HACKING THE VOTE

Pac-man, courtesy of Wikimedia

Pac-man ate my ballot?

As jazz artist Gil Scott-Heron has already informed us, The revolution will not be televised (play the track while you read, if you like).  Indeed, it has already surely happened (without bloodshed) in our election follies.  And We-the-people are chumps for allowing it!  Sadly, I must concede that Donald Trump is right:  the election process has been, is, and will be rigged.  Thru incompetence and a snoozing electorate we have lost our electoral franchise, as detailed in this fine (if lengthy) article titled How to hack an election in seven minutes.  You will be entertained and edified by reading even a portion of it.  May we rise to our duty as citizens to demand paper trails and unhackable aggregation!

A few quotes to whet your appetite:  “In less than a minute, they infected a Diebold machine with self-duplicating code, spreading from machine to machine through an administrator card, and programmed it to swing an election for Benedict Arnold over George Washington.”  “But most [experts] identified Pennsylvania as the greatest concern. There, according to Verified Voting 47 counties of 67 vote on digital voting machines without a written backup record if something were to go awry. . .”  “Then there are tech advancements that make the computer scientists shudder: To a person, they each warned me about the public’s new delusion, one strikingly reminiscent of the aftermath of Bush v. Gore—Internet voting.” 

 

Photo by Alex Halderman.

Photo by Alex Halderman.

ON MOSQUITOS: ARE YOU AN ORGANIC FUNDAMENTALIST?

mosquito_wide-dd82a7083a29527cdba5267e8f09258517d89cc5-s40-c85

fossilized mosquito in amber, npr

I’ve been an organic gardener for decades.  The thought of genetically modifying nature, to me, is repellant, and risky.  But I’m developing some flexibility on many fronts.  I’m coming to see that making a god out of nature is to make an idol.  I was deeply troubled while at divinity school to be told that the word dominion from the first chapter of Genesis, meant that man was commissioned by God to trample creation!  (Upon further reflection I came to see that good farmers don’t trample their land, but rather they walk over it to know it well, improving it year by year.)  Well, it’s time for us to improve our ground!

It is time for humankind to exercise dominion over this pestilent creature of flying, biting, misery and death.  The pesticide industry surely doesn’t want to see biting mosquitos disappear, so we must be alert to their disinformation.  So be wise, knowing that “protecting” nature tempts us to allow the continued polluting with deadly toxins.  And we must recognize that humankind is promoting and perpetuating this worthless species by our profligate use of plastics, according to experts in a well-reasoned article:   

“[T]he growth in the population of aegypti is down to our rapid increase in plastic consumption; it provides the mosquitos with an ideal breeding ground.  There is so much misinformation out there,” Lindsay says. “You see pictures of large open areas of stagnant water. But that’s not where the danger is. This thing breeds in small containers: flowerpots, gutters, tyres, water bottles. It’s about screening buildings, putting up nets, spraying insecticide in laundry areas. That’s not something for health professionals: that’s about educating and empowering communities so that they can reduce the risk themselves.”

My growing personal flexibility on the topic of genetic modification will start with agreeing to the sterilization and release of males to eliminate this deadly pest, with the added benefit of reducing the noxious load of sprayed toxins. Dominion — it’s our assignment!  We need to grow!

 

BERNIE BLINKED

Photo: Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Photo: Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Bernie, you told us you were in it to win.  Your revolutionaries got totally behind you and were ready to carry you to victory.  You coulda-shoulda called for Hillary to fold, as her team cheated with aid of an insider-helper from DNC, who resigned in embarrassment.  (Hill then re-hired the head cheater onto her team — a clear statement of her own shameless  ways.)  

You had Hillary in the cross-hairs of public scrutiny at the convention.  But you choked.  I get it that you were committed to defeating that other cheater, Trump.  But you may have over-thought third-party risk.  Hey, Abe Lincoln was a third party candidate, and he won!  We can’t have a revolution by collaborating with proven cheaters.  So sad.  I truly thought you were the one who could do it.  But maybe you just ran outta gas.  If not, it’s not to late.  You could still accept Jill Stein’s offer to head the Green Party ticket.  Please consider it.

Hillary, please step down — (updated)

Foto by Elbmaedchen / Flickr. All rights reserved.

Foto by Elbmaedchen / Flickr. All rights reserved.

Dear Hillary,

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, that you were unaware that your underlings so badly wanted to see you win that they were willing to cheat to help you gain the nomination. So you’ve accepted the resignation of the head of the party, who was not a neutral player, but rather, a key member of your team. (Appointing your 2008 campaign manager as head of DNC was a conflict of interest, and serious mistake.) As head of that team yourself, you must now do the honorable thing of passing the baton to Bernie Sanders, as your team has not won the nomination honestly, as everyone can readily see. He is an honorable contestant, who can win this race. Your team is tainted, and your nomination is flawed — a fact which will ever follow your bid.

I want to think you’re an honorable person, too. But too many voters are unwilling to trust you. Now you can demonstrate your trustworthiness and honorable intent, or forever bear the consequences of an illegitimate effort. You have alienated too many to be able to win, so you are likely to lose, as many voters will refuse to vote for a team that cheats. I certainly won’t.

And the worst is yet to come.  Leaked emails are just beginning to spill.  Wait until some of the choice emails from your private server — you know, those among the 30,000 you culled, withholding them from the FBI, but not before the Russians copied them — when they arrived, you will wish you had allowed Bernie to carry the torch!  Better to bow now honorably, than to lose to such a loser as your opponent.

[Readers who agree could vote for my call at Medium — please, sharing that link with others, as well.]

Summer solstice haiku

IMG_2016

My computer has been in the shop getting a new brain, so this item is posted a bit late.  No, it’s not a real haiku, as I pay no attention to counting syllables.  But it was fun to have the moon peek in my window from behind the ancient maple trees in our front yard that night, awakening me.  It travels this far north-in-latitude only once yearly.  I was glad Luna roused me to capture images and verse.

PEEPING MOON

 

Setting moon

peers in window

rousing sleeping son

 

Full moon plays

hide-and-seek 

with summer Solstice sun

 

Finger points

shutter clicks

Luna winks

 

Chariot-drawn moon

beams at us

highlighting our addresses

 

IMG_2002

Sorry Bernie: JILL, NOT HILL

 

Jill Stein speaking at Occupy Wall Street, September 27, 2011, photo by Paul Stein, Flickr.

Jill Stein speaking at Occupy Wall Street, Sept.27, 2011, photo: Paul Stein, Flickr

Sorry Bernie, I deeply admire you, but your revolution collapsed when you said you would vote for Hillary.  (If George Washington had laid down his arms in a deal with King George, the revolution would have ended; we might still be British.)  

Party platforms are not promises, and morally bankrupt parties are unlikely to be reformed without a serious spanking — as their lying, cheating ways are too ingrained.  The corporate party elites cheated in this race making it a given that Clinton would win, as the super-delegates had already promised to support her before the starting gun sounded — bought off by DNC on behalf of Clinton, Inc.  Bernie, you know this!  I’m so disappointed that you and Elizabeth Warren didn’t bolt to form your own ticket.  (The public would have drowned you in cash!)  Those other two mainstream candidates are simply unacceptable to too many voters.  You guys woulda won.

So what’s an upstanding citizen to do?  Let me introduce you to the Green Party’s Jill Stein.  Jill, not Hill.  (There are many reasons I can’t vote for Mrs Clinton, most tracing back to what her husband did to the middle class by allowing banksters to gamble with pensions, when he removed the Glass-Steagall Act.  And she wants to put Bill in charge of the economy!) 
Bandages won’t patch a sinking ship.  Let’s start fresh on a solid foundation that is not already sold out to Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Defense, Big Ag, Big Brother.  Jill’s got my vote.  Not Clinton. Not Trump.  
If there aren’t enough people in this land to vote fearlessly, based on their own recognition of integrity in a candidate,  then we will get the same-old good-cop // bad-cop routine that the two-party system has been gaming us with for decades.  The Emperor’s new clothes are an utter embarrassment.  Don’t go over the cliff like lemmings.  Vote your conscience!  (The founding fathers saw factionalism as a great danger, which is why there is nothing in the Constitution about parties.  Sadly, we formed them anyhow.)

SWIMMING POOLS & MOSQUITO CONTROL. (Contról de Moscas en las Piscinas.)

Mosquito orgy: abandoned pool in barrio Santiago

MOSQUITO ORGY: a neglected swimming pool containing rain water and leaves in barrio Santiago.

¿What do you do with your pool while away?  ¿How many Merida homeowners are allowing mosquitos to party in standing water which collects in their backyards while they travel?  Last year I wrote about a biological control which can float in your untended pool, toxic only to mosquitos, introducing them to a deadly gut organism.  This year, due to widespread problems afflicting humans, I decided to do more.  While I was very happy with the biological product, I wanted to prevent access to the water altogether.  So I contrived my own cover, seaming together pvc-mesh screen as a physical barrier. (The entire project cost me about $70-usd, not counting the galvanized pipes supporting the mesh or the flashing, which I already had, and which prices I’ve forgotten;  and I still have almost a half roll of mesh left over.)  Here’s the finished installation:

Our pool, securely covered with a homemade screen.

Our pool, partially drained and covered by a homemade screen, measuring about 4-1/2 meters by 6m.

To start, I bought a roll of 60-inch x 30 meter pvc-mesh (malla) from a larger hardware supply, and a small can (una lata pequeña) of pvc cement (pegamento) from a local plumbing supply; and then I seamed together three lengths of screen, using a roll of aluminum flashing as a work surface so the cement didn’t bond with the paint on my roof, where I did the seaming. (Smaller hardware stores often sell mesh by the meter, but the ultra wide mesh may be more difficult to locate.)  I tested the bond for a week in the bright sun to be sure it would remain strong, trying two types of adhesive.  Both felt equally strong, so I went with the more neutral color.

Close-up of small can of adhesive, on seamed screen mesh

Close-up of small can of adhesive, on seamed screen mesh.

 

Adhesive test on two swatches of screen mesh.

Adhesive test on two swatches of screen mesh.

 

Joining the first pair of three lengths of screen on my roof — pool in top of photo.

Joining the first pair of three lengths of screen on my roof — pool in top of photo.

Of course, there are other places for mosquitos to party, so we each need to do our part:

A favorite breeding area maybe in a nearby yard.

A favorite breeding area may be in a nearby yard, guarded by ferocious beasts.

 

 

 

GENDER POLITICS: ¿ If Bernie were Bernice ? (a thought experiment)

Photo credit: "Fair Use" from CityBeat.us article by Maria Esquinca

Photo credit: “Fair Use” from CityBeat.us article by Maria Esquinca

Just kidding about the photo.  Of course that’s not Bernie in drag, as Bernice.  The NY primary is over, and the press is spinning the vote as a big loss for Bernie.  In reality Hillary got 21 more delegates here than he did (less than a 12% difference), as he carried nearly the entire upstate area, aside from a few cities.  (They were a mere ~700 votes apart in Buffalo, out of 50,000+ cast.) The delegate map is very telling.  Hillary lost the rural and suburban vote across the entire state!  In my region I see Trump signs frequently, Bernie signs infrequently, and I have yet to spot a Hillary yard sign.  The party is about to nominate a potential loser who is carrying major baggage, when they could, instead, nominate someone with very little baggage (“socialist”? —ha!  he’s deftly disabused the public of this red herring, and they are rallying for him) who certainly looks like a winner.

But how might the balloting have gone if Bernie were Bernice?  Hillary carried the women’s vote by 57% to 40% of men.  Would the same outcome have resulted, based on comparative ideology, if Bernie were a woman?  I doubt it.  Hillary is closer to being a moderate Republican, a hawk, and in the pocket of Big Capital.  If you voted for her based on those positions, well, God bless you — but maybe you’re not a Democrat.  If you preferred Bernie’s position, would it have changed if she were wearing a dress?  I suspect the outcome would be vastly different, and Bernice (not in drag!) would win the nomination.  

The party needs to heed the liberal wing.  When November comes, Jill Stein will tally many votes for the Green Party because progressives can’t vote for a faux Democrat.  And the Democrat party-elites will need to read that tally, perhaps thru their tears.  Many will vote for a woman such as a President Stein.  The elites could end up being green with envy.  And the chance to nominate a person of integrity, beholden to the voters alone, will be history. Am I charging sexism here?  Perhaps.  (It’s understandable, yet makes no sense when comparing apples.)

 

VOTING: “2nd Amendment” & free elections

Photo by Tony Webster, WikiMedia

Photo by Tony Webster, WikiMedia

 

OPEN PRIMARIES 

Our ability to choose candidates in New York State (and a minority of other states) is restricted by two dominant political parties.  If rules prevent voters from crossing party lines to cast a ballot for a preferred candidate, the nominating process is closed, and it is no longer a free election.  

The politicians in this state have stolen the voting franchise so they can control the electorate, disallowing maverick-upstart candidates.  (The US Constitution makes no mention of political parties, so state politicians designed it in their own favor.)  A majority of states allow voters to choose whichever primary contest offers greater interest.  Why is ours closed?–  Because two bully parties want to know where you store your ballot [your affiliation]!  Think Second Amendment:  do you want the gov’t to know where your affiliation [your ballot] resides?  It’s more useful than our guns, when things are normal.  (Or have you forgotten the experience in Norway during WW2, of registered small arms being seized by invading forces.)  Like guns, ballots can get “seized” too; and so they have in states with closed primaries.

Justice Felix Frankfurter said “We are in danger of forgetting that the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses. It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom. It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.  

Adolf Hitler said “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjugated races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjugated races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. ”   

¿Whether or not you favor gun control, can you defend the politicians in this state who have confiscated your ballot?   When the gov’t knows where your party affiliation resides, it’s easy for parties to gerrymander, resulting in districts designed to be almost solidly R or D, by agreement of both parties, making it nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent.  That’s how the parties control us.  The result:  career politicians are rarely removed from office; and we suffer dictatorial anointing of who gets to run for office.  (Just look at the obstacles put up by DNC to stifle Bernie Sanders!)

Those voters registered “independent” are in even worse shape in NY:  the Independence Party has no voice in nominating or choosing those who run in main parties in NY.  Independent voters have abandoned their ability to nominate a candidate in what is arguably a more important balloting process — the primary, where potential office seekers are blessed-by and beholden-to party bosses; upstarts are scorned and obstructed.
    
In New York, voters tolerate this, although there is an effort to lobby for repeal of closed primaries  which you could sign.  We voters deserve what we got.  The pol’s knew we were asleep, and stole our voting franchise.  What’s even worse:  voters who want to switch parties to cast a ballot in a more interesting primary have to do so long before a contest becomes exciting.  The cutoff date to switch was October 25, for an April primary!  That’s designed by them to prevent people from exercising their choice in a timely fashion, as a race heats up.  Yep, more control by the pro’s. Not a free election!
Don’t New Yorkers deserve open primaries?  We must hide our affiliation!  It’s time to take back the electoral process.  We, the people of NYS want our voting power restored to full clout, by becoming a state with Open Primaries. We want a truly independent ability to opt out of party affiliation, without surrendering our ability to vote in a primary of our choice.  Our party affiliation must be invisible to government!  That’s why it’s called a Secret Ballot — but it’s not secret, if THEY know the address of your affiliation.  And it’s not a free election if you can’t easily change affiliation to vote in the primary of your choice.  Take back the power to choose!  Demand an open primary for NY! (We need a revolution in balloting.)
(I would welcome learning of organized efforts in NY to press this issue.)  

ON CHOOSING A LEADER

AP photo

AP photo

Pasted below is a Letter to the Editor of our hometown newspaper up north. 

Hi Neighbors,

We haven’t missed the northern winter, but we’re flying back early to cast a vote for Bernie Sanders in NY’s primary.  It’s such a rare opportunity to have a person of integrity on the ballot.  His rival, a member of a First Family which sold out America’s middle class by removing the Glass-Steagall Act — a protection which had long kept banks from gambling with our savings and pensions, thus setting the stage for crashing the global economy — doesn’t deserve another chance with our financial security.  The banksters who have contributed so heavily to her campaign should be denied their influence.

I hope my fellow citizens will think carefully about this.  The mistakes of the past need correction, not replay.  

As for Sanders being a “socialist” (a social democrat) we might ponder the facts of nature:  humans are one of only a very few social species on this planet, like the bees and the ants, which specialize in working together. 

Sanders has become known in the US Senate as the Amendment King* for his ability to work with colleagues of both parties to improve bills before passage.  Working together is socialism at its best.  And his history as mayor of Burlington VT taught the Democrat “machine politicians” who ran that city for so long that he knew how to work with the merchants of main street to restore sensible government to that city, soon putting the machine out of office.  They laughed at his socialism until he won; then they told him he wouldn’t get anything done.  But he taught them otherwise.  Yes, Bernie has the right executive skills to restore balance to our government.  And he hasn’t been bought by special interests — accepting no PAC money, just small donations from people who want America to work again.  We, the people have a voice.  We can choose a leader with integrity.

*(Update): In comparison, Hillary Clinton passed zero roll call amendments during her tenure as a senator from New York from 2001-09.