Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sabbatical

As you may have noticed, I'm taking a late summer blogging break. I should be back sometime in September.

Thank you again for your faithful readership.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Barf

My rage and indignation know no bounds.

I don't know how we can let something like this happen as a nation, yet I also don't see any real recourse. I would suggest something like chaining oneself to the buildings currently on the land, or suing the government, again, for incomplete restitution, but this seems insufficient.

There was a documentary made recently about the Weather Underground, a group of radical revolutionaries during the Vietnam era who were protesting government action in Vietnam and around the world, and eventually just started protesting whatever they wanted. The members lived underground (not literally, of course) and spent their time bombing things, like police stations and the pentagon. They lasted for 11 years, bombing major government buildings about once every month, and were never caught, even though the FBI was actively searching for them. They never killed anyone in their bombings, which was just as they intended. Eventually, they all turned themselves in, but the FBI couldn't prosecute them, as the means they used to gather evidence against them were so unconstitutional that it wouldn't hold up in court.

While radical and somewhat silly, there seems something romantic about hiding from big brother and fighting for a revolution, to restore the "freest nation in the world" to the namesake that it claims. Anyone up for a little Weather Underground 2005?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Privacy

I was recently introduced to Zabasearch, an engine that lists all current and previous addresses and contact info for any person you can name. The type of search it provides is obviously not new, but the Zabasearch interface is remarkably easy to navigate, and the info it returns is detailed and in depth.

Coincidentally, as I was going to blog about the legality of spreading information that some people might not want publicized about them, Catallarchy goes and opens miles worth of comments on intellectual property and 3rd party access. In particular, the comments sections are enlightening.

When it comes to things like public listing of your address, it seems impossible to legislate against total freedom of distribution. Information like my address could, theoretically, be held totally secret if I never distributed the info to anyone, if I lived separated from the rest of society were no one would see me returning home, and if no one ever came to my house. When we give address info to companies that contractually agree to keep that info private, we should hold them liable for releasing it. If people see us enter out homes, though, or if we give out our address without a confidentiality agreement, how can we hold anyone responsible for disseminating that information? Simply, we cannot.

People get up in arms about their personal information being sold or obtained by others, but there are no solutions to protect it. Information is so fleeting and intangible that it becomes impossible to regulate, and even if we could, I doubt that we would want to. Is it scary that any person could have so much access to our lives? Maybe, but even without sites like Zabasearch getting personal information is not so difficult, and that easy access comes from living in a networked society.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Labels

Generalizations and labels exists, obviously, for a reason. Still, most people can relate to the difficulty in wanting to avoid rampant generalizations, yet still needing some way to characterize a group of people for simplicities sake. Most times, labels can and are used freely and without repercussion, most commonly labels like Republican, Christian, or Vegetarian. Others are not so safe.

There are two issues at hand; 1) placing a broad spectrum of people under an umbrella that might not accurately describe their actual thoughts on a matter, and 2) statements made about that group of people that might not necessarily accurately describe all those people. I'm speaking specifically now about grouping people into categories that don't accurately describe them. Example: I could, by a stretch, be classified as a Republican, but only if it was in the early 90's sense of the term, meaning smaller governments and less legislation, not the current meaning of Republicans now that the Neo-Cons have control. Likewise, simply using the term libertarian implies some things that I don't necessarily believe.

Even more specifically, I wonder about the possibility of labeling sexual orientations. Is it really possible to sum up one's entire sexual identity into a syllable? Obviously we've been doing it for years, but with our continually expanding ideas on sexuality, this seems sorely lacking now. It seems even more frustrating to try and patch the solution by simply adding more categories. For instance, while it at first seems a good idea to make a new term for each level of the Kinsey scale (0=straight, 1=quasi-straight, etc.), it quickly becomes evident that this is just hair splitting, and really doesn't help anyone.

By human nature itself we're each too unique to place any more than one person under any one heading. Without any way to group people together, we lose all sense of cohesion. No groups can be formed to work towards anything when no groups exist.

Instead, I offer this solution: group more people together. Make broader umbrellas. Label with reckless abandon. Then, start to lift the generalizations of the groups. Instead of marking all libertarians as anarchists, describe them as people generally working towards a smaller government. Instead of calling all straight people who only date the opposite sex, call them people who generally prefer the opposite sex. Leave definitions open, and allow people to explain their own position within the larger sect.

It doesn't solve the problem, sure. But it at least mitigates it a little.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Update

No new posts for almost two weeks? Horror of horrors!

I apologize, my humble readership (if I even have any left). Summer has taken its toll. More updates are forthcoming, eventually.

For now, read up on Avian Flu at this blog. Why are we not more concerned about this?

Then check out the new and improved Waiter Rant.