Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   beyond the wallet-grabbing trunk
Sunday, February 10 2002
I was watching Bill Moyers hosting a show called "Trading Democracy" on Channel 13 today. Up until seeing this show, I hadn't known any of the details of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), other than that it was a free trade agreement and that trade unions saw it as the final step in allowing all American industry to relocate to Mexico. In today's program, I learned about a little-known provision of the agreement called Chapter 11 (unrelated to the well-known bankruptcy chapter). This provision states that member nations are responsible for damages to corporations when those nations impose regulations that are "tantamount to property expropriation." This is wording taken right out of the Far Right's Sagebrush Rebellion and other fringe elements of the property-rights movement, and yet there was no debating any of this when NAFTA sailed through Congressional passage. Now it's becoming clear that this language was deliberately inserted into the law by lawyers hoping to start up "boutique practices" representing foreign nations against the United States. Claims made by these corporations under Chapter 11 usually are in the ballpark of one billion dollars.
One 700 million dollar claim is being made by a Canadian funeral services conglomerate because it was assigned an "excessive punitive damages" by a Mississippi jury as punishment for its monopolistic (trans-Walmartian) practices. A billion dollar claim is being made by a Canadian company named Methanex because California banned the chemical it manufactures, MTBE.
Moyer's point was that NAFTA, with its lopsided pro-corporation language and the lack of debate surrounding its passage, is a sinister and fundamentally undemocratic force whose provisions are allowing a full-scale assault upon such basics of our democracy as the jury system.
I have a feeling, though, that if even one of these billion dollar judgements becomes a reality, people will awaken from their slumber and start demanding a little democracy from their representatives. The issue might even be seen as yet another part of the elephant in the room (Enron having been the wallet-grabbing trunk).

Was I the first person to see a W in that logo?

The recent vacation in Paris was good in lots of ways. In particular, it was refreshing to go some place where it's actually difficult to find an American flag, where America is just some other country. In other ways, though, the relentlessness of life in a place where you have no support system takes a toll that's not even apparent until you get home. Since returning from Paris, I've mostly just wanted to stay indoors, venturing out only to walk Sally the Dog and get provisions like bags of corn chips and forties of malt liquor. I haven't been eager to talk to people, especially strangers. So this morning when I found myself walking in the woods with a woman I didn't know named Sally simply because she knew my dog Sally (and my Sally knew this Sally's dog Tom), the effort of keeping up my end of the conversation seemed like real burden. A few minutes later, though, I'd broken through my social ossification and was talking happily about the Paris trip.
It might not just be the Paris trip that leaves me feeling this way. It might also be the time of the year (as Jami suggested via AIM). In this climate, there's a justified tendency to withdraw and hibernate through the cold weather. Fortunately, though, even while the premature lilies of Prospect Park are all frostburned, indications of spring are coming fairly regularly. Tonight, for example, a strong downpour had the sound and smell of springtime.

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