THe Next Berlin Wall Will Be Invisible

This is straight up, Jim Crow/Birther horseshit:

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for some passport applicants: The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information. According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

This is a citizenship test. You answer any foreign sounding names of places where your parents lived before you were born or any non-christian sounding religious ceremonies, you get flagged. They’re not saying as much but why else would you want that info in a DoS database? It only serves a purpose if it’s a sorting criteria. Meaning someone wants to know how many foreign, non-christian nationals are claiming citizenship and where they are going.

You know how we all jokes during the Bush years about running away to Canada if things got too bad? They were listening. Can’t have your debt-slaves and indentured credit holders running off to other lands. That might hurt the economy. Besides, it’d be unAmerican of you not to stay here and spend money you don’t have to ensure Freedoms you can only imagine.

You know Who Else Made the Trains Run on Time?

Over at Slate,  David Weigel wants to know what Conservatives have against trains:

In the movie version of Atlas Shrugged, there is a scene in which Ayn Rand’s libertarian heroes defy all odds, deploy some untold amount of private funding, and launch the fastest high-speed train in history over rails of experimental metal. “The run of the John Galt Line is thrilling,” wrote the libertarian federal judge Alex Kozinski. “When it crossed the bridge made of Rearden Metal, I wanted to stand up and cheer.”

That’s in the fantasy world. In the real world, libertarians aren’t cheering for high speed rail but rather trying to stop it from being built. They are succeeding. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich campaigned against a high-speed rail line funded by the stimulus, got elected, and turned down the funding. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker did the same thing, only more so—his anti-train campaign even had its own Web site. In Florida, the state Supreme Court has just approved Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to reject $2.4 billion of federal funds to build a Tampa-Orlando rail line; the state was being asked to contribute only $280 million to finish it off. The funding was originally agreed to by Charlie Crist, one of the Tea Party’s archenemies, so Scott’s victory could hardly be any sweeter.

But it could hardly make less sense to liberals. What, exactly, do Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have against trains? Seriously, what?

The answer is simple. Unlike in Rand’s wackadoodle fantasy, in the real world, trains are the ultimate symbol of collectivist action. They require vast cooperation to build, as they run across state lines and in crowded locals like Europe, across country boarders. They’re cheep and egalitarian — a first class passenger on a train who shelled out the extra cash for a private sleeper car still has to rub elbows with the proles in order to use the rest room.

Conservatives may gripe about the cost but seriously, you know when a conservative is bullshitting? They start talking about the cost of things. They only care about what some service or enterprise costs when it might enable poor people to gain some upward mobility. That’s why they hate universal healthcare and it’s why they hate trains: it benefits poor people and the middle class. If people started taking trains instead of driving cars and flying, we wouldn’t need as much gas. And as we a ll know, guzzling gas is our patriotic duty. Trains are insufficiently capitlaistic. They remind us that we’re social creatures and are common in places where “Socialism” runs rampant: Europe and Asia. It’s anti-American to conserve resources and work together. We should all drive alone in our cars as individualistic individuals, racing and competing against one another to get nowhere, fast.

Link via Abbas Raza.

We’re Off Again

This time to Texas, for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Probably won’t have internet access, as we’ll be out on the farm, mostly. If you’re still interested in my holiday book  discount, you can still send me an email, I just won’t be able to respond until next week.

Off to LA

We’re heading down to LA to visit friends and family. While there, I’ll be attending the Innovative Users Group Conference in Annehim. This means no posts until late next week, as if that’s different then my normal posting schedule, or that the three people who read this mind.

I will of course be updating on Twitter, because that’s what the cool kids do these days.

The Castles and Standing Stones of Ireland, A Tour

Note: If you spend a week in November living in a castle in rural Ireland, give yourself an extra day or two of vacation after you return so that you have plenty of time to recover form the cold, exhaustion and jet lag.

So, Ireland.

Continue reading “The Castles and Standing Stones of Ireland, A Tour”

Fresh Off the Boat from the Old Country

I’ll have a full write up of our Ireland trip later on in the week but I wanted to mention something that struck me: quite a few people in Ireland were excited about Barrack Obama [1]. And I’m not talking about a handful of Dubliners or some uppity Trinity College students but random people out in Co. Clare and environs. Our driver had an Obama sticker on the back of his bus[2] and was far more informed about American politics than half the people in our group, all of whom were Americans in their late 20’s to mid 60’s.[3] And yes, I know what sort of loopy intelectual gymnastics come of taking drivers and their political beliefs as a sign of anything other than a side effect of globalization. But still. The priest even had a few thoughts on the matter of Rendition and it’s political implications and he lives on Inish Moor, which is pretty much the definition of the middle of bloody nowhere. There’s something to that. I’m just too exhausted to figure out what, just now.

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1.Or Bar-Rick O’Bama as they pronounced it, like he were a local boy who had done good.

2. Michael the Irish Bus Driver would be far more capable of running the country than any damn fool plumber or halfwit Alaskan beauty queen, I might add. Not that I really want to go down that ridiculous road again. The Real American Heartlander=the Noble Savage. But still, the facts remain unchanged: some random Irish bus driver was more informed about our political system than the current Governor of Alaska and even Obama can’t fix that. You may now despair for our nation.

3. Except for the two toddlers but even they were more worldly than half the voting populace of the US. Sophia’s been to a half dozen countries and is not yet 2. But that’s a different issue.

Irish Eyes, etc.

Elvira and I will be in Ireland until December.

We’ll be staying in Ballyhannon Castle and roving all up and down Ireland (well, parts of Galway and Dublin anyway). Should be fun! Pictures and a full account will ensue, of course.

I’m not sure what the Internet access will be like but if there is any, I’ll be twittering the sights seen.

I’ll be on the lookout for policemen who look suspiciously like bicycles.

The Gears Are Still Moving, Sorta

I’m sitting int he airport in Sacramento, on layover back to Portland. Sacramento has free wifi but LAX does not. What’s up with charging for wifi, LA?

Comic Con was a blast and a half but boy howdy, am I frackin exhausted! We saw Wicked in LA, spent four days running like mad little nerds around the hugest convention ever, ate much Mexican food, drank plenty of margaritas and slept very little. A full report with geeky pictures will be forthcoming, as soon as I’ve had some sleep.

The best news: The Machine of the World is now available on Amazon! No cover picture yet but I’ll have one up shortly. I’ll also be signing up for the search-inside option. The first person to write a review on Amazon (and email me to let me know) will win something special.

Update 7/29:

The cover picture is up and so is the first review!