Tag Archives: politics in america

Next Time, Pay Attention.

When the extra-judicial harassment of drug addicts began, in the 80s, or even back in the 60s, no one cared. “Ew, they’re drug addicts.”

We filled our prisons with young blacks and latinos destroyed by the drug trade, sent our Vietnam vets there, our crack addicts and tweekers. We got used to not caring about them. We hired police and taught them it didn’t matter what they did to those people and their communities.

When the extra-judicial harassment of Arabs began, in the 90s and then many times worse after 9/11, it was, we said, to be expected. “Well, they’re Arabs.”

On a few occasions, I stood outside in a protest of Arab registration in America where a still unknown number of men went into DHS offices, and never came home. We all watched the surveillance and intimidation of Muslim and Arab communities in America, the UK and Europe and said to those governments, it’s ok, because those communities have extremists.

Now the extra-judicial harassment of journalists has begun. And a bunch of folks are saying “How could this happen?”

You’ve been letting it happen and grow for 50 years. Congratulations on noticing. Now do something about it, because you’re next.

 

On Dignity

me-bonesI have so many things to say they jam up my brain sometimes. I have even more I want to learn, and then pass on. I have so many things to care about. In July my health insurance is getting cut off. I have looked through my options and concluded that for now, I have none. I make very little money, as a result, I haven’t had a place to live since 2009. It is too little to afford insurance (& I suspect next year I will have to start paying penalties for that fact). But at about 20-25k a year and no address, there is no assistance for me.

I could give up my career and look for a job, but there’s no jobs, and I don’t handle offices well. And frankly, I like my career. It doesn’t pay much, but I believe what I do is important and not many people can or will do it. We spend a lot of time equating financial success with meaningful work, and both with deserving healthcare, but I think all of that is bullshit, and I won’t live my life that way.

No; giving up being me is not an option. I am not a shiftless and lost person. I am busy, and involved and I live with tremendous purpose and hope. But I live in a society that does not value me. That doesn’t mean I don’t, though.

I’m 40 now. In many ways it feels like the beginning. I have tons of energy, I know my life’s work. It’s not easy, and I don’t know if I can get all the things I need to done, but it’s coming together. It was a hard fucking road here. Strange and hard beyond what most people imagine a life can be. For getting here, I’m grateful. This is also a time when the body changes, when medical considerations change. I’ll do the health things that make sense to do without insurance, I still love and value my life and want all of it I can get. But I’m not bothering with a mammogram. What could I do about it anyway? I’d rather put my time and energy into my work, what time my society will leave me. Because I live in a society that has decided people like me should die if they get ill.

But I still have choice in how that happens. If I get a lump in my breast or a hole in my heart or gut, I’m not going to spend my precious remaining time begging for help from the public or indifferent bureaucracies, while I get weaker and drown in pain. I watched people beg for scraps from an America that doesn’t care about them. You may have chosen that I will die, America, but I don’t have to be polite about it.

When the time comes that I am out of options and facing illness, I intend to dictate and write the final notes on I can on my work, and then take my own life before disease and indifference do. I would go out of this world the same way I came in — screaming and strong.

Fuck dying quietly.

Placing the SCUM Manifesto in Historical Context

solanas-socratesMuch has come up lately about the Valerie Solanas’ 1967 radical feminist essay, the SCUM Manifesto. It’s a remarkable read, uncompromising, utopian, and like all good writing, unashamed of being what it is. It is an important piece of writing, and should take its place with the study of literature and ideas. Solanas stands with Pythagoras, Socrates, TS Eliot, and Kant among countless others who put forward theories about the role, origin, and best eventual outcome regarding other members of their societies.

What makes it a good commentary is that it has the feel of many true things in it. But I would ascribe them to what is more commonly called the Patriarchy these days than to the specific genetic condition of maleness, and so for me, that is what makes it not a correct commentary.

I also find the SCUM Manifesto overly utopian, and I am profoundly suspicious of utopias. Like all visions of enforced human improvement, SCUM promulgates a singular vision of human nature, and fails to see more than a binary among womankind. We are not Solanas’ perfect and groovy creatures. If men did not exist, I believe we would have invented them. Ultimately, Solanas’ Manifesto falls to its own assertions. As the superior and only “whole” members of the species, the responsibility for men’s behavior ultimately has to fall on us, like bad tenders of a garden, who let men grow out of control in the first place.

What makes the SCUM Manifesto brilliant isn’t its originality, but its total derivativeness. It echoes countless other manifestos, analyses, philosophical tracts, medical text books, theological arguments, and so on — but from high status men. Many of these men are still regarded with near worship today, like Freud and Kipling. SCUM bears the impression of Charles Dickens, and St Thomas Aquinas. It has more than passing similarities to the ideas of Confucius and the holy texts of the Hindu faith.

It’s just that it’s pointed up the power chain, instead of down. These ideas about inferiority, genetic, intellectual, and spiritual, aren’t new. They’ve been used as justifications to deny meaningful lives to women and low status men by the billions for centuries. I want to point that out again: billions of people for thousands of years.

I’m not going to say Valerie Solanas wasn’t nuts. She clearly was. She shot Andy Warhol. She was also just nuts, there’s no getting around Solanas being not being a very good or well person. I’m happy to leave Solanas to history as unfortunate and somewhat nasty. But on one condition: all the other people who promulgated the same ideas are just as nasty and unreasonable. Solanas goes into a looney bin of horrors. But all those beloved, male, white, or whatever the dominant ethnicity of the place and era, those intellectuals, leaders, and spiritual men of history, even the ones I love, have to go in there too.

Everything they wrote doesn’t have to go in there with them. I still love Kipling and Hemingway, despite the White Man’s Burden and, well, everything Hemingway ever did. I love The Hollow Men, I love the Scholars, I love many things that never pass any variation of the Bechdel Test. But if men’s work, replete in their strange and incidental hatreds get to stay out of the bin of shunned horrors, so does the SCUM Manifesto. Surely any writing that can clearly show that a swath of great thinkers of history were demonstrably insane and cruel belongs among the great writings, even if insane and cruel itself.

We are Free

“The state can’t give you free speech and the state can’t give it away, we know that. You’re born with it, like your eyes, and your ears. Like old Campbell used to say, ‘Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.’”

Wikileaks: No Substitute for Transparency

I’ve been disagreeing with a lot of people about transparency recently, and even though it’s kind of going out of fashion on the edge of my community, I’m still going to stand up for the principle. Transparency, real and true, is a good thing for many reasons. It’s not magic fairy pixie dust that makes the world a wonderful place, and anyone who sold it as such needs to do their historical homework. What is does it complex, important, but not sexy enough for many activists.

What a lot of people commenting on the debate about government transparency don’t get is that it’s not just about the information. Action always has an inherent politics to it; publishing data about itself is as much about telling government how it’s supposed to behave as it is about the data. Even if you’re wildly juking the stats, you’re at least communicating to yourself how different things should be. The action involved in transparency is the action of telling on yourself. No matter how subverted, two things remain true: you know that you should be doing better, and you’re going to accidentally expose incidental truths.

My least favorite argument about transparency is that it breeds complacency. This is an argument from a position of tremendous privilege that comes from forgetting why we fight corruption in the first place. It is always the case that corruption costs; right now it is taking a terrible price on a real and growing segment of the population which the corrupt entity is meant to serve. You can only forget the proximate hurt if you’re someone in a position to forget it, someone with money, health insurance, the right travel options. Someone with good schools, and probably, it’s easiest to forget the day to day cost of corruption in America as someone with white skin. Without transparency threatened populations have to take up common myths about why they are in the situation they are in. In short, they blame themselves. Not only are they the victims of corruption, but when it’s not discussed, they’re the victims of believing they’ve brought the situation on themselves. If you want a complacent population, ruining their lives and then getting them to believe they did it themselves is a pretty good way to start.

But this is a post at least partly about Wikileaks, and how what they do isn’t transparency. People keep bandying that word around and mixing up the two, and I want to disentangle them. Because it’s not only incorrect, it’s harmful. What they do is akin to whistle blowing, which serves a wholly different function. Leaks and whistle blowing are about arresting a malignantly broken institution. They are about appealing to a higher authority to step in and by force change the behavior of an organization so dangerously off the rails that it’s incapable of self-correction. It’s a place beyond where the gentler tool of transparency can help. This is the problem with leaking government secrets as well– there’s no higher authority to step in. (And no, the electorate doesn’t count. Sorry, but if it did, things we wanted might get done a bit more often.)

When we call for transparency we’re calling for a mindset. We’re calling on the government that ostensibly serves us to trust us, to treat us like adults. We’re calling on them to engage in an act of self reflection on a cultural level. Stealing their diary and putting it on a website might be needed sometimes, but it’s no substitute for the kind of cultural change we’re after. Leaks are not transparency. They are haphazard and adversarial, they do something completely different. They can often undermine the cultural conversations about transparency.

Transparency is about institutions talking to themselves by talking to the world. The changes it makes are slow, tiny, and not very rewarding, especially next to the wild splash of leaks. Transparency is a frustrating battle, but in the end it has much more ability to change a culture than whistle blowing, at least without a ultra-cop to step in. Government transparency is about telling ourselves who we’re supposed to be, and in the frustratingly long run, that will do more to shape who we become.

Age of Excessions, Part 2

The First Time You Ever Heard of the RIAA

The Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group of the music industry, has been around for 58 years, founded in part to create open standards for vinyl playback so that everyone’s records would play on everyone’s record player. In general, it has come to manage the part of the music industry where the industry needs to cooperate. Here’s it’s mission in a nutshell, from the website:

…the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies.

Like many trade groups, you’d almost certainly never heard of it. Heard of the Metal Roofing Alliance, or the Professional Liability Underwriting Society? Probably not, and there’s so many more. To know all of these groups you’d either have to be a professional conference organizer or a lobbyist, and that knowledge isn’t the sort of thing you’d drop at cocktail parties to look impressive. No one knows about trade groups because no one cares about trade groups.

What turned the RIAA into a household name was an internet application named Napster. Napster was many people’s first exposure to file sharing, especially of the peer to peer variety. It was that peer to peer aspect that made the difference. Napster was the first great collection of music (on or off the net) that was completely uncurated and open to all. Music was free, easy, and didn’t require putting on clothes to get. Discovering new music was easier than anyone could have imagined. Type in a favorite- in my case, for instance, Ani Difranco, and browse through other Ani fans’ libraries. This led me to a decade long love of Utah Philips, and the strange pride of making the discovery myself. I hadn’t relied on anyone to tell me about new music, and I hadn’t had to go out and spend (much) time and money discovering a jewel in the rough. I never even had to leave the house to develop my musical taste. With Napster, I happily reported to friends, it wasn’t so much that I could get tons of popular music for free, it was that my musical taste itself improved.

Some new bands and musicians began to see how this could help them from the other end. Get into a few libraries and get discovered, not by an A&R man but by a fanbase, one fan at a time. It wasn’t going to look like getting signed and turned into megastars, but it also didn’t look like having to win the lottery to do what you loved for a living. Most bands were still playing the label lottery, but it was only a matter of time before they figured out that music could have a middle class, and that a smaller fanbase with a more sincere love of their music was something they could live with.

Helping these musicians along was advances in software and plummeting hardware costs for music recording. Absolute top of the line music editing was still expensive, but a $1000-2000 amateur recording studio was getting better all the time. In fact, with the increasing role of sampling in music, by the late 90s or early 00s many fans couldn’t tell the difference between a professional studio produced track and a carefully and competently produced track from someone’s spare bedroom. It was amazingly fun, and people loved it. Whole genres were invented on a weekly basis. Name a segment of the society, and someone probably invented a -core for it. Nerdcore, Breakcore, Doomcore, Horrorcore, Jewcore, -core was like -gate, but for music. There was a growing sense that anyone who loved music could make music. Maybe it would suck, but it would suck because you sucked, not because your production values sucked. But even if you sucked, your friends could love you. A major label was never going to produce a song about your Everquest guild, and nothing could take the place of the pleasure of rocking out with 15 people to the soundtrack of your own tiny homophily.

And so it wasn’t the copies of Enter the Sandman that made Napster interesting. It was that Napster built the largest library of music in the history of the world, accidentally, over the course of 9 months. Everyone downloaded a few of the usual hits, but those tracks began suffering an attrition of time and interest to those parts of other people’s libraries that segmented the market by consumers’ extreme homophily. This wasn’t much, but it completed a list of threats to the way things had been.

Everything Right is Wrong Again

After about 1999, there was no function of the ‘industry’ part of the music industrial that was not under immediate existential threat. Whatever your opinion of the music industry, it had found itself in a dangerous position, through no particular action of its own, good or bad. The labels, whom the RIAA represented, had handled selecting, recording, distributing, and marketing nearly all the music anyone ever heard. It was good at it- the proverbial hit machine. As an institution the music industry studied and catered to nearly every market niche it could identify for a hundred years. Whether it was serving the greater purpose of music or music artists is immaterial. The music industry wasn’t so much the only game in town as the town itself. But the technology of the 90s took away, piece by piece, recording, distributing, marketing, and even selecting, and put it into the nebulous and ill-defined hands of ‘the people,’ who were eroding the need for ‘the industry’ altogether.

The music industry began to fight for its life. Napster was the obvious weak point- a company that could be attacked on legal grounds. Napster was destroyed in 2001, and it was in the course of its destruction that the RIAA became for the first time something people had heard of. We were aware of the blackbox in the middle of the institution of music only at the point where it became threatened with extinction. People don’t go down easy, and the RIAA was made of people, most of whom couldn’t see where they’d done anything wrong or different than they’d ever done. When shuttering Napster didn’t make the problems go away they started attacking anyone they could, and hitting them as hard as they could. One group of four college students was sued for roughly the GDP of Peru. What seemed insane made sense when you realized how entirely they were threatened.

But what were they fighting? From inside the offices of music executives this trend must have looked like the Borg, or the Blob, or even the zombie apocalypse. Everything the net touched turned against the way things had been. Artists and fans were bypassing the conduits that had been connecting them for the length of living memory. The only thing the industry could do was get between them and force them apart in an effort to remain relevant. The conduit had become the barrier, not because it had changed, but because everything around it had changed, quietly, quickly, and with no warning. The industry wanted to live.

But before the internet threatened to destroy the RIAA with digital piracy, it had already destroyed digital piracy.

Next: Part Three, The brief and illegal life of the Scene.


The Age of Excessions

Part One: The question and the answer.

While this essay represents bits of 18 years of thinking and observing human institutions responding to the various forces I’ve encountered (primary in technology and medicine) I was prompted to write it in response to a question a man asked me last summer at a conference on the future. His question, roughly put, was this: How do you tell what institutions are about to get disrupted? My answer, equally paraphrased was this: any part of an institution that was there to facilitate information is going to go away in favor of the internet. This answer was both too general in that I never really explained what facilitating information meant or how the internet would destroy it, and too specific, because I only talked about the internet, as if it were the only technological force looming over these institutions.

What follows is a longer reply to the question about the fates of institutions, past, present, and future. I believe we are entering an age where these disruptions come at a speed we’ve never dealt with before. It’s bountiful in destruction and utopianism. It’s a stochastic time, with too much of everything. These changes so severe they break social institutions before new institutions can evolve. These changes are so many, it’s the defining characteristic of the age: an age of excessions.

An excession is something that exceeds the current frame of reference, and therefore wrecks it. I’ve stolen the word from the illimitable writer and thinker Iaim M. Banks, but it’s not my intention to attribute my definition to him. For my purposes an excession doesn’t have to just come from outside the frame of reference, like the WWII troops that landed on Micronesian islands bearing Cargo. They can also arise internally, like puberty. As a matter of fact, laying aside the occasional meteorite, hurricane, or well armed British explorer, almost all do arise from colliding forces inside humanity. But they all feel like the weather, an unpredictable thing outside our comprehension or control that tends to smack us around without warning. Many excessions arise from colliding forces of social power structures and technological progress. One of the reasons that so many excessions are so surprising is that politicians and technologists usually think they are where the really important stuff is, their worlds providing the invisible climate to each other. There are other spheres that provide more invisible climate, but even trying to talk about these two is confusing enough to start with. Technology and politics are incredibly compelling, and looking closely at either will convince anyone that they’ve found the cornerstone to history, stories of progress that really explain what’s going on, and what they can’t explain was random chance or the hidden variables- more weather. If a political thinker looks at the history of New York in the mid-century they uncover Robert Moses as an explanation of everything. A technologist looks at the same story and sees the inevitable result of advances in building materials and automobile engineering. Arguing who really has history figured out between the two is like arguing nature and nurture in children- turns out to be incoherent and not as interesting as you think. I will try very hard not to do that.

The greatest institutions meet one of history’s poltergeists

In the 1980s the nascent social force of the internet entered a world of unprecedented consolidations. Nation-states, corporations, and even religions were larger and more coherent than at any other time in history. Partly that was the first order effect of rising population levels, but it was came from the need for cohesion in scaled up societies. We were not merely millions of Americans together, we were part of the capitalist faction of humanity, employees of megacorporations, and citizens of a government so sprawling it couldn’t be held in the mind. One of the benefits of the project that both consolidated and segmented the world is that we could substitute categories for people, something the modern mind needed desperately.

The 19th and 20th centuries had done something disturbing to humanity; it had made us aware of there being so many more people than we could ever know or form opinions of. Even if you managed to spend your life in in the village of your birth and not know more than 150 people (and fewer of us could manage that) you now had more and more a sense of the oppressive other. There were millions of people out there, then billions, a crush of humanity that the social human mind couldn’t take in. Being able to make simple statements like ‘capitalists are like me, communists are evil’ was a way of managing the terrible weight of the unknowable other. Capitalism itself was an attempt to scale social institutions to keep up with populations, as was socialism. They were the organizational systems humans desperately latched onto to deal with the sudden logistical problems of there being so damn many of us.

We often think of this process of happening slowly, but if you were to extend the history of humanity back to the founding of civilization at 12,000 years, or reasonably even to the beginning of our speciation around 200,000 years ago, the last 200-300 years suddenly looks like what it is- the adaptation of human institutions at a breakneck pace. For the first time changes routinely lapped generations. The elders couldn’t even recognize the world they’d always been meant to comment on. Their roles of wisdom were stunted: the world they knew so much about was gone.

The internet (and here I include the greater telephony it’s part of) was about accelerate and rearrange everything it touched, creating and collapsing scaling problems in institutions like a mad poltergeist of history. Not necessarily via the usually discussed channels, like blogging, but by rendering obsolete the mass infrastructure of information wherever the net arrived. The middle layer of communication and cultural cohesion that had once been the largest, richest, most articulate part of the economy and culture was rendered obsolete without even the courtesy of being dismantled. Overnight, the conduits not only ceased to be conduits, they became barriers, without ever changing their behavior. Tt was as if the world had spun 180 degrees around them. People don’t handle this sort of thing well. In fact, they kind of go crazy.

Next: The first time you ever heard of the RIAA

Vampiric vs lycanthropic healthcare

I enjoyed Ezra Klein’s segment on the healthcare bill last night on the Colbert Report, though he likes the bill more than I do. Werewolf doctors got a mention, and Klein talks about them providing a possible advantage in scoring the bill. But once again congress is not making good medical decisions, this time in which kind of monster doctors belong in patient care. Matt Yglesias took that up in his blog today. He pointed out that vampires would be more useful, as they could revive the patient even when heroic measure had failed by making them into one of the undead. I think this is an excellent idea- patient vocused, um, I mean focused.

Of course, consent it an important issue. To give a feel for what that might look like, I created a revised DNR-V.

New Years Day: Things I have learned in the last ten years

Most of the things I learned in the last ten years (like perl, what the hippocampus does, or how to build a ring flash) aren’t very useful to most people. But I learned many amazing, terrible, and funny lessons this last decade about the nature and doings of humans. Here are some, and may you come by this knowledge easier than I did.

  • Busy is not the same thing as important, but it can sure seem that way
  • If you want to see the future, don’t look at how people are using technology. Search out how they’re misusing it
  • All people substitute belief for reality sometimes, and waste their time arguing with what is happening to them. Some people do this with business, some politics, some relationships, and some physics. This is how you get speculative bubbles, wars without end, horrendous breakups, and Darwin awards.
  • The things you actively think will never happen to you are much more likely to happen to you than the things you just never considered at all.
  • Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean the business world isn’t insane and stupid. It really is.
  • Cultures can have nightmares. A Whole society can become sick, It can roil in somatic pain as its own subconscious tortures it. History records these times with confusion. They are disturbing and inexplicable moments that don’t seem to have a real cause. They’re no fun to live through, and living through them gives you no more insight than looking back on them. You just hope to get to the other side.
  • Compassion, even for the very worst, costs nothing and opens up possibilities.
  • It may be possible to forgive absolutely anything, and it may be necessary in order to survive. But to say you forgive someone before you can is a lie.
  • Ten years ago I thought there was no such thing as a free lunch. But actually, they’re all free. “The sun pays all the bills.”
  • I’ve been to Asia, Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa, islands in the Caribbean, the Pacific, nations and states of wildly varying wealth and culture. Africa is different. Everywhere you go changes you, but Africa changes everything.
  • Dreams can creep up on you and come true while you’re doing other things.
  • Power and status are not as correlated with good decision making as I had hoped.
  • You can’t love away illness.
  • Some technologies will change your whole life for the better without you noticing, like text messaging, GPS, or spellcheck. Some will disrupt your life in ways you have no tools at all for dealing with, like the web vs newspapers or filesharing vs music labels, or when automatic spellcheck likes to correct your typos to say ‘incest’ when you meant to type ‘insect’.
  • In the tech world you don’t have the luxury of believing your preferences. When you run up against a technology you don’t like, you have to figure out why you’re wrong. When you come up against one you love, you still have to figure out why you’re wrong.
  • Storing a good collection of maxims, aphorisms, and proverbs in your head can actually get you through a lot.
  • Most people explain their faults upfront, but it’s very hard to hear them while it will still make a difference.
  • Ten years ago, I was in favor of Brinworld- radical transparency. Now my views are moderated, more complex. I thought it would usher in an age of tolerance, but I’ve learned that people can hold double standards in their heads I have no theory of mind for. But more importantly, I learned that privacy is vital for creativity. We need safe places to think strange thoughts. Sometimes they are what embarrass us, waste our time, or sink us to our lowest depths, but they are also the seeds of new worlds.
  • People are about as smart as you tell them they are.
  • You’re all geniuses.
  • I never understood the capacity for addiction before I had my daughter. Now I’m pretty sure drugs and alcohol are just taking over the same circuits in addicts that would make me do anything for her.
  • Humans have terrible memories. Most of the time, memories are just stories we make up about the past to explain how we see ourselves now. But memory is quite useful this way, and takes on an almost literary truth to make up for its factual error. However, it’s no way to measure or understand how we change over time, and it’s worthless for figuring out what happened.
  • I have killed far too many ideas for being born infants instead of springing fully formed and battle ready from my forehead.
  • There are people that just use a huge amount of toilet paper, and they seem to have nothing else in common, not bowel diseases or hygiene or so on. I have no idea what the hell they are doing with it. Perhaps that’s for the next 10 years.
  • 30 is a great age, when you can start to relax and get some perspective.
  • Graphic novels seem to make pretty good movies.
  • Becoming an expert is the delightful process of learning enough to understand far less of your field of endeavor than you did when you started. These days it’s practically my main signal I am getting somewhere- a sense of my grain of knowledge in an ever widening sea of my ignorance.
  • Whatever constraints, limits, or rules you come up with for humanity, there’s someone out there breaking them. And there’s a decent chance they’re blogging it.
  • When humanity communicates instantaneously over vast distances and across all cultural and national boundaries, there’s almost nothing we can’t turn into porn. But it turns out porn isn’t the end of the world.
  • Democracy doesn’t work very well anymore, if it ever did. The models I was given for how politics and policy work were completely false.
  • The founding fathers were a bickering pack who largely hated each other. They spanned the political and cultural spectrum, and universally agreed on exactly nothing. They were rich, they were poor, they were monarchists, anarchists, aristocrats and demagogues. There were some saints and heros, but there were some downright evil people, and there were a few that were all of the above.
  • This makes me wonder how the founders of the global network will be seen by history.
  • Writing a first book is one of the hardest things a person can do.
  • Minor tragedies always remain tragedies, but major ones can go either way.
  • Most of the easy problems have been solved. The ones that look easy are hiding the most terrible complexities.
  • Institutions are made entirely of humans, and all that implies.
  • It is easy to forget that unsustainable things can’t go one forever, because you expect them to start failing as soon as you realize they are unsustainable. Instead I have found that stupid things can go on much longer than I thought they could.
  • Unsustainable things are still unsustainable.
  • Torturer, tortured, trainer, trainee, conqueror, conquered, these are all misleading distinctions. No one really comes back out of those rooms.
  • You will likely reach a point when it seems life is not really your own, when it is filled with career, interests, family, obligations, and things. It will be so architected, so set, you will believe you are trapped. You’re not. You can walk out anytime.

To reverse the attrition by Twitter

Of small notes. Has anyone else noticed this addendum on the Whitehouse Flickr stream of this:

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

But the copyright notice says this:

United States Government Work

Which links to this:

A work that is a United States Government work, prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties, is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no U.S. copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work. Anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws,

* reproduce the work in copies in print or in digital form;
* prepare derivative works of the work;
* perform the work publicly;
* display the work;
* distribute copies or digitally transfer the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.

(Which I knew)

So that note above is a bullshit bluff, which is common, but seems beneath the dignity of the Whitehouse.