Category Archives: Law and Disorder

Company blacklists

I have made the point, often repeatedly, that there is little difference in distinguishing between nasty shit done by a government, and one done by a privately funded organization, especially when arguing with libertarians and anarchists.  A case in point emerged in the British press today:

A company that allegedly sold workers’ personal details, including union activities, to building firms is to be prosecuted by the information watchdog.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the Consulting Association, in Droitwich, had committed a “serious breach” of the Data Protection Act.

The ICO said a secret system had been run for over 15 years to enable firms to unlawfully vet job applicants.

Unions have called on the government to outlaw “blacklisting” practices.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said it did have the power to make blacklists illegal and would “review whether to use this power if there was compelling evidence that blacklists were being used”.

There’s your “free market”, suckers.  Bastards in power are bastards in power, regardless of whether they are a Minister or a CEO.

Just a friendly reminder

Guantanamo and Camp X-Ray do not equal all American operated black sites

Link

The Justice Department ruled that some 600 so-called enemy combatants at Bagram have no constitutional rights.

As I have suggested before, the Bush administration’s great crime was not its rampant criminality and disregard for others, it was that all this was obvious, and they broke the fourth wall of politics with great regularity.  Obama’s is much superior at playing the game while keeping the pretence up.  I still suspect the new crew is not as criminal as Bush, but, well…

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…

For some unthinkable reason, I was not invited to Technoccult’s roundtable on the future of the nation-state.  Probably because they’ve never heard of me, Wes and Edward aside, but I won’t let that get in the way of some good snark.  Besides, I can now claim to be a renegade renegade futurist, which justs adds to my edgy appeal.  Or something.

Anyway, good question.  The whole viability/decline of the state has become a very interesting question in light of the credit crunch.  And I have more than a passing interest in social organization in the past and present, in no small way due to reading John Robb for the past three years or so.

Continue reading Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…

Bailiffs: 1 Citizens: 0

As our British readers may recall, the law has been changed recently so that bailiffs are allowed to kick down doors and people in order to get the money owed.

Well, this law has already claimed its first victim.  Via the BBC:

Andy Miller, 78, a retired pub landlord and father who had recently returned from hospital after a stroke, collapsed and died from a heart attack whilst being forced to a cashpoint by baliffs ‘under duress’.

The father-of-five collapsed last week on his way to a cash machine in Accrington, while the bailiff parked and waited for the money.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Indeed, its not suspicious.  Its entirely clear why he died.  Expect more of this in months to come.

Summum Trolls the Supreme Court

(Cross post from ChaoSkeptic: http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com)

Some time later on this spring the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the rather interesting case of Pleasant Grove City (Utah) vs. Summum. For those who have never heard of Summum, they are a religious group based in Salt Lake City founded by a man named “Corky” Ra. It’s sort of Gnosticism meets Mormonism meets Scientology. Weird but mostly harmless.

Back in 2003 they petitioned the government of Pleasant Grove, Utah to ask if they could erect a monument to their “Seven Aphorisms of Summum” next to a thirty year old monument of the Ten Commandments in the city park. The city, of course, said no and Corky, of course, filed a law suit saying that his free speech rights had been violated. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit agreed with Corky, stating that since the park is a public forum and that the Ten Commandment monument was private speech from the original donor Corky is allowed to erect his monument. The city appealed it to the highest court in the land which that brings us around to today.

Interestingly enough, Pleasant Grove is being represented by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice, a right wing Christian group that has often fights against the separation of church and state. I say interesting because the ACLJ is going against their usual argument that religious groups should have equal access to public property. They are actually arguing that the original Ten Commandments monument government speech rather than private speech and that the park isn’t a public forum. This means if they win there would be a precendent in the legal system saying that monuments on public property is government speech and every single Ten Commandments monument in America would be subject to removal.

However, if Summum wins it could also be a huge win for all minority religions and irreligions. All public property that currently has a religious monument on it could be considered an open forums that would have to accept almost any religious monument. Discordians could argument for a monument to the Law of Fives. The Pastafarians could argue for even more Flying Spaghetti Monster statues. Atheist could ask for a monument to… um… nothing? It would be just like the chaos in the Washington state capitol last December times several thousand. Sounds like a great idea for a GASM to me.

Attention: Revolutionaries

Capitalism hasn’t failed. The people who run it have. While at a basic level, Capitalism comes down to “I have greed, and you have need. Let’s do a deal!”, we all know there is much more to it than that. Otherwise none of us would get worked up over Globalisation(tm)and workers rights and the like. There is obviously a social element to Capitalism, both from “our” point of view, and also “theirs”.

Given this very human element, there comes a time where dead wood needs to be cut out of the system – for it to run at maximum wealth-creating efficiency. We normally call these recessions. The weak fall, the strong and the innovative survive. When you postpone a recession with massive public borrowing, that’s all you are doing – postponing it. Artificially propping up the weak can only last for so long before they fall off, like balancing a ball on a very thin stick.

When you get a recession, every weak element in the system will be tested. If you’ve postponed it, they’ll be tested massively. And they’ll fail, epically.

So, I state again, the reason why everything is completely fucked now isn’t so much the system (as flawed and distasteful as it may be), but the people who have allowed 2 or 3 recessions to hit us at the same time. Any system you replace Capitalism with will still be run by pretty much the same people. Even if they have different faces, they’ll still have the same flawed ideas. And we’ll be fucked again.

Change the ideas, THEN the system, and you may be onto something.

Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

Ripped this discussion, built on Cram’s earlier post and musings, from the forum.  Enjoy.

LMNO:  Because so far, nothing else seems to be working.  Because Discordia is about models, not absolutes.

Baron von Hoopla:  Bingo.

Cramulus: [to LMNO] that’s a great angle.  Could you expand on that a bit?

GA:  I don’t know about more relevant, because I wasn’t around 50 years ago.  It seems to me that the Cold War was in pretty dire need of some lightheartedness, even more than our current War on Terror.

It just seems relevant to me because I personally had (have?) a problem with taking things far to seriously.  And because many of the people around me have concepts like ‘mandatory’ and ‘forbidden’ and apply them to things that are really optional.

I makes me sad when people tell me that things like religion are to important to joke about, or old propaganda posters too offensive.  It bothers me when I get suspended from school or hauled before Loss Prevention for reasons like “I know that this is just a misunderstanding, but we must follow procedure.”  It hurts when I look around my infosphere and see nothing but advertisements, especially when those ads are meant to make people feel bad about themselves.

The world is ruled by an endless morass of strictures and convention, and no one wants to take responsibility for them.  People are perfectly content to let the train follow its own momentum down the tracks, even though they don’t like where it is or where it is going, because this is Policy, it’s what Everyone (the everyone in “everyone knows that…”) has Decided.  Rules and traditions might be annoying, but it’s Not In Our Power to do anything about them.

LMNO:  In today’s so-called “Information Age”, most of us are constantly bombarded with stuff.  Perhaps not with ideas, so much as pure input.  While for the most part this input is pretty much bias-neutral, an increasing amount of it is being supplied by people who have an angle.  What’s more, to get through to the growing population of Jaded Couch-Dwelling Fuckheads, there has been a new approach of making the stuff more-or-less self referential, as in, “we know you know we’re trying to manipulate you.  See how cool that makes us?”

So, what do you do when you are flooded by 50,000 points of view?  The old way was to have Rules and Tradition and Procedure and Black and White. To take that stuff and cram it into a narrow worldview, distorting what little information you actually notice.  Which only serves to hold you back, slow you down, and shut you up.

Our way, the Discordian way, is to make Temporary Models, make new Game Rules, to grab hold of the stuff and ride it out, making connections as you see them.  You do your best not to have your views manipulated by stuff, and you do your best not to manipulate stuff to fit your views.  Which serves to keep you on the Edge of What’s Going On.

At least, that’s the general idea.

Continue reading Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

DYSNOMIA.US

I’d like to introduce a blog written by my good friend, Johhny Brainwash. Better yet, I’ll let him introduce it:

We occur at random among your children.

Piracy, space and post-Soviet conflicts. Also treehugging, mayhem and high weirdness. Outbreaks of old-fashioned politics may occur.

Johnny Brainwash lives in New Alamut, Left Coast, Turtle Island. He likes to ride his bike and fight with toy swords.

Read more at Dysnomia.us.

Also, can someone add it to the BlogRoll?

Goals for One Line Meme Bombs

I’ve been plastering White Plains NY with memetic masterpieces on and off for almost a year now. A wguke ago, I made The Meme Bomb Collection, Volume Aleph, and it got me thinking about the meme bombs we’ve been generating.

A lot of the meme bombs we’ve come up with are effective in that they are self-contained information packages which in themselves suggest an attitude or position.

My favorite meme bombs are the ones which…

Give the reader pause. It’s really easy to get lost in the “zombie lurch”, the “9-5 crawl”, the “pedestrian trance”, or whatever you want to call it. I like meme bombs which jar the reader out of that and make them suddenly focus on the present moment rather than where they’re going. Some meme bombs which accomplish this are ones which successfully address the reader. “Hey! You, in the Khakis!” (if you’re actually wearing khakis, it might be startling).

Suggest something bigger going on. Such as “Congratulations! You’ve just found clue #3! The man in the green jacket will tell you what to do next.” These meme bombs make reality seem a little bit weirder than the pedestrian might expect. Is there some crazy game going on? When and where is it happening?

Provoke critical thought. Such as “miscarriage is manslaughter“. When taken at face value their meaning seems clear – but they actually suggest something else entirely.

Add some levity or humor to the reader’s day. I really wish people would stop taking their day-to-day shit so seriously. Sometimes hearing a joke or seeing a funny graphic right in the middle of your walk back from lunch is exactly what you need. The BIP refers to this as rearranging the machine’s local components to (hopefully, eventually) provoke a change in the whole system.

The Absurd and the Surreal. The Principia calls these Mondos. like “If the telephone rings today, water it!” At first they seem to make sense, but the more you think about them the less sense they make. Personally, I get these phrases stuck in my head all day. “The womb is a prison – FETUS LIBERATION FRONT!”

I like meme bombs which appear friendly or light. Some of the meme bombs developed by the PD Community are hostile and bitter, or preachy and cerebral. Frankly, far left propaganda tastes just as bad to me as far right propaganda, so I dislike political meme bombs. I also dislike the ones which specifically seek to make people feel worse without provoking action. (such as: “Your wife is cheating on you.“)

I also feel that graphics and icons are essential to getting the reader’s attention. An attractive visual packaging makes the memebomb more likely to be remembered.

An ideal memebomb is something which the reader will repeat to others. Little kernels of wisdom are good for this, but I feel that most of them are a bit too dense or “heavy” to pierce the pedestrian trance.

a discussion from PD about memes and graffiti follows…

Continue reading Goals for One Line Meme Bombs

UK police hate LOLCATS?

One has to wonder. Despite my personal opinion on lolcats being close to that of Encyclopaedia Dramatica, I still have to admit that Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads is a demented genius for using them to battle the tyranny-lite that is UK’s SOCPA Act.

For those of you who want a handy reference guide as to the sort of things you cannot have on your t-shirt, according to the police themselves, I have reproduced the list from Bloggerheads below:

– I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?

– I MADE YOU A COOKIE… BUT I EATED IT

– DONT CRY PLEEZ GORDON… YOU CAN HAS COOKIE

– HABEUS CORPUS. NOT URS.

– I CAN HAS FREED SPEECH? KTHNXBYE

– FLOOR IS LAVA… SO I’S CLIMBIN UR FURNITUR

– DO NOT WANT!

– ORLY?

– WMD? ORLY?

– IM IN UR DESIGNATED AREA… SUBVERTN UR LAWS

– IM IN UR DESIGNATED AREA… BEIN A LOUD SPKR

– OH, HAI!

– OH, HAI… IM DEMONSTRATIN!

– RANDOM CAT IS NOT AMUSED

– TAXPAYER CAT IS NOT AMUSED

– FEED TEH HUNGREES!

– GRARRGH! SURPRIZE GOATSE!

– A DREEM… I HAS ONE

– IM IN UR BEACHES… FIGHTN UR NAZIS

– I HAS THE TORTUR EVIDENZ… LET ME SHOW YOU DEMZ

– ZOMG!

– ZOMG! TERRIST! OH NOES!

– UR BEIN SILLY… SRSLY

– BUT I WUVS YOU

– KTHNXBYE!