It Almost Seems Deliberate


MEMORANDUM

To: YouTube

re: Really? I thought this part was obvious

So … you know that little thing you have where we click for the option to say we don’t want you promoting this or that kind of video? Why does it not work? No, really, when I tell you to not show me this, don’t turn around and promote the same damn video again.

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God Bless the Children of the Beast, and other notes


I’m not much for believing conspiracy theories, but there is some fun to be had in reading through them. We often forget, among the echoing, craven paranoia of a thousand parrots swollen with delusions of grandeur that there is, in fact, a creative endeavor taking place. You know, kind of like religion.

And speaking of religion, sort of ….

Cheques will be phased out by October 2018, but only if adequate alternatives are developed, the body that oversees payments strategy has said.

The board of the UK Payments Council has set the date in a bid to encourage the advance of other forms of payment.

The first cheque was written 350 years ago and the decision will be greeted with disappointment by some small businesses and consumers.

The Council said there should be “no scenario” for using cheques by 2018.
The target date for the closure of the system that processes cheques has been set for 31 October 2018, after the board described the payment method as in “terminal decline”.

However, there will be annual checks on the progress of other payments systems and a final review of the decision will be held in 2016.

Even I was surprised by this BBC article, although perhaps if I was British—or, at least, paying attention—I would have seen this coming. The cashless society is a common aspect of “Beast Theory” among Christian paranoiacs, some of whom see the idea of a plastic-commerce society as an apocalyptic sign; eventually, the theory goes, we will pay credits instead of cash through a microchip or barcode at the wrist, which would translate to the Biblical “mark of the Beast”.

While I don’t think this particular transition in the UK heralds the coming of Satan, or anything like that, is it really a good idea? I mean, sure, many people are set up to receive their wages, or pay their taxes, electronically, but the more fundamentally we come to rely on the networks, the more I find myself wondering if anyone is stopping to consider what happens if the power goes out. It is not impossible that some cataclysm could so severely damage the networks that they are, for an extended period, useless; and it seems we ought to have something like, say, paper checks, which apparently worked well enough for centuries before our financial endeavors were aided by computers.

Still, though, I expect that sometime in the next couple of years we will start hearing about this plan to phase out checks in the UK as further evidence of the coming of the Beast, or some such. And both humanity’s diversity and its creative capacity suggest to me we’ll hear some pretty entertaining variations on some basic conspiracy theories, be it the Beast, the Jews taking over the world, or whatever the hell else the paranoiacs come up with.

To the other, I haven’t heard a good conspiracy theory in years.

Justice, freedom, and necessity


One to keep an eye on. Peter Daniels explains:

A three-judge panel of a US federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of outspoken civil liberties lawyer Lynne Stewart, convicted in 2005 of assisting terrorism by transmitting the contents of a press statement by her client, the blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in 2000. Also convicted at that time were Ahmed Abdel Sattar, who is presently serving a 24-year term for assisting the cleric, and Mohamed Yousry, a translator who was sentenced originally to 20 months.

The appellate court also ordered the revocation of Stewart’s bond, and she surrendered to prison authorities on November 19 to begin serving a 28-month sentence.

The latest decision was not unexpected considering the present political and civil liberties climate. An additional ominous note was injected, however, by the judges from the Second Circuit of the US Court of Appeals; they ordered the trial judge, John Koeltl of the Federal District Court, to hold another hearing on December 2 to consider resentencing Stewart to a longer term on the grounds that she had lied at the trial.

Koeltl had shocked the authorities in October 2006 when he sentenced Stewart to a term less than 10 percent as long as the 30 years called for the prosecution. At the time, Koeltl, in part voicing a broad and widespread sympathy for Stewart, especially in New York, called her “a dedicated public servant who had, throughout her career, represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular” ….

…. A further indication of the mood of the higher court judges was the partial dissent of Judge John M. Walker, who called the sentence “breathtakingly low.” Walker was not satisfied with the majority decision merely sending the case back for resentencing, claiming that it “trivializes Stewart’s extremely serious conduct with a ‘slap on the wrist.'”

Stewart denounced the appellate decision, pointing in particular to the recent decision to try some of the Guantanamo defendants at criminal trials in New York. She said that the timing of the decision in her case, “coming as it does on the eve of the arrival of the tortured men from offshore prison in Guantanamo,” was intended to intimidate lawyers who would be defending these men.

“If you’re going to lawyer for these people, you’d better toe very close to the line that the government has set out,” said Ms. Stewart. Otherwise, she added, you “will end up like Lynne Stewart …. This is a case that is bigger than just me personally.” Stewart’s attorney, Joshua Dratel, said that an appeal to the Supreme Court was possible.

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