Abuse of Authority?

Interesting… Very interesting…. Execution of a search warrant, the cause of which is not public. It strikes me as odd because I thought you needed to provide the person(s) being searched with the warrant, and I would expect a group such as this to make that information public, post haste..

Upon further searching, it looks like at least one of the search warrants is public now. Apparently the police were searching for items ranging from so-called bomb-making materials to spray paint. So, it would appear that they are looking for terrorists… Interesting.

Now I don’t know nearly enough about this group to either support or condone their actions, but I do remember four and eight years ago when the Republicans were doing everything they could to prevent dissidents from appearing at their conventions, meetings, etc. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. It seems that under Republican rule, free speech isn’t exactly free, is it?

Societal Drain

What is it about some people that refuse to be productive members of society? I’m not talking about people with valid disabilities, who are incapable holding jobs. In fact, many of those people try to be independent, at least as much as they can. No, I’m talking about the utterly useless people who do everything they can to get government assistance and remain on it forever.

Let’s look at an example, shall we? I know of a couple with a few small children. They are on welfare and receive housing assistance. The husband can’t work because he’s on disability. The wife can’t work.. umm.. well, I have no idea why she can’t work other than laziness. Well, she actually does work, but she calculates her hours and income to ensure that they can stay on welfare and still receive the maximum tax return each year. They get medical assistance from the government as well.

Ok, so maybe they have a legitimate excuse for all of this. Or, maybe not. The husband is on disability because he has a mental condition that prevents him from holding a job. Mind you, he’s been working under the table for the same person for over a year now. But, the government has classified him as unable to work, and given him a handicap parking spot! A fucking handicap parking spot! He has a MENTAL issue, not a physical issue. If his MENTAL issue is that bad to need a handicap spot, then what the hell is he doing with a drivers license?

But it gets worse! Apparently she’s depressed and has a bad image of herself. So, the doctor (paid by medical assistance!) has prescribed anti-depressants. Ok, that’s valid. Oh yeah.. and diet pills. And acne cream. What the hell? My tax dollars are paying for these medications, purely because she’s a lazy slob who’s too busy plotting ways to keep her government support than to get a job? Christ, lady, how about you stop stuffing your face all day and you go get a job?

Well, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just being too harsh. Maybe I have a problem with them and I just want to make it look like they’re lazy when they really do have a problem. Well, I do have a problem with them, but I think it’s pretty justified. Have I mentioned that she GLOATS about her ability to do all of this? Actually tells people about how she can manipulate the system and end up with big screen TVs, new vehicles, and just about anything else she wants? Feeling sick yet?

These type of people are an absolute blight on society. They drain away the money intended for people who actually NEED it. The single mother trying to take care of her family, all because her husband died in a freak accident. How about the single father caring for his family after his wife died in some godforsaken war that the government felt compelled to fight? These people bust their asses to get by, and many of them have to do it without government assistance because the system has been twisted so much that those who truly need help rarely get it.

I think it’s high time that the system was fixed. How about the welfare people start doing inspections? How about truly investigating when a complaint is filed? How about kicking the lazy ones to the curb and letting them fend for themselves. Not to worry, Darwin will get them eventually.

These people make me sick. I have family and friends who were unable to get assistance when they needed it, yet we have people like the couple above who gloat about their ability to fuck the system. Where’s the justice in that?

Racism Redux

Ah, life.  Life is interesting, and ironic at times.  Why just the other day I posted this long rant about racism, and then I was treated to a very interesting episode of Without a Trace over the weekend…  After some searching, I’ve discovered that “White Balance” is the title of the episode.

In short, this episode deals with the disappearance of a white girl and a black boy.  Both children go missing around the same time, but the cases are dealt with differently.  The agent in charge is pressured to put all of his resources into finding the girl, while the boy’s case is left with a single agent.  After putting forth a rather uninspired fight, he essentially rolls over and shifts resources to the girls case.  Reporters interview the mother of the girl and her picture and details of the case are broadcast to the general public.  In the meantime, the mother of the boy is promised interviews, but the reporter is supposedly called to another location and cancels the interview.  In the end, both kids are found, one dead and one alive.  The show ends, however, without informing the viewer which has survived.

This show made me realize that my earlier rant only dealt with one form of racism, that of verbal racism.  I touched slightly on persecution, but didn’t really delve into it.  Hey, racism is a pretty tricky topic, so sue me.

Anyway, racism as described in this show does exist, and it sucks.  Seriously.  It’s similar to the battle between the rich and the poor.  The rich tend to get their way, while the poor suffer.  In the arena of race, the whites are akin to the rich, and the blacks to the poor.  No, I’m not saying one race is better than another, just pointing out the current perception.

This type of racism happens all too often, yet you don’t hear a lot about it.  That’s pretty sad because it has a more profound affect than someone shouting “nigger” or some other racist slur.  Persecution based on color, religion, or whatever is a big problem, and some people don’t realize they’re doing it.  Seriously!  How about an example.  Ever walk into an area that is predominantly some other race?  Feel comfortable?  No?  Gee, why not?  It has to do a lot with the way you’re brought up and what you are exposed to.  That’s a tough thing to overcome, and most people can never overcome it.

Hell, I still feel uncomfortable when faced with certain people, purely based on their color, dress, or whatever.  I find myself acting in odd ways, such as moving away from them, being more aware of myself and what’s going on, etc.  Why?  In many of the situations, it has to do with what they call racial profiling.  Quite simply, there is a perception, somewhat based in fact, that certain people are more apt to engage in violent or illegal activities.  So, I tend to keep an eye on my belongings, keep myself aware of exits, who’s around, etc.  It’s a defense mechanism, and it’s mostly automatic.  Think about it.  Since 9/11, have you been more aware of foreigners, especially Arabs?  I’ll bet you have, even without realizing it.

I’m not sure there’s a good way to deal with this form of racism, though.  I could go on about how everyone needs to stand up for their rights, and maybe even the rights of others, but not everyone wants to get involved.  For instance, my personal opinion is that were I faced with the same situation the agent in charge was in Without a Trace, I would have made a different decision.  I’ would like to believe that I would have refused to follow those orders, even at the risk of my job.  But, of course, not being in that situation, I’m not sure how I would have responded.  I do know that I have stood up for others before, though, and it did cost me my job at one point.  I’d do it again, though, because it was the right thing to do.

So, racism…  yeah, it sucks.  If it’s someone shouting slurs at you, get over it.  They’ll stop when they realize it’s not bothering you.  If it’s this other form…  Well, I’m not sure what I can advise other than to keep fighting.  But seriously, use your head.  Don’t whine and cry over the little stuff, move on.  Choose your battles and make sure they’ll count.  No one cares that you weren’t waited on first at the local restaurant, but they might care if you’re being ignored by the police or the hospital.  Yes, it sucks, but if you make a big deal of the little stuff, no one will be listening when something big happens.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t say something, but let’s not call the 5 o’clock news over it.

Racist Pigs!

Full Disclosure Alert : I’m white.

A buddy of mine passed along this link, remarking on how he had been expecting this for some time. Racism. Unreal. Go read the article, I’ll wait…

So? What’d you think? Yeah.. Racism is getting a little ridiculous now. Black Hole. It’s an astrolonomical term, most likely coined because .. oh, I don’t know.. It was a hole in the sky and it was black? You know, black. The color? Absence of light? Let’s take a look at the definition of a black hole :

“A black hole is a region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull after having fallen past its event horizon.” – Wikipedia

Ok, so it’s basically this phenomenon where stuff goes in and nothing comes out. Ok, cool. So, if I were to, say, refer to a collections office as a black hole, especially when the topic of conversation has something to do with paperwork vanishing, what would you think I was talking about? Can you honestly think I was being racist? What the hell do you think I meant? A hole full of blacks? A black asshole? What?

Then there’s this quote from the article which just has me shocked:

“I think people should always be careful. You know, I’m okay if I’m ‘bartering’ with you. … But if I try to ‘Jew you down,’ Oooooh. Is that racist? I thought it meant the same thing? No, maybe it doesn’t.”

Hrm.. Bartering.. Ok, trading stuff. Now.. Jew you down. Wow.. yeah, that’s definitely referring to the Jewish culture. Why? Well, there’s this notion that the Jewish are frugal. So, if you were to Jew someone down, you would be trying to get the lowest price for something. However, this does refer directly to an ethnicity, with the intention of referring to it, rather than being a common word such as black.

But let’s take this a tad farther. Racism is getting a bit out of hand. It’s like I hear something new every day about it. But, you know what? It’s always the same people, from the same races/ethnicities that are crying. I’m pretty sure I can count, on one hand, the number of times I’ve heard about racism against non-blacks. Seriously. Does it happen? Probably. But, either they’re not vocal enough, or they just get over it. Yes, I realize that blacks have this long history of slavery and persecution, but that’s in the past. Sure, there are racists in the world, from every ethnicity, but they aren’t nearly as violent as they were long ago. And, to be honest, as much as the black culture cries about racism, they don’t exactly do a lot to improve their image. Sure, it’s all us white-folk keeping them down. That’s why you never see well-to-do chinese, latino, or japanese folk… Oh wait… Well, then they must be in on it too, right?

Seriously, get over it. Look, you’re black. Fine. I get it. Guess what? I’m white. Can’t do anything about it. Personally, I couldn’t care less if you were green or purple. I’ve had plenty of non-white friends, and I still do. But seriously, I’m tired of hearing you cry about it. Guess what. I’ve been persecuted against too! Seriously! Applied for a job and didn’t get it. Why? Because they had to “fill their quota” at the time. was more than qualified for the job, and would have had it, but the law said the needed to hire minorities. Well shit, that sucks. So, I’m out of a good job, even though I’m more qualified. So what did I do? Complained a little, but in the end, I applied elsewhere. I got on with life.

You know, I realize that back when slavery was legal, white’s owned a shit-ton of black slaves, but guess what? Yeah, black’s owned slaves too. So don’t give me any of the high and mighty bullshit. My great grandparents came to the states AFTER slavery. And I’ve never owned a slave of any color.

You know what I believe? Racism is an excuse. Yeah, an excuse to drift through life and give up every time something doesn’t go your way. Oh, I did poorly in class this year, damn racist teachers. Oh, I didn’t get that job, damn racist company. Oh, I should get something for free because you disagree with me, or you offended me. Christ, people, get over it already! Yeah, it hurts. But then you realize that you can just move on and let it go, and life gets better. Stop wallowing in self pity and start respecting yourself. Be happy to be black, latino, chinese, whatever. Be happy with who you are. If you’re not, figure out why you’re not and fix it. You know, 50 or 100 years ago, I would agree with you. But now? No way. Stop crying and get on with life, dammit.

They’re Coming To Get YOU!!!

Terrorism.  So much has been said about terrorism, and so much more will be said. Our wondrous leader, George W. Bush, is quoted as saying, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”  What more needs to be said, right?  Of course, I’m not a Bush supporter, by any stretch of the imagination, so I suppose that makes me “with the terrorists.”  …

Terrorism…  How scared can we make the nation?  Hell, right after the 9/11 attacks there were people who covered their ENTIRE HOUSE in plastic!  Why?  Because our government said that chemical and/or nuclear attacks were a possibility.  Yeah, and getting hit by a meteor is a possibility too.  But that didn’t stop TIME magazine from publishing, almost a year and a half after 9/11, a how-to guide about “Living with Terrorism.”  The Department of Homeland security regularly publishes information about being prepared for terrorism, though it’s not as “in your face” as it was just a few years ago.  Still, a single click on their website brings you to the “Prevention & Protection” page where the first two items on their list are about chemical security, and reporting suspicious activity.

But the insanity doesn’t stop there!  The government is regularly taking away our liberties, stripping away our privacy, all in the name of stopping terrorism.  How can this be, you say?

Let’s look at FISA.  FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is a law that, in short, allows the government to “spy” on anyone (including American citizens) that are suspected of being engaged in espionage.  Sounds reasonable enough…  That is, until you see what has happened since 9/11.

First up, we have the USA PATRIOT act.  The PATRIOT act allowed all manner of anti-terrorism activities including wiretapping, searches, and indefinite imprisonment.  All this in the name of anti-terrorism.

Next, the Protect America Act came into being.  The PAA was, arguably, a response to the warrant-less wiretapping that President Bush engaged in after 9/11.  Its provisions opened up all electronic communications to wiretapping, both domestic and foreign, provided that the wiretapping wasn’t targeted at one particular person.  It upheld warrant-less wiretapping, but provided a provision that required it to be reported to the FISA Court within 72 hours.  Although, the notification could be sealed, only to be opened if the legality of the tap needed to be certified.

And more recently, we have the FISA Amendments Act.  This act aims to expand the governments surveillance powers even more, and even includes provisions to provide immunity to the telecommunications companies that complied with Bush’s, arguably illegal, warrant-less wiretapping.  The provisions in this law are absolutely staggering.  States have been stripped of the ability to investigate telecommunications companies, or others, for warrant-less wiretapping.  It allows the government to not keep, or even destroy, records of searches.  Telecommunications companies have been given immunity for both past and future wiretapping, provided it’s for determining terrorist plans.  Details no longer need to be given on why or what is being monitored, and allows monitoring to continue for 168 hours, more than double the previous 72 hours.  About the only positive in this mess is that the act prohibits the government from superseding these rules in the future.

So, in other words, anyone can be put under surveillance, for any reason, at any time, and all the notification that needs to be given is a piece of paper in an envelope that can only be opened if the legality of the surveillance is questioned.  And guess who voted for this.  Obama.  Mr. Obama, who I openly supported, voted for this Act.  But at least he voted.  McCain abstained from the vote, a cowardly move in my opinion.  This seriously affects my own view of Obama…  I will definitely need to take the time to re-think my position and who I want to see in office.

Regardless, this is all done in the name of terrorism.  Which is great, because we don’t want any terrorism..  Right?  Well, wait..  What the hell is terrorism anyway?  According to the Federal Criminal Code, Chapter 113B of Part I of Title 18, it’s defined as the following:

“…activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and… (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States… [or]… (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…"

That’s pretty…  vague?  Looks to me like you can fit just about anyone into the role of a terrorist.  And, once classified, you get to feel all the weight of these wonderful anti-terrorism laws…  There’s a happy thought, eh?

So let’s look at this another way.  Constant reminders about terrorism and the war on terror pop up every day.  New laws are introduced and rushed through the system, all so we can stop the imminent threat against our country.  Yet, in the end, these laws can be twisted and used against the very people they proclaim to protect.  And each day, a little more of your independence, your liberties, and your rights is lost.

Stop being a sheep.  Stop accepting these laws as necessary and giving up your rights.  Speak out against these injustices and fight.  As the saying goes, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Welcome to the new…

Over the past year or two that I’ve been blogging over at Technological Musings, I’ve found myself wanting to rant, rave, and foam at the mouth about non-technical matters.  It could be anything ranging from politics, to social issues, to whatever..  I decided to set myself up a new blog, just to vent a bit..  I’m not planning on holding much back, so be forewarned..  This site is not meant to be “sanitized” for your viewing pleasure.  There will likely be “bad language” and probably a few “non-conformative” views.  You have been warned…