February 28, 2006

Bush and Company implementing policy from Syria?

So Dubai Ports World's parent company PCZC apparently fully complies with the Arab boycott of Israel, which is coordinated from an office in Damascus. Note that this story is being reported by the Jerusalem Post, so let's get corroboration, but still. That...won't look good for the Bush crew, if they're trying to hand port ops in the US over to a company who coordinates port operations with a Syrian office for the purpose of boycotting Israel.

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February 27, 2006

Congratulations without measure

To Mike Wolf and his lovely bride. Mike (or maw, as we know him) relocated to Mexico City to broaden his horizons while still working for Ximian/Novell - and boy, did that ever work out. Huzzah.

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February 24, 2006

Touchscreens redux

Think you voted?

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February 22, 2006

I Will Say Only This About The 'Ports Issue'

Time magazine is in no way capable of using the term dissed in a story regarding U.S. national politics without looking like complete dorks.

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Dogs and Cats

When Fox News, on their website, says they have a strong problem with the actions of police and their supporting bureaucracy/politicians involving a case where a man with no prior criminal record and no serious crime ends up on death row...and suggests liberals and conservatives alike should have a problem with this one...I'll read it carefully. And yeah, it looks...really, really bad. I would want several other sources of information both because of habitual distrust of Fox (not because I suspect them of specific problems here, especially given their take) and because for issues such as this, especially involving matters as important as this, the more available sources to correlate the better. But this one...looks bad.

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February 19, 2006

Of course, it's not like MA is much different.

Scumbag politics, suppression of opposition by government officials, you know the drill.

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February 18, 2006

Yep, those Texans, protecting your rights.

Houston sure is considerate of us citizens. Well, its Police Chief is. I feel safer already. Because, after all, those of us completely without sin have nothing to fear. And it's really a 'Terrorist Surveillance Program,' not a 'Warrantless Wiretapping Program,' thank you CNN and the Wall Street Journal for caving in to the Almighty Talking Points of Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove.

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Metafilter can shake you.

Which can be the right thing.

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February 17, 2006

A Rank Problem

So I was watching the latest Battlestar Galactica and I was thinking to myself, which means this whole post is a big fat SPOILER and thus continues after the jump.

...anyway, if you've seen it, we see Lee Adama get promoted from Major to Commander (his Dad's original rank) and given command of the Beast (the Battlestar Pegasus), the second (more powerful, in fact) ship of the 'fleet.' This brings the whole confusion I've had over ranks in the Galactica Universe to the fore. I hope this has been addressed somewhere in a podcast or something. The main problem is that The XO of Galactica, William Adama's subordinate, is Colonel Tigh, and has been since the beginning of the show. Even leaving out the confusion of differing service ranks (that's a Terran foible, after all, differentiating between Naval and Air Force/Army ranks) we still have this problem. If a Colonel (Tigh) is subordinate to a Commander (Adama) at the beginning of the series, and after Admiral Kane dies two different Commanders assume command of Pegasus, then either a) Commanders outrank Colonels in this universe (fair enough) or b) Tigh has been passed over for a command of his own. I consider b) less likely, because even if he didn't make a stink about it due to loyalty to Adama or awareness of his problems (swig swig), Ellen sure would have made a stink about it by now. Adama has been swapping people around between ships, as was Kane before him.

Now, however, even if Commanders outrank Colonels, we have a problem, because in this episode, we see Lee Adama, a newly-minted Major (up from Captain, which is absolutely correct in Terran Army/Air Force parlance) being promoted to Commander. There was no mention of his passing Colonel, or Go, or collecting 200 cubits.

That will really make Tigh (both of 'em) incandescent.

Now, it's possible that 'Commander' just means 'commander of a ship' much like we use 'Captain' as a title...except that Admiral Adama handed him a new set of insignia, in the same ceremony Roslin used when she promoted him to Admiral.

Either way, he outranks Tigh. He's in command of the most powerful (if not the most significant) ship of the fleet.

This should be interesting. Especially with an election coming up.

Update: Well, according to The Battlestar Wiki, Colonel is indeed between Major and Commander; Commander is the equivalent of Commodore, and Lee just got hopscotched over Tigh's head, bare days after being jumped from Captain to Major. Wooo.

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DHS Keeps Proving Why It Was A Bad Idea

As soon as you create something this stupidly broad, overzealous morons will try to abuse it in ways both large and small.

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February 16, 2006

For a Clue as to Why Our State Needs Open Source

...look no further.*

* Okay, this isn't totally fair. Every state in the union has a Springfield. But still. State government IT. Shudder. At least ours is making the effort.

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February 10, 2006

Sky Pilots indeed.

God help you if you're not a Christian and want to join our Air Force. Thank you, President Bush, for pandering.

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February 9, 2006

Janet Reilly Employs Shills.

There. That should help her Google rank just a tad. That is an awesome progression of comments. Nice going there, Mr. Alex Laskey. And yes, perhaps we can take politics back from the self-serving, by exposing this kind of crap. Have a nice ban.

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For anyone who thinks that the Administration cares about security

Read this. Make your own decision about its veracity; I'm not claiming it's the truth. But if it is (and I certainly haven't seen any heated denials), given that it surely falls in line with known tactics of the esteemed Mr. Rove and company, think about what it says for their priorities - actual versus stated.

They do not care a whit for security, other than that of their own power.

They do not care a whit for honest debate of priorities.

They do not care a whit for the well-being of anyone who is not directly important to their personal power structure.

They are seeking to actively punish those who seek not to harm them directly, but to work possibly towards the greater good of the American polity - even those within their own political party.

This tells me (a biased observer) three things. One: they are not worthy of the power they currently hold, but I already knew that. Two: they are worried about the ongoing surveillance hearings. Worried enough to be doing this form of arm-twisting this openly against their own traditional supporters. Three: those supporters are worried as well.

Those worried supporters may be ready to act as Americans, and not as Republicans. If they do so, we need to give them room to do so. We need to be Americans here, not Democrats and Republicans - because the dangers confronting us are dangers to our rights and existence as Americans.

And Rove? Someone needs to take Rove down.

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February 8, 2006

Not just venal.

Incompetently venal.

One down. Far too many to go.

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February 6, 2006

I would say it's time for a witch-hunt, but...

...that would be unfair to the witches. Seriously, though...if this is who our government thinks should decide what gets said to the press about science from what should be a premier scientific agency, then I have some questions I need to ask that gentleman. While he's tied to a pole. With kindling.
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February 2, 2006

More DRM - The Audio Flag tries to get a foot in the door.

Just when the Broadcast Flag returns from the dead for the bazillionth time, resurrected by industry lobbying money, a new variant pops in - the 'Audio Flag,' intended to prevent timeshifting of digital radio content. Engadget's 'The Clicker' weighs in, asking if perhaps the Audio Flag might have a couple things going for it. I felt compelled to email a reply. Contents of that email after the jump.

While I take your point re: the Audio Flag and song play, I'd like to offer some in return that I've no doubt you've heard but which I feel compelled to support nonetheless.

First, the 'library from radio' option has been available since the cheap availability of boom boxes with built-in cassette recorders which recorded directly from the audio input. I myself have around forty cassettes of music recorded directly from radio stations in the 1980s, which saw an *awful* lot of use. The notion that this is a new problem which poses *new* challenges is a bit stretched.

Second, there was a response then which is still valid - the concept of releasing only certain songs for radio play. 'Singles' were released to sell *albums*. This fell into the dust when MTV and radiocassettes and CDs became popular - why? probably (IMHO) because the random-access nature of CDs and the hevay-single-promotion of MTV meant that the album as a form became less important. Hence the large number of albums containing the 'golden two singles' and lots of crappy tunes. But why should I accept restrictions on my content in order to allow artists/producers to shove those other 8-10 crappy tracks onto me?

Third, the option is always available to record companies to offer licenses for digital airplay at restricted bitrates. What's wrong with that? It's a choice that *they* make, and that the consumers (radio stations, and indirectly, listeners) can then choose to validate or not. Market at work. Radio was always of relatively reduced quality compared to purchasing the music anyway, which is why I have CDs of most of those songs recorded on that stack of cassettes.

Fourth, the problem is that we're not talking about making the audio flag *available*. We're talking about making it *mandatory*, on the equipment side at least. This is all well and good if you absolutely trust those on the other end of your content flow to *not* put the flag on things that you think it shouldn't apply to, but I would submit that that's an intolerably naive point of view. Look at Tivo: in the first few weeks their own 'unsaveable' flag was available, they managed to apply it *by mistake* to a whole raft of content, which meant their users had no option and no recourse when that content vanished.

J.B. Zimmerman

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Do you trust these fuckers with election reform?

I sure don't.

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Bird, bird, the bird is the word

GSgt Burghardt offers up the salute. Rock fucking on, Sergeant, and thank you from a fat-assed civvy here at home - one with (gasp!) liberal tendencies to boot. Stay faster and stay lucky, and keep that finger ready.

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February 1, 2006

Today, his master lies dying...


(Not that I have anything against Tartakovsky; I don't. But why?)

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Lawyers, Guns and Money

This is a talk given by Benjamin Ginsburg at Duke. Mr. Ginsburg was the chief counsel for both Bush 43 campaigns (thanks MeFi for the link - it's a RealPlayer stream). In it, MeFi headlines the fact that he states "Just like, really, with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection." Wanting to know the context, I had to go watch. More after the jump.

I'm not a lawyer, but he's talking about Equal Protection as it applies to the vote and ballots, a specific legal concept and tactic. He's discussing the 2000 recount cases brought in Florida (at around 38:40 into the video). Here's a rough transcript for some context, all errors mine:

We went to the Florida Supreme Court twice..there was litigation in scores of federal and state courts around the state...a quick note on perhaps the most interesting issue that came up there as we dealt with it and that was equal protection. Equal Protection is from really the Macintyre/McClosky race back in 1984; sort of the wildcard in litigating recount cases. In other words, are all similar ballots counted the same way? Because each county counts its own ballots, they may do it slightly different... what's a 'hanging chad' and counted in Palm Beach may be a 'pregnant chad' and not counted in Dade, and is that fair under the law, does it meet Equal Protection if all ballots aren't counted in the same way. Now, just like really with the Voting rights act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection. And in this case we decided nonetheless to begin filing the complaints based on Equal Protection. I was defeated in the Florida district court down in Miami early on, it went up to the 11th circuit, it sort of hung around there, it reemerged as an issue in the Florida Supreme Court cases, uh, which is what ultimately went up to the U.S. Supreme Court and at the end of the day there was a 7-2 majority of the US Supreme Court to find Equal Protection violations in the Bush vs. Gore case. The justices split on the remedy 5-4 but there was a 7-2 majority for the notion that you needed to do something about the Equal Protection violations in Florida. Of course, Bush vs. Gore is probably the most notorious of all the election violation cases that went up to the Supreme Court.
In other words, he appears to be saying that on the whole, Republicans don't generally agree with the philosophy behind the legislation and/or judicial precedent that created the Equal Protection concept, but they decided to use it anyway to achieve their goal, and it worked out for them. This sounds fairly normally lawyerly to me. As for the other part of the statement, that they don't agree with the Voting Rights Act either, that is made slightly clearer later on when he answers a question.

At around 54:00 in the video stream, Mr. Ginsburg notes that the U.S. House of Representatives has, since 1974, had an extremely high re-election rate - i.e. incumbents tend to win. He attributes this to a string of decisions from the Supreme Court, starting with the Voting Rights Act, involving redistricting. He further says that a Constitutional 'Originalist' must prefer the House to 'blow with the prevailing political winds' of the country rather than remaining locked through incumbent victories, and notes that the Delay case (which begins hearing arguments March 1, 2006) will likely have a profound impact on redistricting in the United States since it involves nearly all aspects of political redistricting in the U.S. He makes a remark that a federal judge many years ago told him that the Supreme Court was not, in fact, planning in any way to affect the political nature of the House and that he should stop being paranoid, because there 'wasn't anything behind those robes' (referring to the Justices)...and then notes that that judge was John Roberts, so we'll see.

Some other revealing (to me) bits. Earlier in the Q&A period, he characterizes the dispute over recounts between the GOP and the Democrats as one where the Democrats are afraid the GOP will attempt to suppress minority (Democratic) votes through intimidation, and the GOP is afraid that the Democrats will attempt to 'register multiple votes through fraud in those precincts.' Er, what? He then, in that same answer, does admit that remaining tough on perceived GOP intimidation is an effective Democratic 'get out the vote' tactic, while offering no opinion on the point of view that intimidation is a much, much easier to achieve and harder to prove (and hence prevent) form of tampering than actual voter fraud.

Also, remaining a true GOP operative, he closes the talk by answering a question as to what the plans would have been had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Gore campaign in 2000 - "We would have gone back to the county level and fought tooth and nail," and then immediately painted a picture of "imagine if 9/11 had happened and we hadn't had a clear decision on who was President."

Um, and whose fault would that have been then, had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gore?


I will give him this: he's opposed to electronic voting systems. He thinks they're bad for the country. He says as a 'member of the society of hourly billing' he loves 'em, but as an American, he thinks there is just too much anecdotal evidence, even, that they are vulnerable, and too many ways for plausible challenges to their veracity to be raised in comparison to paper ballots. Which makes sense, given that his specialty is recounts.

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