Read My Lips

Listening to BBC World Service this eve, talking about google glass: how it is being worked up to read various facial expressions/emotions, like happy, sad, angry, etc…

As one speaker said, eventually this facial recognition stuff is “gonna do a better job of identifying my emotions than [a person/you] will.”

You want to know how I’m feeling? How about if you just ASK ME!!!!

It’s called Communication!

“Restoring Honor”, really?

Oh yes, we’re gonna have a race war, right here in America, the one we never finished having…And while I’d like to say we can blame people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, they merely represent and coalesce many of the people, especially white people, in this country who’ve kept to themselves in their living rooms because it wasn’t acceptable to say certain things in public.  They now want their ‘freedom’ back, and that’s what Glenn and Sarah represent.

They are not interested in Pluribus. They are not interested in bringing together the America that exists. Their vision of America is a white one: no reds, no browns, no yellows, no non-Christians…White, with Jesus as your personal saviour (poor Jesus).

They preach a heartless each-man-for-himself kind of monoculture; they spread ignorance; and they whip up people’s most base fears and violence.  People who are feeling disenfranchised and afraid of losing what they have are easy to whip up into rabid frenzies.

It is not impossible to imagine a kind of fascism getting started here: folks wearing brown shirts, marching through towns and neighborhoods, loud, angry, violent, showing their White Power, calling it a fight for Freedom, for America, in the name of God.

When this kind of behaviour started in Germany, people just let it go by because they couldn’t take “those people” seriously.  The same as now: few non-tea-party types take “these people” seriously.  After all, they’re so obviously inflammatory, irrational, pandering, performing, narrow minded, hysterical, manipulative, shocking, lying, full of shit, etc…They’re just a flash in the pan.  It’s just FoxNews.  This too shall pass.

We overlook this moment to our detriment.

The world is increasingly fundamentalist and reactionary, and full of murderous energy.

It is no small accident that this rally has been planned for the same day as the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. And as usual, the irony of being so disrespectful to members of the black/interracial community while screaming about a lack of respect from the Muslim community, is lost on the less nuanced thinkers that are fired up by these two people and their kind of rhetoric.

These people want their country “back”, and their country a) never was; b) is only for white people who believe in manifest destiny.  in the American flag.  and Guns.  and “God”.  and by “God” they mean the god that they perceive Jesus to be the son and sole representation of.

Glenn Beck is quoted as saying: “We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties, and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights movement.”

This is how our educational system is failing us.  There is a disconnect in this sentence, and it’s so slick that most tv viewers would have a hard time parsing it out.

“We are on the “right side” of history”: I think that is the most true thing in the whole phrase.  Yes, the “right” side, not the left.  How left and right ever got to mean what they now mean (due to parliamentary seating?) is beyond me, but taken as it is, “right” meaning conservative, not traditionally aligned with multicultural polytheistic models of governance, “right-wing” usually meaning white-wing,  yes, true statement; clear, simple, I agree.

But then comes: “We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties.”  In this context, it implies that anyone who isn’t with them, on the “right side”, isn’t on the side of “individual freedoms and liberties”.

I’d have to point out here that, traditionally speaking, historically speaking, the “right” side has not been in favour of individual freedoms and liberties for ALL, only for SOME, and always the SOME that looked liked, and worshipped like them, and usually owned property, property they acquired through some shady deal, or outright thievery.

Also, Freedom, Liberty, and Justice mean very particular things to these folks.  Freedom, Liberty to be left alone to do whatever they want, no matter what the cost to others (who presumably only have the liberty to get dog-eat-dog, or get sick and die); and Justice for anyone who disagrees with them – Justice meaning exacting revenge on anyone who disrespects America – (kind of like justice for anyone who disrespects Mohammed – )

So this is Orwell speak wrapped in patriotic lingo.

And then, the coup de grace, linking all that with the worst insult of all, and a blatantly racist revelation: “We will reclaim the civil rights movement.”…

I mean, come on: How can a bunch of neo-con, fundamentalist white people “reclaim” the civil rights movement?  Just what does that mean? Was it ever theirs?  What do they mean by “civil rights”?  What is there for them to “reclaim”?

I doubt that any of these folks would’ve even joined in any civil rights rallies, let alone lay down in the road for the rights of a black person!  How many of them even work with black people?  “Reclaim” the Civil Rights Movement???!!!

What a travesty they are.  But a very dangerous one.

Glenn Beck is also quoted saying this rally is meant to “recognize our First Amendment rights and honor the service members who fight to protect those freedoms.”   Is he including black service members?  Hispanic service members? Muslim service members?  Jewish service members?  Asian service members?  Women service members?  Gay service members?????

And, is he thinking about whether or not bombing other countries actually protects “our” freedom?  Couldn’t we do that by ensuring that we are not invaded, that we are strong and ready to defend ourselves here if something comes our way, by being a light unto nations, not a fight onto nations?  Why go stirring up more hatred in other countries?  How is that respecting the freedom of those people?  Don’t they deserve their freedom?  Or is it only freedom for those who subscribe to the agenda of Glenn, Sarah, and friends?  Kind of like with the natives here: either you give up everything you are, and be Free Like Us!, or else…!

Oh, but this is too complex a conversation to have with people who shout and make grandiose statements rather than critically examining what they’re saying.  Besides, few in their constituency are interested in complexities; it’s way easier to streamline these emotions into a few solid points that angry, probably depressed, financially precarious people can rally themselves around, go into boot camps with, work on their marksmanship with, be ready to sacrifice themselves for…(sound familiar?)

These people believe in this mission; it is very clearcut for them.

When they say America, they see white people on the shining hill, in the white house, wrapped in old glory, bombs bursting in air over anywhere that doesn’t bow down.  March ONWARD Christian Soldiers!

They want the brown people out, cleaning bathrooms, or in jail, and everyone else in their places – that means women, too; don’t want no back talk; don’t want no gays; don’t want no marijuana…

These white, neo-conservative, right-wing, proselytizers are aligning against everyone else in this country.  They do not simply believe in Live and Let Live.  They want us all to believe in their version of god, they want power, and they want things run their way.

And, as always, the argument lingers on: Who are “We the People”?

Our Writing is NOT their Property!

Kindle E-Reader: A Trojan Horse for Free Thought

By Emily Walshe
The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 18, 2009 edition

Brookville, N.Y. – All you really need to know about
the dangers of digital commodification you learned in

Think back. Remember swapping your baloney sandwich for
Jell-o pudding? Now, imagine handing over your sandwich
and getting just a spoon.

That’s one trade you’d never make again.

Yet that’s just what millions of Americans are doing
every day when they read “books” on Kindle, Amazon‘s e-
reading device. In our rush to adopt new technologies,
we have too readily surrendered ownership in favor of
its twisted sister, access.

Web 2.0 and its culture of collaboration supposedly
unleashed a sharing society. But we can share only what
we own. And as more and more content gets digitized,
commercialized, and monopolized, our cultural integrity
is threatened. The free and balanced flow of
information that gives shape to democratic society is

For now, though, Kindle is on fire in the marketplace.
Who could resist reading “what you want, when you want
it?” Access to more than 240,000 books is just seconds
away. And its “revolutionary electronic-paper display
… looks and reads like real paper.”

But it comes with restrictions: You can’t resell or
share your books – because you don’t own them. You can
download only from Amazon’s store, making it difficult
to read anything that is not routed through Amazon
first. You’re not buying a book; you’re buying access
to a book. No, it’s not like borrowing a book from a
library, because there is no public investment. It’s
like taking an interest-only mortgage out on
intellectual property.

If our flailing economy is to teach us anything, it
might be that an on-demand world of universal access
(with words like lease, licensure, and liquidity) gets
us into trouble. Amazon and other e-media aggregators
know that digital text is the irrational exuberance of
the day, and so are seizing the opportunity to codify,
commodify, and control access for tomorrow.
But access
doesn’t “look and read” like printed paper at all –
just ask any forlorn investor. Access is useless

Why is this important? Because Kindle is the kind of
technology that challenges media freedom and restricts
media pluralism. It exacerbates what historian William
Leach calls “the landscape of the temporary”: a hyper
mobile and rootless society that prefers access to
ownership. Such a society is vulnerable to the dangers
of selective censorship and control.

Digital rights management (DRM), which Kindle uses to
lock in its library, raises critical questions about
the nature of property and identity in digital culture.
Culture plays a large role – in some ways, larger than
government – in shaping who we are as individuals in a
society. The First Amendment protects our right to
participate in the production of that culture. The
widespread commodification of access is shaping nearly
every aspect of modern citizenship. There are benefits,
to be sure, but this transformation also poses a big-
time threat to free expression and assembly.

When Facebook, for example, proposed revisions to its
terms of service last month – claiming ownership of
user profiles and personal data – the successful
backlash it spawned caused complex (even existential)
ideas about property, identity, and capitulation to
bubble up:
Is my Facebook profile the essence of who I
am? If so, who owns me?

The hallmark of a constitutionally governed society,
after all, is the acknowledgment that we are the
authors of our own experience. In an Internet age, this
is manifest not only in published works, but also an
ever-evolving host of user-generated content (Twitter,
Blogger, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). If service providers
lay claim to digital content now, how will it all end?

Print may be dying, but the idea of print would be the
more critical demise: the idea that there needs to be a
record – an artifact of permanence, residence, and
posterity – that is independent of some well-appointed
thingamajig in order to be seen, touched, understood,
or wholly possessed.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture,”
Ray Bradbury once said. “Just get people to stop
reading them.”

Access equals control. In this case, it is control over
what is read and what is not; what is referenced and
what is overlooked; what is retained and what is
deleted; what is and what seems to be.

To kindle, we must remember, is to set fire to. The
combustible power of this device (and others like it)
lies in their quiet but constant claim to intangible,
algorithmic capital. What the Kindle should be igniting
is serious debate on the fundamental, inalienable right
to property in a digital age – and clarifying what’s
yours, mine, and ours.

It should strike a match against the winner-take-all
casino economies that this kind of technology
engenders; revitalize American libraries and other
social institutions in their quest to preserve the
doctrines of fair use and first sale (which allow for
free and lawful sharing); and finally, spark Americans
to consider the extent to which they are handing over
their baloney sandwich for a plastic spoon.

Like a lot of people, I’m a sucker for a good book. But
not at the expense of freedom, or foreclosure of

Emily Walshe is a librarian and professor at Long
Island University
in New York.

!Express Yourself!

“Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, (sentenced to 3 years in jail for throwing his shoes at Bush) defiantly shouted, “Long Live Iraq!” when the sentence was imposed, according to defense lawyers. Some of his relatives collapsed and had to be helped out of the courthouse. Others were forcibly removed by guards after shouting “Down with Bush!”

Many Iraqis interviewed after the verdict believed the sentence was too harsh and that al-Zeidi was a hero for standing up to the American president. Supporters defended his act as a political statement in Arab culture, where throwing shoes at someone is considered an especially serious insult.

On Thursday, defense lawyers quoted al-Zeidi as telling them, ‘At that moment, I saw nothing but Bush, and I felt the blood of the innocents flowing under his feet while he was smiling that smile.'”

For the Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw his shoes at bush:

I say he’s got more guts than any of Our journalists have!

Thank You for doing what we should’ve done long ago:
(ross macdonald feb 2009 vanity fair)

in the meantime:

“an ABC News/BBC/NHK poll released Thursday found that 62 percent of Iraqis surveyed considered al-Zeidi a hero and only 24 percent considered him a criminal.

Support was highest among Sunni Arabs — 84 percent — and lowest among the Kurds at 38 percent, according to ABC.v”

I wonder what a poll of Americans would reveal…