SeaViews: Insights from the Gray
(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News
Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for
being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating
the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for
-- C.A. Beard
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On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"Is the direction of the federal govt. on the right track,
when we punish legal businesses with bankrupting policies,
purposely distort the markets, and return political refugees
Act one. Elian Gonzalez, currently a guest of the
U.S. taxpayer at the Wye River Plantation, is undergoing
freedom detox. His closest friends, family and
psychoanalysts from Cuba are reintroducing him to the
true path of the Young Pioneers, an education and
propaganda tool of Fidel Castro for children. The only
recent photos to be released show him wearing the young
pioneer uniform while studying. And so, we are about
hand over this child to the Communist dictatorship from
which his mother sacrificed her life to save him from.
He was taken at gunpoint from his family.
Act two. Over 20 children are burned to death an in a
religious compound in Texas my administration who claims to
be interested only in "saving the children".
Act three. The 14 your old boy he shot back while
fleeing towards his father from armed intruders.
Several hours later, his mother is shot in the head while
holding her infant.
Act four. The retirement nest eggs of millions of
Americans are destroyed as the current administration
selectively targets and destroys the tobacco industry, the
gun industry, and high-tech industrys (software, drugs,
Act 5. The President signs an executive order that
turns thousands of acres of Utah, and the minerals and coal
beneath it which would bring great wealth to the landowners,
into a federal Park. In the past, creation of national
Parks has required an eminent domain vote of Congress,
but this President did it by executive fiat.
Liberals claim to want to help the helpless, the
children, aged, and those who cannot help themselves.
They speak for the speechless, defend the defenseless, in
other words-play Robin Hood. Except... Robin Hood did
not bankrupt his allies, or kill their children, or send
them back to the sheriff of Nottingham.
While the coming election in November may to some portend
the reversal of the lawlessness of the past eight years, I'm
not so sanguine. I have an abiding fear that we've
past a watershed in this country, where the only justice
that can be had now will be measured in the size of one's
campaign contributions, and not even a token of justice will
From Canada's GLobe and Mail Newspaper;
... This corporation -- let's arbitrarily
honour comic Phil Silvers and call it BillCo, shall we?
BillCo has had a spot of legal trouble lately, in one of
larger adjacent nations. Less said the better, of course,
essence a large-ish number of folks there feel Billco is (a)
big, (b) less than competent, and (c) a bit of a bully.
There's even been loose talk lately, at the higher levels of
nation's justice system, about crippling or dismantling
by government fiat. In the business world, this sort of
considered undesirable. It wakes up the stockholders.
It was at this cusp in BillCo's corporate history that
unfortunate occurrence unfortunately occurred. One of
most popular of its many products contains an innovative
feature -- ironically, one of the few genuinely original
ever offered by BillCo -- called "scripting," which
unfortunately is really not a feature but a bug. A
security flaw, in fact, begging to be exploited: a backdoor
enough to admit a Visigoth horde in full kit without waking
Get this: BillCo's e-mail agent -- let's call it LookOut! --
deliberately designed to let strangers send you e-mail
can issue commands to your computer without consulting
you. No, really! If you use BillCo's operating system --
call it OpenWindow -- and run LookOut!, your computer's
no longer merely user-friendly: It's now a user-slut; one
dumb to carry condoms, or even take names.
Perhaps the thinking -- if any -- was that somehow only
corporations as big and respectable as BillCo would ever
take advantage of this wide-open back window. But last
week the worldwide Pea-brained Vandal community, after
months of inexplicable restraint, finally decided the time
party had come, and things quickly got ugly. Dismayed
LookOut! users soon found their promiscuous program had
given them not just viruses, but worms, which is as horrid
Turns out quite a few people use LookOut! and some
of OpenWindow. Collectively they lost a fair amount of
and data -- and money -- and it's safe to say many are
unhappy. It's only a matter of time before they all wise
and figure out out how the vandals got in. When they do,
they'll have things to say, and some may decide to say it
If I were a BillCo lawyer, already sweating a momentous
verdict, I'd have spent the last week restocking the
with supplies against yet another long siege. And if I
(shudder!) a BillCo PR flack, I'd have spent the week
racking my brains for some way to make BillCo come
warm and likeable and beleaguered by bureaucrats.
to what they did instead.
There's another operating system I can call by its right
here, because nobody owns it. Linux is open-source:
Anybody can get under the hood and suggest or
improvements; good ones get adopted by the community.
This makes for superb, cutting-edge software -- free! A
years ago, for instance, volunteers developed Kerberos:
open-standard security system that authenticates the
of users who log into Unix networks. Theodore Ts'o and
others worked on it together until it was Way Cool,
others to use and/or improve it. Then BillCo showed up at
barn-raising, eager to help.
Next thing you know, OpenWindow 2K has a version of
Kerberos built in. Only theirs is copyright. Proprietary
than free. And funny thing: It doesn't interact effectively
Unix or Linux computers . . .
A few programmers have been discussing this lately at a
website called Slashdot http://www.slashdot.org . It
itself as "news for nerds," and that's exactly what it is: a
public bulletin board on which nerds rap with each other.
matter how heated the discussion might have become,
was no possibility of any tangible consequence in the
world. Until BillCo decided to try and censor it.
I'm not joking: BillCo last week asked Slashdot to delete
Kerberos discussion-thread. No specific "or-else" was
named . . . but it was lawyers who did the asking (it's
that some miscreant revealed secrets of BillCo's
Say again: The sergeants of BillCo -- which is seriously
threatened with the corporate equivalent of lobotomy and
castration, and which just this month damaged millions of
customers through apparent gross internet-security
incompetence -- decided in their corporate wisdom that
is the moment to make sure not only Linux weenies, but
everyone who is literate, thinks of them as creeps and
B.C. science-fiction writer Spider Robinson has been
Mac user since 1984. Bantam will publish his new
Callahan's Key in July.
Quote(s) of the month:
"We've reduced gun crime to, I think, a 31 year
low. But it's not enough."
-Joe Lockhart, White House spokesman
Ed: Yes Mr.Lockhart. We know.
"The party of death! That's what the Republican's stand
for, tobacco, guns ..."
--Paul Begala, former Clinton aide on MSNBC's Equal Time
Ed: I can't seem to recall any Rep. President sending
machine gun toting shock troops into unarmed people's homes
to get a kid.
Fix of the month:
"Should China get permanent MFN status?"
1. East of Merced CA, the University of California
is planning to build a new campus. It will require
bulldozing at least 7000 vernal pools-home to many
endangered species, such as the fairy shrimp and Tiger
frogs. You with thinking that the Sierra Club, the
nature Conservancy, and other environmental groups would be
up in arms. You would be wrong.
You see, the University is promising environmental groups
that the new campus will be dedicated to... environmental
study programs. Which means lots of jobs-and
government grants-for environmentalists. So now it's
just fine to destroy 10,000 acres of some of the last
remaining open grasslands and vernal pools in the Central
Valley of California. Where is Al Gore, the author of
"Earth in the Balance" when we need him? Federal
biologists told the San Jose Mercury News that Al Gore has
exerted intense political pressure to clear land for
campus construction as quickly and quietly as possible.
1. NY City, May 25: TV personality Rosie O"Donell
created a stir by requesting that her bodyguard get a gun.
This in and of itself would be somehwat hypocritical, but
the request caused an even bigger stir when it was announced
that the body guard would be packing heat when he dropped
off Rosie's adopted son at his grade school. The school,
which of course has a no tolerence policy for guns,
announced that the guard would have to be off school
property, or disarm himself before dropping off the boy.
Rosie and the body guard complained that this would make her
son a sitting duck for "wackos that like to stalk
2.May 25, NY City: The Natl. Rifle Assoc. has applied for
a city permit to open a restaurant in Times Square. The ever
open minded editorial board of the NY Times suggested that
any land owners on the Square should price their rents
beyond the reach of the NRA, which would be both
discriminatory and illegal.
3. May 8, New York city: Janet Reno was awarded the
Ellis Island award for her "Unceasing efforts to ease the
plight of immigrants in this country."
1. 8 May, Minneapolis: a member of the Cuban
baseball team, playing an exhibition game against the Twins,
defected while in town.
1. May 24, Little Rock: The State Bar Association has
recommended that Bill CLinton's license to practice law be
revoked - owing to his comitting perjury during testimony in
the Paula Jones case. Clinton defenders have said that their
client was not acting as a lawyer, but rather as a
defendant, and thus the perjury should not count against his
1. 8 May, Miami: a group of 12 Cubans were picked
up in a 10 ft. Aluminum boat several miles offshore.
They are seeking asylum.
1. May 14, Mother's Day: On this Mother's Day, led by TV
personality Rosie O'Donnell, a "million mom march" descended
upon the mall in Washington. While the Clintons
declined to appear in person (claiming that they could not
be assured of adequate security), Rosie informed the throng
that they were present in spirit. As indeed were the
financial spirits of handgun control Inc. and other
organizations to the tune of about two million dollars in
Meanwhile, across town a counter demonstration was held
by maternal gun advocates. While they numbered only in
the 20,000 range, they also did not receive any donations
from the endless pockets of the NRA. One woman, who
watched her parents get gunned down in a Dallas TX
restaurant, described how she felt that she was partly
responsible for their deaths because she chose on that date
to leave for handgun in the glovebox of her car. Asked
by a reporter if she didn't believe that the presence of
guns caused crime, she replied "if the presence of a lot of
guns causes crime, shouldn't there be mass shootings
at gun shows? Or trap shoots? Or sporting clay
sites?" The reporter asked no more questions.
2. May 24: While techincally we still have a treaty in
place to defend them if China attacks, the Clinton
administration has leaked that they now consider Taiwan a
hostile power. Those in the know consider this the opening
excuse to disolve the treaty, and let China have Taiwan
without lifting a finger.
3. May third: the general accounting office has
audited the IRS, and found that the IRS cannot balance its
own books. Among the many violations were: 1 million
dollars in employee theft, 51 million dollars of bookkeeping
errors that accountants failed to spot, and over one billion
dollars in fraudulent claims due to the earned income tax
© Steve Langer, 1995-2000