March 2005 Archives

BBEdit Scripts

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John Gruber has a new version of a script to open lots of files in one window in BBEdit. The only one was harder, because there was nothing in the AppleScript dictionary for it, and the command line program couldn't do it.

I wrote a version in Perl, and the new version is quite a bit shorter:

use Mac::Glue ':all';
my $bbedit = new Mac::Glue 'BBEdit';
$bbedit->obj(file => \@ARGV)->open(opening_in => enum('new_window'));

Although for command-line purposes, I'll use this Perl script, called bbeditm:

system 'bbedit', '--new-window', @ARGV;

I have some other similar scripts for BBEdit. One is for using as my default $EDITOR. You see, normally, bbedit(1) will open your files and return immediately. It has an option to wait, but if you set EDITOR='bbedit -w', some programs won't use it because $EDITOR is not executable. So, make an executable, called bbeditw:

system 'bbedit', '-w', '--resume', '-c', @ARGV;

Something else I do a lot is pipe program output to BBEdit. To make this easier, bbedit(1) provides options to scroll up to the top of the window, instead of starting at the bottom, and another option to make it so I can close the window without telling it to not save, and I wrote bbeditd:

system 'bbedit', '--view-top', '--clean', '-t', 'Program Output', @ARGV;

Much of the time I use this in the form of perldoc -t Mac::Glue | bbeditd or gluedoc -t BBEdit | bbeditd, so I shortened that, too, in bbeditp:

#!/usr/bin/perl -s
our $g;
my $prog = $g ? 'gluedoc' : 'perldoc';
my $doc = shift;
open STDOUT, "|bbedit --view-top --clean -t $doc";
system $prog, '-t', $doc;
This story is amazing. Basically, lobbying groups wanted campaign finance reform, but there was no real public cry for it, so they manufactured it, and even paid American Prospect and NPR to produce reports about campaign financing.

That's not to say there was any lie in what was reported, or in what the lobbyists said, but the way it was all done was certainly dishonest. There was no public cry for it, and the lobbyists made it look like there was. Worse, they directed groups they gave their money to -- like NPR -- to not disclose that they funded the reports.

And you thought you could trust NPR more than NBC. As my family clan's motto goes, "Think On."

I am not noting this because its liberals, although I suppose I should mention that this is similar to the sort of things liberals have been bashing conservatives over recently. But my purpose in posting it is because I hadn't heard about it before, and it's a fairly stunning story.

Re: Teeming anew

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Regarding TorgoX's journal entry: remember the good old days, when it was the right wing that had pollyanna-ish views of the good old days?

Personally, I feel pretty good about the way the world is going, though I realize I'm in the minority. The economy is pretty good, the Middle East outlook is better than it ever has been in any of our lifetimes, standards of living around the world continue to rise dramatically, democracy and free speech are sweeping the globe.

Sure, there's a lot of problems, but when haven't there been? For most of the lifetimes of anyone older than me, we faced a far greater problem than anything we face today, with the constant threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation. For the rest of us, we've had worldwide poverty, lots of little wars all over the globe, cries of using up all our oil by next week or so, etc.

I cannot recall a time in my lifetime when a positive outlook of the world was pervasively felt. What makes now different? The only thing I can think of is that some people feel more negative than they did before. Well great, but other people feel more positive than they did before. Whoop-de-do.

Re: The Powell Doctrine

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So TorgoX quotes someone saying, "No [US] conservative has questioned whether the Executive Branch has the power to make an enemies list of suspects, without warrants, charges, proof, judges, juries, or convictions, and deny fundamental constitutional rights to the people on that list."

That's simply a lie. If nothing else, I am a U.S. conservative, and I question it, and many of my conservative friends and colleagues do, as well. Methinks someone doesn't really know what someone is talking about.

Now, no reasonably intelligent person questions the right of the executive to make lists, even of enemies. Anyone can make a list. What you do with that list is something else, and I don't know any U.S. conservative who does believe that it is acceptable to deny any Constitutional rights to anyone without due process. And even if you can find some, fine, but those are the exceptions, not the rules.

Of course, the person who said that also said that being restricted from travelling is a violation of his First Amendment right to speak, so we're not dealing with a legal scholar here. I have a lot of sympathy for people who don't want IDs, and also for the idea that we should have photo IDs required for certain things like voting. I like to think we can maybe come up with a compromise. Maybe make people who don't want a photo ID jump through extra hoops to validate their identity. I dunno.

On a different note, as to what TorgoX said about the 11th Commandment: he, too, has no idea what he is talking about when he speaks of it as the "highest belief" of U.S. conservatives.

In Washington, you cannot get help from the state Republican party unless you agree to the 11th Commandment. It's in the bylaws. Last year, for the first time, someone refused: a challenger to the frontrunner for the nomination to the U.S. Senate. As a result, he was not even allowed to speak at the state convention. It was put to a floor vote at convention, because we can overturn the rulings of the party at convention, by a rules change. The vote failed, but -- if memory serves -- 30-40 percent voted in favor of modifying the rules.

He, a political science professor -- and, FWIW, the far more conservative of the two candidates -- had a simple argument: he could not highlight the differences between he and the frontrunner without being critical. Duh. And while no one has ever been fined for violating the 11th Commandment by the state party, he could not in good conscience agree to it and then violate it, especially knowing he would violate it at the time of signing.

I agree, the 11th Commandment sucks. Last night the chairman of the state party told some people that they are looking at modifying that part of the bylaws, in some way. There's a lot of dissatisfaction in the party about it. There's something to be said for party unity, but there is surely a middle ground.

Re: desperate xor serious

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TorgoX has the best line of the week: "If the US outlawed trepanning, Chirac would run and get a drill."
TorgoX writes to criticize people who are reacting against evolution teaching. I can criticize them well too, but really, what's the point? The reason they react is because for so long they've had people criticizing their views. This is what happens: they push back.

For years, instead of saying, we don't know what happened, yes, there are many ways to reconcile the Genesis account with evolution and even the theory of natural selection, the establishment has instead ridiculed them backward-thinking crazy creationists. And guess what? Now they're pushing back.

That's how it works.

It's like the proposed gay marriage amendments to state constitutions we saw in November, all of which passed. People got tired of the courts pushing them around, so they voted for a bad law.

Same thing happened with the election primary here in WA. The courts -- rightfully, but no matter -- threw out the blanket primary, and instituted a primary in which you could only vote for the candidates of a single party, not pick and choose candidates. You know, like every other state, the point being that *parties* have a Constitutional right to pick their own candidate, and if you don't identify with the party, you have no business picking their candidate for them.

Well, the people didn't like being pushed around, so they pushed back, and voted for an initiative which results in LESS choice for the voter. Basically, it restores the blanket primary, and then the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. This destroys choice in the general election (they say it is "better" choice), but at least they get to vote for multiple parties' candidates in the far less meaningful primary!

Except that the two major parties will exercise *their* right to hold a nominating convention, meaning that there will only be one candidate from each party on the primary, which gives the voters far less choice than any of them have ever had.

Now, you can argue that it is the right thing to have courts enforce gay marriage against the will of the people as expressed by their legislatures. And you can argue it is the right thing to say that creationism is stupid. And I can argue it is the right thing to abolish the blanket primary. But to bitch about the people when they react to your dissing them is just stupid. When you push at someone's views, realize that they might react negatively, and deal with it. Bashing them for it just makes them push back even more.

I could also note that in all of these cases, it's the use of the courts that causes most of the problem: the courts tell us we have to have gay marriage, or can't have creationism, or can't have a blanket primary. The voice of the people is ignored. The courts take over. People don't like it. Again, maybe the answer is "so what, it's the right thing." But bashing the people won't make matters any better; it probably won't even make you feel better about it, except briefly.

Re: Swiss

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Regarding the link to a Stan Freberg interview in TorgoX's journal, I would like to note that Elderly Man River is one of the funniest routines I've ever heard in my life.

Bundle-Slash-2.51 Released

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Bundle-Slash-2.51 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)
Posted using release by brian d foy.

Federalist No. 4

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Jay continues on his theme that Union offers greater security from foreign force.

We know there will always be bad reasons for war, but there are good reasons for war -- he at length describes some potential problems, all having to do with various trade disputes -- and he asks "whether one good government is not, relative to the object in question, more competent than any other given number."

First and foremost, a Union will "tend to repress and discourage" war rather than inviting it.

He again notes that Union can get the best men from all over. I am skeptical of this argument. Surely there must be sufficiently qualified men in each state or region. I think a greater case can be made that a federal government is more capable of keeping a calm head and averting war for reasons other than the relative quality of the personnel, and mostly having to do with what he mentioned in the previous article: distance diminishes passion.

He also mentions here that "the safety of the whole is the interest of the whole," and that it will keep the whole as the objective in treaties, while also considering the individual parts; and should any of those parts should need defense, the whole will mobilize to provide it, instead of each part looking out for itself.

As well, a unified armed force can be much more effective, being under one plan, one rule. He asks whether the British army would be as successful if it were four armies -- English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish -- instead of one. If America had 13, or even three or four, separate forces, could they adequately guard their shores? Would the others rise to help if one were in need? Maybe so, but it would become -- at best -- a serious logistical problem that a Union would not have to face.

And what if one inclined to favor Britain, and another to France? What then would become of America, each government being played off the other? It would be a "poor, pitiful figure" instead of the great nation it may become under Union.

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist .

Beautiful Scandalous Night

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I thought Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was a beautiful (though certainly flawed) movie. It was a bit gruesome in parts -- I, who have no serious problems watching violence in movies, had to turn away in one scene -- but so too was the actual event. A lot of people criticized the movie because the event, to them, is beautiful, and "Christianity is not about love, not violence."

But like much of Christianity, the crucifixion has a dual nature. It is not, as the great theologian Sam Donaldson said on ABC News, merely about love. It's about how that love was expressed: through suffering. Without the suffering, without the sacrifice, the event has no meaning. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, "by his scourging we are healed."

Accordingly, the song that follows (originally recorded by The Choir, then by The Lost Dogs) captures well the crucifixion's dual nature. Have a good Good Friday.

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

On the hillside you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that pours
From our blessed Savior's side

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

You carried the sin of mankind on Your back
And the sky went black

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night
On that beautiful, scandalous night
On that beautiful, scandalous night
Miraculous night

Federalist No. 3

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Jay wrote that people of any country seldom go for very long with an incorrect view of their own interests; Americans nearly uniformly believe it is in their interests to remain united, and it is therefore probably so.

Most important in the way a union serves our interests is safety: preserving peace and tranquility, and protection from foreign arms and influence, or from similar domestic causes.

Jay remarks that the number of wars will always be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes -- whether real or pretended -- which provoke and invite them. That is:

num_wars * x = num_causes + weight_causes

The greater the size of the nation, the more able it is to reduce the number of causes for war, because a single national government is more able to recognize and respond adequately to problems arising with other nations.

Jay then notes that a national government will be more likely to attract the most capable people to manage it, because people nominated for such office will be the best the state has to offer.

I wish this were true today, but I think most of us can agree it is not. It was at one time, but as the federal government became more of a way to gain power, money, and influence, and as the media scrutiny drove away many good people, this is, I fear, no longer the case.

He also goes a bit far when he writes that because it will have these people with greater qualifications, their decisions will be "more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States." In some cases, such as those regarding foreign affairs, I'd tend to agree, but he doesn't appear to constrict this observation to such a context.

He notes too that because their decisions will be such, that they will be "consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations," which, of course, keeps us more safe. I am not sure if he means that the other nations will respect the decisions because of who makes them, or that because of who makes them, they will therefore be better and therefore well-received. Either way, we know that today's Europe would prefer decisions made by California or New York to those made by the federal government.

Jay is right on when he says that in a treaty entered into by a confederacy, each state may execute it differently, and that this is therefore another benefit to Union. No doubt there. The federal government will have jurisdiction here, and be far more likely to consistently and uniformly execute treaty terms, as well as to punish offenders, largely immune to local influences that might make such acts difficult for the local government.

Similarly, passions that may incite a single state to war will be far less likely to incite the entire nation: the relative weight of the cause (see the equation, it's right there!) is diluted by the size of the nation.

When just causes for war do arise, it's a given that the federal government would be more able to handle it, either by a united fighting force, or by settling it amicably, carrying more influence with the parties and less passion within themselves.

Jay closes with an example of Louis XIV demanding humiliation of the state of Genoa for an offense it had committed, something France never would have demanded of Britain, Spain, or any other powerful nation.

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist .


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All linguists or wannabes should dig the eggcorns site. I just contributed one: "vale of tears" vs. "veil of tears."

Conservative Folk Music

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This Terri Schiavo case is the first right-wing cause in a long time that you can sing folk music in support of.

You can't sing folk music in support of war, tax cuts, private retirement accounts, etc. I know, there's abortion, but that's old.

The left usually gets the good folk music issues. And I don't mean the war; that ship sailed in the 60s. They were best off when they replayed old Dylan tunes, and even then, it seemed more like an obscene parody, because it just highlighted how much better off we are today than we were then.

Gay rights is a great folk music issue, though. And to a lesser extent, the left also has some decent folk music fodder in job loss, class struggle, and similar economic issues.

But this Terri Schiavo thing just screams folk music, and it's about time the right got some.

No, I won't write it.

Mark McGwire

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I am not a huge Mark McGwire fan. His career hit its first peak when his team, the Oakland A's, was sweeping my Boston Red Sox in the playoffs. Worse, I lived near Oakland at the time. He went on to play for the Cardinals, the only team to beat the Red Sox in the World Series twice (although the Sox finally beat them last October).

I have always respected his skill, ability, and demeanor, but still, I'm not and never have been a big fan of his.

So I am in the odd position of defending him. To me, he was an almost entirely sympathetic figure in the Congressional hearing last week.

McGwire's position is simple: he is not going to talk about steroid use of individual people, his own or anyone else's. That's not to say he has used steroids; we don't know. Everyone who has been saying we know he took steroids is lying, unless the person has firsthand knowledge, and of that one person, we only have his word to go by, and his story is full of holes and inconsistencies.

That person is former Oakland teammate Jose Canseco, who claimed he had injected McGwire more times than he can count, which he later amended to "once or twice." McGwire's opening statement hit the nail on the head: you don't do that to to people, especially friends and colleagues.

It got worse. At least two members of Congress, in the clips I saw, were browbeating McGwire to answer the question of whether or not he had taken steroids, and such. I can understand people wanting to know if he has taken them. And if he has taken them, I would say he cheated.

But this hearing was not the time or place for it. I was hoping, before the hearing, that they would stick to trying to understand the scope of the problem, and how to fix it, rather than going after individuals. My hopes were quickly dashed. Congressman Elijah Cummings asked McGwire if he had taken steroids. He said McGwire didn't have to answer the question. McGwire said he would not, and the Cummings asked, "are you taking a Fifth?"

If McGwire is not required to answer the question, then the Fifth Amendment has nothing to do with it. Cummings was either ignorant of what he was asking, or he was trying to shame McGwire into answering. In either situation, it was his own performance that was shameful. If you're going to demand an answer, do so. If not, then don't browbeat him to answer.

Not that the media was much better: in many cases, they reported McGwire did take the Fifth, which is false.

Many people took issue with McGwire's repeated, and at some points reactively combative, denials. But that begs the question, as he would not have had to make repeated or combative denials if the members of Congress had not made repeated and combative attempts to get him to say something he made clear he would not address. This is an easy and boring game: find out what someone doesn't want to say, and keep asking them to say it, and make them look bad for not saying it.

Of course, for many people the point is that he won't answer the question. But what business is it of Congress to demand such an answer? If his personal use is an issue, it is one for Major League Baseball and law enforcement to address, not Congress.

But if he did not take drugs, why not say so? This is the most damning question, in part because it highlights the main flaw in McGwire's position, but also because it wrongfully assumes that there's only one reasonable answer. Maybe it is because he simply thinks it is wrong to address the question in this manner, and he is principled enough to stand up to it by refusing to cooperate with something he thinks is wrong. I am sure without being too creative we could come up with more, but one suffices to prove the point.

Maybe McGwire was a steroid user. It wouldn't surprise me in the least. But Congress was way out of line turning him into their whipping boy. I have no sympathy for someone who took cheated in baseball, but I do have sympathy for people who are assumed guilty based almost entirely on the testimony of a known liar, and a shameful hatchet job by Congress.

Federalist No. 2

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In the second article, Jay takes over from Hamilton. His main theme is that union is better than any of the various forms of disunion: individual sovereignties, several confederacies, and so on, though he does not get much into the particulars of the argument, but instead builds a base of support for it.

It's one of most important questions ever for the people of America, he says. "Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers."

This is not about whether liberty is sacrificed, but how to properly strike the balance. For awhile, they all took it for granted that prosperity, safety, and happiness is best to be found in union; but recently, some have disagreed. Is their belief based on truth?

Jay first addresses this by noting that just as the physical land of the nation seems disparate, but it is interconnected by its waters, so its inhabitants are connected by ancestry, language, and religion. It seems, says Jay, that God has designed this people and this place for each other, to never be split up.

Then Jay reaches back and shows how they got to this event. They had long been, in general purposes, a single people, joining together in rights and protection, in peace and war, in defeating enemies and forming alliances. So they made a federal government.

It was flawed for various reasons, but the idea was sound. A group of good men got together and came up with plans. The people didn't know much about these men, but despite a lot of bad press, the people trusted them because they were wise and experienced; they were from different parts of the country; they were interested in public liberty and prosperity.

The people seemed to be happy with the union, even if the specific form it took needs work. And so that's why more men went back to Philadelphia, and if the previous group of men was to be trusted, so much more these, who are more known to the public as deserving of trust, many having been in the previous group.

They worked tirelessly and without passion except for love of country, and unanimously produced a recommendation: the proposed -- not imposed -- Constitution. It is recommended neither for blind acceptance or dismissal, though, as noted in the previous article, this is something more to be hoped than expected.

And here we are. So why split into individual sovereignties or several confederacies? Why change what's worked well so far, but just needs tweaking? Come back for another thrilling installment of The Federalist !

The Federalist

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I am here keeping running links to my series on The Federalist.


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Over at Slash Central, we are actually working on converting Slash -- including Slashdot -- over to XHTML + CSS.

I'm not kidding.

My current task is taking the code we have to massage your comment and journal text into somewhat reasonable HTML, and making it spit out perfectly valid XHTML. And then converting all existing comments to such valid XHTML.

I'm not kidding!

It's actually coming along well, better than I'd have thought. I took 1,000 random Slashdot comments and ran them through my code and, after fixing some bugs found in the process, got the number of XHTML errors from 7,000+ down to 0. And a side-by-side comparison shows them to still look mostly the same. There's a few small/necessary changes, like putting content inside an UL tag in an LI. Which was a HUGE pain.

A lot more to do, but the progress is encouraging.


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I think we should find out who makes the Israeli Defense Forces uniforms, and sue them.. If they were naked, they could not oppress Palestinians!

"Blogging" / New Music

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I am sick of the self-important navel-gazing that is "blogging." Today on CNN, I watched in horror as their "Blog Reporter" reported on a group of "bloggers" that is having a conference call for the mainstream media ("blogcall") to inform the media as to what they are "blogging" about. I wish I could have made any of that up.

I've wanted to record this old Randy Stonehill song "Christine," because I think it is funny and because I think that with a few small word changes it says a lot of what I think about "bloggers." Without further ado: Christine.

Crazy Quotes

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UN Convention

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Why is it that in stories about UN officials, we are rarely told the nationality of the officials? There's some convention in use that implicitly tells us that the nationality of the official -- such as Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana -- is not important enough to warrant mention.

I know that part of it is because the UN officials see themselves as above nationality. Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown was on Fox News Sunday this week -- nationality unmentioned, but he is from Britain -- and he noted that many of the problems of the UN today are not the fault of the UN, but of the nations which comprise it.

Think about that for a moment. The UN's problems are not with the UN, but with the nations. He says this with a straight face and expects people to buy it. Yeah, if we could just get rid of these pesky nations, we could actually run the UN pretty well.

WFB / Aladdin

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I just saw Aladdin. I'd not seen it in years. I totally forgot that Robin Williams does a caricature of William F. Buckley, Jr. in there.

Federalist No. 1

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I am reading through The Federalist Papers, in order. I'm taking notes, and providing them here.

Feel free to read along and discuss. If you care to participate in discussion, you may wish to read ahead; however, please don't discuss more than what has already happened. Don't move on to No. 3 in the discussion of No. 2.

A quick introduction to The Federalist is warranted, for those who might need it. It was written in 1787 and 1788 as a series of articles in newspapers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay -- all under the pen name "Publius" -- as explanation and defense of the proposed Constitution, which was to be ratified by the states. It became the general authority on the meaning of the Constitution, as to how it should be interpreted, though its status in that regard has diminished over the years.


In the first article, Hamilton introduces the articles which will follow. He starts with the broad question to be answered: "whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force." He has a sense of the worldwide importance of this goal, nothing that this is the era for that question to be decided, and that an incorrect answer would be to the "general misfortune of mankind."

He ends the article with a more modest goal, to determine what is best for the states, union or dissolution.

It seems that one could say Hamilton was being unfair -- or at least, unseemly -- in his opening rhetoric. Is he going too far by implying that if they don't adopt the Constitution, the world would regret it? But Hamilton spends the bulk of the article imploring the reader to be on guard against that sort of thing.

Everyone is biased, he says, and while we can hope for people to put the best interests of the nation first, we can't expect it. Some are against the proposed Constitution because they will lose power. Others, because they hope to exploit the dissolution that would result for personal gain. Still others out of jealousy or fear.

But biases exist on both sides, and someone on the side of truth may not have purer motivations than those on the other: which side you're on says nothing about the worthiness of your motivations. [A nice thing to remember for many of those on the left and right today, who constantly deride those they disagree with.]

Speaking as one who had apparently been on Slashdot for far too long, he wrote:

However just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.

He hopes people won't do this: "In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution."

But he knows it will happen, and so asks people to "guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision ... by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth." Hamilton doesn't pretend to not favor the Constitution: "I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided." But as "consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity," his "arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth."

I am particularly attracted to that last line. The idea of offering all the pertinent evidence, arguing your case, and hoping that people will make up their own minds, is a concept that I've attempted to follow this space.

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist .

Bundle-Slash-2.50 Released

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Bundle-Slash-2.50 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)
Posted using release by brian d foy.

Dealing with the UN

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WFB on how to deal with the UN. He wrote this a couple of years ago. I like the third option he gives. Basically, don't vote on the Security Council on any political question (which is most of them), which effectively vetoes the measure. Subvert from within.

I wonder if this is part of what Bush has in mind with Bolton. I doubt Bush will go that far, though, especially since he is in the mood to play nice with Europe these days.

Mac-Growl-0.62 Released

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Mac-Growl-0.62 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

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

0.62  Thu Mar 10 21:53:19 2005
    - Check installed Growl version in Makefile
    - Allow user-selectable base method
    - Make test names more sane

Posted using release by brian d foy.

MP3-Info-1.13 Released

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MP3-Info-1.13 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

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

* v1.13, Wednesday, March 10, 2005
   Fix for UTF-16 handling.  (Wes Barris)

Posted using release by brian d foy.

MP3-Info-1.12 Released

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MP3-Info-1.12 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

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

* v1.12, Wednesday, March 9, 2005
   Add OFFSET to info.  (Dan Sully)

Posted using release by brian d foy.

Mac-Carbon-0.72 Released

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Mac-Carbon-0.72 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

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

* v0.72, 9 March 2005
   Fix Makefile to work with latest ExtUtils::MakeMaker beta. (Michael Schwern)
   Add OSAGetProperty/OSASetProperty to Mac::OSA.

Posted using release by brian d foy.

Re: Will not find happiness

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In case you missed it, a recap: Bush is to blame for the massive foreign debt which has existed since before he became President. Don't forget it! And also, if anyone disagrees, just call them a wingnut and read some Krugman. Take deep breaths, they'll go away soon enough.

Not Your Party

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The Republicans and Democrats in WA have agreed to choose their candidates by nominating convention instead of primary this year.

See, a couple of years ago, the parties sued because they didn't like the fact that WA had a blanket primary, meaning anyone can vote for anyone. The entire point of a primary is for parties to choose their own candidates, so it makes no sense of any kind to say that anyone can vote for any candidate.

A federal court case in California opened the door for a suit in WA, which was successful, and the blanket primary was abolished.

Since there is no party registration in WA, they used the same system that is used for the caucuses: by participating in the primary for one party, you temporarily identify with that party for this purpose, and you don't get to participate in the election of any other party for that cycle. Simple enough, and something WA is used to.

But the outcry was enormous. "They're taking away our choices!," people cried. Well, only if you were voting for people in multiple parties, which defeats the purpose of a primary. In that case, yes, you have less choice, which is good.

So some people came up with a solution to their perceived woes, that they believe is in sufficient agreement with the previous Supreme Court decision on the matter: an adoption of something similar to the "Top Two" in Louisiana. The primary is a blanket one, but instead of the top candidate from each party advancing, you get only the top two candidates overall advancing.

There are many legal arguments for and against -- mostly against -- this plan. But bottom line, it takes away the rights of the parties to decide on their own candidates, and the right to even get ON the general election ballot if they have enough signatures to do so, and significantly reduces the choice for the voters in the general election.

There is nothing remotely good about this plan. But the voters were so mad about losing the blanket primary that they blindly voted for it.

So now the parties are taking back their rightful power to choose their own candidates. They are basically saying, "fine, if that's the way you want it, we won't participate in your stupid primary," and there will only be one Republican and one Democrat on the primary ballot.

Because the people passed I-872, they will have less choice on the primary ballot, and less choice on the general election ballot.

Congratulations, people. I tried to warn you.

More on Social Security

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This morning I am watching Fox News Sunday, and first up is Dan Bartlett. He was spinning, characterizing things in what I think is unfair way.

For example. he echoed what the President said, that private accounts are not a replacement for Social Security benefits. But they are. Essentially, the proportion in which you pay into private accounts is the proportion by which your Social Security benefits are reduced. It is a replacement.

But most of my problems with him were semantic and characterization issues. And then Nancy Pelosi took the stage. And she said things that were just false, or ignorant of the facts, to the point of being patently irresponsible.

She said, for example, that Social Security won't start paying out more money than it takes in until 2030. She said that simply not taking money out of the Trust Fund will solve the solvency problem, and that nothing else needs to be done. This just ignores the data, which says that of the three sets of assumptions, only the most optimistic set will produce that outcome.

You could argue that this is the most reasonable guess, as it has performed well in the past, but it has a lot of question marks in it -- especially, to my mind, in regard to its near-stagnant increase in life expectancy -- and at the very least, it is irresponsible to assume that we will achieve this set of assumptions. We have to, if we want to keep Social Security solvent, assume that the best-case scenario will not happen.

And that's really the simplest and most obvious criticism of the Democrat line: it only works if everything turns out well. It has no backup, no solution, no fix for if things turn out differently.

Pelosi also echoed Harry Reid in her attack on Alan Greenspan, who called Greenspan a "partisan hack" for supporting Bush in much of what he's saying about Social Security.

The problem is, Greenspan was a vocal supporter of Clinton when that President was trying to reform Social Security. He didn't agree with everything Clinton wanted to do -- Clinton wanted to invest the Trust Fund in the stock market, which Greenspan hated -- but he also supported the Clinton plan in significant ways, including in using the budget surplus to pay down the debt.

Pelosi said Greenspan should stick to talking about taxes and interest rates etc.. But what is Social Security but taxes and government debt, which affect interest rates? Greenspan served as Chairman of the National Commission on Social Security Reform from 81-87, when he then became Fed Chairman. This is an issue he cares about. And his statements on the matter have been consistent throughout his terms as Chairman of the Fed. You may disagree with him, but to call him a partisan hack is really beyond the pale, especially since Reid and Pelosi must know that he's not, if I can figure it out.

In this issue where I am critical of the Republican line, it's hard to be sympathetic to the Democrats, when they are led by two people who don't give a damn about the truth or responsibility, but only care about defeating the President, at apparently any cost.

GOP Can't Handle Disagreement

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OK, fair is fair, and I submitted my views on Social Security reform to last Tuesday, and while two new posts appeared on the page in addition to the one that was already there, mine did not show up.

I don't have an exact quote of what I sent, but essentially, I said I agreed with the various thrust of the GOP proposals except that private accounts are a bad idea, since they would not be needed if we simply didn't give benefits to people who didn't need benefits, as this would make our SS taxes go down, giving us more money in our pockets to invest on our own.

I can only surmise it didn't get posted because it was not in full agreement.
I couldn't make this up if I tried.

I think we need to be realistic. We cannot expect five political appointees at the FCC to spend their time watching TV and trying to figure out what words are dirty, and trying to do the jobs such as investigating the payola paid by the government to journalists to adopt a government line. They can't be asked to investigate whether some alleged male escort has obtained a White House press pass under false pretenses. They can't do the job of policing the media that the congressman and the Senate actually think ought to be done.

So my view, with all due respect to the congressman, is we ought to give a police job to the police. We ask the local police to enforce community standards for obscenity. We ask the police to enforce standards against fraud. We ought to have local police and local communities and the FBI take on the job of protecting our country from inappropriate content.
-- Reed Hundt, former chairman of the FCC from 1993-97
On Brad DeLong's site, he wrote a piece that, at the end, claimed as fact that you could not honestly evaluate Bush's policies sees a deficit cut in half.

I responded, entirely accurately:

"No more claims that an honest forecast of what George W. Bush's policies are sees the deficit cut in half by the end of this decade. It doesn't."

So, you've been to the future then?

How does it "raise the level of the debate" when you assert as fact something that is not?
He deleted my response, inserting "[troll]" in its place.

What a [tool].

update 1 p.m. PT

Heh, [tool] deleted my next post too. Someone responded to me -- before the first post was deleted -- and I responded:

sm, I know he used forecast. And he said an honest forecast does not say that budgets will be cut in half. He's being dishonest. He could say "I think such a forecast is not reasonable," but to say no such forecast can exist is dishonest. Clearly.

And to add to this dishonesty, he deleted my post calling him on it.
And then he did it again!

Jeez. He must have extreme confidence problems. I almost feel bad for him.

Sports DVDs

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I have all these DVDs for the various recent Boston championships, and none of them are in anamorphic widescreen. The Red Sox ones are widescreen, but the kind that has physical black bars that fill a 4:3 screen. The Patriots ones are not widescreen at all, despite being mostly footage from stuff that was broadcast in widescreen HDTV.

What is wrong with these people?

Also, I have three Super Bowl DVDs from NFL films. Two have the halftime show, one doesn't. Can you guess which year the halftime show was left off the DVD? :-)

Social Security "Promises"

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There is still a lot of misconception out there about Social Security. It's complicated, so this is not surprising. But one thing that is very important to understand is the idea of whether a cut in the rate of benefit growth constitutes a reduction in benefits.

What is being proposed is indexing benefit increases to inflation, instead of to wages. Likely, this would mean benefits would increase (in actual dollars) more slowly, and would stay the same in real dollars (as that is the definition of inflation).

Democrats say, well, if nothing changes in the law, I will get $x in the year 20$yy, when I retire. Under this change, I will get less, so it is a cut.

Republicans say, well, but you will actually have the same amount of money in real dollars, and more in actual dollars: to call that a cut is nonsense.

Both sides have a point, but the Democrats are on the losing end here. Nothing in the law says that you will get $x in 20$yy. On the contrary, it stays away from such language, and covers only people who actually do retire under the law as it currently exists. It does not say you will get $x in 20$yy, it says someone retiring in 2005 will get $z.

When you see on your Social Security Statement that you will get $x in 20$yy, it is not a promise. It is not implied or expressed as such. It is an estimate, extrapolated from current law. There is bold language on your estimates page that says:

Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2042*, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 73 percent of scheduled benefits.

So what is most accurate is that under this rate change proposal, the current benefit estimates will be reduced, and that benefits themselves will remain constant.

* For those following along most closely, the document also notes that the 2042 number is based on the SSA's intermediate assumptions, while the Democrats like to tout the most optimistic assumptions, which keep the Trust Fund solvent indefinitely, but also assume unreasonably low population growth, high mortality rate, etc. In any event, it is clear that this, too, is merely an estimate. Indeed, if the intermediate assumptions hold, and we do nothing as the Democrats appear to wish, then we would have likely have actual benefit cuts in 2042 -- forced by lack of funds -- instead of merely having rate cuts sooner.

Mac-Growl-0.61 Released

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Mac-Growl-0.61 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

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

0.61  Mon Mar  2 10:06:30 20004
    - Updated to Growl 0.6, Mac OS X 10.4
    - Made images work with Foundation again

Posted using release by brian d foy.

WA Democrats Cheat Again

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In 2000, Democrat Maria Cantwell was elected Senator in Washington, winning a narrow race over incumbent Republican Slade Gorton. She won by 2,229 votes out of 2.5 million cast.

A few months later, she was accused -- and later found guilty -- of campaign finance violations. Cantwell, who financed her own election, put up her $375K home for collateral in a $600K line of credit, against FEC rules which require the collateral to be equal to the value of the loan. She also took out a $4m loan on $5.6m worth of RealNetworks stock, at the lender's prime rate, saving her tens of thousands, against FEC rules which require the rate not be more favorable than another bank customer for the same type of loan.

And to top it all off, she did not disclose either loan until almost three months after the election, instead of weeks before it, and only after receiving two letters from the FEC about the matter.

In the same election cycle, the Democrats in Washington failed to report nearly $6m in donations, mostly in soft money from the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC. Much of that money went to help Cantwell's campaign. The state's Public Disclosure Commission fined the Democrats $250,000 as penalty, with $100,000 of it suspended, as long as they don't do the same type of thing again in the following five years.

Some things don't change.

In the 2004 campaign, the Democrats shifted $400,000 from its federal accounts -- since Patty Murray was a shoo-in for the Senate -- to its state accounts, where the money was desperately needed by Christine Gregoire's campaign for governor. The transfer was never reported. An additional $800,000 in expenditures were never reported.

Automatically, the Democrats will have to pay a fine of $100,000, just because of the previously suspended sum. But much more will likely follow, since this is a second offense.

And as we all know by now, Gregoire won the election by only 129 votes. Could this reporting have made a difference? How can we assume it wouldn't have? You can bet this will be offered as evidence by the Republicans as they continue to make their case that the governor's race should be thrown out. They already have hundreds of illegal votes identified, and now can say that the Democrats violated campaign finance law.
The Supremes today ruled, 5-4, that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone under the age of 18.

What was this based on? Allow Justice O'Connor to speak for me, because if I said it myself, no one would believe me: "The rule decreed by the Court rests, ultimately, on its independent moral judgment that death is a disproportionately severe punishment for any 17-year-old offender."

That is, it was not based on law or fact. Oh sure, it was based on the 8th Amendment that we must refrain from cruel and unusual punishment, but that law does not say we cannot execute 17-year-olds. And it was based on the fact that many people and several states outlaw such executions, but while the court professes to uphold "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society," no such consensus in this country exists on this point, and the court in so acting must do so descriptively, not prescriptively.

In fact, only 18 of the 38 states that have the death penalty have laws setting the minimum age at 18. The other 20 are all set at 17 or under, or have no minimum age expressed. It's unavoidably true that the SCOTUS is imposing its own will on the people, without basis in law or fact, but instead, as O'Connor said, merely on their own moral judgment, which is simply not good enough to overturn the laws created by people who too have their own moral judgments.

I hope that the states defy the courts and do it anyway, if they so choose. I am not in favor of the death penalty, but I am in favor of the states choosing it if that is their wish, and I am against the courts executing authority where they have none.

The court makes clear its intention to dispense with the idea of rule of laws, and instead enforce the rule of men, when it appealed to -- I wish I were making this up -- "international opinion." Again, I quote a dissenter, Justice Scalia:

The Court begins by noting that "Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which every country in the world has ratified save for the United States and Somalia, contains an express prohibition on capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles under 18."

The Court also discusses the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Senate ratified only subject to a reservation that reads:

"The United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional restraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crime committed by persons below eighteen years of age."

Unless the Court has added to its arsenal the power to join and ratify treaties on behalf of the United States, I cannot see how this evidence favors, rather than refutes, its position.

But Scalia slightly misses the mark there. The Court does not hold the ability to join and ratify treaties, it simply decreed by fiat that it has the ability to make any laws it wishes, for whatever reason, without limitation of any kind. Because that's the only way this can been as a just and reasonable decision.

Again, Scalia:

Of course, the real force driving today's decision is not the actions of four state legislatures, but the Court's "own judgment" that murderers younger than 18 can never be as morally culpable as older counterparts. The Court claims that this usurpation of the role of moral arbiter is simply a "retur[n] to the rul[e] established in decisions predating Stanford." That supposed rule -- which is reflected solely in dicta and never once in a holding that purports to supplant the consensus of the American people with the Justices' views -- was repudiated in Stanford for the very good reason that it has no foundation in law or logic.

And this is what our Supreme Court is today: people who care less about law than doing what they think is right. In other words, wannabe legislators.

What's especially interesting about this decision is that it comes on the heels of another case of the court usurping the legislative duty: in Kansas, the Supreme Court ruled that the legislature must increase its funding for schools, based on their state Constitution which says that the government must provide for adequate education, and a legislature-commissioned study which said far more money had to be spent to provide adequate education.

But that legislature said, well, we disagree with the study, as is their right. The Court said, well, we agree with it, so tough luck for you. But the Court doesn't get to make those decisions. That's for the legislature to decide, to weigh the evidence and make the right choice.

It's amazing to me that our High Court would say that Congress can do anything it likes in regard to copyright, and can define for itself what limited means, but that it cannot define for itself what cruel and unusual mean, especially when in the former Congress was actually making a de facto violation of the Constitutional principle, and in the latter, it is a matter of opinion, which varies wildly amongst the American people. Worse, that they consider international opinion more than national opinion, but apparently only because they happen to agree with the international opinion more.

I might as well finish up with Scalia:

In other words, all the Court has done today, to borrow from another context, is to look over the heads of the crowd and pick out its friends.
<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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