Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where It All Began

Where I am standing, shooting this video, is where my homelessness began, exactly 30 years ago. It is now a park, but it used to be a parking lot, and I lived in my car the parking lot, right there in front of the Davidson County/Nashville Court House. I would park my car down an alley until after hours, and then pull into this lot to spend the night. There are some new buildings, but for the most part it looks just like it did back in 1982, when I first arrived in Nashville.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Must Read Concerning Internet Content Providers

A Megaload of Unintended Consequences

http://netrightdaily.com/2012/01/a-megaload-of-unintended-consequences/

By Bill Wilson

After an outpouring of opposition by millions of Internet users and tens of thousands of websites against the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and the "Protect Intellectual Property Act" (PIPA) in the House and Senate, congressional proponents of the bills have delayed votes on Capitol Hill.

That is not stopping the Obama Administration, however, which has been acting as if the proposals have already been passed. The most recent example is the shutdown of Megaupload.com, a web-based data storage company that boasted over 150 million users, by the Justice Department and New Zealand law enforcement officials.

According to the indictment, the company was accused of facilitating the distribution of pirated movies, television shows, music, and other copyrighted material. Allegedly, the company refused to process Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests, and falsely told copyright owners materials had been removed when members of the company took steps to keep the pirated material on their servers.

Finally, according to the indictment, the company allegedly "made payments to uploaders who were known to have uploaded infringing copies of copyrighted works" and that members of the company itself were uploading infringing works.

If true, the members of the company would certainly be in a lot of trouble. However, this case has broader implications that should be considered.

Over 150 million users worldwide — millions of whom were premium subscribers — have lost access to their data files. By some estimates, there were over 8 billion files stored on Megaupload, just a fraction of which contained infringing material according to the indictment, which only claims that "many millions" of the files are infringing. Like many alleged criminal enterprises, Megaupload carried on several legitimate business dealings.

So, whether the company is guilty or not, Megaupload had millions of users who were using its servers for legitimate purposes — and they've just had their data seized without cause.

This, in turn, sets up a series of dangerous precedents.

The future of information technology is in cloud-based applications. When the feds can seize the entire cloud based on the actions a few or even many participants, it violates the property rights of its legitimate users.

The Justice Department has responded to media inquiries about the status of the legitimate files that were stored at Megaupload, saying that users had no reasonable expectation of long-term data storage from the company: "the vast majority of Megaupload.com users do not have significant capabilities to store private content long-term since anything that isn't repeatedly downloaded is automatically deleted from the system."

However, premium users had an expectation that their data would be stored for a period lasting at least 90 days or forever if it was regularly accessed. Now, it looks like everything on the Megaupload servers could be deleted as soon as Feb. 2.

To draw a real world analogy, this would be like a bank being accused of violating some law, and so all of the innocent depositors' assets were also seized. Or if a mobster owned an apartment building and was arrested, all of the building's blameless occupants were exiled and their property taken into custody, based merely on criminal activity taking place in one of the apartment units.

Even more alarming is the Obama Administration's expansion of executive powers to police the Internet in this manner, based on a reading of existing federal forfeiture laws in a manner that was never necessarily intended.

Already, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used this basis to seize domains in error, including the cases of mooo.com and dajaz1.com, only to be returned weeks and months later respectively without any compensation for loss of revenues or even a good explanation for the mishaps.

Overall, the Obama Administration's actions to date with Megaupload.com, mooo.com and dajaz1.com raise significant due process, First Amendment, and property rights concerns. The world has witnessed attempts by governments to shut down political speech using the same rationale and technologies that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have employed already.

Congress needs to act now to tie their hands while the courts move to rein in this aggressive, arrogant overreach by an out-of-control government.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at rrast@getliberty.org to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Being Flynn

Based on the book, "Another Bullshit Night In Suck City" this movie, "Being Flynn" is the movie to see. If it's half as good as the book, this movie will be great. If you are not familiar with it, this is the true story about a young man who took a job at a homeless shelter, only to meet up with his estranged father who was living there. When I read the book, I was struck by the author's ability to convey the realities of homelessness in a honest and meaningful way. It is the best book about homelessness that I have ever read.

Friday, January 20, 2012

More On Asperger Syndrome

The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc.
Dear all:

There is breaking news regarding the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), which is due out in early 2013.

Spectrum individuals who are better able to mirror greater society will most likely not qualify for a diagnosis under the most recent revisions. Please contact the DSM-V committee through the American Psychiatric Association (see below) and protest their newest proposed changes.

Though our membership was split on the subject, GRASP supported the changes in terminology that were first reported almost two years ago. Eliminating the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) (as well as Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), and putting everything under the umbrella of “autism” was jarring, as many of us have gotten used to the term “AS” to explain certain aspects of our identity. But seeing as no discernible line in the sand could be drawn that truly separated AS from autism (though the clinical world tried), the merger made theoretical sense. Furthermore, any spectrum diagnosis, in essence, served us well enough as it placed our behavioral differences within the context of wiring, and not through the judgmental lens of interpreted character deficits—as had existed before AS was legitimized in the DSM-IV in 1994.

But sadly, we may be heading back to the days of character deficits. Now it appears that the terminology is not all that will change with the DSM-V. Now, it appears that only the more severe cases will qualify for diagnosis or services.

In a report being published in tomorrow’s New York Times, the DSM-V committee appears to be acting in consort with clinicians who believe there is a presence of “over-diagnosis” of spectrum conditions in the U.S. While the clinical world was merely adhering to the requirements proposed in 1994’s DSM-IV, the DSM-V committee inexplicably seems to want to reverse the clock back to 1993, simply because the social services, educational, and advocacy worlds are not yet able to accommodate the numbers of people who are on the spectrum. Oddly enough, we believe that the majority of the clinical world does not believe in problems of “over-diagnosis,” and that the DSM committee surprisingly represents a minority opinion (most, if not all members of the committee have worked exclusively with only the more challenged end of the spectrum). Lastly, the ideas of “over-diagnosis” are almost always heard through bitter, emotionally-unhealthy tones; revealed as theories that are usually the product of people too afraid to admit how dumb we all were prior to 1994.

Suspiciously, the DSM-V committee has released these changes one month after taking away the opportunity for us to make comments (through their website) to proposed revisions. In lieu of the means to write them, please instead call the DSM authors, the American Psychiatric Association, at 703.907.7300 and tell them that you object to these changes. Not only will tens of thousands of spectrumites—if not more—be at risk for going back to the days when we were thought of as rude, nervous, or incompetent; but equal numbers of spectrumites will happily be denied the services they need by financially-strapped agencies. Fiscal concerns cannot be invalidated, but this is not the answer.

It is very hard for many to understand how diverse, and how complicated the autism spectrum really is. But to have what should be the leaders of our clinical world (a) subtley waging a competition of suffering between opposite ends of the spectrum, by invalidating the negative experiences of one side, and (b) succumbing to such a dumbing-down of the autism spectrum, if not knowledge itself, is unconscionable. Please make that call.

Sincerely,

Michael John Carley
Executive Director
GRASP
The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc.
666 Broadway, Suite 825
New York, NY 10012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Living The Lie

Humans are an imaginative bunch. We can think all sorts of things beyond what actually exists. For that, we have been able to make certain improvements in our lives. We had to imagine automobiles and air planes before we had them. Our creativity has paid off in many respects. But, sometimes we lose our sense of realty when we think creatively. There are certain characteristics of humans that despite our desire to change them for the better, they cannot. I have had dreams in which I could fly just by willing myself to do so. But I never actually will be able to do so. The reality of physics prevents it. The reality of being human also prevents us from achieving Utopian ideals for society as well. There are some realities associated with being human (our frailty, and our obvious imperfections, to begin with) such as that prevent politicians, and really, any group of people from achieving true civility, compassion, and community, will always be with us. In the bible, such lack of perfection is referred to as "sin" - something we are born with, and something we will never be able to rid ourselves of.

The one big problem with striving to become a more civilized people is that at some point we reach our full potential of civility and yet still fall short of what we imagine we could be, we are less than completely civil. To compensate between what we are and what we hoped to be we begin telling ourselves little lies about how civil we are. We become two faced, saying one thing, and doing, being something else. Eventually we start believing those lies about our selves and how civil we "think" we are. And that leads us to such things as voting for someone like George W Bush, who declared himself "pro life" so to win votes necessary to achieve the most power position in the land, and yet he has more spilled blood on his hands than most any other human in recent memory. Even before becoming president he was Government over a state the the most executions in the country. The truth about him not actually being "pro life" was there for everyone to see, but the lies they've been telling themselves blinded them from the ugly truth.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Christian Politician

There's a lot to talk about here regarding supposed Christian politicians. We could start with the separation of church and state. The founding fathers had seen the problems that come with a government heavily influenced by religion in England, and so they devised a government that purposely kept the two entities "church" and "state" separate. I also recall Jesus commanding his followers to make no oath to anything or anyone but Him. Seems to me that a true Christian would see a conflict of interest in following Jesus and being a politician.

And it wasn't just in England where this was a problem. The American colonies had some serious growing pains as well. The first colonies in America were governed by church folks, mostly divided between Catholics and Protestants. If you happened to be a Catholic in a Protestant colony, or vice versa, you'd either be forced to convert, or if you refused that, they'd burn you at the stake for being a heretic. Things just get ugly when religion begins influencing politics. And if you think such things could not happen today, just consider the Taliban, and what they are up to these days, beheadings and all.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

NDAA National Defense Authorization Act

Any government that refuses to be held accountable to its people is a government that cannot be trusted. The whole point of having rules for detaining people for crimes outlined in the Constitution was to prevent this very thing from happening - holding people in jail indefinitely and without charge. This, my friends, is the end of The United States.