The Dog That Roared

October 16, 2006 at 2:03 am (Uncategorized)

Is it possible to create a family on the internet? If so, then a brother passed away recently. Brian Converse, known as Klokdog to fans of the Firesign Theatre and CNI Radio, was an internet friend. Dare I say that I thought him a brother in our varied interests, and attitudes towards society. It feels like I lost a family member.

I stumbled upon the Firesign Chat a couple of years ago whilst perusing (lol) the Firesign Theatre web site. Immediately apparent were several people who used Firesign as a second language. One of them was Klok. He could speak Firesignese with the best of them, and Grid help the unsuspecting chatter who didn’t know Firesign albums by heart. If the Firesign Chat had 6-guns, he would have been the best in the west.

At CNI Radio, he was nothing less than astounding. The man’s command of information would make Star Trek’s Mr. Data envious. Always willing to research the most trivial question and return with the right answers, or expound a literal doctoral thesis on any chosen subject, Klok was our Mr. Science.

Tonight, I have tears in my eyes with anger and grief. Brian, like most of us old codgers, wouldn’t see a doctor unless there was blood rushing out of a gaping wound (and then we’d look around for a sewing kit first). The fact is, if the US had a national health care system (or he could have swallowed his pride and made it to an emergency room), he might be alive tonight. Maybe those of us around his age can heed the very hard lesson.

I never knew that the loss of an internet friend could cause me this kind of grief, but it has. He may have been an internet friend, but he was a local hero. We’ll miss you Brian…

Mark Kopfler’s “Going Home” (theme from the movie Local Hero) seems a fitting musical goodbye.

Never rest, Klok… may you always be in peace 🙂

Tweeny (aka Kurt)

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Fascism, American Style?

October 1, 2006 at 7:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Isn’t it more than mildly ironic that the country to which people ran in order to escape fascism during WWII is now showing signs of its own brand of fascism? Worth noting is that Hitler used the ruse of “a return to Christian values” as a pretext for the rise of the Nazi state. If you haven’t read Milton Mayer’s book “They Thought They Were Free”, you might well consider it. In the mid-1950’s he interviewed ten ordinary German citizens to try to discern how something like Nazi Germany could have come into being. An extremely educational (and scary) read. A siginifiant quote from the book is: “…when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something – but then it was too late.” As the man (Thomas Jefferson) said, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. I truly believe that “honest, God-fearing people” in this country have been duped into supporting an American Imperialism which has very little indeed to do with Christian values.

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The Executive Branch Power Grab

June 7, 2006 at 12:45 pm (Uncategorized)

As we all know, The Bush administration has declared itself the sole arbitor of what powers are and aren't available to it. It looks as though some people with clout in the matter are finally responding. The following are some comments from David Hume's blog. Gives one reason for hope…

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A couple of quick points

By Hume's Ghost

1) In addition to what Glenn said below about the growing pushback against the Executive's grab at expanded powers, there are a couple of other stories in the news that are fairly significant in this regard.

First, the Senate Judiciary Committee has hinted that it will defend journalists from prosecution for violation of espionage laws. The AP reports that

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave the Bush administration a new lashing Tuesday over its use of executive power, citing the FBI's posthumous probe of columnist Jack Anderson and questioning the notion that espionage laws might allow the prosecution of journalists who publish classified information."It's highly doubtful in my mind that that was ever the intent of Congress," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said.

The World War I-era espionage laws, countered Justice Department criminal division chief Matthew Friedrich, "do not exempt any class of professionals, including reporters, from their reach."

"I believe that's an invitation to Congress to legislate on the subject," replied Specter, R-Pa. "Clearly, the ball is in our court."

Secondly, the board of governors for the American Bar Association, which in Febuary had denounced the NSA surveillance as illegal, voted unanimously earlier this week to form an "all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties" in order to "to evaluate Bush's assertions that he has the power to ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution. " The ABA's decision was motivated by The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, who first covered the President's extensive use of signing statements.

2) There's an interesting discussion going on over at Michael Berube's blog regarding How Would A Patriot Act?, which echoes some of the debate that has occurred here in regards whether or not "patriotism" is a virtue. Drawing a distinction between civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism, Berube writes

What Greenwald offers here is a mode of nationalism—of patriotism—that consists of principled opposition to the unlimited expansion of executive power by the Bush/Cheney regime. It’s a mode of nationalism that might, and that should, be more popular than it is.

And then in this follow-up post Berube responds to some critical comments.

3) I've heard a few people comment that they would like to learn more about the ideas of the Founders, but find their work, such as The Federalist, a bit inaccessible. If you count yourself among this crowd, then you might enjoy reading Pulitzer Prize winning historian Gary Wills' Explaining America: The Federalist. I just picked up a copy of this, myself, yesterday and have been reading through it. Wills offers a compact and concise study of the essays in prose that is easy to understand, providing context along the way as to what exactly informed the thoughts of Madison and Hamilton (and Jay to a lesser extent.) Of course, I'm partial to the book since Wills frames each chapter with a quote from the political philosophy of David Hume.

posted by Hume's Ghost

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Not On Another Man’s Back

May 31, 2006 at 7:02 pm (Uncategorized)

The United States got off to a seriously bad start. 3/5 of a man? Hear the laughter from the African Serengetti. Unfortunately, it has been our policy as Americans since our inception to demean other peoples (and using Christ as an excuse). Former English serfs calling other people slaves. What irony. We can't do that to other peoples and expect to survive as the Founders intended. Another man's life is less important than yours? How can you live with that? Not Christian? Last time I heard, Christ's wardrobe consisted of a robe and sandals. He went around healing people, not dropping nukes. The United States was a great idea. It still is, but you can't have people living in slave conditions in another country providing us with cheap goods and think it's different than a Southern plantation or a Northern mill in the 19th century. You can't do the USA on another man's back.

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How Much Is Enough, Mr. Gekko?

May 24, 2006 at 12:06 pm (Uncategorized)

As I look at the actions of the current Administration, I’m reminded of the scene from the movie “Wall Street” when Charlie Sheen’s character asks corporate raider Gordon Gekko (played wonderfully evilly by Michael Douglas), “how much is enough”? Not enough that we are invloved in a war without end which has cost tens of thousands of lives and vast sums of American treasure, waged on false pretexts, and that it has been used as an excuse by more radical elements of our society to slowly (or not so) dismantle The Constitution. Not enough that the country’s National Debt has skyrocketed to over $8 trillion, while we continue to give tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals. Not enough that what was once considered public is being privatized soley for profit on the pretext of effeciency. Not enough that we now discover our privacy of communication has been compromised. What will it take to impeach these scoundrels? How much is enough?

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