February 29, 2004

Everyone in New Zealand Has Been Thanked

When they started giving awards to people just for having seen Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, it was time to turn off the TV.

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February 25, 2004

Marriage Redux

If you're wondering how I feel about the whole gay marriage thing, check the archives.

UPDATE: Unlearned Hand thinks the Marriage Amendment won't become law. I wonder why - I have little doubt that this will pass the House, and at least come close in the Senate, and it's the type of things that state legislatures are especially susceptible to pass. (Go look at the red state/blue state map again and tell me which ones will vote to ratify...)

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February 22, 2004

The Very Model of the Modern Political Database

At the intersection of technology and politics:

[I]n-house committee research several decades ago revealed that Mercury owners were far more likely to vote Republican than owners of any other kind of automobile -- data that was so constant across the country, Mahe recalled, that it couldn't possibly have been the product of chance. ''We never had the money or the technology to make anything of it,'' Mahe said. ''But of course, they do now.''

The article also looks at local political legend Richard Viguerie an his role in creating the modern political database.

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A Barber Explains the Law

A barber can make even the most complicated legal distinctions simple, like the difference between defamation... and defecation.

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By the Rules

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You? via Bag and Baggage.

I'm Rule 20 - "an important part of the Federal Rules' policy of permissive joinder... designed specifically to allow as many parties in an action as can be tried efficiently.... popular, out-going, and never far from friends."

Other Rule 20's:

Any others?

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PJ observes that Microsoft has some sound security advice: switch to Mac.

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February 16, 2004

Support Indie Music

Drink Pepsi? Can't or don't use iTunes?

Donate your winning bottle cap codes to support indie musicians at Tune Recycler.

Link via nickd.

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February 14, 2004


Although I've said before that I don't need a greeting card company to remind me what's important in life, it never hurts to reflect on those things when given a chance.

Last week, while participating in a fraternity retreat, I had to identify the greatest achievement of my life. I didn't even hesitate: marrying Dineen. Of any thing I could have done to determine the course of my life, none comes close to finding and keeping the ideal life partner, soul mate, confidant, and closest friend I could ever hope to have. I can't even imagine my life without her - and now, with our wonderful son, I recognize more every day how well-suited we are for each other and for the family we are starting.

I tell her these things, as often as I can. Even though I make my living shaping words, I can't seems to come up with a way to show how deep and strong my feelings for her run. I am at a loss to express myself. All I can do is hope that she knows anyway.

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Some people really loathe today's holiday sentiment:

I'd rather see The Vagina Monologues performed by Bea Arthur and Carol Channing on a repeating loop with my eyelids taped open than acknowledge what today is.

I've never been much for manufactured holidays either - I don't need a greeting card company to remind me who and what are really important in my life. For those of you bitter and dissenting today, enjoy this cover of the Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen in Love? by the Mathletes.

You disturb my natural emotions
You make me feel like dirt
And Iím hurt
And if I start a commotion
Iíll only end up losing you
And thatís worse

A perfectly sad and demented tune.

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February 13, 2004

My Lucky Day

Why do I consider Friday the 13th lucky? Lots of reasons.

  1. It always falls on a Friday.
  2. Luck is nothing more than a state of mind.
  3. I was born on one.
  4. Why not? Rules were made to be broken.

So, have a great day, and don't be scared.

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February 09, 2004

Spam Surprise

No one would have ever guess this, but federal legislation passed late last year has not even made a dent in the flow of spam, and according to some experts, made the problem worse.

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February 06, 2004

G5 Gutting Turns Up a Hoax

A story which really angered Apple users last week turned out to be a hoax. "Andy" claimed to have received a brand-new G5 for Christmas, then gutted it to install Dell components.

Apple fans were outraged: "[He] should be hung by his testicles and set on fire."

I remember feeling incredulous that someone would waste such a great machine, but flaming testicle suspension seems a bit iRational to me.

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Can I See Some ID, Please?

Bruce Schneier on Big Brother security flaws:

Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn't really prevent terrorism.

This is something that has always rubbed me the wrong way. Even before Sept. 11, airlines used to demand photo Id's, falsely claiming that it was a security measure mandated by the FAA. However, those ID's were never checked against anything - they only verified that your ID matched the name on your ticket. (A classmate of Dineen's had once booked a ticket under his nickname - and got denied boarding to a flight because that wasn't the name on his ID - even though he had a VERY uncommon last name.)

ID checking is still relatively useless today. Although airlines now check the names against a central database, that doesn't help much for potential threats who have common names - even if they're not what some regard as "American" names. But even those with such wholesome sounding, but common, names like "David Nelson" can find themselves stopped - or worse - in the airport.

In some areas, the ID checking seems to be merely a ruse. I routinely travel to the federal courthouse here in Virginia. Shortly after the Johnny Walker Lindh hearings began, the marshals began checking ID's. Just last week, I asked one to pass a note to a client of mine who was running late.

"Oh, we don't look at the names," he said. "We just check to make sure the ID is valid."

Don't look at the names? Then what possible function can the ID serve? All that confirms is that some government somewhere (maybe not even that - they just ask for "photo" ID) was convinced the presenter should be issued an ID for whatever purpose. The name on the ID could be "Al Q. Terrorist" and the U.S. Marshals would be none the wiser - because they apparently don't even LOOK at the name - let alone check it against anything that might suggest someone might be a threat.

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. - Lazarus Long

Our current ID mania seems to be just a way of keeping all us sheeple in line - anesthetizing us to the routine demand for ID, no matter how flimsy the reason, so that we may be better tracked, scrutinized, and captured should the need arise. Those pushing the pro-ID agenda are, in the long run, making us all less, not more, secure.

Posted by wasylik at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

Flesh Flap

Doc Searls on the Janet Jackson controversy:

Right now I can go inside, turn on the tube (sans boob) and watch no less than ... let's see ... twenty channels that feature murder and death in the service of entertainment.

However, the FCC has reserved its outrage for a split-second, possibly accidental, exposure of skin. Even for those who think the FCC should be in the business of censoring content, this is pretty clearly a misplaced priority.

Posted by wasylik at 08:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack