WikiLeaks: A Country’s Name To Kill

An interesting ethical debate is taking place. FirstLook Media, the controversial and adversarial media outlet owned by PayPal’s inventor, has withheld the name of the 5th country the NSA collects recordings of all phone calls from. SOMALGET and MYSTIC are Top Secret programs revealed by the Snowden leaks from the NSA. Following on the earth shaking revelations of last year starting with the “metadata” gathering in the US called PRISM, MYSTIC is again changing Americans’ views of what their spy agencies are actually working toward.

I think WikiLeaks should reveal this information, and not because it’s likely to cause deaths, but because a Top Secret American program having a country name revealed more than a year after it was known to be compromised, is not a reason to redact it any longer. WikiLeaks is right, and the citizens of the violated nation have a human right to know the United States government was able to record every phone call. It wouldn’t be the first time a Top Secret American program has led to people dying, either.

People can then place the blame where it belongs for any deaths, at the feet of the NSA, and Bush/Obama, not simplistically on the WikiLeaks scapegoat.

I Hate Tipping

Tipping is terrible. It’s too complicated, and it’s an excuse for employers to underpay people who work in service jobs like waiting and housekeeping. Employers have learned that people are less likely to use a service if the true cost is honest and up-front. This is also why GST/HST is added after the price tag instead of being included on the sticker – it slows down impulse buying. And as I’m rambling it’s also the theory behind car sharing, which rolls the cost of using a vehicle into one simple bill.

When you go to Mexico, what’s an appropriate tip for someone cleaning your room? There’s no base charge to hauling bags at a hotel either, so what’s a fair tip if there’s no percentage solution?

Gratuities can get lost.

War on Drugs

It’s hard to run a country with everyone squawking in your ear about how you have to be just like them, even if they are failures.

The war on drugs is a failure, but Washington is pulling strings in Ottawa and Mexico, and even London too.

If the Pentagon is now taking acts of hacking as “acts of war”, then we’re going to have an even longer “war on terror” than the 10 year war we’re still mired in now in Afghanistan. I wonder when is the Pentagon going to war on itself over its attacks on Wikileaks that make pages like this often inaccessible? Will they use their widely banned weapons to bomb hackers and their children? They shouldn’t need clumsy ordinance, when they can supposedly narrow down where the warrior hackers are.

2010 in memoriam


– RIP Jon Swift

Many people were born in 2010, and I don’t know any of them (yet). Many others died in 2010, and I knew a few of them, and others I would have liked to know. My grandfather’s last living sibling passed away in her 90s. The Conservatives lost their 10%er mailbox spam propaganda. I appeared on TV dissing Brad Wall’s opposition to the world working out a means to scale back our out of control pollution, before the Copenhagen conference failed miserably.

Many famous, and not famous people died last year. Several bloggers passed away, Jon Swift among them and I learned of his passing today by reading Miss Cellania’s year end roundup. I’d spoken with Jon (Al) by email and he had me on his generous and open blogroll. Al was right when he wrote that many live fast and die young.

My blog suffered over 12,222 spam comments in 2010, according to an email WordPress.com sent me yesterday. It was also incorrect about world food stocks collapsing in 2010, and fortunately that won’t happen in 2011 either. The most popular post was about Stephen Colbert saying, “Sarah Palin is a Fu*king retard“, and my various posts on WikiLeaks were by far the most popular search hits. It’s been more than a year now that I’ve not had my years of blog archives online, and I miss them regularly.

2010 wasn’t all bad though, even though there were significant disasters that befell the world. The BP oil spill, the arrest of Julian Assange, and the G20 mass arrests in Toronto were low points. On a more personal level, I made several wonderful trips to the US and Mexico, got engaged, and remained healthy for another year. My father recovered from life saving heart surgery, and most of my family is well too. 2011 holds a lot of promise, and this is going to be a fascinating decade!

Mexico Day 9 – Revolution

It’s a holiday in Mexico. We spent it on the beach, in the pool, and shopped until our wallets were almost empty. After coming home from having Italian food for supper (mine was a Sicilian style pasta with sun dried tomatoes and spicy beef in tomato sauce), we watched “Meet Dave” [7/10] a spacey comedy featuring Eddie Murphy as an alien spaceship.

In the morning we watched a crew put up a giant billboard (or half of it, more accurately), after they took down the old sign which had torn in the middle. I took time lapse photographs of the erection portion of the task.

Tomorrow we’re going back to The Saloon to watch the Riders beat the Stampeders.

ADDED: On this trip we watched “Life As We Know It” [6/10] which was amusing at times, and overall was entertaining.

Mexico Day 8 Banana Boat

We took the back of a truck to a boat going to Stone Island. We stopped at an NRC Red ATM, and it was in an admin mode asking to be reloaded. We had just enough pesos and a Canadian $10 to get on the tour after getting nothing more than a laugh from the cash machine.

A few of the islands on the boat tour were white from bird bathroom use. April and I went snorkeling, even tough the tour guide said he couldn’t promise we’d see anything today because a group yesterday didn’t have a good trip. We had a great time though, saw some fish, and another guide took us around some rocks to see more fish. April avoided stepping on the jellyfish she saw on the beach. I went on a banana boat, which is towed behind a motor boat, and it flips (on purpose) at the end. I helped some girls get back onto the boat at the middle of the trip, and it flipped again (on purpose) at the end.

Stone Island
I had a Sex on the Beach, and a couple Pedro and Naomi bought us a coconut filled with juice and then the bar opens it up more to eat the meat too. The coconut was something like $3; the island has a large coconut plantation. The trees take about 17 years to produce, the kids operating the horse and carriage tour told us. I also saw an avocado tree, mango tree, and banana tree. We met another April and her friend from Alberta (who almost fell out of the carriage), and an American ex-Marine from Colorado/El Paso who bused over from Durango.

Stone Island

In the evening we went to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″ [8/10] and I lost one of my 4 spare camera batteries (doh!). We got a bank machine to work at least.

Mexico Day 6

Today we took a bus to the old part of Mazatlan, and then a pulmonia taxi to the market, where we walked around a bit. I got some chocolate milk with ice, and I bet they hadn’t cleaned the blender all too well because it was spicy, LOL. The quesadillas were alright though. The pigeons walking around inside the top floor restaurant kinda startled April, however.

Mermaid

We walked across the street to look around the Immaculate Conception church, and heard parts of a tour going through it, including something about why there are Jewish stars on the windows. Then we found more pigeons across the street, and wandered our way to an art gallery by Glen Rogers with some awesome art that was out of my price range.

We ended up at the archaeological museum, and saw some funerary urns, and other nifty stuff, and walked over to the water. We ate at Machado, and then another place facing the ocean and watched the sun set. Then we wandered further down the shore, past some mermaids, and hopped into a taxi and went back to the Golden Zone. This driver didn’t speak any english, but we communicated with broken spanish, and he told us where the baseball games are played.

We ate food again at Gus Gus (we ate too much today) and bought some souvenirs and got on a bus back to Marina del Rey. An American couple from Arizona, formerly Washington was on their way back to Pueblo Bonito, but didn’t notice their stop until they were past it by a few blocks, in part because April was distracting them with her charming guitar playing while asking for a peso. We offered to help them take the bus back in the other direction, but they threw in their lot with the bus driver for directions instead.

April and I watched the ocean a bit and some TV, and I sat on the computer writing this for a bit.

Day 17 Mexico

Last night before the Ghost Tour, we saw Batman. He was probably on his way to where they shine spotlights into the sky in PB. At the ghost tour, someone saw a mannequin in a window, mistaking it for a ghost. April and I pranked the group by setting off our car horn when we walked past it. And April got to hold the EMF change detector while a spirit was supposed to play with its lights. We also saw no fewer than 3 skunks around Old Town, one walking down the sidewalk. But the grave sites in the middle of the street was probably the most bizarre experience for me.

Day 17 Mexico

Day 17 Mexico

Saturday we all went to Mexico. We parked on the States side, and walked across, we didn’t even need to speak to a Mexican agent to enter, you just go through a turnstile. On the way back, the American border is a zoo, with about a 30 minute wait in line just to see the customs and border guard. We saw one woman with a child turned away and sent back to Mexico.

Day 17 Mexico

Day 17 Mexico
– Google says this flag is at an army base.

Day 17 Mexico

Several Americans we talked to didn’t recommend we travel into Tijuana, including the border guard who said it was okay in the day, but not at night. I think they’re just parroting what Fox News and the LA Times says and that is wrong or old news. Speaking with a shopkeeper (at Emporium) who has lived in Tijuana for over 60 years, he said it’s only dangerous an hour’s drive east of the tourist area. He has family in the States in the San Diego area, and there was a family dispute after a parent took a child to visit in Mexico after the other spouse had heard it was dangerous.

Day 17 Mexico

He explained that the latest warnings against travel are because a drug cartel head was lopped off, and South American and American gangs are fighting to fill the power void. However, if a person is not involved in drugs, it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter a problem like street shooting. I think there are parts of Regina and America at least as likely to break out in shooting wars.

We ate at a place where the Corona was $2US, and the food less expensive. At one of our tables, the total bill was only $10.50 before tip. There were musicians wandering the restaurant looking to play for pay, and there were t-shirts for sale that said “Say no to drugs, and say yes to tacos”.

Walking down Revolucion Av. and almost as soon as we were through the border, we were greeted eagerly (almost desperately) by vendors that say they have something for you if only you look. Many people have zebra coloured burrows that you can sit on for a picture, for $2-$5US. There are silver bracelets shoved in your face, and the shopkeepers almost universally come out to the far side of the sidewalk to funnel you into their store, asking you to look. Sometimes the greetings are clearly learned long ago, and have no meaning to the speaker, just as we said “no gracias” to most of the shopkeepers.

Day 17 Mexico

April and I did most of the shopping in our group, spending perhaps $25 between us, after haggling prices way down from most of the starting prices, and buying some metal objects too for $26US plus a $20C note I had tucked away, getting us an even better bargain. April at one point felt a little guilty getting such a deal on one item that started at $8 and went down to $2. A sore foot bothered her a bit more consistently in the day though.

We poked through the Outlet mall upon returning to America, after walking forever to the other side of the Interstate. Then we returned home, and soaked in the hot tub with a local. She said I had more of an accent than April does. She also didn’t know what an auger, elevator, or combine mean in an agricultural context, which was amusing.