June 2004 Archives

Moore and the FEC

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I've seen a lot of people blaming the FEC for an upcoming decision, in which they may say that Moore cannot advertise his movie within 30 days of the election. Such criticisms are clearly misplaced. Congress passed a law setting this requirement, and the FEC is doing its best to enforce it.

One person says, "Personally, I think Michael Moore is a dishonest dirtbag. Nonetheless, he has a right to speak." He goes on to criticize his abridgement of free speech and says the FEC should be abolished. And he's not the only one.

This is precisely why I and many other people were against McCain-Feingold. There were other reasons, but those were all problens of degree: how much, how many, from whom. This is a simple issue of free speech: Congress shall make no such law. And they did.

And not only did the Congress pass the law, the Supreme Court upheld it. Don't like it? Fine, I agree with you. But don't blame the FEC. They were given the law, and don't have the authority to change it. slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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I'm away from home this weekend, so this will be brief.


Not for nothing, but it rings hollow when you anonymously call someone a coward. "Anonymous," the author of a book blasting Bush, must be a Slashdot AC.


Not too many Bush-haters are talking about the fact that Putin warned the U.S. -- after 9/11 and before the war on Iraq -- that Hussein was planning terrorist attacks in the U.S. But what I really want to know is why the Bush administration didn't mention it as more evidence to go to war.

Regardless, it should be instructive to us all that the government knows a lot more than it says about many things, and the things it leaves out don't necessarily make it look bad.

Oil Prices

My local gas stations were up near (and over) $2.30/gallon recently. Now some of them are down to under $2, at $1.999. Funny, I was told by Bush-haters that gas prices wouldn't be dropping any time soon. slashdot.org


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Ralph Nader wants people to believe that he is going to siphon more conservative votes from Bush than he will liberal votes from Kerry.

Is Nader crazy? I ask the question seriously. His views are largely anthema to conservatism. Go on down the list of his views, and they are things conservatives stand against. And if he were really hoping to appeal to conservatives, why select someone as his running mate, who is even less conservative? Peter Camejo ran as a Green for governor in California last year, and as a Socialist for President at one point. The only second- or third-tier party less conservative than the Greens in this country is the Socialists.

I can only conclude he is either insane or just lying when he says he is going to pull votes away from Bush. If conservative voters really feel like they can't vote for Bush, they will likely vote for a conservative or libertarian third party, or just stay home. Nader won't be a factor. slashdot.org


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THERE IS NOT GOING TO BE A DRAFT. There are no plans to reinstitute the military draft. The military generals don't want it. Even if they did, the Congress would need to approve it, and they don't want it. Therefore, it is not going to happen. Stop saying there is going to be a draft: you're wrong. You're being manipulated by Bush-haters and conspiracy theorists into believing a ridiculous lie.

There is some confusion because of one bill, and one other circumstance.

First, Charlie Rangel -- a very partisan Democratic congressman -- introduced a bill to restart the draft, because he is against the draft and the war in Iraq. It's not common to introduce a bill you disagree with, and most people in DC tend to look on it as being disingenous (because, well, it clearly is). You know that when a bill is opposed by its sponsors that it doesn't have much of a chance, and this bill -- being opposed by the military and civilian leaders of the military and an overwhelming majority of Senators, Representatives, and citizens -- is no exception.

Second, there's been a push to fill up vacant draft board seats. You see, under the system that began in 1979, draft board members served 20 year terms. Therefore, since 1999, there's been a lot of vacancies, and a push to fill them. Especially at a time of increased national security, you want to make sure all your procedures for emergencies are in place, and this is one of them. It does not mark a push to reinstate the draft, but to fill seats left vacant the last few years.

No one is moving to reinstate the draft. It is not happening. There's nothing to see here. Move along. slashdot.org

Perl 5's 10th

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Perl 5 is turning 10 this October. Let's buy it a present! use.perl.org


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I'll be at WWDC on Monday and Tuesday. I'll be the one from Slashdot! slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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I was in Canada last week, and I got the chance to read some Canadian newspapers and watch some Canadian TV. Some thoughts:
  • The two major parties are the Conservatives and the Liberals, and they are, by our standards, roughly the Republicans and Democrats, respectively. The New Democrats (DNP) are the leftists who are too left for the Liberals. Then there's the Greens. National polls show a roughly 30-30-15-5 split between them. The Bloc Québécois is the fifth major party, getting about 10 percent nationally, but about 50 percent in Québec.

  • None of the candidates listed on TV or on any other ads had position names attached to them, just party names, sometimes with the district they intend to represent. Joe Smith, Liberal, Saskatchewan. I presume it's because there's only one position anyone is running for?

  • I enjoyed watching what appeared to be the Canadian version of C-SPAN, CPAC. They had cameras following candidates around to diners and such.

  • I watched some French language CBC, and happened to catch an interview with Michael Moore (it was captioned in French). He said Canadians should vote Liberal, because if they allowed the Conservative party to win -- as it looks like they are going to -- that would "set a bad example for (their) neighbor to the south." That's right, not only do Canadians want a loudmouthed American telling them who to vote for, but Americans want to follow the example set by Canada. What's he thinking?

  • From what little I know, and what little more I learned last week, I am pulling for the Conservatives. But that doesn't mean I like a system whereby such a small minority can win by virtue of a multi-party system. I like a winner-take-all system like we have in America, I just wish more parties would be allowed to participate (though that's another subject). The country is clearly far more left than right (four of the five parties I mentioned are on America's left wing), and yet the right is poised to take power, because the left is so fractured. It's a shame, I think. But I am speaking more about how I would feel if we had that system in the States: if the Canadians like it, then that's great.


I couldn't really care less about his book. I have no problem with it. I just prefer books that I can learn something interesting or important from, and I figure if Clinton does say anything important in the book, I'll hear about it. I was there, I don't need to read a thousand pages to jog my memory.

It's an interesting question of whether Clinton will help Kerry or not. It's clear he could help Democrat voters come to the polls, but will he also help Republican voters come to the polls? I think here the Democrats stand to gain more, because the Republican voters seem to be plenty energized already. Further, I think Clinton appeals a lot more to the swing voters than Kerry does: many of them see Kerry as a liberal, and Clinton as a moderate.

And while on the face of it, it appears Clinton's saying that he agrees with Bush's decision to go to war (apart from the timing) helps Bush, one most quickly remember that Kerry voted to approve the war, too. That statement could really help bring more of the left out to vote for Kerry, who might otherwise have refused on the grounds of this one Kerry vote.

Iraq and 9/11

There's nothing to see here. The few times the Bush administration has spoken directly to the question of Iraq's involvement with 9/11, they said there was no evidence of it; they merely assert that Iraq and al Qaeda had connections, not that they collborated on this attack. The 9/11 Commission says there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11, and add that there is plenty of evidence that there were connections between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The 9/11 Commission just said what the administration had been saying and what they themselves had already been saying. There's no controversy here, and no news.

So why are people making a big deal out of it? Because the Bush administration did not do much to dispel people of the notion that Iraq was not involved with 9/11, even if they never asserted it, because if people believe that, it means they are more likely to believe the war was justified, and therefore more likely to vote for Bush and Republicans.

The Bush-haters say Bush created this perception, even though he never stated it. He should stand up and denounce it to the world, they say. The problem is, he did do just that; but people still believe it anyway. It's hard to fault him for a belief people have that he not only never stated, but specifically renounced. Well, unless you just hate Bush, and then it's easy. I suppose he could get up every day and deny what he has already denied in categorical terms, but at some point, maybe you should blame the media just a wee little bit. slashdot.org

Save Your Journal

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I just read about everybody's favorite blogger -- who shall remain nameless, because I don't wish to discuss him -- shutting down a popular blogging site he was running, without notice. One person commented thusly:

There you go boys and girls: the number one reason why you don't want to go with a hosted solution, and if you do, backup. Frequently. No matter how nice or cuddly or professional the host -- back your material up at least weekly. Never give anyone control over what happens to your writing. Never.
Sound advice, that.

Also, we are today going to be shutting down use.perl.org for some major code upgrade, which will also mean data upgrades. And something bad things happen.

So I wrote this little script, to save all my use.perl.org journals (using the SOAP interface). Share and enjoy. Only TorgoX, for now, would need to change $max.

Ideally there should be a good way to not get all the entries in the first run, but only the necessary ones. Maybe the next time I modify the SOAP interface, I'll do that. Maybe an additional parameter for get_entry, to note the last entry you don't want.

Also, if you modify a journal entry, this won't help you, as there's no last modified time or anything of the sort. Just rm your local file.

use warnings;
use strict;
$ENV{TZ} = 'GMT';
use Data::Dumper;
use Date::Parse;
use File::Path;
use File::Spec::Functions;
use SOAP::Lite;
my $host        = 'use.perl.org';
my $uri         = "http://$host/Slash/Journal/SOAP";
my $proxy       = "http://$host/journal.pl";
my $uid         = 1;
my $backup      = catdir($ENV{HOME}, 'Documents', 'journal', $host);
my $max         = 1000;
my $journal = SOAP::Lite->uri($uri)->proxy($proxy);
my $recents = $journal->get_entries($uid, $max)->result;
for my $recent (@$recents) {
    my $id = $recent->{id};
    my $file = catfile($backup, $id);
    next if -e $file;
    my $entry = $journal->get_entry($id)->result;
    open my $fh, '>', $file or die "Can't open $file: $!";
    print $fh Dumper $entry;
    close $fh;
    my $time = str2time($entry->{date});
    utime $time, $time, $file;


Sunday Thoughts

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Of Parties

A great many people have been talking about how Reagan made the Republican party what it is today, and I believe that is true. He was the right man at the right time, when the party -- and America itself -- were at very low points.

But it got me thinking, what if Reagan had not won in 1980? What if the Democrats, in the wake of Watergate, had nominated someone like Bill Clinton to be their nominee? Someone who was a strong, charismatic, popular leader? (For the sake of discussion, I'll pretend Clinton was an option.)

Regardless of what else was going on in the late 70s, Clinton would have been a force to be reckoned with, and very likely could have won reelection where Carter could not. And Reagan, having lost the nomination in 1976, and losing to Clinton in 1980, never would have run again, being far too old to run for a first term.

It's not difficult to see how this scenario could have translated into another several-decades long run of Democrat dominance of the federal government. And frankly, it makes me wonder if maybe more of the credit for the Republican revolution in 1994 -- where the Republicans have now held both houses for 10 years running, excepting the Senate from 2001-2002 -- goes not to what Reagan started in 1980, but what the Democrats failed to pull off in 1976, by nominating a nice guy from Georgia instead of a political whirlwind from Arkansas.

What's this got to do with anything? I don't know, but 2004 feels a lot like 1976/1980 to me, with the party roles reversed. The Republicans are the ones with the upper hand, with a chance to really drive a stake through the heart of the Democrats with a big victory. The Democrats, on the other hand, have the opportunity to begin what could be a major resurgence of the party, should Kerry win and become a successful and popular President. And even if Kerry does win, if he can't establish a Democratic presence in his four years, it might push the Democrats deeper than if he hadn't run at all.

Stem Cells

There's been a lot of talk this week about Nancy Reagan and her propositions regarding stem cell research. It's clear that many conservatives will stand against her, because they -- in my opinion, quite rightly -- see no significant distinction between abortion, and the growing of human cells for medical research.

Michael J. Fox's pleas in this realm fall on logical ears, and progress no further. We should allow what we find abominable because it might help others? Because other countries will allow it anyway? It doesn't change the fact that we find it abominable. His argument is a textbook "ends justifying the means": the means do not matter, because the ends are so worthwhile.

There's no reason to be found in his argument. It's one thing to argue that stem cell research doesn't harm human beings; this is where the real debate lies. But he avoids this debate, instead choosing to chastise anyone who would dwell on such a question. He therefore has nothing to say to the people who disagree with him.

I've not heard too much of what Mrs. Reagan has to say on the issue, but what I have heard, to me, seems along the same lines. I don't know if she plans on bringing this up before the election on any significant scale, but if she does, she has no hope of winning the battle in the Republican party, any more than anyone would have a chance of changing the party's mind on abortion.

Moving On

It's an odd week where two so well-known and widely beloved people die. I wonder if the occasion generates especial introspection because of the disabilities of each. Ronald now remembers, and Ray now sees. slashdot.org

AirPort Express

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OK, so we all know some of the details about AirPort Express by now. Some things that may not be well-known or understood:

  • All audio is transferred to Express via Apple Lossless Encoding.

  • You can get digital audio out using a plain old optical cable and a Toslink adapter (the thingy that has a metal prong on one end that plugs into a 3.5mm jack, so digital/analog can share the same jack).

  • Noting the two previous facts: you can output digital audio to your receiver, as long as it knows how to decode it. So now I can rip my DTS 5.1 audio CDs (44.1/20-bit audio) losslessly and stream it from iTunes through AirPort Express to my receiver. DTS 5.1 audio CDs are just PCM data, like any audio CD. But if you don't get it properly through an decoder, it just sounds like noise. But iTunes + AirTunes + digital connector + DTS-decoding receiver = proper decoding. Of course, don't expect much compression with Apple Lossless Encoding on these files ...


Mac-Glue-1.21 Released

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Mac-Glue-1.21 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.21, Tuesday, June 8, 2004
   Make launching work better for bundles. (wren argetlahm)
   Minor little fixes.
   No longer create glue for DiskImageMounter (wasn't really useful,
   and often failed).

Posted using release by brian d foy. use.perl.org
Mac-AppleEvents-Simple-1.14 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.14, Tuesday, June 8, 2004
   Use Mac::Apps::Launch once again for launching apps.

Posted using release by brian d foy. use.perl.org

Mac-Apps-Launch-1.90 Released

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Mac-Apps-Launch-1.90 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.90, Tuesday, June 8, 2004
   Make SetFront() and IsRunning() work properly with bundle IDs and paths.

Posted using release by brian d foy. use.perl.org

Stop-Loss Disinformation

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The New York Times ran an editorial this week, criticizing the use of stop-loss by our military leaders to extend tours of duty of our soldiers beyond their original terms. That is, instead of serving in Iraq for a year as scheduled, someone could serve two years, or longer.

Kerry has picked up this mantle, calling the use of stop-loss a "backdoor draft."

The Times editorial, by a former Army captain, Andrew Exum, said, "In essence, they will no longer be voluntarily serving their country." The problem is, Exum and Kerry are lying.

When you sign up for the military, you agree to serve for a certain amount of time, with the possibility of it being extended. If your term is not extended, you can't leave before it is over. If it is extended, you can't leave before it is over. Either way, you are stuck there for the duration of your term, whatever it is, and you agreed to the possibility that it could be extended.

Let there be no mistake: a soldier whose term is extended under stop loss is serving just as voluntarily as one who is not, if the agreements they signed up under have any meaning.

I understand the frustration, but misrepresenting the facts don't make you look good. Exum writes of his former comrades who served in Afghanistan and Kuwait and are now headed to Iraq, "To a man, they felt a sense of hopelessness -- they know they have little say over their future until the Army releases them." But they knew that before they signed on the dotted line, too.

Exum shows his lack of objectivity -- or understanding -- when he concludes with a screed about eleciton-year politics. "The Pentagon uses these policies to meet its needs in Iraq because they are expedient and ask nothing of the civilian populace on the eve of a national election." No, they use this policy because it is the only method that they have at their disposal to provide the troops they need. There is no other option.

He follows it up with, "This allows us to put off what is sure to be a difficult debate: whether our volunteer military is adequate to meet our foreign policy commitments." Funny, I thought the use of stop-loss was actually encouraging that debate. But Exum is too busy whining about how unfair it is, to notice. slashdot.org

Val Stevens

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I met Washington State Senator Val Stevens at the legislative district caucuses a couple of months ago. I didn't see her at the state convention this weekend, although I talked about her with some fellow delegates.

She showed up on my doorstep today, handing out literature about her candidacy for re-election. Kinda weird: I'd never had a politician herself come to my door before, and when one does, it's one I've met.

She was quite interested in RoboMower, who was, at the time, cutting the front lawn. slashdot.org


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My internal HD in my server seemed to be dying. I am not sure what's wrong -- nothing I tried revealed problems -- but some files were unreadable (like Console.app's executable). So I needed to replace the HD, or risk waiting until it completely died.

The thing is, my server is a PowerBook G3/500. HDs are not cheap. So after mulling over the possibilities, I decided to take one of the two external FireWire HDs connected to the server (via a 14-foot cable, so they are in the closet) and repartition it so the startup volume is now there instead. And now, I have no internal HD.

Now, what I at first didn't think about when devising this plan is that one of my biggest annoyances with my server is the noise the internal HD makes. It's pretty loud, and always has been, but now, it's gone. For some reason it would spin up periodically, so I removed it altogether. It's kinda weird to type on the keyboard since the machine is quite a bit lighter. But the important thing is that it is nearly silent.

Right now the only loud noise in the room is the room's fan, and the old Linux box in the closet, which is muffled by the closet doors, and is only on for a week or two while I finish up some development on it. use.perl.org


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The International Speedway Corporation wants to build a NASCAR speedway less than 10 miles from my house. I am going to an informational meeting tonight. I don't know whether I should favor it, or oppose it. The basic pros and cons are the usual: economic benefits versus quality of life for residents. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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