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    • Khameini’s Three Directives for Iran
      From the useful Elija Mangnier, 1 – Adherence to Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment and everything related to this science at all costs. Nuclear enrichment is a sword Iran can hold in the face of the West, which wants to take it from Tehran. It is Iran’s card to obstruct any US intention of “obliterating” […]
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State of The Confluence and Request for Input

At first I was like…

Yesterday, I locked myself out of my house. Yup, just pure stupidity. I picked up the wrong set of keys as I was leaving and checked them just as the door went *click!* behind me. Getting back in was painful, as in, painful to the money supply. I’m still in job search mode. I HAVE a job, but it is a bad one. That is to say, the money is seriously low, the hours ridiculous and the benefits close to non-existent.

Fortunately, I have some professionals helping me find a new job. Unfortunately, it is taking a lot, LOT longer than I had anticipated, even with my “worst case scenario” pre-planning. I mean, this is so long, drawn out and fruitless that I am beginning to think that I will be trapped in this hellish job forever. My career counselors assure me that this is not the case and I must persevere but even they must be getting worn out.

and then…

Fortunately, I own my own home! Yup, free and clear. All mine, mine, mine! It’s nice and comfy and I had the money when I bought it to make some major repairs. (It was foreclosed for about a year) Unfortunately, I have property taxes, and while they are less than half of what I paid in NJ, they’re still significant and at this moment, I will have to dip into some previously off limit funds to pay for them.

So, locking myself out of the house yesterday was not on my “things to do with my money this month” list. What I had actually planned was replacing my upstairs toilet before the crack in the tank that is being held together with epoxy finally gives on me. Ahhh, the joys of home ownership. Why didn’t I buy a new toilet when I moved in???

Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying that I am contemplating a fundraiser, like just about every other blog in the world. If you have been a long time reader of this blog, chime in and tell me whether you think this would go over like a lead balloon or not. I don’t usually ask for money except for special events, like when I asked for train fare to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests. Also, Katiebird has been nagging me to rewrite the website for the upcoming presidential campaign. I think this would be a good idea and I have some things I would like to add to this here place. A fundraiser would allow me to pay my property taxes as well as invest in some server time, Dreamweaver licenses and other training materials. If you have an opinion on what you would like to see at a new Confluence, put it in the comments below.

Having the money to pay my taxes and train myself to develop a high end web site would give me a great deal of peace of mind as well as some potentially marketable skills. I’ve been using WordPress and can install and maintain CMS’s but I feel the need to work on design skills and coding. Katiebird has been very encouraging in this respect and she says i can do it so I believe her.

What I should have done, or “in emergency, break glass”

Anyway, thanks to all of you for your support over the last seven years. We have had over 12 million comments. Can you believe it? I never thought anything I wrote would get that much attention. And really, attention was not what I was looking for. The purpose of this blog was to be a refuge from the consensus reality that was being manipulated during the 2008 presidential primary and general campaign. I’d like to keep that focus for the upcoming presidential campaign. That is, I’d like to cover topics in a way that is true to the liberal spirit of this blog but remains free of the dogma that plagues so much of the left.

I’ve been considering starting a regular podcast featuring guest interviews. Some topics I would like to cover are the problems of the pharmaceutical industry, employment and labor issues, infrastructure (net neutrality, mass transit), the impact of religion on our current culture, GLBT and feminism issues, and, of course, a discussion of the candidates and their policies. If this sounds interesting to you, or something you could support, let me know in the comments below.

Finally, there is a “Tip Jar” in the upper left hand corner of this blog. It goes to the PayPal account for this blog. I don’t check it very often because we don’t do fund raisers very often. But if you feel so inclined, or just want to help defray the costs of a locksmith, just hit that link. Today’s date is 2/22/15. May I suggest a contribution in the form of a multiple of $2.22.

Thanks!

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Podcast alert: Defending the Internet

Fire up your iPod!

As you may know, I am a podcast junky.

(“I can stop any time I want to.”

Then Stop

“I don’t want to.”)

For the past several months, the monkeys on my back have been This Week in Tech (TWIT) and This Week in Google (TWIG).  The latest episode of TWIG focuses on the battle between the free internet peoples, er, that would be *us*, and the forces of corporatism (neo-feudalism) that are threatening our freedom of speech around the world.  Jeff Jarvis reports on his latest trip to Germany, where privacy laws are strict in the extreme, but is probably an understandable psychological response to the history of fascism during WWII, followed by Soviet repression and the Stasi in East Germany.  From there, the panel discusses the opposite extreme in China where no internet company operating there is allowed privacy outside of the dictates of the Communist government.  Jarvis makes a persuasive case that Google, by pulling out of China in order to protect the anonymity of its users, is standing alone in the world right now and making a political statement similar to the ones we used to make over Apartheid in South Africa.

Whatever your opinion of Google or whether you agree with Jeff Jarvis’ assessment, this is a situation that should be getting a lot more attention than it has recently.  Recall that not too long ago, Hillary Clinton (Oh, no, not HER again), made a strong defense of freedom of speech, freedom of Internet speech in particular.  TWIG host Leo Laporte suggests that we should be discussing the issue with more urgency.  I agree with him.  Without sufficient attention, Google stands alone against a country that as Jarvis points out, has more internet users than we have people in the United States.  It’s a huge and lucrative market that Google is pulling out of and they aren’t getting enough coverage for taking such a bold and courageous move.   There’s a principle involved here and we at The Confluence like bold, principled moves.

But there’s more.  Britain is about to ram a bill through Parliament that will allow copyright holders to disconnect violators from the internet.  Yep, violate a copyright, lose your right to surf.  Quick and painless, for them.  For you?  Ehhh, not so much.  The bill is poorly written and not getting the thorough overview it needs.  It sounds like a shortcut to booting people you don’t like off of their ISP.  Sort of a shoot-now-ask-questions-later thing. It’s being rushed through the legislative process without enough overview, just before an election cycle when people are distracted.  Jeez, that sounds so familiar…  So to kick off the conversation on Internet Freedom here, I am linking to TWIG’s latest podcast on the subject: Self-aggrandizing Jerks.

One other note:  I love Gina Trapani.  Her commentary and tips are really excellent.  But she has been working with the Obama Administration on a White House Twitter project to collect user feedback and opinions on different issues.  Gina, I wouldn’t trust Obama’s White House with a 10 foot poll.  For all I know, they will use the information to shape their next round of propaganda.  She is way too optimistic about this White House.  Maybe it’s because she’s young but she just doesn’t seem to have developed the right level of wariness.  Or I’m reading too much into this project or something.  I dunno.  Proceed with caution with the White House talk thingie.