don't drink the kool-aide

life in wartime
The Ashcroft nomination went through today. If you've read this site for very long, you're probably aware that my personal politics lean more left than right, so you might be expecting some ranting and raving about the confirmation, but you're not going to find it. After thinking a bit this morning, and looking over the most recent salvos in the Lyn/Dan versus Mike flame-fest, I've realized that I'm going to need to adopt a different strategy (or is it strategery?) for at least the next two (maybe four, or even o-boy-I-hope-not eight) years.

The Ashcroft and Norton nominations, the change in the executive order governing overseas clinics that offer abortion services, the funding of religious charities with taxpayer funds -- I could rant fast, hard, loud and furious about any one or all of these. I could join protests and march in the streets, chanting slogans and displaying solidarity. I could write angry letters to my elected representatives, tell them all about how they've failed (once again) to adequately represent my views, and threaten righteous retribution the very next time I'm in front of a ballot box. There are tons of opportunities for me to expend time, money, and energy in response to these events, and I'm not going to take any of them.

Why? Because I think doing so will play right into the hands of the Bush administration. Because Bush was never going to nominate somebody for Attorney General who would represent any of my positions . Because Bush has clearly demonstrated his contempt for my position on abortion, and, while it's grossly unfair to lots of people overseas, the rescinding of the executive order is a pretty minor event, and it's likely to have minimal, if any, effect on the abortion laws in this country. Because those tax dollars aren't mine anymore, they aren't yours, and there are many more odious places Bush could have tried to spend them. I'll ramp up my charitable contributions a bit, but that's going to be the extent of my activity in that area.

My response to all of the recent actions by the Bush administration is to not rant, not rave, not fight, but instead to bide my time, lay low, conserve my energy, and pick my battles. I think the Bush administration, consciously or not, has engaged the people who hold opposing views in a rope-a-dope, encouraging them to exhaust themselves and their compatriots, to recklessly burn political capital and accumulated favors, and to gain a reputation for reflexively reacting in a negative fashion to every action of the administration.

Paranoid? You bet. Crazy? Possibly. That said, right now I'm betting that over the next six months or so, the Bush administration will continue to antagonize everybody outside of the radical right-wing. And after they've worn down the people who are paying attention, and convinced the sheep that the people opposing the administration are at least partially loony, then the real bad stuff is going to start to happen. For example, ifwhen McCain's campaign finance reform bill gets pushed through, I fully expect it to be loaded down with more pork than a Hormel truck, but I also expect one or two additional measures to be stuck on the tail end, in an attempt to pass new laws that, for example, extend the DMCA, or restrict your ability to use encryption software, or chip away even further at the Fourth Amendment, or make it even easier for the FedGov to execute you. And I fear that those new laws will be passed, in silence, in the dead of night, because all the good people willing to fight against them, to scream to the heavens, to bring light into the darkness and reveal the slinking evil hiding there -- all those people will be exhausted from previous pointless battles, or even worse, simply ignored because they will have earned a reputation for crying wolf at every poodle sighting.

So, for the moment, I'm laying low. I've got one ear to the ground, one hand on my wallet, and both eyes wide fucking open. I hope you're the same.

but while we're on the subject
I also realized something else: Ashcroft is far from the worst AG we could have ended up with. If you think back to the characteristics that the Bush team emphasized they were looking for in Cabinet members -- primarily loyalty and an ability to follow orders -- you'll realize that the person in the AG seat isn't important, because all the real orders will be coming from the West Wing. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Bush got unsigned resignations from all the new Cabinet members, and instructed them that the first time they didn't follow orders would be the last time they didn't follow orders.

So, the fact that Bush decided to go with one of the more reactionary right-wingers out there is actually sort of a blessing in disguise: a more moderate AG might have lulled people into thinking Bush really was going to be a "uniter". Having to look at Ashcroft's ugly mug for the next little bit will be a nice reminder that the people currently in power don't really like us and shouldn't be trusted.

family meta
My maternal grandfather, Duane 'Tiny' Howard, is a former construction foreman, staunch union man, and lifelong Dem. He also happens to be a Missourian, born and bred. (Actually, I'm a Missourian by birth as well...) Anyways, Grandpa Howard sent word through my Mom that he'd asked around in Missouri, and everybody there wanted to thank us people out in DC for taking Ashcroft off their hands, and could we please try and not send him back to Missouri anytime soon, as they were getting sick and tired of his self-righteous ass. I don't know, Grandpa, we don't really care for him either -- maybe we can get him some sort of foreign posting, or something...

#include <big_brother_crack.h>
And speaking of fights that are really worth fighting... It turns out that a biometric face recognition system was secretly deployed at the Stupor Bowl last week. That's right, everyone who attended had their facial features scanned against a database of prior offenders. Gee, it's convenient how most states have started storing the picture from your driver's license electronically, too...

one point of light
Reason might be an endangered commodity in the intellectual property space, but there are still some samples of it to be found, if you look hard enough.

my other car can crush your car
Screw SUVs, I want one of these.

Spotted rampaging in the fields outside the Scary Devil Monastery.

toy lust
Seems like my Visor purchase last year might have been unwise. If I'd opted for the more expensive WinCE platform, I could be running Emacs in the palm of my hand. (Download, README)

tools for the future
At some point, I'm going to have the time to pick up XHTML, XML, XSTL, and all that good stuff. When I do, the XML Authoring Environment for Emacs will be quite useful, I think.

not of this world
The next time somebody looks at you funny and asks you what planet you're from, look them dead in the eye and say, "Actually, I'm from interplanetary space."

our fearless leader
Linuxplanet has a collection of Linus Torvalds quotes, mostly outtakes from the kernel development mailing list. My favorite is on this page:

If you write code that needs comments at the end of a line, your code is crap. It's that easy. There is never a reason to comment a single line, and multi-line comments the the right of multi-line code to the left is a recipe for disaster. In short, you don't do comments to the right of code - you do them before code.

best of breed
Congrats to the winners of the 2001 Bloggies.