Monthly Archives: June 2008

Anyone Else Object to Being Called a “Human Resource”

Ahhh work, that most marvelous of pursuits that keeps food on the table.

Today was my first official day of work as a full time employee of Gigantomegabankcorp North America, where I have been a contractor for 26 months.

Going from Contractor to FTE means bennies, paid time off (25 days a year actually. Woo hoo), and job security (at least to the degree that it exists anywhere today).

I am officially classified as an “authorized homeworker or telecommuter”, for which I get to work at home; and the bank gets a tax credit, since I’m not out there every day clogging up the roads, and burning up the gas.

Nice deal all around eh?

However, for things such as receiving and filling out and submitting the 400 pages of HR paperwork, you kind of have to be in a physical office location.

…That’s not a joke or an exaggeration by the way. Between the general employment paperwork, Homeland Security paperwork, federal tax paperwork, Arizona tax paperwork, medical insurance, dental insurance, optical insurance, life insurance, AD&D, long term care coverage, healthcare savings account, 401k, employee stock purchase plan, employee credit card, employee checking, savings, and money market accounts, direct deposit, security forms, badge forms, non disclosure form, health and safety forms, electronic and information security forms, building safety forms, employee handbook acknowledgment, sexual harassment policy acknowledgment, terms of use acknowledgment, disciplinary procedures acknowledgment, environmental disclosures, and the checklists to keep track of them all; I had to deal with over 100 form pages requiring filling in, and approximately 300 pages of reference materials.

How is it we make money again?

Of course to fill all of this in, I had to get to the office at 8:30, meet an admin assistant so she could let me in to do my badge paperwork (my old contractor badge is officially no good; I had to get a visitor badge until they could issue me a new “team member” badge) so I could get my badge, and my two large “packets” (I use the term loosely as together they weigh about 5 lbs and are 3 inches thick) of reference materials and forms to fill out.

Amazingly enough, this is after a HUGE paperwork REDUCTION, and moving “most” of the HR, tax, wage, and benefit forms online.

Seriously.

Why exactly I had to go to the office to do this, when all I ended up doing was filling it all in while borrowing someone else’s cubicle, then dropping it into interoffice mail, and faxing copies of my homeland security form…

Oh wait….

..Riiiiiight

I have to do it in the office, so they can get a photocopy of my drivers license and social security card, witnessed by another employee for the homeland security form (Oh and the fax is insufficient, they have to have the hardcopy, but it has to be on file within three days, and it may be delayed so we had to fax it).

Remind me again how we make money… and why it is that we have a “homeland security” department, checking up on my work status?

…Riiiiiiight

Ahhh the joys of working for Gigantomegabankcorp North America in America today.

We ARE in America…

Aren’t we?

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

10 Reasons To Support Getting High Before You Fly

From that bastion of objective news, The CW:

SAFER, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, which got a ballot initiative passed to make enforcing marijuana laws the lowest legal priority in Denver, is now pushing to allow passengers to get high before they fly. But since the FAA oversees the airport and smoking pot is against federal laws, the idea has some people scratching their heads wondering how it would work.

SAFER members aren’t mapping out the legal landmines. Instead, they just say that the smoking lounge, outside of security at Denver International Airport, falls under Denver Police jurisdiction. And since the new city ordinance was enacted, all penalties for adult marijuana possession have been removed. So they think adults should be allowed to smoke either marijuana or cigarettes in the airport’s smoking lounge.

So why should you support this?

10. It’s the mile-high city. Duh!
9. It makes the jerk in the seat next to you for 5 hours much funnier.
8. Letting a drunk out of his window seat three times during a flight to pee is annoying.
7. Flying 500 mph at 35,000 feet in a steel tube is just plain trippy, man… Whoa.
6. It’s probably easier to get weed through security than liquor.
5. The event of a “water landing” is a great cure for cottonmouth.
4. Pilots fly better stoned than drunk.
3. No sober person wants to watch “Snow Dogs.”
2. Because it’s natural, dude. It’s from the earth…

And the reason that it might actually happen?

1. The airlines will find it a lot easier to sell a bag of Doritos for $5 if passengers have the munchies!

How Badly This Administration Wants War

Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker:

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.

This sum, 400 million dollars is larger than the 350 million requested to bail out bad loans in the current mortgage crisis.

So what is the U.S. government purchasing with this princely sum?

In recent months, according to the Iranian media, there has been a surge in violence in Iran; it is impossible at this early stage, however, to credit JSOC or C.I.A. activities, or to assess their impact on the Iranian leadership. The Iranian press reports are being carefully monitored by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College and now conducts war games centered on Iran for the federal government, think tanks, and universities. The Iranian press “is very open in describing the killings going on inside the country,” Gardiner said. It is, he said, “a controlled press, which makes it more important that it publishes these things. We begin to see inside the government.” He added, “Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere. There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.”

Is the U.S. government targeting individual Iranian officers? Probably not. In all likelihood, The U.S. is providing dissident groups with money and arms in exchange for intelligence – and has little control over what these groups do.

Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?”

The groups that the U.S. are funding are, to be frank, what George Bush likes to pretend what the war on Terra’ is dedicated to eradicating:

The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.

The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”

And, as usual, the amateurish attempts to play “the Great Game” are backfiring:

In recent weeks, according to Sam Gardiner, the military strategist, there has been a marked increase in the number of PJAK armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist attacks on Iranian targets. In early June, the news agency Fars reported that a dozen PJAK members and four Iranian border guards were killed in a clash near the Iraq border; a similar attack in May killed three Revolutionary Guards and nine PJAK fighters. PJAK has also subjected Turkey, a member of NATO, to repeated terrorist attacks, and reports of American support for the group have been a source of friction between the two governments.

Gardiner also mentioned a trip that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made to Tehran in June. After his return, Maliki announced that his government would ban any contact between foreigners and the M.E.K.—a slap at the U.S.’s dealings with the group. Maliki declared that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries. This was a sign, Gardiner said, of “Maliki’s increasingly choosing the interests of Iraq over the interests of the United States.” In terms of U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers, he said, “Maliki was unwilling to play the blame-Iran game.” Gardiner added that Pakistan had just agreed to turn over a Jundallah leader to the Iranian government. America’s covert operations, he said, “seem to be harming relations with the governments of both Iraq and Pakistan and could well be strengthening the connection between Tehran and Baghdad.”

At this point, I would ask all readers to consider what would happen if Canada or China was spending this amount of money to destabilize” the United States through targeted assassinations and the like? How would average U.S. citizens respond to such acts of war? Would they turn against a belligerent government in Washington DC? Or would they rally behind the U.S. government and support it?

The effect of U.S. policy in the region is quite predictable. The United States government, and by extension the United States people, will be seen as a dangerous aggressive enemy. Make no mistake, since 1953 the United States has been in a war with the Iranian people. Every escalation of the conflict has taken the form of the U.S. government initiating an escalation, the Iranians responding and providing the U.S. government with a casus belli for another escalation.

Absent U.S. meddling, the Iranian people would probably be ready to throw out the religious authorities who have ruled the country since 1979. The religious authorities have wrecked the economy through excessive taxation and a loose monetary policy. By attacking the Iranian government, the U.S. is strengthening it. Iranians who would otherwise see a nuclear weapons program as a dangerous misuse of resources become convinced that it is the best hope for a defense against U.S. aggression. They are not blind to the fact that the government of Pakistan has prevented the u.S. government from hunting systematically for Osama bin Laden. They see how the Pakistani nuclear arsenal deters the U.S. from attacking it, and they cme to the logical conclusion that they need one too.

A war with Iran is absolutely not in the interests of either the United States government nor the people of the United States. The American people will lose a great deal of treasure and find themselves confronted by numerous implacable enemies. The U.S. governments will earn enmity and hostility from governments it seeks to dominate. These governments will not only be unwilling to work with the U.S. government but may even provide safe haven for those who wish to kill Americans.

The only people who benefit from this action are those who wish to infuriate groups like Hezbullah while depriving it of monetary support. In other words, a faction of Israeli politicians who seek to expand settlements in the occupied territories and to keep the Israeli policy of anti-Arab apartheid in place.

The fact that the U.S. government is willing to spend a princely sum in an attempt to trigger such a war does more than shock me. I think it borders on treason.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

What are you REALLY voting for?

Yesterday, the supreme court announced that the constitution actually means what it says, and that it’s OK if we want to exercise our pre-existing and fundamental rights… at least most of the time, presuming we follow the allowed restrictions…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy about Heller, and I think it’s a better ruling than many would have you believe (not that it won’t require literally decades of litigation to resolve those issues)…

…My problem here is that there had to be a supreme court decision on this; not to determine how much the government could restrict a fundamental right, but whether that right even existed at all.

The even bigger problem I have with this, is that about 30% of the population have convinced themselves that it doesn’t; and that among that 30% are a strong minority of our national legislature (there are some pro gun democrats, and some anti-gun republicans), and a not insignificant minority of our state legislatures (about 15% of the state legislatures outright, and presumably anywhere from 15 to 30% of the legislators in the rest of the states).

Even a member of the supreme court, construed the very concept of the limitation of government so obscenely, that he was openly mocked by another; to wit:

“The majority would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.” — Associate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

YES, that is EXACTLY what the framers did; that is in fact the entire purpose of the second amendment, and the bill of rights as a whole;. and anyone who in any way does not understand that has no business being a citizen of this country, never mind being a supreme court justice.

Stevens is either a liar, a fool, or disingenuously dissembling to make a fundamental right into nothing more than a hindrance to government.. which is by far the worst interpretation of his actions, and unfortunately I think the correct one. It makes him both craven, and a clear enemy of the core principles of liberty and limited government.

… but 30% of the population agrees with him.

… and that frightens me.

Now, that wouldn’t really be an issue, except for one thing: That 30% controls one of the major political parties in this country.

Which also wouldn’t be TOO much of a problem, except for one other thing: That 30 percent also controls 4 members of the 9 member supreme court.

Yesterdays decision on Heller was 5-4 in favor of the idea that the government cannot abrogate our fundamental rights by force of law; except in certain strictly limited ways.

5-4…

There were four justices of the supreme court who voted against the very foundation of our limited government…. In fact against the very IDEA of any real limitation on government, as I see it.

And it’s not just about guns (though Silveira and Fincher are certainly illustrative), it’s also about Angel Raich, and Susette Kelo, and all the other decisions favoring government over the rights of the people.

Those four justices have been reliable votes against freedom, liberty, and limitation of government (they were frequently joined by Anthony Kennedy, and now retired Sandra Day O’Connor. I also don’t discount the fact that on occasion even the so called “conservative justices have also voted against liberty)

5-4…

So, at this point, there comes a decision.

In 2008, this country will choose our next president. We have two choices (yes, only two. Don’t try and pretend otherwise).

In addition to the veto pen, and the office of commander in chief; the next president is likely to select at least one, and possibly as many as three justices for the supreme court.

Barack Obama is one of the 30%, and unabashedly so.

John McCain is one of those people who have deluded themselves into thinking there is a balance to be struck between the rights of individuals, and government. He’s wrong, in some ways disastrously so (BCRA for example); but he isn’t actively promoting the position that individual rights are superseded by “governments rights” (which don’t exist).

Obviously, neither are good; but one is clearly worse.

More importantly though, is the realization that indeed we ARE in a two party game; and what that game really is.

One party is controlled by those utterly hostile to the notion of individual rights; the other is controlled by people who believe in individual rights but disregard them when it suits them.

One party is the 30%, the other isn’t.

For those of you who say “I don’t vote for the party I vote for the man”, or “Continuing to vote for the lesser of two evils is rewarding their bad behavior. We should teach them a lesson”…

Let me be blunt: Grow the hell up, wake the hell up, and get your head back into the real world where it belongs.

Let’s face it folks, we ARE in a two party system. No matter what the Libertarian party wants to believe about its own relevance (and nominating Bob Barr showed they really don’t care so long as they can get enough press to get 4% in the general and qualify for automatic ballot inclusion and matching funding) a vote for anyone other than John McCain is a vote for Barack Obama.

Welcome back to the real world folks; where there hasn’t been someone you could actually vote FOR (as opposed to voting against), since around 1817. All you can do now, is vote against the worse guy (or rather, the worse party).

Of course that’s “OK” because you don’t actually vote for the president, you’re voting for the party; and as much as we are not a parliamentary system and that should NOT be the case, it is.
The president himself has very little to do with how the country is run, except in crises. The party, who fill in all the blanks for appointees and bureaucrats, really chooses who runs things and how.

So, you can vote for the 30%, or you can vote for the other guy, but as the game is right now, there is no third choice.

I’ll take the other guy thank you.

I’m not saying I like it, or that you have to like it. I’m saying that’s how it is whether you like it or not, and deluding yourself into thinking otherwise is ridiculous and harmful.

So either play the game by the rules, don’t play the game, or change the rules.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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