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Category Archives: civil liberties

If you’d like a definition for the modern euphemism, food insecurity, or to really understand the feel of day-to-day poverty, and the desperation it engenders, read my Grandmother Johnson’s personal letters to her daughter, Carol, who left Upper Glade, West Virginia, to move to Akron, Ohio in 1953, the day she graduated high school to find a job at Goodyear. 

Virginia’s weekly letters tell a story about her struggle to hold her family together during years of joblessness. The UPPER GLADE LETTERS are poignant and warm, weary and heart breaking. Virginia DeVaughn Johnson’s determination is the only glue she had to hold the family together.

Whipped by an economy that had too few jobs, and a husband who was afraid to tiptoe into the world, a son who slowly was lost to her through schizophrenia, and my father, who she feared was a failure because he dreamed dreams that didn’t include working in a coal mine. The letters are a daily correspondence written by my Grandmother Virginia DeVaughn Johnson during the family’s often joblessness between 1953 – 1968. The letters characterize my childhood, and chronicle my father’s climb from poverty to the middle class.

Neither she nor my Grandfather were born to poverty, in fact he was born in a house locally known as the Johnson Mansion. A college stands now where that house stood. The land for the college was donated by the Johnson family. My grandmother was a writer, a poet, and a musician. Poverty engulfed them the same as it has many talented middle class people of the recent economic crisis.

My father, Hays Johnson, made it out of the grinding poverty. He, my mother and my brothers and sisters, built an impressive home from the ground up with their hands and sweat, and my parents income from both their jobs. All of his children became productive, well-respected members of their community. His sisters migrated to Ohio to jobs and husbands. My Grandmother died in that horrible lifestyle in 1972.

Now, once again, I’m watching as others quietly trudge along rationing their groceries so they can stay in a rented home, but this time migrating to a new state will probably not find new jobs for the mass of people who are out of work, and have run out of unemployment compensation. Some, especially the well-educated are leaving the nation. Brain-drain. Brain drain is catastrophic for any country.

Noam Chomsky tells us there is a class war against the poor and the poor has been redefined as the middle class, and is even encroaching on the upper middle classes. Those are fine sentiments that mean something to those who stand up against corporations, and laws that make us less well than well off, and those powers that encourage joblessness, but those words as true as they are do not get down to the floor, and scrub up the nittty-gritty, dirty bottom of the poverty of soul, heart and stomach of joblessness that degrades our humanity in a nation that has sponsored democracy with our ancestors blood, and sometimes personal financial ruination.

Poverty for black & white and all colors between isn’t lack of initiative. It is the result of skilled predators who are good at privatizing others wealth, and ignoring the betterment of the whole. It’s time it stopped. As I read my Grandmother’s letters again, I feel sickened at the waste that was her life. She may or may not have become famous but she could have lived her life, and died with some dignity, if there had been adequate jobs. Jobs wouldn’t have solved all the Johnson family problems, like a son’s schizophrenia, but it sure as hell would not have been hell on earth for her, the idealist.

EULOGY

June 29, 1910 – March 8, 1972

Virginia Devaughn Johnson, mother, poet, writer of philosophy and above all, companion and friend to those around her.

During her life she tended to the sick of body as well as those of spirit, asking nothing in return. She was a totally unselfish person.

Her life style was that of a lover of all things and activities. Matter not, they be eccentric, for her philosophy was: no human activity is alien to me, for I too am human.

She did not follow a particular religious doctrine but instead imparted her own wisdom to those who would accept it. Many did and they are here today, be what they be.

Hays Johnson

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Blurred Politics

Do I live in the US of America, still, or are we the previous US of America, and the present Homelandia of America? Do I live in the Land of the Free or do I live in a geopolitical ideal, the Homeland? Who am I? American or Homelandian? Am I to believe in the Land of the Free, still, in the land of a noble idea, abstract, complex and enduring; or am I to cling to the artificial construct thrown up, haphazardly, after 9/11 – the Homeland?

Isn’t homeland a Nazi word? How can I feel pride in that? Isn’t homeland a self-referential name claimed by nearly every nation state at the beginning of nearly every imperialist undertaking? How can I not feel shame? For that matter, how can our European neighbors not shudder?

Who redefined me? Did I fall asleep and agree to be redefined? When exactly were we renamed the “Homeland?” Or maybe I and others like me were not asleep, maybe it was an assumption made by our leaders made when we were shocked and awed.

Is it within one person’s power to change a name, to remove it from our stationery, our websites, our consciousness? If that were so I would remove the name Homeland from our nation’s collective experience, and I’d do it before breakfast, today. It is harmful. It labels us as a nation of sheep grazing in a predefined geopolitical pasture.

After 9/11 we were redefined as a geopolitical blob redrawn forever on NSA maps to include Canada, Mexico, and Central America, to name a few, a map strategized by a failed war under dubious motives, a war followed by a similar militaristic, corporatist, administration running a shadow government – this time by a president that I thought would put Abraham Lincoln on notice as one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.

So, yes, I’m disappointed, but in the meantime, I want our name back. I want to sweep the legislative cobwebs away, I want to take back our name and reputation. I want to stop allowing the US of America to be labeled a chunk of land with a people who need contained like an enemy. I want the US to be known as the Land of the Free again.

I’m not a Jeffersonian; I’m not an ism; I’m not much of a Democrat or Republican any more; I’m not a Libertarian or Socialist or any label; I am an American who despises the name Homeland, who cringes at it’s incarnation in print or speech.

I want to ask that we legislate the abolition of this hateful, Nazi word from our national consciousness and vocabulary. I want the word homeland to never be capitalized again in a sentence bearing our nation’s reputation. Sunset the name Homeland. Set the world aright again. We are a nation where the people still hold influence. Exercise it. We cannot be both the Land of the Free and the Homeland. It’s just schizophrenic.

NEW RELEASEImage

 

This guy’s book will cost 0.1 Bitcoin or approx. 2700 ripples if you care to convert your hoard to Bitcoin, which is about $11.64 (amirite or amiwrong?) When the book debuts on Amazon June 3, 2013,  it will cost $4.99 on Whisper net. It’s available pre-order on Amazon, only.

If anyone orders this book would you please let me know how easy (difficult) it was to buy the first book w/ Bitcoin.

BIOGRAPHY

CHOOSING YOURSELF by James Altucher, James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, and author. He has founded or cofounded over 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr. Wikipedia

Found “Choose Yourself” review in a BUSINESS INSIDER story.

ALTUCHER QUOTE

I’ve made money, I’ve lost money. I’ve lost my home/family/friends. I’ve made some of the above back. I’ve gotten really lucky. Several times. With determination I’ll make it stick, and I think you will also.

 

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Bit Coin fascinates me not because it is a get-rich-scheme or a convenient way to buy weed off the grid, which I don’t smoke, but don’t mind if anyone else does, or because I’m a Libertarian with gold on hand, I’m not. Bit Coins are the perfect storm heading our way, and the perfect opportunity.

Bit Coins or Bit currencies are the tip of the “Fat Tail.” Fat tails “are events that appear highly unlikely to occur but that are earth-moving when they do.” Bit coin is the Cat 5 hurricane coming to you and me in the next five to ten years. It could be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how world wide acceptance shakes out.

Bit currency is an emergent electronic payment system similar to Pay-Pal, which is an over simplistic way towards explaining it but about the best I can do. It’s an electronic money system whereby we all could become merchants. It’s a system where a few law abiding entrepreneurs now pay for a pizza or buy a WordPress site or sell yard sale items without a credit card or without cash. It’s a money-medium that’s convenient for not-so law-abiding people to buy and sell items, or move money they don’t want traced. It’s a money system without bill collectors. It’s permanent; you can’t get your money back. All sales are final.

Speculators are drawn to it. It has a future. It’s security is okay — that is until you cash out your cyber bits in exchange for dollars. That’s a crack in the system right now. There are robbers waiting to take your money when you cash out. It helps if you’re tech savvy. And, oh yea, speculators may try to crash the currency so they can buy it back from you when the price drops like it recently did. Or you may lose your encrypted back up file or accidentally wipe it out, and your Bit coins are gone. Yet, this nascent system is the tail end of the hurricane.

Since it’s an emergent system, it’s also similar to a snowflake or a termite cathedral or DNA replication or Wolfram’s computations where a pattern begins simply but generates complex designs over replication. Like DNA something pleasing might come from it like a baby or like the termite cathedral something not altogether likable. Emergent systems like Bit Coin don’t emerge in a vacuum, they bring other systems to the forefront with them, hence complexity.

Eric Schmidt, Googleplex person, says that by 2020 the entire world will be online. If so, we will want to buy and sell from our neighbors, which will include the entire world, which will require other emergent systems as helpers. If that’s so, a fairly secure Bit currency is going to be necessary, a stronger Maker culture will most likely be put in place, and a faster transportation system might have evolved.

We’ll need a world wide communication system to propel the buying and selling, and making, and a same day world wide system for delivery of concrete goods, and a maybe an unsettling shift in government. But like termites when disturbed governments are self-organizing, and seem to fare well after turmoil, coming back stronger and we should hope, more democratized.

A fairly secure Bit currency: Fairly secure but not absolutely secure Bit currency with a fast connection, and maybe free phones, is all that’s keeping us from buying instant art from an African artist in Timbuktu or hand knit wool socks from North Korea (well maybe more). The network doesn’t need to be absolutely secure, just secure enough. If products were cheap enough that I could afford to lose money on a small percentage of my purchases or sales, then it would would work as a currency. If we accepted a small loss it could work. It might be called fuzzy accounting for Bit currency instead of bank or credit card accounting where each penny is accounted for, and an over-priced transaction fee is charged.

A healthy Maker culture: Couple Bit currency/micro payments with a home or community based, Maker printer, and an artist living in Timbuktu, Africa, could send me her sculpture plan, created in her village, or the North Korean, homemaker could send me his sock design created in his village, ready to print anywhere in the world on a Maker printer in any suitable medium, be it yarn, wood, plastic, or steel. Or if the fat tail is really fat, and imaginative, those original North Korean socks could be delivered same day by a transport fueled with a NASA UW fusion rocket recently proposed to reach Mars within 30 days. Far fetched, maybe, but … I’m still waiting for my robot.

So, why should Bit currency matter to you and me? Bit currency is an emerging technology that’s going to revolutionize commerce. It may not stay in the present form but mutate into something we haven’t anticipated yet. Whatever it is when Bit Coin was unleashed it was like going through a gate that had a one way spring, there is no going back — Bit currency is here, and it’s a reality. Oh, yea, there are going to be Bit currency billionaires made just like railroad moguls and oil barons. Wouldn’t you like to be one of them.

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“I think the case against Auernheimer is deeply flawed, and that the

principles the case raises are critically important for civil liberties online.”

 

“In a blog post Thursday, Orin Kerr, a professor from the George Washington University Law School, said he is stepping in to help Auernheimer due to concerns over the length of his sentence and the manner in which the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was applied in the case.”

AT&T HACK

A few days ago, I read about “Weev” Auernheimer hacking AT&T to reveal a deep flaw. He did it for the challenge and a notoriety. He was hacking for fun not profit. He’s going to jail. Why?

Why are our brightest minds wasted in jail? A rapist gets one year and a non-malicious hacker gets three to four, and another altruistic one is driven to take his life, and yet another one, a talented Texas journalist rots in jail. It’s more than unfair. It’s wasteful. And, heart breaking.

I’m not a hacker. I tinker. Yet, our society is so backward, and so under-educated about technology that I might be lumped into that category. I tinker, like so many others. To say that I hack is like saying that singing Karaoke is the same as performing a musical virtuoso. What I like to do is write or at least think about writing. It’s probably what Barrett Brown likes best, too — what he thinks about while in jail for hacking, which he probably didn’t know jack about, what he knew about was writing and investigative journalism.

Technosociofile, Subspecies of the Nerd

Years ago I got fascinated by a new thing, a bulletin board, run by a skinny teenager who worked at Walmart. I don’t remember his name; I remember he killed himself, though. One day I had someone to share a hobby the next I had no one. I used to talk to him about computers when I went there to shop. I’d look him up. One day he wasn’t there, and they told me they found him by the wood pile near the shanty he lived in. He’d shot himself. He was a Technosociofile, not a terribly understood subspecies of the nerd. Seems they are the most vulnerable.

Brown, Swartz, and Auemheimer

In a small way that’s why I feel so bad for activist, Aaron Swartz, altruistic JSTOR hacker at MIT who committed suicide while under Federal indictment “facing decades of prison”, and to some degree, I feel bad for Andrew ‘Weev’ Auernheimer in what is considered “Federal overreach”, for the AT&T hacking. And then there is Barrett Brown, who got hold of a story that his journalistic personality wouldn’t allow him to let go.

Cyberwarfare Discussion

Don’t get me wrong I don’t like or support malicious hacking but hacktivism is another story. It often doesn’t come tied up in a nice bow with manners and etiquette. It’s comes in the package of a sometimes obsessive, reclusive, inquisitive mind who just wants to know if they can climb one more level in the game. And when they are caught, nowadays, lately, the crime often does not fit the punishment. I’m not saying all who hack and get caught should go unpunished I’m saying recently this is beginning to look like a witch hunt.

Is this an era we will look back on as a destruction of the best minds of the early twenty-first century, the ones who are self taught, self-motivated, the possible geniuses who might protect our country against cyberwarfare through exposing holes in the technology-Internet-infrastructure? I’m saying let’s have open discussion, let’s have oversight in sentencing, and let’s understand the difference between malicious destruction and hacktivism. It’s a very fine line but democracy has always allowed us to tread that fine line delicately.