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Friday, Jul 25th

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Alex Baer: Pop Goes Another Resolution

new years resolutionA case might be made that January is named after the various American demigods of tax calculation computer programs, weight-loss schemes, resolution daydreams, and instant makeovers of home, family, friends, wardrobes, exercise equipment, cars, relationships -- you name it.

All it takes is a little champagne and the turn of a calendar page:  Presto, there goes another resolution.  One year gone, here comes another.  Up one minute, out the next.  Now you see it, now you don't.  It's the ultimate in on-demand convenience, good intentions, and the sort of regretful, pawing, nagging lapsed morality we've perfected hereabouts -- a real natural for Life in These Here Benighted, You-nited States.

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Alex Baer: Rutting Around for Reason... and Reasons

choicesWe are creatures of ruts.  Ruts keep us self-regulated, self-herded, and auto-piloted, functioning along a thin line of choices -- except, over time, they are no longer choices.  These ruts may have been choices once, but are now only pre-set governors of our possible responses to life, captured and restricted by our previously made decisions and choices.

It's hard to see a rut when you're in it.  Not looking, and not seeing, are part of the energy-saving bargain of a rut:  There's no need to waste time or energy on considering options, making decisions, testing the waters, or re-considering steps.

Not much of a bargain, though, when all one can do is plod on forward, shlep backwards, or freeze in place.  Creative types will occasionally look up from the confines of the rut, and even jump up now and then, prairie-dogging, office-cubicle-worker-style, to get the lay of the land.

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Black Box Voting: New Voter List Solution; Hacking Update

Bev HarrisOne important report below, and one quick update on the website hack follows.

An award-winning voting rights innovation -- which would work great in the USA -- improved voter lists in Pakistan, where an SMS mobile phone text-messaging system got 55 million voters to check their registration and polling location; voter turnout increased, and marginalized groups like persons with disabilities measurably increased election engagement. In addition, public voter list display at over 50,000 neighborhood locations helped resolve problems on the spot and aided in detection of systemically disenfranchised groups.

Voter list display engaged everyone in list scrutiny and caught several districts involved in a voter list fraud incident.  Crowd-sourcing voter list accuracy increases public engagement in elections and could easily be expanded to any country.

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Bob Alexander: Same Sh*t...Different Bun

e-cigarettesLet’s do a little thought experiment. Take anything you know to be a solid gold fact and have this fact not only be something you’ve researched the hell out of, but one that has also been proven over and over again to be true in your own experience.

Okay … now how would you feel when you read news articles that say the exact opposite of what you know to be true? And regardless of how many time the false talking points are debunked … they show up over and over again as if they’ve never been discredited. You might start getting the idea that there’s an agenda behind making sure disinformation trumps your known fact. This has happened so many times before I should be used to it by now, but as the tagline on the poster for Jaws IV The Revenge said, “This time it’s personal.”

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Bruce Enberg: Democracy is falling off the Edge

net neutralityFrom the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, "... consumers, of course, have options, They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.” Replace the term 'edge providers' with 'liberal media', and you get what this is all about.

The three hard right corporate owners that control all the major markets can simply tell you what sort of material you can download from, or upload to internet. The phrase, "want to reach" means explicitly that they can block content at will.

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I helped destroy Falluja in 2004. I won't be complicit again

FallujahI am having flashbacks to my time as a marine during the second siege of Falluja in 2004. Again, claims are being published that al-Qaida has taken over the city and that a heavy-handed military response is needed to take the city back from the control of terrorists.

The first time around, this claim proved to be false. The vast majority of the men we fought against in Falluja were locals, unaffiliated with al-Qaida, who were trying to expel the foreign occupiers from their country. There was a presence of al-Qaida in the city, but they played a minimal and marginal role in the fighting. The stories about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was said to be recruiting an army in Falluja, were wildly exaggerated. There is no evidence that Zarqawi ever even set foot in Falluja.

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Alex Baer: Chilblains, Resolutions, and Head Muscle Exercises

Alex BaerA new year, and already there's all sorts of bad habits being dragged right into the middle of things.  Again.  Talk about chilblains and the winter of discontent...

For example, resolutions or no, there's the expectation that things make sense every once in a while, if only to keep the Universe somewhat honest, and to keep exercising the head muscles, too, in the rare event something comes along requiring any brain power.

This is like insisting on a periodic win in 3-Card Monte, I know.  It's a hard habit to break, having the expectations of logic, fairness, meaning...

But, every year, there's Realitus Interruptus Annoyus, in which pesky facts emerge that drag yards and scads of mud and muck across that nice, clean floor of my mind.  So much for the nice, clean slate provided by those first few arbitrary, and always promising, seconds of the New Year, too.

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