Monday, February 28, 2005

How do cell phones reveal our location? A good overview on

If you carry a cell phone, your location is revealed in real-time to your cellphone service. It happens without your noticing it, because the tracking is done transparently as your phone is handed off from cell-tower to cell-tower. You may not realize this, but your cell phone is regularly chatting to the cellphone service giving the service data.

It's a privacy consideration that this is happening, because the information they use can and will be used against you in a court of law.

This article gives a good overview of how it's done:

How Do Cell Phones Reveal Your Location?

(By Brendan I. Koerner; SLATE.COM;
Posted Monday, May 12, 2003, at 2:00 PM PT

Maybe we should keep our phones turned off when we're not planning to use them ??

Monday, February 21, 2005

The hypnotized - ( Among the believers)

During the 2004 election a statistic was released. It said had asked U.S. residents a number of questions for which factual answers were known, and also asked them which news source they most listened to or watched. The questions were about the political events, the war, the facts around the war, for example whether any Weapons of Mass Destruction were ever found in Iraq, etc.

According to the poll, overwhelmingly, people who listen to National Public Radio (NPR) for their news, knew the truth. WMD hadn't been found, etc. On the other hand, overwhelmingly, the people who watch FOX News believed the lies.

I post this as a longtime listener to National Public Radio. They do a fine job portraying the truth.

Among the believers
: (By Michelle Goldberg,, Feb. 19, 2005)

This article gives a portrait of the true believers. The ones who are worshiping at the feet of GWBush, and drinking deeply the koolaid of the lies this administration have been spreading.
For example:

It's a good thing I went to the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Otherwise I never would have known that, despite the findings of the authoritative David Kay report and every reputable media outlet on earth, the United States actually discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, vindicating all of George W. Bush's pre-war predictions. The revelation came not from some crank at Free Republic or hustler from Talon News, but from a congressman surrounded by men from the highest echelons of American government. No wonder the attendees all seemed to believe him.

And, later in the article

There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush … Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy."

Certainly gives one pause to consider how this country is now deeply divided. GW promised to be a uniter not a divider, but has done anything but that.

My main thought here is, how are "we" (the ones who know the truth) going to overwhelm the united front of these people who are believing the lies...?? With this united front they are likely to continue just creating as truth whatever mistruth the administration feeds them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The thin barrier to nuclear war

One thing about having massively descructive weapons like the nuclear arsenal is how clearly it shows us the fragility of no-war, and the thin line that when crossed leads to total destruction. Within each of us there is hatred, anger, that when triggered the right way turns us into a raving animal.

Cuban missile crisis just one of at least 4 other crises(By Mark McDonald Knight Ridder Newspapers; Posted on Thu, Dec. 16, 2004; Knight-Ridder)

At the surface the story is simple. The world nearly had nuclear war on its hands in October 1962 over the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world powers of the time, the U.S.A. and Soviet Union, mutually stared down the barrel of nuclear war and ended up not pulling the trigger. However the article says this isn't the only time, that at least four other times there were momentary crisis (lasting about 10-20 minutes each) which had those same two powers at the brink of nuclear war.

Man who saved America now living quiet life in Russia (By Mark McDonald Knight Ridder Newspapers; Posted on Thu, Dec. 16, 2004) That article is the personal story of one of the near attacks.

It's in the nature of human beings, really, this war thing. The spiritual teachings talk of "duality". That the truth is that the world and all within it are one thing, one identity, but that in our humanness we believe we are somehow separate from the unity of everything. That is the duality, the separation between unitive consciousness and the consciousness that says I am distinct from you. It is the latter duality consciousness that is the root of war and conflict.

With a weapon such as a nuclear bomb, the conflict is really brought into our faces. That duality consciousness can, at any time, within a 10-20 minute period of time, cause nuclear war to begin. And we all know how nuclear war ends, with millions of people dead immediately and life killing radiation circling the globe for decades raining (literally) death upon the survivors.

Let us all pray that our leaders have the wisdom to use well the power we entrust to them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blogging lashback from The Media

There's been a spate recently of people holding positions of power being knocked off by "bloggers". This includes Dan Rather, longtime anchor for the CBS Evening News, Eason Jordan, longtime bigwig at CNN, and some others. It seems there's something like a possee of people roaming about looking for heads to target.

e.g. this NY Times article:

Resignation at CNN Shows the Growing Influence of Blogs
(By KATHERINE Q. SEELYE; Published: February 14, 2005)

It starts with the story of Eason Jordan, a longtime bigwig with CNN as I said. For example, he was part of the team responsible for getting the live reporting from Baghdad during the first Gulf War (Peter Arnett and crew).

Speaking at a panel at the 2005 World Economic Forum (Davos) he was reported, by a blogger attending the conference, to have claimed the U.S. Military was killing journalists.

Mr. Jordan, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late January, apparently said, according to various witnesses, that he believed the United States military had aimed at journalists and killed 12 of them. There is some uncertainty over his precise language and the forum, which videotaped the conference, has not released the tape. When he quit Friday night, Mr. Jordan said in a statement that, "I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists."

This claim rocketed around the "blogosphere", especially among the "conservatives" who saw it as evidence of the "liberal media bias". They eventually got enough ruckus going that he had to resign.

The NY Times article has a weakness. They are taking the same brush, that bloggers are hunting for heads, and applying this to all blogging. Whoops, that's obviously bogus. Sorry NY Times, try to be more accurate next time.

In any case the more interesting point is the purpose pursued by blogging.

Mr. Abovitz, who started it all, said he hoped bloggers could develop loftier goals than destroying people's careers. "If you're going to do this open-source journalism, it should have a higher purpose," he said. "At times it did seem like an angry mob, and an angry mob using high technology, that's not good."

The MSM (Main Stream Media) has developed one method for having some certainty over truth. That's the use of editors, and the journalistic ethics. It works fairly well, but we also see many instances where this system failed. e.g. that since September 11, 2001 journalists have generally given the Bush administration free reign to lie and cheat the system without putting the full light of impartial examination onto those lies.

If the main stream media had been doing its job, would this ridiculous war in Iraq have happened? This war in Iraq is without proper legal justification, nor was it rationally the best move to have taken (the enemy was in Afghanistan, not Iraq).

They, the main stream media, are supposed to be the fact checkers, but they fell down horribly on the job. Thank goodness that the progress of technology has given the people a tool with which to exercise their voice on the world stage.

Monday, February 14, 2005

An utter and abysmal failure

Everything the U.S. leaders hoped to achieve by launching this illegal war in Iraq has fallen apart. Their public intent was to establish a moderate democracy in Iraq, as a foil to the theocracy in Iran. Thus the preferred winners would be secularists.

Instead with the elections having been held, the winners are Shi'ite and Kurdish parties with close ties to Iran. Instead of being a foil to Iran, the future government of Iraq (the distribution of seats and roles are still being decided) will be close to Iran.

As I had written back in the summer of 2003 (Background Material) the The Project for a New American Century had been promoting the idea of installing "moderate" democracy in the middle of the middle east, that is, in Iraq. That by doing so it would tilt the middle east to American/Western influence. Sheer megalomania, but beyond that it's sheer idiocy to think that you can install democracy at the point of a gun. But just who is the Project for a New American Century? Why, it's Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, and the others who have been running the Defense Department and calling the shots in Washington.

Now, with this election, it's clear that what they'll have as the result is anything but the moderate democracy they desired. That's the problem with democracy they might be saying, give the people the vote and you can't control the results.

Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision (By Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A08)

US fights back against 'rule by clerics' (By Syed Saleem Shahzad; Asia Times.COM)

Iraqi vote gives Shia parties a mandate for Islamic law (By David Enders in Baghdad and Daniel Howden; 14 February 2005; The Independant (london))

Trio of Sistani-backed Shiites vying for premiership

Iranian Shadow Falls Over Baghdad (by Aaron Glantz; AntiWar.COM)

Shiites gain political control of Iraq, will dominate assembly (By Tom Lasseter and Nancy A. Youssef Knight Ridder Newspapers)

They failed. They have no credibility. Why are they still in office?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Big Brother is Watching You" .. and it's not the government

The phrase comes from the book 1984 and invokes hysteria, yes? The book talks about over-arching and dominating government aimed at controlling us. They (the government of that book) control "us" through watching everything, or at least pretending to watch everything. That and regularly rewriting history.

Instead "Big Brother" is business, and there's a business justification to this. First, business is already collecting a ton of information about "us". Every credit card and purchase and bank loan and credit application and doctor visit and insurance claim and more ... each and every datum gets recorded in computers. However the data is separated out into different companies. But what if the companies were to share their data?

Most people are already familiar with the idea of "credit reports". There are three credit agencies in the U.S. that track data about individuals, and make the reports available as to creditworthiness. The creditworthiness is then used as a score whenever you apply for a bank loan, and is a direct determiner in whether you can buy a house (that is, to get the mortgage in order to buy the house).

But, wait, there's more.

  • ChoiceTrust ( tracks home and automobile insurance claims [CLUE reports], employment history, and residential rental history. You can order these reports through the web, or you can call them at 1-866-312-8076. The hours for the phone line are all day Monday to Saturday, and 10 am 'til midnight Eastern Standard Time on Sunday.
  • ISO ( also tracks property and automobile insurance losses, through its A-Plus reports. The privacy rights center says that ISO has this subject to the roll-out dates that credit reports are on, but I saw no mention of this on the web site. To order the report, call 1-800-627-3487.
  • MIB ( compiles and maintains records about individual life, health, and disability insurance policies. They should only have information on you if you have applied for an individual (not group) insurance policy within the last seven years; they estimate they have reports for approximately 20% of the population. To request a report, call 1-866-692-6901; TTY users can call 1-866-346-3642.
  • Tenant reports. There are lots of them -- the best bet is to ask the landlord for the name and contact information for his or her screening company, since there are over 300 resident screening companies in the country.
  • ChexSystems ( tracks checking account histories. You can order your ChexSystems report through the web at
    or call 1-800-428-9623.
  • Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN). ( maintains a database of returned checks and instances of fraud. The website
    gives you instructions on how to order by mail or fax. Their toll-free number is 1-800-262-7771.
  • TeleCheck. ( compiles information much the same as SCAN. As far as I can tell, they have no information about file disclosure on their website. Their toll-free number is 1-800-209-8186.
  • National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange, Inc (NCTUE) ( formerly NCTDE, keeps track of utility services (cable, electricity, gas, internet, local & LD phone, etc.). Consumers may call 1-888-201-5643 for reports.

I have additional information on credit reporting here:

And there's even more here:

Friday, February 4, 2005

FOX Sics its Dogs on "Un-American" Professors

Here in the U.S. we have a Constitutional gaurantee of Freedom of Speech. The Founders purposely wanted to allow us to criticize anybody we wanted, without fear of punishment. We ought to be able to call for the Impeachment of a sitting President without concern.

In FOX Sics its Dogs on "Un-American" Professors we learn of two people being attacked viciously for their statements. The government isn't attacking them, but the attackers are part of the Right Wing attack-dog squadrons that have been running freely in this country. There have been several instances in the past couple years where they gathered their harummphing forces, and shouted for someones resignation or whatnot until it happened.

One is M. Shahid Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University. By his name you might guess he is Islamic, from a middle eastern country. In todays climate, that makes him an easy target to attack. In any case in the piece referenced above they refer to two articles he published in Counterpunch:

  • America and Islam: Seeking Parallels - His characterisation of that essay is

    What did I say in this essay? I made two points. First, that the 9-11 attacks were an Islamist insurgency: the attackers believe that they are fighting--as the Americans did, in the 1770s--for their freedom and dignity against a foreign occupation/control of their lands. Secondly, I argue that these attacks were the result of a massive political failure of Muslims to resist their tyrannies locally. It was a mistake to attack the US.

  • The Waves of Hate: Testing Free Speech in America - In the second he says he simply repeated the assertions of the first. By the time of the second essay, there had already been a wave of attacking press aimed in his direction.

What happened? First there was a wave of angry and hate filled postings on several blogging sites, which he names in the article. Second, Fox News decided to profile him in a series of stories they are doing about Un-American Professors. Let me suggest that intolerance for dissent is itself Un-American, and that the people who are harumphing over his statements are the ones being Un-American.

Having read both (see the links above) I think they are very thoughtful and interesting articles. The characterisation he gives is fairly accurate, though the second piece spends a lot of its space detailing the attacks against him over the years. Basically what I see in his writing is that he is challenging the official picture, not only of the September 11, 2001 attack, but the whole relationship between the West and the Middle East. His main point is that the real cause of the September 11, 2001 attack was the failure of the Middle East to resist the tyrannical governments ruling the Middle East. He calls those governments surrogates for the Western powers and Western agenda.

The second is Ward Churchill, a Professor at the U of Colorado. He is a Native American who has been speaking out for years about issues of Indigenous peoples all over the world. Being a Native American probably makes him an easy target, as the ruling powers of this country have been beating up Native Americans for centuries.

Ward Churchill was also profiled in the Fox series on Un-American Professors.

The current attacks against him are best summed in this article. School May Fire Professor for 9/11 Comment ( Thu Feb 3,10:11 PM ET By CATHERINE TSAI, Associated Press Writer). He has been the Chair of his Department and due to the furor being aimed at him he had to resign, and from the article it appears the furorites aren't satisfied with that but are now calling for his resignation or expulsion from the University. The article details a hearing over whether he overstepped Academic Freedom, and whether the University should fire him.

The furor erupted last month after Churchill was invited to speak at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Campus officials discovered an essay and follow-up book by Churchill in which he said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were a response to a history of American abuses abroad, particularly against indigenous peoples.

Among other things, he said those killed in the trade center were "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate Jews. The college canceled Churchill's appearance, citing death threats and concerns about security.

University officials have previously condemned Churchill's comments but defended his right to express them. University President Elizabeth Hoffman declined to comment Thursday on Churchill's future.

I don't know where to find the original article or I would link it. While calling the people in the World Trade Center "little Eichmann's" is over the top, we don't know what context that statement appeared in, nor the entire flavor of his writing. To say that the September 11, 2001 attack was a response to American Agression certainly challenges the Accepted Belief, but if you think about it it's not far from the truth. Why would they come here to do that attack? Well, it's because they think we're some kind of enemy, right? And, the U.S. is committing various actions around the world which challenge others in the world, for example the continued presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the first Gulf War has been raising the ire of certain Islamics for years.


In both of these cases we have people who are daring to make statements that challenge the Accepted View Of The World. In response to those statements, they are attacked with extreme hatred, and their resignations being demanded, etc. Both are Professors and are supposed to enjoy not only the First Ammendment Free Speech gaurantees, but also the Academic Freedom that comes with having Tenure. Academics are expected to be exploring the boundries of ideas and thinking, and Universities are always expected to be looking at reality with fresh eyes to see what new can be learned. But these two Professors, when they exercise their role, are being hounded, attacked, and scorned.

One has to wonder, "Is this still America"?

Marine general: "It's fun to shoot people"

Marine general: It's 'fun to shoot people'

Thursday, February 3, 2005 Posted: 4:16 PM EST (2116 GMT) CNN.COM

This CNN article has to do with Lt. Gen. James Mattis (Marines) who said:

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."


The rest of the article is harumphing denials by other military such as "one of this country's bravest and most experienced military leaders." and "agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully."

Okay, I've never been in a war situation so I don't really know what it's like. I did see Saving Private Ryan and the opening 20 minutes showing in graphic detail the D-Day landing at Normandy has really caused me to think a lot. So did the comment in Gladiator about "Unleash hell". I'm sure that when fighting in a battle, your very humanity is stretched and tested very much.

But, I don't care if he were to choose his words carefully or not. The words he spoke says a lot about his character, and lack of humane treatment of the people he meets. If he were to hold the same feelings, but choose his words carefully, then his inhumanity would be hidden. At least this way his inhumanity is out in the open for us to see.

This stinks no matter which way you look at it.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

God bless our fear-mongering government

While browsing CNN.COM I saw a blank/grey advertisement that warned of a terrorist attack, and in the case of one you should "activate your plan". It went on to say "Everyone should have a plan. Find out what you can do to be prepared.".

Hmmm, I thought. Turns out that is run by the Department of Homeland Security where they tell us "Terrorism forces us to make a choice. Don't be afraid... Be Ready".

There's many interesting and strange things to learn from these people. One could read for hours upon end about such things as:

Possible Signs of Chemical Threat

  • Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, having trouble breathing or losing coordination.
  • Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion.


A radiation threat, commonly referred to as a "dirty bomb" or "radiological dispersion device (RDD)", is the use of common explosives to spread radioactive materials over a targeted area. It is not a nuclear blast. The force of the explosion and radioactive contamination will be more localized. While the blast will be immediately obvious, the presence of radiation will not be clearly defined until trained personnel with specialized equipment are on the scene. As with any radiation, you want to try to limit exposure. It is important to avoid breathing radiological dust that may be released in the air.

In the FAQ I finally learn why there was the recommendation for duct tape and plastic sheeting. Oh, and that they are still seriously recommending it.

Why does the government recommend duct tape and plastic sheeting?

  • The items can be used to "shelter-in-place," creating a room with reduced air infiltration of chemical agents into an area.
  • They are resistant to permeation from chemical agents.
  • They provide the ability to rapidly exit from a temporary shelter-in-place once the plume has passed.
  • The items are readily available for the general public.

In other words, by warning us to use duct tape and plastic sheeting, the inner message is that there will be a chemical attack. Well, nuts. Chemical attacks cover such a small area, so why should the whole country be buying this stuff? And since chemical attacks cover such a small area, why would "the terrorists" even bother making a chemical attack?

The whole thing is very strange. Maybe if I had memory of the 50's with the Nuke scare tactics against the Russians, this would seem familiar.
To my eye this is just a huge fear-mongering effort. For some reason the government has decided to scare us all with a bunch of nonsense.