June 30, 2003

Frist in Your Home

Bill Frist, our exemplary senate majority leader, has this to say about Lawrence v Texas:

"I have this fear that this zone of privacy that we all want protected in our own homes is gradually � or I'm concerned about the potential for it gradually being encroached upon, where criminal activity within the home would in some way be condoned," Frist told ABC's This Week.

"And I'm thinking of � whether it's prostitution or illegal commercial drug activity in the home ... to have the courts come in, in this zone of privacy, and begin to define it gives me some concern."

This, from MaxSpeak is the best response to Frist that I've so far seen:
Lacking any principled criticism of homosexuality that they are willing to make public, our own domestic Taliban has to segue to shit-for-brains analogies to criminal behavior.**
Being a congress critter Frist probably thinks he and his ilk are in congress to tell us who we can kiss and probably would probably like to prescribe our reading list as well :
Frist said Sunday he respects the Supreme Court decision but feels the justices overstepped their bounds.

"Generally, I think matters such as sodomy should be addressed by the state legislatures," Frist said. "That's where those decisions � with the local norms, the local mores � are being able to have their input in reflected.

"And that's where it should be decided, and not in the courts."

I think the court has just explained to Frist and all those state legislatures that the area of consensual adult behavior is not a subject for legislation, that the tyranny of local norms and mores is coming to an end, that even a majority of congess critters shall not infringe our human rights. The battles are far from over but Lawrence is a big step.

**Bilmon, in the MaxSpeak comment thread, asks: "Aren't you being a little unfair to shit?"

Update: Mike Silverman has a graphic depiction of how to deal with Frist, et al.

Posted by Steve on June 30, 2003

Check it Out

Tim Porter tells us that the media is under using one of the basic tenets of journalism:

� Check it out. And that seems to be the culprit behind many of today's journalism scandals - as a well the perception by the public that the press is not paying attention. They're not checking it out enough. Jayson Blair - check him out. George Bush - check him out. Weapons of mass destruction - check them out.
Tim was reminded of this when reading . . . Bring Back the Skeptical Press by Gilbert Cranberg in yesterday's Washington Post. Cranberg takes the media to task for not checking the facts:
The Bush administration has been taking heavy flak for its as yet unproved claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. In fixing blame for the way the public appears to have been sold a bill of goods, don't overlook the part played by the media. Instead of closely questioning the administration's case, the nation's newspaper editorialists basically nodded in agreement.
Read the piece for Cranberg's analysis of editorial response to Colin Powell's WMD presentation to the Security Council. Sometimes trying to be current and timely can be a disservice to your constituency:
but the downside of instant analysis is the scant time it leaves for careful reporting and reflection. I learned in my many years of editorial writing to follow I.F. Stone's prudent advice to read texts and not to rush to judgment. None of these publications evidently realized, or noted, how Powell had embellished some facts, although that is readily apparent from a close reading of his text.

If the first casualty of war is truth, the media will need to be a lot more skeptical and alert to minimize the toll on truth.

I'm not a journalist and haven't absorbed basic tools of the trade like 'check it out.' But I'm learning them and this means that my posts are often taking me longer to write then when I started blogging. I've learned that anything that has a fact in the text needs to be verified: sometimes the fact is just right, other times my memory served it up wrong and once in a while I fat finger the keyboard.

Via The Rhetorica Network

June 29, 2003

Friedman's God

Tristero puts Tom Friedman's Is Google God? article in proper perspective.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2003

Why America?

Dinesh D'Souza provides mandatory 4th of July reading for all of us:

In America, by contrast, you get to write the script of your own life. What to be, where to live, whom to love, whom to marry, what to believe, what religion to practice - these are all decisions that, in America, we make for ourselves. Here we are the architects of our own destiny.
Read the rest!

Via Outside the Beltway.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2003

June 28, 2003

Democracy in Iraq?

From The Daily Kos:

How long will it take until the Shia clerics pick up their weapons and give the order for an uprising?
From the Whisky Bar at closing time:
So how long will it be before the administration and/or its apologists start telling us that "this war was never about democracy in Iraq"?
Got answers?

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2003 | Comments (1)

Which Harry is This?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is selling like magic in India. The cover
suggests this might be a different version then the UK or US version.

Via Al Sessions at FultonChain.

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2003

Judicial Filibusters

The senate is confirming folks like Nathan Chertoff for judicial positions 88-1. From Nate Hentoff:

In his book After, Steve Brill, based on his sources, reports that in the strategy sessions at the Justice Department, Chertoff, agreeing that the detainees should be held for long periods of questioning, said that even if some got a hearing, "the hearings could not only be done in secret, but also could be delayed, and that even after the hearings were held and they were ordered deported [usually for only minor immigration violations], there was nothing in the law that said they absolutely had to be deported immediately. They could be held still longer."

As for the detainees' right to contact lawyers, Chertoff and the others in the room, reports Brill, knew that under INS rules, the prisoners "were entitled to call a lawyer from jail, but the lists the INS provided of available lawyers invariably had phone numbers that were not in service." (Emphasis added.)

Yea, I know what follows isn't perfect logic. However, if this guy with such callous views of our rights is so easily approved then imagine just how bad the ones currently being filibustered must be.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2003

Saucy Harry

John at Catallarchy has found some entertaining, though out of context, snippets from the new Harry Potter.

Now, I'm sure most of you have not been looking for this type of thing as you read the Harry Potter stories but have you found other examples? Rowling was not adverse to sneaking in a bit of off color humor in the earlier books.

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2003

Dog praises bush

The talking dog reads Pravda and praises bush:

The man has built himself into an infinitely better athlete than I'll ever be. For that, he has my unqualified admiration.
But this is quite out of context. Go read the entire post especially the strong raised leg of the next to to last paragraph.

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2003

June 27, 2003

Corporate Rights

Emma at Late Night Thoughts joins Dave Pollard and Thom Hartman, author of Unequal Protection, in taking on corporate personhood. A thorough fisking of these folks arguments would find some individual points to argue but I think the essence of what they are saying holds true:

our elected and appointed legislative, executive and judicial 'public servants' have enacted, approved and upheld laws that imbue corporations with rights that should belong only to natural persons*
Read Emma's post and then the Pollard/Hartman material and give it some thought.

Emma observes that:
The screams you hear from the corner are coming from those conservatives that want to protect "capitalism" and "free markets".
I can't think of reasons why folks who truly support capitalism and free markets would disagree with the essence (see above) of this discussion. Capitalism does not thrive in an environment wrapped in special protections, subsidies, etc. Most likely those screaming are more of the statist variety and come from both the right and the left.

Thanks to Jeanne at Body and Soul for the pointer.

*orginal text read

our elected representatives have approved laws that imbue corporations with rights that should belong only to natural persons

Posted by Steve on June 27, 2003

Angelheaded Hipsters

Steven at Poliblogger asks:

Am I Anti-Hip, or What?

I just heard a story about "Hipsters" on NPR, and surfed over to this: NPR : 'The Hipster Handbook'. I am pretty sure that I have heard the term before, but must confess as to knowing almost nothing about this particular trend.

I checked out the NPR report and the 'hipster' material, quiz, etc., and came to the same conclusion as Steven. I'm not one of these either.

And, I don't think any of the folks that might use this book to define themselves are hipsters either. At least not as I use the word which, like many words, has changed its meaning over time. Here are some examples1:
By 1931 hep was occasionally being pronounced hip. This led to calling hep girls hip chicks and calling hepsters (jive dancers and fans) hipsters by the late 1930s.
By 1945 hip had completely replaced hep in informed circles, cat had come to mean any aware person (by the 1950s it was to mean any person at all), and hipster was beginning to mean a devotee of the new "progressive jazz" from the West Coast.
During the decade of 1945-55 hipster drifted away from its jazz meaning and was applied to any hip or cool youth.
By 1957 the true beats had followers, a growing number of hipsters who, that year, were first called hippies, younger versions of the beats
My understanding and usage of the word is rooted in the beatnik era meaning and if todays 'hipsters' are going to earn their place in the word's lineage they will have to make a stronger effort. Though, 'cool youth' is pretty open ended. From the hipster himself, Alan Ginsberg, we read:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

This seems to set the bar high though there are plenty of dynamics in today's world and particularly American culture that may ignite this flame.

And for a story of an interesting joining of hipsterism and neoconservatism check out this 1998 Paul Berman essay from Slate:
America's counterculture and America's neoconservatism, you might suppose, have nothing in common, except their war against one another. But they have in common the Columbia Review from the 1940s. They have in common a poem, whichever of the two it is, by the nearly inconceivable collaborative team of Norman Podhoretz and Allen Ginsberg. The counterculture and neoconservatism only seem to be opposites. They are actually variations on the same Columbia College hipster instinct for Old Testament windy curse-hurling, 1940s-style.
Berman, in a sidebar anecdote, says:
But his behavior matched his whim. He was entirely himself. No one was ever more natural. There were never any secrets with Allen Ginsberg--none that bore on his inner personality, anyway.
Which tells us more about being a hipster then any handbook could manage.

PS: Quizzilla has a slightly different version of the hipster quiz.

1Also see Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov, Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley (New York: Oxford, 1997), pages 221-0

Posted by Steve on June 27, 2003

June 26, 2003

This is Too Much

Take a look at this photo:


capt.1056584283.see_through_security_bbp108.jpg

(courtesy of Yahoo) and read this article and tell me whether you think this just might be going a bit too far???!! I do.

Via Silflay Hraka who poses this astute question:

More importantly, given that the machines are used to detect plastic, how long before people start using plastic tape to leave messages to the screeners on their torso?
Thinking about this some more, the backscatter image is a pretty good depiction of Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory (image from above linked CNN article):

Susan%20Hallowell.ap.jpg

Update (5/23/07): Fixed link to the images; made them embedded instead of popups and and modified the text slightly to reflect this. Also note that the CNN link is broken. Here is a link to an alternate story CBS from the same time.

Posted by Steve on June 26, 2003 | Comments (6)

It's still Stealing

The Net Pirate says

I know what I am doing is illegal, but I feel it is no more illegal or threatening to the music industry, than my videotaping of programmes from TV is threatening to broadcasters.
You know, though, it is illegal and it is theft. Perhaps if you stuck with copying mix tapes onto your CD from the radio you could say that you are analogous to the timeshifting folks do with vidotaped tv programs (which is not illegal).

This person is right that the industry is changing, that the recording industry wants to maintain control, etc. And, yes, the industry needs to come up with new models to sell the product. Still, I can't quite figure out any reason why he shouldn't be fined or go to jail for theft.

Oh, many performers approve the recording and trading of their live performances. This is legal. What the pirate is doing is not no matter how broken the distribution model.

On a related note, the RIAA, better get busy making the changes to their business model. There are some things on the horizon that will make their lives even more interesting:
An international team set new Internet2 Land Speed Records using next generation Internet Protocols (IPv6) by achieving 983 megabits-per-second with a single IPv6 stream for more than an hour across a distance of 7,067 kilometers (more than 4,000 miles) from Geneva, Switzerland to Chicago, Ill. The record is comparative to transferring the equivalent of approximately one feature-length DVD-quality movie every 36 seconds, or more than 3,500 times faster than the typical home broadband connection.
36 seconds to download a movie!! Wahooooo!! Well, almost. It will be a while before many of us get true broadband at our homes (and I certainly don't consider the definition used above, 280 Kilobits-per-second, to be broadband).

Posted by Steve on June 26, 2003 | Comments (3)

Foreign Investment in US Declines

The Progressive Policy Institute (related to New Democrats Online) sends out interesting stuff (irrespective of their politics) from time to time.

Their most recent Newsletter provides the following data on foreign investment in the US and worldwide(in billions):

USWorld Wide
2000 $314 $1500
2001 $144?
2002 $30 $530

Source Data


It is not a surprise that both figures have declined. But note that foreign investment in the US has declined from about 20% to less then 6% of the world wide total. Here are PPI's suggested reasons:
(1) slow global growth and thus a smaller global FDI
pool;

(2) weak technology investment levels;

(3) falling confidence in long-term U.S. growth prospects, as perceptions of terrorist threats grow and structural budget deficits re-emerge after recent tax bills; and

(4) higher dollar values relative to the euro in 2001 and 2002, raising the price of acquisitions here.
You might come up with one or two more on your own.

Posted by Steve on June 26, 2003 | Comments (1)

Harry Potter Covers

For you Harry Potter fans Felix at felixsalmon.com has put together a matrix of the covers from 3 different editions of each of the 5 books. He thinks US readers have been shortchanged. You get to vote.

Posted by Steve on June 26, 2003

June 25, 2003

Netflix Patent

As I have commented before there are patents being issued that have no business existing. This one fits in that category.

Don't get me wrong. Netflix offers a great service. If you regularly rent DVDs then it may work very well for you. But, there is nothing about this process that walks, talks or smells like an invention. This is a rental service using standard technology not an anti-gravity device.

Here are some example descriptions from the patent:

According to one aspect of the invention, a method is provided for renting items to customers on a subscription basis.
According to the approach, customers provide item selection criteria to a provider provides the items indicated by the item selection criteria to customer over a delivery channel.
There is lots of language like this accompanied by fairly trivial flow charts all doable by your average business systems analyst who has been asked to create a system to manage rentals. Folks there is not any invention in the classic sense here. This is like issuing a patent to someone who uses purple letters instead of green letters on their lemonade stand.

Posted by Steve on June 25, 2003 | Comments (2)

Max Proposes

Max Sawicky proposes that Kucinich would enhance his chances by narrowing the focus of his campaign to these three areas:

Just to get the juices flowing, I will suggest three areas for emphasis. On the surface, they are obvious enough. The difference is in how they are handled.

War. George Bush has committed impeachable offenses in the conduct of foreign policy. Lies the likes of which have never been seen were used to justify the Iraq venture. I go back to my maximalist anti-war position: it doesnt matter what WMDs Saddam has, or had. He was not a threat to the U.S., nor was he implicated in anti-U.S. terrorism. The other side of the problem, now emerging in daily episodes of fatal U.S. casualties, is the Administrations incapacity to determine whether Iraq would be governable, and if so, to effectively plan to govern.

Taxes. We need an explicit shift in tax burden from the non-rich to the rich, basically reversing what the regime has done since 2001. Only a new regime (leadership of Congress, and the presidency) will do this. Among other motives, raising employment requires a basic reconfiguration of the tax cuts, in the direction of more progressivity, equal taxation of investment and labor income, and much less backloading.

Health care. There are two problems with health care, not one. Its not just access; its also cost containment. In the latter regard, single payer has profound implications for wages, the fiscal condition of state and local governments, and long term fiscal solvency. The problem is not profit, per se. Its fragmentation in the context of privatization. In principle, a single, regulated business firm could provide national health care, though that would not be my preferred solution. Profit is not a moral problem in health care; its an artifact of an organizational problem.

Now, none of this makes me want to jump on the Kucinich bandwagon but, as Max says, these should get the juices flowing and by narrowing the focus of the campaign debate the challengers will avoid confusing supporters and potential converts.

I think his first point is right on as it stands. The latter two need to be on the table and in clear contrast to the Bush positions but, depending on the candidate, may be couched differently then here.

The second, point, taxes needs a lot of work. Certainly the flagrant abuses of the Bush cuts need to be fixed. But, more importantly, the entire tax code needs to be fixed which should include reducing it to the size of a 20 page pamphlet.

The health care is more comple then just the insurance side and note that Max clarifies the above confusing health care point in an update to the post.

Posted by Steve on June 25, 2003

June 24, 2003

Affirmative Action

Brad Delong writes an excellent piece on affirmative action in response to Andrew Sullivan that begins:

Andrew Sullivan doesn't see what is so wrong with an elite university with no black people in it:

But why is a racially un-diverse but intellectually multi-faceted campus such a bad thing? Why is a world without... [affirmative action] so "intolerable"?

I think that the politest possible response is that this demonstrates, more than anything else, that Andrew Sullivan is simply and totally clueless about what America is.

Read the rest of the post and the comment thread. There are some challenging ideas that you may not agree with. I know I am going to have to give quite a bit of thought to a couple of questions he raises: 1) how long the marks of historical experience can be considered to last and 2) the concept of collective responsibility.

Posted by Steve on June 24, 2003

Compassionate Bobble Head Saves Education

SK Bubba has some words about the miracles wrought with tax cuts and John Williams at Thudfactor extends the analysis.

It is pretty astounding how many things can be done with a tax cut. In particular I like this juxtaposition from the Washington Post article covering the same event SKB commented on:

"The tax relief plan has encouraged Harold and his wife to make additional investment, which is good for the economy," he said.

As has become typical for Bush travels, Hamilton is a frequent contributor to Republican campaigns.

....

Posted by Steve on June 24, 2003

June 23, 2003

Filtering Internet Access at Public Libraries

Almost lost in the crush of commentary on the Michigan affirmative action decision is this example of a place where, based on the laws they are writing and the decisions they are making, congress critters and supreme court justices should not be treading.This is as good a reason as any for libraries to just say no to federal dollars:

The aid comes through two separate programs. The first, the "E-rate" program administered by the Federal Communications Commission, requires Internet service providers to give discounts to libraries; this was worth $58.5 million to libraries in the year ending June 2002. The second provides direct federal grants to link libraries to the Internet; the grants totaled more than $149 million in fiscal 2002.
While $200 million is more then spare change it works out to less then $23,000/per public library (there are 9074 of them). If the Bushies are around long enough they will likely make this moot when they scrap these programs.

Eugene Volokh thinks that this decision may not be the last we hear of this issue and Peter Lewis has just about the right perspective:
Another issue: Whose filter will the libraries use? The software has to be compiled by someone whose value judgments are trustworthy.

Say, here's an interesting idea: How about filters endorsed by Roman Catholic priests? Or, maybe librarians in Kansas will choose filters created by the same school advisory board that required science teachers to give as much class time to Christian creationism as to Darwinism. How about a filter created by the government itself, which cuts off funding to agencies that seek to disseminate information about birth control, and spends $8,000 to drape the naked right boob of the statue Spirit of Justice in the Justice Department? (Clarification: I'm referring to the boob on the statue, left.)

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2003

Your Daily Dose of Bushumor

Is in the comment thread of this post at The Daily Kos.

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2003

Hanging out, Around the World

Oscar Jr. provides two geographical blog lists that will provide a lot of interesting reading for you armchair travelers. Blogs Around the World will lead to exotic locales in distant lands. Blogs around the U.S.A does the same for folks interested in US stuff. These are both works in progress so send Oscar Jr. some recommendations.

Via Allison at An Unsealed Room.

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2003 | Comments (1)

No to Pryor

Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has a bunch of material on Bill Pryor. Plenty of stuff to help you over the hump if there is some reason you have been hesitant to let your senators know you want them to keep this guy off the bench. You can also go over to Ruminate This for more.

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2003

Mutating Corporations

Virginia Postrel's article Specialization is the Rage will likely disappear into the NY Times pay content world in a few days. But, as Lynne Keisling tells us, it is a must read:

Its topic is specialization, and specifically the move away from vertical integration in the structure of many industries. Technological change has contributed to making this move possible and profitable.
The implications should extend far beyond the corporate world.

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2003

June 22, 2003

Enjoying Life

The Talking Dog Family and the Sisyphus Family attended the Coney Island annual Mermaid Parade. TD tells us that:

In the nationally franchised, branded, homogenized, sterilized world in which we spend most of our lives, something local, something real. While it lasts, anyway, something precious.
Our kids have grown past the 'swag magnet' stage but reading td's report made me want to be there with them.

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2003

Kerry, Edwards, Bush: who is a libertarian

The democratic candidates are challenging Bush's economic position from a variety of stances but at least one of them might do better to get some more education before continuing. It is clear that, as both David and Brian at Catalarchy imply, Kerry doesn't understand Libertarianism and doesn't understand Bush's politics or economics:

Kerry also took questions from the audience; the last came from a glamorous young woman wearing a low-cut white dress who wanted to know how he felt about the chargelevelled by Dean, among othersthat he was too similar to Bush to lead the Democrats. The Bush Administration agenda isnt conservative Republicanism, and its not radical Republicanismits extreme libertarianism, he replied.
On the other hand, John Edwards clearly does understand Bush and the current American economic system (even as he misuses the word capitalist):
Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality.

And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic.

It is refreshing that at least one of these folks is willing to call a Bush a Bush and has a set of proposals that appear to have the American people as their focus rather than a wealthy few. No, Edwards is not a Libertarian but Balko might find more to like about Edward's talk then what most of the other dems are saying (remember that as Bush has amply demonstrated just talking a good game is not enough...you have to walk it as well).

William Saletan presents a thorough analysis of the Edward's speech over at Slate which Zach Wendling summarizes:
1) I'm pro-capitalism and anti-big government.
2) Capitalism isn't greed; it has values and rules.
3) Corporate cheaters are subverting those values and rules.
4) Bush is a cheater, too.
5) Bush's overt policies also flout capitalist values.
6) Bush is raising taxes.
7) Bush is soft on crime.
8) Bush is as bad as a socialist.
Zach points correctly that Edwards is courting the demo fiscal conservatives (he could pick up a few republican ones as well) and calls Edwards 'Your Libertarian Candidate.' Well maybe incrementally but I doubt most libertarians would consider Edwards one of their own.

And, Ezra at Not Geniuses says that this is:
one of the most interesting speeches of the Primary so far
and has a modest proposal of his own for us to evaluate.

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2003

June 21, 2003

Bush Jobs Program

Chris, a guest blogger at Unlearned Hand, teaches us the true intent of the Bush tax cuts:

Briefly, this is how it works. Tax cuts are given to the wealthy. The wealthy, in turn, then contribute money to the campaign. The campaign then hires Republican workers.

Brilliant. It trickles down, as long you support the President.

Leave No Republican Operative Behind.

A pretty clear picture of the workings of American government.

Posted by Steve on June 21, 2003 | Comments (1)

Balko slides 'Left'

Bush supporting libertarians should head right over to read this post from Radly Balko.

The only reasons this administration has given libertarians to support it come in the form of what it promises to do next term.
(I think everyone has a pretty clear understanding of Bush's record regarding commitments to future actions that are not related to a pretty narrow constituency)

If you are primarily a left blogger Balko may not be on your regular reading list but this is one post that you should go read as many of his points will help in your discussions with right bloggers - at least the ones who are not lockstepped with Ashcroft, et al.

I don't think Balko is actually sliding leftward as much as realizing that his views are generally orthogonal to both the republicans and the democrats and he comes close to realizing this when he says:
But my point is not that the Democrat Party is an acceptable alternative. My point is simply that Republicans aren't acceptable anymore.
I'm pretty sure the republicans have never been acceptable to true libertarians and I have never understood libertarians supporting Bush policies which seem overwhelmingly to lead away from libertarian principles. Hopefully this is an indicator of a growing schism in the Bush ranks.

Posted by Steve on June 21, 2003

June 20, 2003

Jessica Lynch and Spin

Emma unexpectedly links to this Nicholas Kristoff NYT column (which will be pay to read in a week) and rightly tells us:

What's amazing is that his story, if true, would be a thousand times better than the original one.
You can go to her place to read why she thinks this. She then goes on to say:
Instead, they played up to the imbecile jingoism of the hard right. Even Kristof seems to be getting tired of it, although he cannot bring himself, yet, to call it lying:
and the paragraph she quotes from Kristol does support this interpretation. I like, though, the way Kristoff put it earlier in his article:
Ms. Lynch is still a hero in my book, and it was unnecessary for officials to try to turn her into a Hollywood caricature. As a citizen, I deeply resent my government trying to spin me like a Ping-Pong ball.
He is still not quite calling it lying but what else can it be?

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2003

Europrotections

On Tuesday I complained about pending Eurostrictions. Today I'd like to give the EU some credit. Not a lot, but some. In the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are a couple of articles that might make our Total Terrorist Information Act folks cringe

Article 7
Respect for private and family life

Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

Article 8
Protection of personal data

1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.

2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.

3.Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.
This looks pretty good. I give the EU credit for this.

How fragile such protections are, though, when modified with words like "or some other legitimate basis laid down by law." This phrase contradicts the idea that Article 8.1 is a fundamental right and allows for its abrogration.

Thus we find Statewatch saying that the EU folks, maybe the above referenced independent authority, are "highly critical' of arrangements being made to give private information to the US. A reading of the report itself suggests they have already buckled under and that it is a matter of how much data for how long not a flat out no.

Yea, they are critical but they are not adamant and when it comes to fundamental rights you must be adament.
Via Bespacific

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2003 | Comments (3)

June 19, 2003

Still Down the Hatch

The new headline at PC World reads:

Senator Softens Threat Against Pirates

Destroying PCs for copyright violation may be drastic, Hatch concedes.
What the Senator says is this:
"I made my comments at yesterday's hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials," he says in the statement.

"I do not favor extreme remedies--unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

What he said yesterday:
"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines."
So some editor at PC World thinks saying the same thing using different words and structure softens the threat?

I still say let's shove this guy down the hatch.

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2003

Down the Hatch

Amish Tech Support asks the million dollar question:

Also will the RIAA and the Entertainment Lobby be calling for Senator Hatch to step down from his post on Judiciary, or will they just settle for getting their money back?
Hatch probably hadn't a clue that he'd be hoist with his owne petar' when he said:
"There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws,"
as he, in essence, advocated handing over police and judicial powers to the RIAA/Entertainment industry.

If those folks don't ask him to step down, if he does not do it on his own, the rest of us should give him a shove.

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2003 | Comments (1)

What's Your Temperature?

Judging from the time stamps on a series of posts beginning at 1:36 AM The Apostropher didn't get much sleep last night. This clearly was partially due to a prodigious amount of blogging and this post, entitled 2:06 AM tells the rest of the story:

In acknowledgement of the time of this entry, I'll mention this story. Japanese researchers at Akita University School of Medicine published a study indicating that viewing computer monitors at night, particularly bright ones, produces physiological changes that could disrupt the sleep cycle.
Read it all here for the chuckle and something to think about the next time you are up late at night polishing that next post.

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2003

June 18, 2003

The Economy is Going Again!

As reported* by Mr. Bush at last nights party the economy is better:

We got the economy going again because we worked with the US Congress to pass historic tax relief not once but twice
I'm sure that all those unemployed folks feel a lot better.

I wonder if as many people believe this already as believe that WMD's have been found in Iraq?
A third of the American public believes U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. And 22 percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.
Does he really believe his own words?

*In NPR News this morning. Audio is labeled Bush Launches Re-Election Fundraising Campaign

Posted by Steve on June 18, 2003

Eurostrictions

Here is the new deal: Say something not nice about some public figure; maybe someone who, though without much substance, still likes to bark like Bill O'reilly.

Then, prepare to provide space on your blog for whiny O'reilly to use to respond.

This very scenario is being proposed by the Council of Europe, a quasi-governmental body oft used to test proposals for new EU laws. As you can imagine some folks are not happy with this idea. From Peeve Farm:

And now the EU wants to regulate blogs, guaranteeing any criticized party the right to rebut any such criticism prominently on any such blog or website that issues it.
And from Perry at Samizdata:
People in the US, who take notions of Freedom of Expression and Private Property for granted, will be astonished by the latest steaming pile of wisdom to emerge from the clenched cheeks of our European would-be masters.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to climb right up on the battlements with Perry. Can't the folks that dream this stuff up just go find a real job?

Update: Perry has more and if you have lots of time den Beste covers this at length.

Posted by Steve on June 18, 2003 | Comments (3)

June 17, 2003

Neal Stephenson Alert

If you are a fan; if you enjoyed Cryptonomicon then it is time to head over to Amazon and pre-order Quicksilver. I've been waiting so long I now probably need to re-read Cryptonomicon before the September 23rd ship date for Quicksilver. Via Kevin Drum and Short Hope Unfiltered.

Update (9/1/04): Corrected spelling.

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2003 | Comments (1)

Getting the Diploma

The airwaves and papers are filled this time of year with stories of graduations: college, highschool, junior high, middle school, 6th grade, etc. It seems everybody is graduating from somewhere.

A lot of students put in a lot of hard work to earn the right to walk across a stage and receive some token to represent their accomplishments. Some students don't get to make this walk because they did not do the required work. Others were prevented because of sheer stupidity. Thanks to Jaquandor for the link to Michael Lopez's riff on this.

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2003

June 16, 2003

From Bush to Kerry

Rand Beers makes a radical jump in allegiances:

Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know?
For some answers go here. Via Cursor.org.

Posted by Steve on June 16, 2003

Why George Tenet Should Resign

From the Daily Kos:

Rumsfeld is shifting responsivbility away from his Team B aides at DOD and dumping the mess in Tenet and Kay's lap. Neither man is particularly respected or liked by Rumsfeld and this political move clearly indicates he's trying to distance himself and the military from the issue.

If Tenet were smart, he would resign and go after Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. They clearly expect him to fail, blame him for the failure and then install a puppet who does things their way. This is a naked political move by Rumsfeld and Cheney to cover themselves and place the blame on the CIA, an organization mistrusted by both left and right.

There is more and some juicy tidbits in the comments as well.

Posted by Steve on June 16, 2003 | Comments (1)

A Day in the Life of Karl Rove

Begins like this:

Log 6.9.03 (Monday)

5:05 Awake. Castigate self for sleeping in. Remove snooze bar from clock radio with pliers.

5:05 - 5:15 Bathroom -- Brush teeth, massage gums, trim nose hairs. Practice affable grin (in mirror).

5:15 Exchange customary morning greeting with Darby: "Good Morning, Mr. Co-President," "Good Morning, Mrs. Co-First Lady."

5:17 Kiss Darby (cheek).

To enjoy the rest go over to Arianna Online. Via American Samizdat.

Posted by Steve on June 16, 2003

June 15, 2003

Is there really a Medical Malpractice Insurance Problem?

There is a lot of interesting discussion going on regarding medical malpractice insurance. Kevin Drum has a lengthy analysis of the data (and links to this data if you want to work with it directly) and Dwight Meredith puts the $4.2 billion annual payout in perspective. Dwight has also provided some insight into eliminating frivolous lawsuits that is worth another read.

Bottom line: there may be a problem but it is not near what it is being made out to be and there are much bigger fish to fry that would have much more significant long term benefits.

Posted by Steve on June 15, 2003

Weapons of Mass Hydrogen Production

I'm not sure why Tim Dunlop had thought it might be safe to trust the president again but this post and the article it references make it pretty clear that trust is not an adjective that sticks well to W. Those two WMD producing vehicles actually produced hydrogen for artillery balloons. Maybe the range of these balloons exceeded the UN restrictions....

Posted by Steve on June 15, 2003

Rising Health Care Costs

US health care costs are going to rise. Costs rise when demand outstrips supply and barring significant changes in treatment or, better yet, some dramatic cultural changes demand for health care will increasingly outstrip supply over the next 50 years.

The Center for Disease Control says that

One in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic unless many more people start eating less and exercising more, a scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.
This means our diabetic population increases from 17 million today to 45-50 million by 2050. A tremendous increase in demand!

And, you do not want to be black or hispanic:
The odds are worse for black and Hispanic children: Nearly half of them are likely to develop the disease
For Mexicans the problem is significant whether they are in the US or at home.

Posted by Steve on June 15, 2003

June 13, 2003

What do the creationists say?

The Apostropher closes a fine post on the 160,000 year old Homo sapiens idltu fossils found in Ethiopia with this pondering comment

As of yet, there is still no comment from the standard bearers of creationism.
This tweaked my interest so I went right over there to double check and realized that they probably will not say any more then what is already writ on their Fossil page which closes with this
Every few years evolutionists prop up and advertise a few new fossils and fool many into thinking that their theory finally has scientific substance. They neglect or purposefully hide their frauds and wishful finds of the past, which used to be the new fossils of past times. There are no transitional fossils that have withstood the test of time and true (non-media-hyped) scientific scrutiny. Their track record is to stand *against* what we see in the fossil record ... and that is the mass burial of the former world in the Great Flood of 4,400 years ago.
Yep, I don't think we'll be seeing any update.

Posted by Steve on June 13, 2003

June 12, 2003

More What is Capitalism

Decnavda discusses some things that 'liberals' might do to re-establish their power:

I believe that Americans are attracted to the Republican ideas of self-reliance, enterprise, and opportunity for advancement. One problem is that too many liberals seem to agree that those ARE Republican ideas, and liberalism is framed as the government taking care of people and helping to equalize the outcomes of market forces. This is because most of our intellectuals are watered-down socialists. As a result, we seem to have conceded that Republican capitalism is the true capitalism.

It does not have to be this way. Rather than only taking care of the masses, the government could empower them. Rather than equalize outcomes, we can redistribute wealth to equalize opportunities. Successful past wealth redistribution plans, such as the Homestead Act, the G.I. Bill, and subsidized home mortgages, have given the poor opportunity and capital in form of land, homes, and education.

Liberals should not fight capitalism, we should reclaim it for the masses.

Well, some of this is right. The republican capitalism certainly bears little resemblance to true capitalism. However, none of the proposals above have anything to do with capitalism. Perhaps the last sentence should read something like:
We should reclaim the meaning of classical liberalism and bring capitalism back to the masses.
By the way, if you are at all interested in tax law Decnavda has a lot of good stuff for you.

Oh, and Decnavda does not appear to have any permalinks. The above post is the only on on June 11.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2003 | Comments (1)

Segway to Tennis

Carrying a tennis raquet and riding a Segway can be challenging but it is probably a lot easier then some of the other things that he tries to do simultaneously. Via Oliver Willis.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2003

Dozens of Candidates

If you are getting bored by the short list of candidates that pop in the headlines Nurse Ratched has a much longer list for you...complete with links to their web sites: dems, socialists, ronatarian, republican, prohibition, POLKA and more.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2003

The Good Life and Hotel Connections

Silt found life good while visiting Seattle and appreciated the high speed network access at the hotel:

The hotel Im staying at has free DSL broadband in all guest rooms. This is a very good thing, and one which more hotels ought to emulate. To my knowledge, though, its still extremely rare.
I wish the hotel I recently stayed at in Cincinnat emulated this. Once in a while I was able to achieve a 12 kbps connection but more typical was 9.6 kbps and this was not a good thing (I usually get 56 kbps plus while traveling). On the plus side they did say that they were going to upgrade their phone system real soon now.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2003

One Swede's View of W

You may want to send your children to the other room before opening this Swede's description of the US president.

Via Unfogged who provided assistance to the Invisible Adjunct in a time of need.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2003

June 11, 2003

Crime or Reprisal

Some, like this guy, argue that Martha Stewart is being persecuted because of her success.Tarek at The Liquid List has another perspective on the Waksal/Stewart prosecutions.

Posted by Steve on June 11, 2003

June 10, 2003

From Total to Terrorism

In typical government form the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants us to think that because they changed the name of this program they have changed its purpose:

Formerly known as Total Information Awareness, the newly renamed Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program is the brainchild of Adm. John Poindexter, known for his 1991 conviction (later overturned) for lying to Congress about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

The old name, DARPA notes on its Web site, "created in some minds the impression that TIA was a system to be used for developing dossiers on U.S. citizens." Luckily for DARPA, with the new name, they get to keep their acronym. Unluckily for privacy advocates, they kept much more than the acronym.

You can read about the rest and maybe you should consider whether to use cash or credit on your next purchase.

Posted by Steve on June 10, 2003

O'reilly v Franken

Seeing Molly Ivins and Bill O'reilly sitting next to each other at the same table is worth looking at all by itself. But the real fun comes with the O'reilly/Franken interplay. If you have watched O'reilly at all you know he is just busting a gut wanting to interrupt while Franken is talking...just hilarious. Take a look and listen to this from BookExpo America a week or so ago. Via Hammerdown.

Posted by Steve on June 10, 2003

June 9, 2003

Resuming

Blogging will resume here albeit slowly. My return home last night (this morning :) was long and exhausting. Weather related problems begain the delays and then plain incompetence on the part of Delta Airlines led to additonal inconvenience for a few hundred people.

Posted by Steve on June 9, 2003 | Comments (2)

June 3, 2003

Expect Intermittent Blogging Through 6/8

I will be traveling Wednesday-Sunday and will have greatly reduced access so blogging will likely be curtailed. Got to get up at 3 to head to the airport so no more tonight.

Posted by Steve on June 3, 2003

Funny Stuff

Soundbitten has started a new humor blog. Go see if it tickles your funny bone.

Posted by Steve on June 3, 2003

June 2, 2003

Death Don't Have No Mercy

A few hours ago our neighbor died. He was a 50 year old man who had fought a brave fight against cancer for the past 6 months. He left a wife and 2 daughters. Our kids grew up with their kids. His daughters and our daughter and another who moved away many years ago started our block's annual summer barbecues. When word came of his passing all the families - adults and children - newcomers and longtimers - gathered in the cooling evening to share our grief, to share our joy of having known Rick.

Posted by Steve on June 2, 2003

Cooking the Books II

Colin Powell has this rebuttal to yesterday's post on Cooking the Books:

Speaking in Rome, Powell said he thought the evidence that Iraq had continued to develop such weapons was "overwhelming."

"There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It wasn't a figment of anyone's imagination. Iraq used these weapons against Iran in the late '80s," Powell said. "There is no question, there is no debate here."

Ok, ok. Iraq used chemical weapons in the late '80s. How, again, did this present a current threat to the US?
"There was no doubt in my mind as I went through the intelligence and as I prepared myself for the (Feb. 5) briefing ... that the evidence was overwhelming that they had continued to develop these programs," he added.
Surely this overwhelming evidence will be presented to the rest of us soon. That UN presentation just didn't quite do the trick.
Powell noted that the CIA and the Pentagon last week said they had concluded that two truck-trailers found in Iraq could only have been mobile biological weapons factories, although no trace of biological weapons was found in either.
Let's see, what was the war budget? Something like $80 billion. That works out to $40 billion/truck. Surely, there were more of these truck-trailers rolling around.......

Posted by Steve on June 2, 2003

June 1, 2003

Cooking the Books

For months before the war the administration spoke with certainty about Iraqi WMD and al Qaeda links. It is becoming increasingly clear that they did not have a real case and struggled to come up with material for Powell's UN speach. Read this story of the preparation of this speach. CEOs lose their jobs (and should go to jail) and accounting firms disappear when they are caught cooking the books. The same should be true for elected and appointed officials. Via The Road to Surfdom.

Posted by Steve on June 1, 2003

Pharms, Banks and More

South Knox Bubba, after taking yesterday off, is making up for it today. Plenty of stuff on Bush talk, WMDs, hunting terrorists, bigotry, both Clintons, and the plight of big pharm and finance. Go be entertained.

Those of you pondering the level at which free markets operate in this country should read this report (via SKB) on big Pharm's intended lobbying effort for the coming year. It is pretty clear that governments at all levels are trying to participate in planning for this industry and those of us paying the bill can evaluate the results.

The big banks are fighting for the elimination of our privacy (also via SKB) in the name of providing 'high-quality service'

The banks contend the only consistent way to regulate the industry is through national standards, and that barring information-sharing with affiliates would make it impossible for them to provide high-quality service to customers.
They want regulation and they want to make sure the rules read the way they want. And, if their idea high quality service is the continual flow of snail mail spam flowing from their insurance joint-marketing partners then it must stop.

The appropriate rule regarding customer/patient privacy for all businesses is pretty straight forward:
Information can only be released with the conscious informed consent of the individual customer and only to those organizations specifically approved by the individual customer.
Tweak it a bit if you like but it does not take more then this....not volumes of regs, 100s of attorneys, or $millions wasted in non-productive lobbying efforts.

Posted by Steve on June 1, 2003