June 30, 2002
isn't it funny how statistics that don't dovetail with asscroft's plan don't get widely reported?

The Sons and Daughters of Liberty

'A further indication that many Americans are ahead of their representatives in Washington in wanting to be safe from Ashcroft is an April 24 Associated Press report: "Despite the fear of future terrorist attacks, a majority of Americans are unwilling to give up civil liberties in exchange for national security, according to a Michigan State University study. Nearly 55 percent of 1488 people surveyed nationwide said they don't want to give up constitutional rights in the government's fight against terrorism. . . .

'The telephone survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, was conducted from November 14 through January 15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points." Sixty-six percent "opposed government monitoring of telephone and e-mail conversations.'

Be a true Patriot: go here to sign a petition to repeal the Patriot Act because:

  • It negates the powers of the judiciary and legislative branches of government.
  • It allows random arrests and detention without hearings or trials for anyone or any group designated by the President.
  • It allows retroactive prosecution.
  • It allows the concealment of Presidential records.
  • It permits secret "Military Tribunals" for presidentially-designated "terrorists."
  • It legalizes "sneak-n-peek" searches and seizures.
  • It allows the unlawful infiltration and surveillance of legal, domestic religious, labor and political organizations.
  • It allows the wholesale surveillance of private citizens, private business records and other materials without proof of probable cause.
  • It destroys all e-mail and internet privacy.

Think about it. Do you really trust Ashcroft to safeguard your liberties? A man whose own constituents thought so poorly of him they voted to send a dead man to Washington instead of re-electing him?

Posted by Lee at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)
Television is a corrupt family member with charisma ...

Power windows is an interesting essay about the alleged maginalization of TV in the age of the net ... and why there are few, if any, signs that the P C will replace America's altars. Author Disenchanted argues it is more likely that TVs will become portals to the web than disappear.

While the PC's role in the home has changed frequently through its different stages, from accounting toy to word processor, desktop publisher, communicator, and hi-fi component, it won't ever have the same emotive power as the television and therefore never command the same room presense. The relationship between a PC and its user is more like the relationship between a newspaper and its reader: one-on-one, impersonal, focused, and sensitive to interruption. The TV, on the other hand, entertains a whole family, has warmth, and can slip into the background to become a subliminal presense.

Remember we said TV was the Great Integrator, having already combined the best of the movies, radio, newspaper and magazine reporting, television has already begun to integrate the Internet into its own, pre-ARPA web. Being a form of passive but hypnotic entertainment, television channels can probably threaten established Internet portals (although not search engines) for the role of introducing new web sites to people who want to surf the Internet. In fact, the hardware to pull off that kind of PC-to-TV connection costs less than a dollar: it's just a patch cable that plugs into your PC's audio jack, plus a piece of software that runs in the background listening for cues hidden steganographically in the TV show's soundtrack. That's a hell of a lot cheaper than trying to put a tuner in a PC and buying a monitor big enough to enjoy Who Wants to be a Millionaire. To television, all the world's a stage, and the biggest web sites are merely players ...

Posted by Lee at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
Fluffy as you've never seen him

images by Linda Hermans-Killam

Infrared Zoo Gallery. Interesting to see the infrared pictures - I can see why my nephew really, really wants a set of genuine night vision goggles, or whatever they're called. This site is pretty interesting but loses a lot because the navigation is poor to non-existent.

Posted by Lee at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)
June 29, 2002
if you see a popup, it'd better be MY popup

Major Web Publishers Sue Gator. Including the New York Times. Now, I don't use Gator, but I know a lot of people who do and really like it. Gator has to pay the rent somehow, and I don't see how a Gator popup could be any less annoying than those stupid Orbitz ads running on NYT.

Posted by Lee at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)
The FBI's latest secret alert - the one I read about in the New York Times

Some secret: New F.B.I. Alert Warns of Threat Tied to July 4th (free registration required).


New York Times
WASHINGTON, June 29 — Federal authorities have issued a secret alert to state and local law enforcement agencies warning them of the possibility of a terrorist attack in the United States around the Fourth of July holiday, senior government officials said.

The message from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, like others issued in recent weeks, was not made public because intelligence analysts concluded that the threat was too vague to justify a public warning, the officials said.

"The F.B.I. possesses no information indicating a specific and credible terrorist threat related to the July 4 Independence Day time frame," said the message, which was sent on Wednesday. "However, the political and cultural significance of this date warrants increased vigilance."

The intelligence reports related to the Fourth of July have been assembled from multiple sources, among them foreign security services, the electronic monitoring of suspected terrorists and interviews with Al Qaeda operatives arrested overseas in recent days and those in detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

"We're very concerned about July 4th," a senior government official said. "The lack of specificity increases the concern and anxiety that is there."

The decision not to issue a public alert was made after a series of meetings among national security and counterterrorism officials over the last several weeks, the officials said.

But they cautioned that the situation was fluid and that new information could result in a public warning at any time ...

They were gonna keep it a secret because it's the stuff of Oscar Meyer.

Posted by Lee at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)
June 27, 2002
More Bushit

Bush & 911 Foreknowledge. Even the loonies know he knew.

Posted by Lee at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
June 26, 2002
Arafat to Bush: Who Elected You President?

Arafat Calls for Democratic Elections in the United States; World Reaction is Mixed

by Rahul Mahajan (a candidate for governor of Texas)

"Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat stunned the world yesterday by demanding that the United States hold democratic elections for a new Chief Executive before it attempts to continue in its role as broker between Israel and Palestine.

"Mr. Bush is tainted by his association with Jim-Crow-style selective disenfranchisement and executive strong-arm tactics in a southeastern province controlled by his brother," said Mr. Arafat, who was elected with 87% of the vote in 1996 elections in the West Bank and Gaza, declared to be free and fair by international observers, including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. "Our count shows that he would have lost the election if his associates hadn't deprived so many thousands of African-Americans, an oppressed minority, of the right to vote. He is not the man to bring peace to the Middle East."

Hugo Chavez, elected president of Venezuela with 62% of the popular vote, concurred with Mr. Arafat. Chavez has long been a victim of Bush's anti-democratic attitude, as the Bush administration funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars through the "National Endowment for Democracy" to anti-Chavez forces and reportedly gave the go-ahead for an attempted military coup by those forces. "After it was over and I was back in power," said Chavez, "his administration actually told me 'legitimacy is not conferred by a majority vote.' Unless, of course, it's a majority of the Supreme Court. I respect the local traditions, however quaint, of the United States, but he hardly sets the best example for the Middle East, does he? Why don't we get back to that idea of an international conference to settle the question of Palestine?" ...

If Bush had won the election in Florida, the Miami Herald would have released their recount results instead of hiding them.

Posted by Lee at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)
I wondered when this would happen

Federal appeals court rules Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because of words 'under God'.

It's about time. Only took 45 years to point out the obvious.

Posted by Lee at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)
more verisign hate letters

Read E-Commerce News: Falling Prey to the VeriSign Beast. Our Verisign war stories are numerous, and maybe some day I'll contribute the worst ones to somebody collecting them (hopefully an attorney filing a class action suit against them). Verisign is bleeding, and yet they continue mauling customers. I will NEVER purchase a Verisign product again, be it a domain name or one of their overpriced and meaningless security certificates, and I tell all my clients to run away from Verisign just as fast as they can.

Posted by Lee at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)
run far, run fast, from Verisign

Check out VerisignOff.org :: Take back your name from Verisign. We've transferred nearly all of the domain names we own or manage from VeriSign to DNS Central. We still have a couple left to move, but those are registered via Verio -- which is nearly as bad as Verisign (formerly known as Network Solutions). While the procedure can be a pain in the butt, it's worth the peace of mind knowing you won't lose a carefully built brand or domain name because of an arrogant twit at Verisign screwing up. We were also extremely pissed when Verisign mistakenly changed our nameserver with NO authorization and also refused to admit they'd screwed up (we suspect they ran an Interland script where something was transposed. Interland apologized and gave us a decent credit. Verisign did everything they could possibly do to lose our business.) DNS Central lets us lock our domain names.

If you registered your domain name at Verisign or Network Solutions, just move it. Pay the few extra bucks.

Posted by Lee at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)
June 25, 2002
thwarted ... I thought

First we got an alert that said you could see the water from the hole in the middle of the bridge. The bridge is the Q Bridge on I-95 over New Haven Harbor. So, okay, I'll take some circuitous backroads route over to I-91 and then drop up to take Route 15, the Merritt Parkway, home. But a truck managed to slam into a bridge and effectively close the southbound lanes. Trucks are not allowed on the Merritt. So I decided to wait it out. And resigned myself to a witchy commute. But, in a burst of unusual competence, the highway crews patched the hole on I-95 and shored on the bridge on the Merritt just in time for the evening rush.

I don't know what's more shocking: the bridge I drive over six times a week falling apart or the highway dept. patching it in a matter of hours instead of weeks.

Posted by Lee at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)
June 24, 2002
Are you ready?

A Time/CNN poll claims a third of all Americans are paying attention to the news as it relates to signs that the end is nigh. I think that's a ridculously high number -- did they ask it in evangelical churches on a Sunday or what? NOBODY I know has said ANYTHING about believing the end of the world (or the rapture or whatever other crap is supposed to happen.) I also find it hard to believe a third of America pays attention to anything at the same time, or for more than a day or two, unless the media keeps pounding it into our collective eyeballs. Rapture Ready has an end-time index, which now stands at "fasten your seat belts." Gee, that's helpful.

Well, since the end of the world is coming, guess I can start smoking again, eh?

I wonder how many True Believers spend actual time doing good works (I actually know a few who do -- but not many). I bet the percentage is extremely low. From what I've seen, most True Believers are more worried about saving the non-existent or minding others' business or raising money for expanding ministries than doing good works.

If all of those claiming to be Chrstians did what they're supposed to do to truly earn that label, this country would be a much, much better place than it is now. As it stands now, for the most part, American Christianity makes about as much sense as Scientology or Druidism. I think religion is a neurological construct, anyway, with no basis in reality.

Posted by Lee at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)
June 22, 2002
it's amazing what people spend time doing

STAR WARS ASCIIMATION. Requires java to be enabled. From New Zealand -- where I guess there's not much to do.

Posted by Lee at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)
June 21, 2002
Librarian of Congress still trying to kill webcasting

The Librarian of Congress ruled that webcasters should pay a royalty rate of .07 cents (7/1000 of a cent) per song per listener instead of .14 cents per listener per song. Here is the decision: Webcasting Determination.

So, the small webcasters will only go out of business half as fast. Webcasters have one month to file an appeal -- they'll have to do it since you can bet your bottom dollar RIAA will not.

What's wrong with the percentage of revenue rate broadcasters pay now? Who's going to track how many listeners are out there, and how? Will the government know I've been listening to 3Wk, and for how long? How are the song copyright owners going to get paid? Who's going to keep track of this?

Looks like LoC Billington doesn't understand what is going on, or he's in bed with the RIAA. Probably both. Or one of the audit bureaus. Figures he'd create a huge new line of business for something that could have been fairly straightforward if percentage of revenue rules applied. Then, perhaps, copyright owners would get SOMETHING. Under this scheme, the webcasters will go out of business and the copyright owners will not only lose any source of royalty revenue from webcasting, but they will also lose record (CD) sales because people can't buy something they don't know exists.

It's a shame. I hope webcasters can somehow band together and file an appeal. Or figure out a way to tell the goverment to screw itself and continue to webcast without paying ransom to the RIAA -- maybe putting a reasonable royalty fee into some sort of escrow account that an impartial third party could then distribute to the copyright holders.

It's crap like this that makes me realize Thomas Jefferson was right. And why, if I were to ever register with a political party, it would be with the Libertarians.

Posted by Lee at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)
June 19, 2002
Lighthouses and Fresnel Lenses

Stanley and I went with my parents, who are in town visiting from Michigan (Oscoda), to see the Sheffield Island lighthouse.


sturg1-s.jpgWhile it was interesting, it wasn't nearly as interesting as most of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes. (This website is by Terry Pepper.) My favorite lighthouse is the Sturgeon Point light, north of Harrisville, MI.

As you can probably tell by looking at the banner and background images on this page, I love Fresnel Lenses. I took these photos at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point (where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down), just north of Paradise, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. (The museum, though small, is fascinating and the trip is worth it for the scenery alone.) You can find a lot of information about these lenses here: Seeing The Light - The Fresnel Lens.

Posted by Lee at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
Another silly "personality" test?

What your computer says about you. I think whatever psychologists the BBC are citing in this article are, for the most part, off the mark. My desktop is my workspace and, aside from my wallpaper and screensaver, my desktop icons change almost daily, depending upon what I'm working on. Most "sophisticated" computer people I know have minimalist desktops, containing only icons that are too difficult to get rid of or stuff used every day and icons for current working folders. I've also noticed technologically savvy people stop downloading the latest and greatest after a while -- wastes too much time. If the tool works well, and the handle fits your hand perfectly, why change it until you have to?

Posted by Lee at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
WOMBAT alert

Web gambling ban passes hurdle from MSNBC. Aren't there more important things to worry about than this? I guess gambling is only a good thing if the government is making money off it.

Posted by Lee at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)
Handy Info Tool

State Health Facts Online from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Loads of health-related statistics. A little clunky to use, but an amazing effort nonetheless. But it doesn't explain why our insurance premium went up 28% this year. Or why the cost of prescription drugs is rising so steeply (could it be at least partially due to commercials?), or why hospital costs are rising so fast. Or why this country is so backward -- I mean, a major country WITHOUT national health care. I know I'm more frightened about the possibility of going into debt for the rest of my life due to a major illness or an accident than I am of any terrorist.

Posted by Lee at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)
June 16, 2002
Shrub flounders yet again

How Stupid is too stupid? Europeans discover the true depth of Bush's stupidity. It's even worse than I realized.

Posted by Lee at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
June 12, 2002
not a medium i would choose

Etched In Time, Art, Sports art and one-of-a-kind Collectibles by George Vlosich, who is an Etch-a-Sketch artist. No kidding.

Posted by Lee at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)
June 11, 2002
Designing for sight-impaired people

Effective Color Contrast - Designing for People with Partial Sight and Color Deficiencies from Lighthouse International. See also their page on legible text (All you tiny font ninnies, especially, should read this carefully.)

Posted by Lee at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
lots of good info here

SAP Design Guild - information and resources for web and software designers. Lots and lots and lots of stuff.

Posted by Lee at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)
June 10, 2002
for blogger wannabes or tool changers

From urldir.com: BlogComp: Blog Tool Feature Comparison Table. Very handy, with links to the tool sites. Cool!

Posted by Lee at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)
June 09, 2002
i hope never to actually feel one

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program is pretty cool. You can click on your region to see the earthquakes that have been recorded, the magnitude, epicenter, etc. You can also report it if you've felt an earthquake. The only earthquake I ever noticed was one I felt in Brooklyn in the mid 1980s.

The most recent report in the Northeast is one in South Walpole, MA, rated a 2.2, on June 7th. If you click on the earthquake link, it displays a map showing where people reported feeling the quake. Interesting programming. Too bad the archives don't go back more than a couple of years.

Posted by Lee at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)
June 08, 2002
kennedy magic fails - justice is finally served

Michael Skakel convicted of murder.

It took more than 25 years, but Martha Moxley finally has justice.

Posted by Lee at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)
June 07, 2002
senator dilettante

Stars come out on Capitol Hill, and one senator has had enough: about Sen. Voinovich questioning the purpose of having celebrities, such as Kevin Richardson (of the Backstreet Boys. What, you don't know who this is?? I didn't either ... ) providing expert testimony on mountaintop mining. He was invited to share is expertise, which consists of "Like, yeah, I saw it when I flew over the mountains," by Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman's face seems to be on the TV for every single issue that hits the media radar, foreign or domestic. I'm not talking about just local TV (since local, for me, is his home state). I'm talking about network TV, CNN, etc. and all the alphabet media outlets.

You may recall that this is the man who hedged his bets by running for vice president and senator at the same time -- a feat, while legal, was nonetheless scummy.

How can he possibly have expertise on so many different issues? There's no way. He's a dilettante.

He invites celebrities to provide expert testimony on causes that may be dear to their hearts but that they're not experts about because, probably, he wants them to campaign for him when he runs for president.

One thing I have noticed is he doesn't seem to be toadying to celebrities who might, by comparison, show Americans how unpresidential Lieberman appears. Let's see, which actors have played presidents recently: Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, etc. -- all actors who portray presidents we WISH we had, you know, people with integrity, courage, brains, accountability ...

Think about it -- who would you rather have running our country: A) Lieberman or B) the president in Air Force One? Who would you rather have dealing with terrorism, A) Lieberman or B) the president in West Wing?

Then again, who would you rather have running this country: A) Lieberman or B) Bush?

Posted by Lee at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)
June 06, 2002
NSA spends our dollars, but won't tell us how many of them

LOOSE LIPS CAN SINK SHIPS -- AGAIN is a look at the NSA's campaign to tell our military drones to keep their mouths shut. (From AdAge.com). Stanley sent me this link.


Of course, instead of spending all that money, however much it was, the NSA should have gone shopping at the Dept. of Commerce and bought posters that were already made and available.


Posted by Lee at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)
June 04, 2002
NSA - it's time to look hard at this agency, too

Tech Update: Security / FBI most wanted: new IT priorities has some interesting factoids - basically it says the FBI has a stone-age info structure.

What is more interesting to me was the question on the feedback board, namely: How come the NSA, with its super-sophisticated and bleeding-edge technology, where they allegedly watch EVERYTHING, didn't know anything about what was going on? Or, if they did, why didn't they tell anyone? And why are they escaping scrutiny right now? How much do we spend on the NSA? What is the NSA supposed to be doing, anyway? How come Rice isn't being questioned? (Or is she?)

Posted by Lee at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)
June 03, 2002
why was this even an issue?

Supreme Court Sides with Inmate Whose Lawyer Slept, where a Texas man convicted of murder was granted a new trial instead of being executed because his attorney slept during his trial. What was the matter with the trial judge - was he or she sleeping as well? Or drunk? Why did the state even bother to appeal? Of course, this is Texas, where they get mighty pissed if they CAN'T execute anybody they want to -- gosh darn, they actually might even have to obey the LAW!

Posted by Lee at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
June 02, 2002
stupidity on the New york regents exam

The Elderly Man and the Sea? Test Sanitizes Literary Texts (password required, but it's free to sign up)

"In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. Heifetz, the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages — drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anton Chekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason. Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors."

A clear example of the institutional stupidity of a bureaucracy.

Posted by Lee at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
June 01, 2002
now this is a scary movie

We went to see The Sum of All Fears yesterday. I'm a Tom Clancy fan, at least I was a fan before he started descending into the completely implausible (and killing way too many trees in the bargain), so of course I had to see it as soon as possible. I was pretty impressed. Affleck makes a good Jack Ryan (I love Harrison Ford, but he is too old to play Ryan. Baldwin was pretty good, too, but he's also getting up there). Morgan Freeman is outstanding (as usual). The story is frightening and, sadly, I could believe that it might happen. Stanley said, "Just think about how Bush and Asscroft would've handled it. We'd all be dead in 30 minutes." A sobering thought. As if I weren't frightened enough having an idiot and a fascist running our country.


Go see the movie. It is frightening and thought-provoking (if the viewer has any firing neurons) and makes me wish we had intelligent life in Washington, DC.

Posted by Lee at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)
Interesting ... but why?

Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus is interesting to look at, fun to play with. But I'm not sure what it's supposed to demonstrate. Or what use it would be other than as a thesaurus about as useful as the MS thesaurus (that is to say, not very. No definitions, so no indication of the shades of meaning that you would find in your basic Roget). But I like the design of the site.

Posted by Lee at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)
CIPA overturned - now let's focus on the important stuff

I wrote about the Childs Internet Protection Act court case last month. CIPA needed to be overturned. While the Supreme Court has made a lot of dumb rulings (from the presidential election to throwing old ladies out of housing projects for having stupid grandchildren), they've always been staunch defenders of the First Amendment. And the circuit courts have generally reflected this. So I wasn't really suprised to see this headline: Children's Internet Protection Act Struck Down on Law.com. The 3rd Circuit Court ruled the law went too far, with the filtering programs erroneously blocking way, way too much. The decision itself is extremely interesting:

"The specific methods that filtering software companies use to compile and categorize control lists are, like the lists themselves, proprietary information. We will therefore set forth only general information on the various types of methods that all filtering companies deposed in this case use, and the sources of error that are at once inherent in those methods and unavoidable given the current architecture of the Internet and the current state of the art in automated classification systems."

If parents are so worried about their kiddies accessing whatever they consider p o r n on the Internet when they're at the library, parents should accompany the kiddies to the library and supervise them. What a concept. What is more dangerous to kiddies than looking at pictures of spread legs and boobs are the chat rooms and instant messaging applications -- kids are notoriously stupid about giving out personal information to total strangers. Rather than worrying about what kiddies might SEE on the net, maybe it's time parents start thinking about what their kids DO. From setting themselves up to be exploited or hurt to ordering attack helicopters on eBay.

Posted by Lee at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)