I’ve moved!

March 12, 2010

If you’re still visiting me here, you’re missing all my latest posts!

I’ve moved to asciidan.com. Everything looks the same, and every post you see here — and lots more — are there.

Just click. I’ll meet you at my new home!

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Location: Tehran. Avatar: Not green.

June 18, 2009

Like so many on Twitter (and elsewhere), I’ve been following whatever developments I can about the Iran elections. I share the concerns of the world about the obvious sham of an election and I’m waiting, nervously, to see Iran erupt into full-blown civil war.

In the last couple of days, Twitter users have started adding a green overlay to their avatars, indicating support for Mousavi. I’ll not do that, nor do I support that particular movement. I have, however changed my “location” field in Twitter to read “TEHRAN.” I’ll explain why.

Let’s face facts here: Because of the way news is spread from Iran to the US, it’s nearly impossible for us to support one leader over another in that country. And the fact that Mousavi most likely won that election doesn’t make him the best guy for the job. Granted, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no good guy, and clearly any election fraud in Iran will most likely be traced back to him. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, for the majority of Twitterers especially, is not a known quantity. Sure, we have a record to trace from his time served as Prime Minister, and we have some of his lofty election goals, such as allowing private ownership of television stations, adding more transparency to government and transferring control of the police force to the President, to look at, but are we really informed enough to make a decision, here, a half-world away, on who should lead Iran?

As an American, I was increasingly disturbed by European support of Barack Obama in our last election. The disturbance wasn’t based on who I supported in the election, but on the undue pressure it put on American voters to please the international community — as if we should choose the president that would best serve Europe instead of the president that would best serve the US. Now, the same people who said throughout the Bush presidency that the US should not meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations are, through this passive support campaign, meddling in the election (corrupt as it may be) of a sovereign nation.

I have decided, however, to change my location to TEHRAN on my Twitter profile, as a show of support for the bloggers and Twitterers in Iran who are believed to be in extreme danger for making their voices heard. Freedom of thought and speech are extraordinarily important to me, and a people banned from thinking for itself is a danger to us all. Dissident voices should never be silenced — especially through violence.

It is believed that Iranian police are hunting down or at least identifying dissident voices in Iran in part by looking at their location status in Twitter. This may not be true. If it is, and I can be just one more record for them to sift through, maybe provide five more minutes of safety for someone writing what they believe in their hearts, then that one tiny step is well worth it.

As a former journalist and columnist, I know there are very real dangers for anyone who speaks truth to power. In my own career I was harrassed, threatened with lawsuits and bodily harm. But fortunately I was never attacked or silenced. There were plenty of people in positions of authority who didn’t respect my freedom to opine, but they hadn’t the authority to stop me from saying what I believed in.

I am a regular critic of today’s news media. Increasingly, that media includes bloggers and regular folks as well.  I’m increasingly more interested in the media’s failures than in its successes, and I’m more inclined to support the private blogger than the bloated corporate megalopolies running America’s news. And now, I will support every small voice screaming to be heard, no matter who they support.


This guy threatened to kill me.

June 8, 2009

I was outside my office Friday, testing out a video camera, the last time my life was threatened.

As I swept the lens across the streetscape, a shirtless “gentleman” rode his bicycle through my field of vision. I didn’t even notice him. He asked if I was pointing a camera at him. I turned off the camera. What followed was a string of expletives aimed at me, including this gem:

“If my picture shows up on the Internet, I will hunt you down and I will kill you.”

Awesome.

So, here’s the offending video:

I don’t put this up because I want to be hunted down or, indeed, killed. I do, however, want to clear up a few misconceptions this gentleman, and many others as well, have about privacy. I’ll go through his argument point by point. I will leave out the curse words.

1. “It is illegal to point a camera at someone without their permission.”

Wrong. I can legally point a camera at whomever I’d like. Furthermore, most of us are caught on camera several times a day, at stores, street corners, gas stations and ATMs. Consent is not necessary.

2. “This is an invasion of my privacy.”

Wrong again. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy on a public street. That’s why it’s called public. If I want to, I can take your picture and run it anywhere I’d like — on the front page of a newspaper or magazine, on my website. I can’t use it in ads or commercials, but as many newspapers do, I can sell prints of your image. The copyright holder — the guy with all the rights — is me.

Want to know something that will bug you even more? It’s entirely legal for me to take pictures of you in your house! If I can see you from the street, I can take your picture. I’m not allowed on your property, but if you happen to be washing your unmentionables in front of your livingroom picture window, you’re fair game.

3. “I’ll call the cops and have your camera confiscated.”

Wrong. There is a clause in our Constitution that protects against illegal search and seizure. My property cannot be taken from me without either a warrant or “probable cause.” If the police have no reason to believe I’ve broken the law, they cannot detain me, search me or take my property without my consent.

4. “We’ll see what my attorney has to say about this.”

No we won’t. Perhaps you will hear what he has to say, but I believe you’ll be sorely disappointed. And I doubt you’ll want to fill me in when your lawyer tells you to get out of his office.

If I seem a little bent about this, I apologize. I don’t mean to sound rude. It was, however, more than a little upsetting to be treated that way. I explained to him that I wasn’t using the footage for anything, that I was only testing the camera, and that I planned to throw the footage away. I even explained that I didn’t actually intend to film him — he rode through my shot. None of those things mattered, though.

So, I have thrown out the rest of the footage. I am, however, preserving the bit above for posterity.

Way to go, guy. Hope it was worth it.


I’m here

May 18, 2009

I’ve got a lot to say. Hopefully you’ll start seeing it here shortly. For now, though, I’ll just be content with erasing the Hello World post. And then I’ll move on.