Saturday, June 01, 2002

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 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 on 06/01/02 at 09:15 AM
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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 on 06/01/02 at 03:04 PM
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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 on 06/01/02 at 03:59 PM
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Sunday, 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 ח 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 on 06/02/02 at 07:31 AM
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Monday, 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 on 06/03/02 at 09:51 AM
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Tuesday, 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 on 06/04/02 at 06:42 AM
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Thursday, 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 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 on 06/06/02 at 07:40 AM
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Friday, 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 on 06/07/02 at 10:40 AM
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Saturday, 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 on 06/08/02 at 08:31 AM
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Sunday, 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 on 06/09/02 at 09:12 AM
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