't fill the local technical labor demand? They can't be ALL bad: after all, they were hired by IBM in the first place and retained for years.

What is unstated in this H1B aspect of the story is not that technical workers are unavailable but that CHEAP technical workers are unavailable.

Not trying to use this as a big bat to beat my point in, but I see the same type of issue with illegal immigration. I've heard the point that since there is such a massive influx of immigrants (an indeterminate amount illegal but ballpark estimates are 12 to 20 million depending on who's numbers you agree with) that there is market demand for their labor. There is a fine difference between a market for labor and a market for CHEAP labor. You can attach to the CHEAP labor category all the arguements you hear about how we've created a virtual slave class from illegal immigrants.

It's one of those catch-22 situations though where you can't sort out cause and effect. Would the market demand have been there and grown if the illegal immigrants weren't able to be paid crap wages in the first place? There's also a tangent I keep in the back of my head: The housing bubble. That bubble has popped, and over the next 5 to 10 years we are going to see a contraction like we've never seen before as the loose lending practices that helped fuel that bubble force people to pay the piper.

I can't give you raw data that is craved in situations like this, but I can give you anecdotal evidence. Back when the housing boom was in full swing and houses were popping up like mushrooms, you could take a look around at any construction site and understand at a glance where the majority of labor force came from. Two things came together: "Cheap" lending and "cheap" labor. Substitute "cheap" for "shady" and I think you see my point.

Interesting dynamics at play. The IBM thing is just another data source for it. If an 800 lb gorilla like IBM is firing US workers and replacing them in growing markets overseas, what's the case for more H1B's here? I know IBM is not "the" tech industry, but I think it's safe to say they are a bellwether.

Watcha thing? BTW I'm not trying to grind an immigration axe at this point, I know we've gone back and forth on that before. Honestly, I've grown to regard it as mostly academic at this point. I'm happy that Nashville has adopted 287G and is now enforcing immigration laws that the Feds didn't have the cajones to do. I can live with that.

Lean and Mean: 150,000 U.S. layoffs for IBM?

RE: Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT
Topic: Society 6:48 pm EDT, Apr 30, 2007

Decius wrote:
!! Absolutely no explanation given. The site is EXTREMELY slow right now, I suspect a number of people are attempting to mirror it prior to it's disappearence. Cryptome is one of the most important anti-censorship resources on the Internet. Its existance on the net is certainly a canary in the first amendment rights coal mine. Expect a widespread reaction when it finally goes away this Friday.

I just ordered one of the archive DVD's. Looks like now would be a good time to do so to show support.

Direct link to the donate for DVD page:

For what it's worth, I think the current situation will not kill This just tells me get a different ISP and boycott NTT. Now, if he shops around and EVERY ISP snubs him for undisclosed reasons, that's a cause for concern and is a bigger issue.

Cryptome is not going to go quietly in the night unless John just gets tired of doing this thing and uses this as a pretense to let it fade.

RE: Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT

George Takei 0wnz Tim Hardaway
Topic: Society 10:32 pm EST, Feb 26, 2007

A must-watch clip of gay actor George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) responding to Hardaway's homophobic comments.

Elonka :)

hahahah!!! The phrase, "YOU GOT SERVED!" comes to mind.

George Takei 0wnz Tim Hardaway

Affidavit: McVeigh had high-level help
Topic: Society 6:16 pm EST, Feb 23, 2007

Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols says a high-ranking FBI official "apparently" was directing Timothy McVeigh in the plot to blow up a government building and might have changed the original target of the attack, according to a new affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah.

The official and other conspirators are being protected by the federal government "in a cover-up to escape its responsibility for the loss of life in Oklahoma," Nichols claims in a Feb. 9 affidavit.

The affidavit was filed in a lawsuit brought by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who believes his brother's death in a federal prison was linked to the Oklahoma City bombing. The suit, which seeks documents from the FBI under the federal Freedom of Information Act, alleges that authorities mistook Kenneth Trentadue for a bombing conspirator and that guards killed him in an interrogation that got out of hand.

* * *

I question the credibility of Mr. Nichols, you know, being a convicted murder of 161 people and all, but I didn't know about the death of Mr. Trentadue's brother. That aspect of this case intrigues me.

I've been researching this a little bit and found that John Doe #2 and Kenneth Trentadue's appearances were similar, including the tattoos on their forearms.

Autopsy photos and commentary are available here. Sure doesn't look like a suicide to me.

At the time, the House Judiciary Committee assigned a homicide investigator to the case. That detective's opinion is quoted as saying Trentadue "was clearly murdered." The death scene was sanitized a few hours after he allegedly hung himself, and the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner staff was denied access. A true crime scene investigation was never carried out.

Will be interesting to see where this goes or if anyone near this happens to die soon.

Affidavit: McVeigh had high-level help

RE: Thought Crime
Topic: Society 12:53 am EST, Feb 20, 2007

Decius wrote:

Its worth noting that the law doesn't require ISPs to screen traffic. It merely authorizes the sharing of child porn images for this purpose. Presumably there are ISPs lined up who want to do this but presently its illegal. Soghoian's perl script is a simple example of a myriad different things that can be done to data to make it invisible to this sort of screen. But Soghoian, having already had the FBI break into his house in the middle of the night for pointing out naked emperors, thought better of publishing the code.

If, by some fluke, such a system as this is implemented, they should at least force ISPs to disclose whether they use the service. Would make ISP shopping easier.

I don't see the system as particularly effective in doing what it sets out to do. It may have a chilling effect on the casual runner, but someone dedicated will just circumvent and take further precautions.

What it puts in place is, as noted in the discussion, a technical means to enforce flagging the passage of any "interesting" combination of bits. Definately seems like there would be potential to cast the net wider than the original intention, unless specific language is put into the legislation that prohibits the use of the system for anything except catching child porn. Stipulations would need to be put in that in the event it is abused to catch copyright violators (or someone circulating subersive lit for example) that the evidence cannot be admissable in a court.

Also don't see how the system would scale. How will it handle video? Thing about the IDS signature problem times n.

RE: Thought Crime

RE: The Politics of the Man Behind '24' | The New Yorker
Topic: Society 12:44 am EST, Feb 14, 2007

possibly noteworthy wrote:
What Would Jack Do?

“24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors —— cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”

Gary Solis, a retired law professor who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum at West Point, told me that he had similar arguments with his students. He said that, under both U.S. and international law, “Jack Bauer is a criminal. In real life, he would be prosecuted.” Yet the motto of many of his students was identical to Jack Bauer’s: “Whatever it takes.” His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn’t talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense. Solis told me, “I tried to impress on them that this technique would open the wrong doors, but it was like trying to stomp out an anthill.”

Good read.

I talked about this a couple of weeks ago here, not in so many words. It was my comparison of the Andy Griffith show to 24. A few decades ago, we had a positive role model on TV who spoke about things like "due process." Now the popular show is this ultraviolent tripe.

I saw one episode of 24 over a year ago at someone else's house and was turned off by the whole torture aspect. To me, that's not something good guys do, even if the ends justify the means.

RE: The Politics of the Man Behind '24' | The New Yorker

Fake bloggers soon to be ‘named and shamed’-News-Politics-TimesOnline
Topic: Society 3:36 pm EST, Feb 12, 2007

The EU is banning flogging.

Wonder how that would fly on this side of the pond?

Fake bloggers soon to be ‘named and shamed’-News-Politics-TimesOnline

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