Microsoft is advising people against rushing to download the Windows 7 Release Candidate, which became broadly available today.
Well, this is unusual – I’m taking their advice for a change.
A five-story office building on South Church Street in the Caymans serves as the official address for 18,857 corporations. That building, called Ugland House, is listed in SEC filings as Seagate’s headquarters. About half those Cayman companies had billing addresses in the U.S., according to a 2008 GAO study.
President Obama referred to Ugland House yesterday.
“On the campaign, I used to talk about the outrage of a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 businesses claim this building as their headquarters,” Obama said. “And I’ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam. And I think the American people know which it is: The kind of tax scam that we need to end.”
EFA’s web hosting provider was today the recipient of a Link Deletion notice from ACMA for an article on our web site ironically entitled “Net censorship already having a chilling effect“. The original article included a link to a page at abortiontv.com that includes graphic images and was previously added to ACMA’s blacklist for being “R-18 ”-level material. (For more information on the ACMA net censorship system, see here and here.)
There are many reasons why this should alarm Australian net users. Most significantly, the link was part of a political discussion about the merits of the existing and future Internet censorship policies. The link was offered as a demonstration of the sorts of controversial content that could and would be included in any such proposal. No “offensive” material was included on our site itself. Nevertheless, we were forced to remove the link on pain of severe penalties.
To be clear, EFA published only a link to a page that is hosted overseas and is on ACMA’s prohibited list. Viewing the potentially R-rated page itself is not in any way illegal, and no system is yet in place to enforce the blocking of such web pages. One may well wonder why a link to a legally viewable page should draw the threat of legal sanction while the content itself remains visible. Because the link was on a web page hosted in Australia, the hosting provider – not EFA ourselves, who have more control over the content – falls under Australian legal jurisdiction and could be so served. What this accomplishes is uncertain.
“If more police, more prisons and more prosecutors was a solution to safer streets, the United States and China would be the safest countries on the planet, and they’re not,” Sterk said in her opening comment on the issue. “We believe that the root cause of the gang violence that we see in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in British Columbia is directly related to prohibition of substances. The last time we saw this kind of gang violence—this kind of murderous gang violence—was when there was prohibition against alcohol in the 20s and 30s. When that ended, the gang violence ended. So we need to get into prevention.”
In the old days, according to Stanish, your primary buyer of dodgy antique artifacts was wealthy and sophisticated. They knew they were buying priceless cultural treasures that strictly speaking should have been in museums – eg. they were buying illegally-handled goods – but they knew enough that they were hard to fool, and they paid top dollar.
Thus, the business of looting/tomb-raiding was worthwhile, although expensive. It was worth dodging the huge rumbling stone balls and poisoned darts, then shipping the artifacts out and getting them across the border and passing them through the hands of many crooked dealers and middlemen. You’d wind up getting a substantial sum in the end from a suspect American millionaire or jaded European aristocrat.
Not so nowadays, apparently. The arrival of millions of eBay-trawling, tat-hungry buffoons on the antiquities scene has meant that local villagers near an old temple or wherever can make far more money cranking out fake vases, sacrificial knives or whatever, than they could by going and stealing real ones out of the catacombs.
One way to look at how the Bush administration redefined torture out of existence, so that it could, er, torture human beings, is to compare their criteria for “enhanced interrogation” with those for rape. Raping someone need not leave any long-term physical scars; it certainly doesn’t permanently impair any bodily organ; it has no uniquely graphic dimensions – the comic book pulling-fingernail scenarios the know-nothings in the Bush administration viewed as torture; and although it’s cruel, it’s hardly unusual. It happens all the time in regular prisons, although usually by other inmates as opposed to guards. It barely differs from the sexual abuse, forced nudity and psychological warfare inflicted on prisoners by Bush-Cheney in explicit terms.
Recall that smearing fake sexual blood on the faces of victims was regarded as brilliant interrogation by the Bushies in Gitmo – and its psychological effects were supposed to be heightened by Muslim sexual sensibilities. And male rape would be particularly effective in destroying male Muslim self-worth and psychological integrity. Rape almost perfectly fits, in other words, every criterion the Bush administration used to define “enhanced interrogation.”
So ask yourself: if Abu Zubaydah had been raped 83 times, would we be talking about no legal consequences for his rapist – or the people who monitored and authorized the rape?
After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over. Beck pointedly compared the AIG protesters to Bolsheviks: “[The Communists] basically said ‘Eat the rich, they did this to you, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” He then said the AIG and G20 protesters were identical: “It’s a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find ‘em, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” Beck has an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.
But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated.
A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Sonia Sotomayor’s biography is so compelling that many view her as the presumptive front-runner for Obama’s first Supreme Court appointment.
[.... snipped a lot of negative comments about Sotomayor ....]
I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths.
Given the stakes, the president should obviously satisfy himself that he has a complete picture before taking a gamble.
How about you satisfy yourself that you have a complete picture before writing a column?
Today, the signature of modern American capitalism is neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. Instead, predation has become the dominant feature—a system wherein the rich have come to feast on decaying systems built for the middle class. The predatory class is not the whole of the wealthy; it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is the defining feature, the leading force. And its agents are in full control of the government under which we live.
Our rulers deliver favors to their clients. These range from Native American casino operators, to Appalachian coal companies, to Saipan sweatshop operators, to the would-be oil field operators of Iraq. They include the misanthropes who led the campaign to abolish the estate tax; Charles Schwab, who suggested the dividend tax cut of 2003; the “Benedict Arnold” companies who move their taxable income offshore; and the financial institutions behind last year’s bankruptcy bill. Everywhere you look, public decisions yield gains to specific private entities.
For in a predatory regime, nothing is done for public reasons. Indeed, the men in charge do not recognize that “public purposes” exist. They have friends, and enemies, and as for the rest—we’re the prey. Hurricane Katrina illustrated this perfectly, as Halliburton scooped up contracts and Bush hamstrung Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor of Louisiana. The population of New Orleans was, at best, an afterthought; once dispersed, it was quickly forgotten.
In a predatory economy, the rules imagined by the law and economics crowd don’t apply. There’s no market discipline. Predators compete not by following the rules but by breaking them. They take the business-school view of law: Rules are not designed to guide behavior but laid down to define the limits of unpunished conduct. Once one gets close to the line, stepping over it is easy. A predatory economy is criminogenic: It fosters and rewards criminal behavior.
The questions arise because various Web sites1 have been linking to an anonymous developer’s rant about PSD. The guy’s complaints boil down to the following:
* There are multiple ways to do various things in the format
* Getting the format documentation (which he did not attempt to do) requires sending Adobe a fax
These perceived atrocities earn a final, and always classy, “F you Adobe.” Nice.
Now, let’s be clear: Photoshop engineers would be the first to agree that the PSD format reflects a lot of organic growth2, and thus it’s nowhere near as cleanly structured as a format one would write from scratch to encompass everything PSD can do. Of its quirks, PSD expert Tim Wright says, “Most are the gradual result of discovering better ways to do things over 20 years, while staying compatible with older applications.”