Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exploring rights and wrongs

By Carol Gee

Knowing the difference between right and wrong . . . is at times a murky business. It is not always easy to see what is beneath the surface of reality.

Fallout the so-called "war on terror" -- Telecommunications companies achieved immunity from lawsuits in the latest Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act revision. And insurance companies are exploiting terrorism fears as they set museum insurance rates. These items from my CQ Behind the Lines free e-mail newsletter, by David C. Morrison, of 8/15/08:

State and local: . . Vermont’s two-year investigation into allegations that telecoms released customer data to NSA snoops appears to be drawing to a close, The Barre Times Argus tells.

Kulture Kanyon: . . Since terror fears spiked seven years ago, insurance hikes have “threatened to strangle museums’ ability to present important art to the public,” a curator tells the L.A. Times’ Mike Boehm

"This is so wrong," -- is the headline about this item from the NYT in, "Police State USA" at Yes, I take it personally. My blog friend, "betmo's" link* describes how a man got caught up in an immigration sweep, was shuttled from facility to facility, and then died due to failure to receive even minimal medical care. The map at this site is also very revealing. To quote:

. . . fifteen years of an exemplary life in the U.S. only to get thrown into a detention center. . . detention watch network has put together this handy map...

Hate speech is flat wrong -- Conservatives have long called for the heads of prominent liberals. Looks like they got their wish. This story came from my friend Jon. It was posted by Steven D. at AlterNet, and titled, "The Tragic Arkansas Shooting and Conservative Hate Speech," taken from the Booman Tribune, August 14, 2008. To quote:

. . . there was no personal connection between the shooter and Bill Gwatney, and apparently there wasn't one. Instead, there are some initial eerie similarities between the shooter Timothy Dale Johnson, and the man who massacred members of the Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tennessee last month. Both, for example had just lost their jobs, and both were very, very angry about that fact

. . . It's past time for members of the the right wing wurlitzer to apologize for their hate speech and to renounce any further use of the language of extermination with respect to their political, religious and ideological adversaries, as well as their demonization of minorities.

Stealing the words of another to use as one's own is wrong. Jody Rosen posted an article* "Dude, You Stole My Article" -- How I investigated a suspicious alt weekly -- at Slate Magazine on Aug. 6, 2008, about someone at a Texas newspaper, The Bulletin, who plagiarized an article about Jimmy Buffett.

What is wrong with this picture, if anything? This item* came from World Changing: "Virtual Transgender Suit, Avatar Termination and Other Online World Tales," by Regine Debatty, August 15, 2008. To quote:

You might remember that a year ago Marc Owens designed the Avatar Machine, a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface.

. . . A study by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University has found that 54 percent of all males and 68 percent of all females "gender swap"--or create online personas of their opposite sex.

. . . Another of Owens' projects, Sabre & Mace - Second Death, was concerned more specifically with the online environment Second Life.

Collaborating with Tony Mullin, he created SABRE & MACE, a company that offers virtual characters the opportunity to experience death as a way to close their user account permanently. The project examines the notion of feeling sentimental toward a virtual character and examines the link between sentimentality and tangibility.

The ability to become invisible likely would never be allowed by our government's security apparatus. Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the FBI, the National Security Agency and many other government entities all want their full range of rights to search for terrorists and other suspicious people. This intriguing little blurb* is from The Raw Story, "Invisibility Cloak Now Within Sight: Scientists," 8/11/08. To quote:

The age-old fantasy of making yourself invisible has taken a step toward reality, with scientists saying they have created three-dimensional materials that can bend visible light.

*Thanks for these links from "betmo," who writes life's journey.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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