January 2006 Archives

Howard Dean is so great. And I mean that in a positive way. For me. Not him.

DEAN: There's two points to this. First of all, actually, we -- the DNC actually got $100,000-some odd (from Abramoff affiliates). Now, I can assure you Jack Abramoff never directed that money. It is possible that some of Jack Abramoff's clients may have decided on their own to give Democrats money. The key is ...

WALLACE: I'm sorry, did you say, I'm sorry. Did you say that you're sure that Abramoff didn't direct them to give that money?

DEAN: No, what I said was that it is possible that some Democrats got money from some of the -- yeah. No, what I'm saying is that Abramoff may not have directed some of this money toward the Democrats.
(Emphasis added.)

So Abramoff did not direct that money to the Democrats. No, I didn't just say that. Yes. No. He MAY not have. Yeah. (And therefore may have.) But that's not the point, even though I brought it up!

DEAN: But the point is that not one Democrat either knew it or acted on it. Nobody got anything out of the Democrats from Jack Abramoff. No Democrat delivered anything, and there's no accusation and no investigation that any Democrat ever delivered anything to Jack Abramoff.
So if there is no accusation that an individual has delivered anything to Abramoff in exchange for money, then it is unreasonable to say that individual did anything wrong in taking money from Abramoff.

Therefore, it is unreasonable to say that any Republicans -- except, by my count, DeLay and Ney -- did anything wrong in taking money from Abramoff.

And you can tell your friends that Dean said it, not any Republican.

Of course, this is what I've been saying for awhile. I thank Howard Dean for finally coming onboard with this line of thought, now that the facts are coming out.

As to Democrats knowingly taking money from Abramofff: at least one Democrat did, Peter Deutsch of Florida, who took money from SunCruz Casinos, which has been owned by Abramoff since 1999. So it's simply not true that "no Democrat" took money directly from Abramoff.

Granted, most of the money to Democrats came through tribes, but the point is what was done, if anything, in exchange for the money, which means that the problem is with individuals, and only a very small number of them, and not the whole party.

At least, according to Dean. slashdot.org

Helen, Helen, Helen

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Longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas was "snubbed" by Bush this morning, taking questions from everyone in the front row except her.

Calling him a coward, she said the two questions she wanted to ask were, "You said you didn't go in for oil or for Israel or for WMDs. so why did you go in?," and "You keep saying [FISA]'s a 1978 law, but the Constitution 200 years old. Is that out of date, too?"

I think those stupid questions speak for themselves. I'd snub her, too. She's not worth wasting the President's or people's time with. slashdot.org

Filibuster Unlikely

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There's rumors that Kerry is trying to organize a filibuster of Alito. It's very unlikely.

A filibuster can be ended with 60 votes. So the Democrats need 41. Right now, they have at most 41 No votes on Alito (44 Democrats, one Independent, minus three Democrats who have said they will vote Yes, and one more who said she will oppose a filibuster).

And even if they get 41 No votes, it's still likely that at least one of the four remaining Democrats in the "Gang of 14" (or another Democrat) will oppose a filibuster. All that's needed is one to stand up and say Alito is not extreme.

If they do filibuster, though, the public will see right through it, and side with the Republicans this time, and they will push through the "nuclear option." And Alito will be on the Supreme Court. slashdot.org

Nation of Men?

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Senator Carper, a Democrat from Delaware who opposes Alito in part because he thinks he will give the President too much power, said "the Constitution is not to be strictly interpreted."

So I guess the President does have the power to wiretap, right? That sounds like an Executive Power to me. Right?

Stupid Democrats, arguing against themselves. slashdot.org

More Leftwing Lies About Alito

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Heh, the very first line of this NY Times editorial is a baldfaced lie:

Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress ...

No, it does not. His entire record as a judge shows precisely the opposite, and his entire record as a lawyer for the Executive Branch shows him supporting whatever policies his bosses told him to support, which was his job.

If you read that one memo he wrote about signing statements, it even looks to me like he doesn't believe it. He talks persuasively about the obstacles the policy will face, spending most of the memo on that -- asking, but not answering, some of the most important questions about the policy -- and makes a point of noting that he is writing the memo because he was told to. slashdot.org
I want to start an organization called Liberals and Progressives for Truth, Justice, and Equality. LPTJE will be devoted to supporting conservative politicians and policies. slashdot.org

Alito on Abortions

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I have no confidence whatsoever that Roberts or Alito would vote to overturn Roe any time soon. A conservative, originalist, justice is mindful of precedent and the effects of rulings, and are not quick to overturn rulings even if they are, to their mind, terrible and wrong.

I hope Alito and Roberts will eventually help to reverse Roe. It's a terrible decision on its own, and abortion is a terrible tragedy that should be, in the general case, illegal. But slavery was a terrible tragedy too, and Abraham Lincoln didn't push for its abolition, until the main obstacles to doing so -- disunion and the Constitution -- were no longer issues, as the war had begun so disunion was moot, and it also gave him a backdoor to the Emancipation Proclamation: defense of the union.

(By the way, Abraham Lincoln used the same argument in justifying the Emancipation Proclamation that Bush is using with the wiretapping: that it is necessary for the defense of the union, and therefore falls under his executive authority. Not too many people complain about what Lincoln did, though.)

But back to the point: you don't risk great turmoil by overturning longstanding precedent. If Alito or Roberts rules against Roe, I imagine it will only be because they are in the minority and know they can get away with it. I doubt either would cast the deciding vote striking down Roe any time soon, not until the country is ready for it. slashdot.org

Alito Votes

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So far 83 Senators have announced their voting intentions in regard to Judge Alito. He has 54 affirmative votes locked up already, with 24 votes against. There's only three "crossover" votes: three Democrats -- Nelson of Nebraksa, Johnson of South Dakota, and Byrd of West Virginia -- have announced an intention to vote for Alito.

(Jeffords of Vermont is also voting no, but he's a essentially a Democrat now; since he is an Independent, he has to obey the Democratic caucus on some issues, else he is shunned entirely.)

I'm waiting for the Democrats to come out and say, "yeah well, Byrd's just a racist anyway."

Watching Byrd now on C-SPAN, making the case I made earlier, that there is no rational reason whatsoever to assert that Alito is in favor of the President having a broader scope of power than the Constitution grants (which is the main reason most prominent Democrats give for being against him).

Update: Heh, now Salazar says he is voting against Alito in part because he thinks we should have had a woman instead. He is "saddened" that in the 21st century, we don't have a quota system for the Supreme Court. And then he repeats the lie that Alito is in favor of enlarging the scope of executive authority (supporting the notion only with quotes he wrote while employed by the executive branch and ordered to do so, and his own incorrect interpretation of the Unitary Executive Theory). And then he gets to abortion, which is really what this whole thing, entirely, is about. slashdot.org

Public Input

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Heh, I just read that mere days before I went to the Jessica's Law rally in Olympia, the Democrat leader of the House said it would be "wrong" to being such a "massive bill" before the House "without public input."

First of all, she's lying. Last year she and her party pushed through a ton of new legislation -- having just won control of both houses, and holding a tenuous grip on the governor's seat -- that the public had no knowledge of, let alone feedback on, before it got passed (including a record number of "emergency" bills designed specifically to avoid the public's oversight).

Second of all, I don't recall seeing her, or any Democrat, at the rally, listening to our concerns, accepting our input.

Funny that.



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I am no NBA fan. No Kobe fan, either. But 81 points in one game is impressive.

Vince Carter didn't think so. The man who admitted to intentionally playing bad to get out of Toronto said that it shows Kobe is not a good team player.

I was at Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals between the Warriors and Lakers (yes, I went to a basektball game on Mother's Day, but no worries, mom went with us). Golden State won the game 129-121, on the back of 51 points by Sleepy Floyd. He scored an NBA record 39 in the second half and 29 in the fourth quarter (playoff records that still stand, I think).

During that fourth quarter, Floyd's teammates got the ball to him every chance they got. If Floyd passed the ball -- one in particular was a two-on-one breakaway -- the hometown fans booed, because it was unconscionable that a player so on fire should be so unselfish. Everyone -- except the Lakers and their fans, and maybe Floyd himself -- wanted Floyd to take every shot.

It was an amazing performance, and after experiencing it firsthand almost 20 years ago (dang!), I find it hard to accept that Kobe was doing anything wrong by taking all those shots. Especially when coming from Carter.

Awhile back I added a SOAP interface for Slash journals. It lets you post journal entries, modify existing entries, delete entries, get entries for a specific user, and get individual entries.

I also implemented a perl distribution called Slash-Client to make it nice and easy to use. The base class, Slash::Client, defines the methods for the SOAP calls, including authentication. Slash::Client::Journal implements the specific journal methods.

There's two basic ways to authenticate, using a UID and password, or a logtoken (which can optionally be read straight from your browser's cookie file). So, as a quick example:

use Slash::Client::Journal;
# cookie file found automatically for Firefox on Mac OS X,
# so auth done automatically (patches welcome for others)
my $journal = Slash::Client::Journal->new({
    host        => 'slashdot.org',
    ssl        => 1,
my $id = $journal->add_entry({
    subject => 'w00t',
    body    => 'this is the coolest thing EVAR'
my $get = $journal->get_entry($id);

Reskeys (those things that are replacing formkeys, that don't let you abuse our resources) apply, so you can't just spam us with a bunch of journal entries and so on with SOAP any more than you could with the web interface.

I've been using Slash-Client to post pretty much all my own journal entries (including this one) for months now: I just type into BBEdit, the first line is the subject, the rest is the body, and I Select All and hit a key combo to run the script to send it. It's worked well for me. I wrote a small Pudge::Journal class which calls Pudge::NowPlaying to put the fancy Now Playing link at the bottom, and off it goes.

Let me know if you have any questions.


Ben Roethlisberger

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People talk about the Steelers being a sixth place team, but they did win 11 games, and two of their three losses, Big Ben didn't even play.

Ben's got only four career losses in his two seasons: his first loss was to the defending (and future) Super Bowl champion Patriots in the playoffs last year. His second was to the Patriots this year.

Then he lost to the as-yet-undefeated Colts in week 12, and a close one to the Bengals the following week. And then he beat them in back-to-back weeks in the playoffs.

Not that Seattle can't beat Pittsburgh, but it takes a lot to knock off the Steelers with Roethlisberger at the helm.

I don't really care who wins. My family is all from Pittsburgh originally, but they are too much a rival of the Pats for me to like them. I live in Washington, near Seattle, and my only reason for not wanting the Seahawks to win have nothing to do with the team itself: I don't want the fans who barely know the names of five Seahawks -- which covers most of the fans I've met -- to talk smack for the next year. use.perl.org

Unitary Executive

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I know I wrote a bit on this already, but I didn't get into specifics; I just broadly stated that the Senators do not believe what they say about Alito letting the President do whatever he wishes.

But I keep seeing the politicians, and many others parroting them mindlessly, quote Alito's belief in the Unitary Executive Theory (UET), which they say means that Alito will not check the President's power, but let him do whatever he wishes.

This demonstrates an unfortunately pervasive, and fundamental, misunderstanding of the UET, one which Alito explained in his hearings: "The issue of ... the concept of the unitary executive does not have to do with the scope of executive power. It has to do with who within the executive branch controls the exercise of executive power. The theory is the Constitution says the executive power is conferred on the President."

So, for example, the UET does not say the President has the authority to conduct warrantless wiretaps; it says, rather, that if the Executive Branch has such authority, that the President controls that authority. The two issues are wholly tangential.

The point of the UET is to say things like, one department in the Executive Branch cannot sue another, because the President absolutely controls both departments, and he is responsible for any such disputes, and if the judicial branch were to intervene, it would violate the separation of powers. The theory focuses on Article II, Section 1, which states, "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

Despite the best attempts by the President's opposition to state otherwise, Alito never in any way expressed that the President will get special deference. Instead, Alito said that the would apply the Constitution to determine the proper scope of power, and his record as a federal judge clearly proves he will. slashdot.org

Democrats and Abramoff

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In the last week or so, many examples of Democrats receiving money from groups tied closely to Abramoff have emerged. The Democrats rightly respond that they had no idea of Abramoff's involvement and that they did not solicit the money and they were in no way influenced by it, that it was perfectly legal, and that the money had nothing whatsoever -- as far as they were concerned -- to do with Abramoff or his corruption.

The problem is, that they used the exact same sort of evidence against many Republicans over the past several months, in an attempt to make the scandal look more pervasive than it actually is. And now it's coming back to bite them.

So expect no sympathy from me, Senators Durbin and Reid. You made your bed, now lie in it. slashdot.org

Pull the Other One, Leahy

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Democrat Senator Leahy, along with Senators Durbin and Kennedy, and a few others, are saying they oppose Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States because they are worried about his views on the power of the executive branch.

I watched almost all of the hearings. OK, half-watched. But my ears perked up for most of when they discussed this topic, and Alito gave the best answers possible: while refusing to comment on specifics of what Bush has done (as required by judicial ethics), he said he would use the Constitution as his guide, and if the President had a power granted by the Constitution, he wouldn't prevent him from exercising it, but that otherwise, Congress had the authority to limit the executive's power. What better answer can there be?

And it's not inconsistent with his record, either, as he has shown time and again he is willing to check the power of the executive.

I can't help but think there is simply no way the Democrats giving this line actually believe it. They are merely trying to score political points by lying about what they really think. And the ill-informed citizenry we have will buy it, hook, line, and sinker. slashdot.org

Martin Luther King Day

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I know it's late, but I wanted to write about it earlier, and someone just made me think of it.

I dislike MLK day.

There are many reasons for this dislike. None of them have to do with race, of course.

Most importantly, I don't think we should have holidays named after individuals. It invites people to just attack the individual, whether it's Lincoln's racism or Columbus' brutality or King's ties to communism. Why not have a Civil Rights Day, where we can celebrate all the various expressions of civil rights, and recognize the struggles of the past to get to where we are, and discuss the distance we've yet to go?

Wouldn't that be more interesting, more productive, and less likely to cause tension?

Also, I don't like that the government takes the day off. I want my mail.


Intel Mac Update

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I have VNC/ssh access to an Intel Mac. Thanks for all the help from everyone.

I'm busy the next few weeks, but hope to get into fixing more of this soon. There's a bunch of problems to solve, but nothing too difficult, I think.


Intel Mac: Endianness

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It looks like the problem with Mac::Carbon on Intel Macs is that we are passing a string (for example, 'MACS', the four-char code for the Finder) and then converting it into an integer, which on Intel, gets the endianness wrong.

Matt Sachs helped me with some iChat-based debugging, and Matthias Neeracher gave me a fix, which is in the process of being tested and stuff. use.perl.org

Intel Macs Break Included Software

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It looks like Intel Macs do not properly send Apple events using the included Mac::Carbon library (which I maintain). This, from the command line, should bring the Finder to the front:

perl -MMac::AppleEvents::Simple -e 'do_event(qw/misc actv/, { bund => q[com.apple.Finder] })'

It's equivalent to this AppleScript:

tell application "Finder" to activate

Much of Mac::Carbon does work fine, but ... this doesn't work at all. I don't know if it is due to a bug in the Intel Macs, or a changed behavior, or a bug in my code (most likely in AESend(), in AppleEvents.xs).

That also means Mac::Glue doesn't work.

I don't have real access to an Intel Mac, so I have no hope of fixing it anytime soon. slashdot.org
On The West Wing tonight, CJ told the Chinese ambassador he could just abstain from a vote instead of vetoing it or voting for it.

However, a concurring vote from all five permanent member is required for any Security Council decision. Vetoing really means either a no vote, or abstaining from a vote.

There's one exception: if the abstention is due to the member being a party to the vote, it does not result in a veto, if the resolution is in regard to settling a dispute peacefully. I wonder how closely this is enforced though: can France just say they are abstaining from any given vote by saying it will help settle some dispute peacefully and they are a party to it?

Probably, given the UN's record of enforcing its own rules. slashdot.org


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I know it was not the point of the game, but hardly any reporter is stating the fact that the refs got the call wrong. It was a touchback, and there is no reasonable doubt about it.

Even Phil Simms demonstrated the proof that it was a touchback, at the time, using the same replay footage the refs had access to: just draw a straight line from where the ball landed to where it left his hand on the rear overhead shot. Now, it is possible the ball curved, and plus it is difficult to take into account the fact that the ball is a couple of feet of the ground when it leaves his hand, but those factors only matter if the line is close, and it's not. It was about 20 yards further downfield than would have been possible if it did not go over the goal line in bounds. Also, you must take into account the width of the football, because if any part goes over the pylon, it is in bounds, so the ball's trajectory would have had to have been at a very sharp angle for it to not have gone through the end zone, and it's just not possible given where it landed.

It really tainted the game (which, granted, was already well-tainted by the turnovers). I wonder if the head of NFL officiating will cop to the mistake this week; he usually does.

It's not that the refs lost the game. It's like the USC/UT game (the OTHER Patriots head coach going for his third straight championship): USC screwed up and lost the game, but that doesn't give a pass to the officials who simply blew the call. Except there, they didn't have replay access, and here they did.

This just in: a zebra just now threw another flag on Asante Samuel, from his home in Detroit. He wasn't at the game, but he says he is absolutely sure Samuel committed pass interference on that interception. use.perl.org

Sex Offenders

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Yesterday I went to a rally in Olympia, the state capital of Washington, for Jessica's Law. This is a law named after Jessica Lunsford, who last year was abducted, raped, and killed by a convicted sex offender in Florida, a man who obviously never should have been let out of prison.

The law -- essentially -- would require a mandatory 25 years to life for those who rape or molest children under 12, with lifetime monitoring of those who do get released.

At the rally, crowded into the top of the steps of the Capitol -- we could not go inside, as no lobbying is allowed in the door, and it was raining so we couldn't spread out much -- Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, spoke. He has travelled the country trying to make sure other states protect their children.

Part of the problem in Washington is something called SSOSA, the "Special Sex Offender Sentence Alternative." Basically, it allows rapists of people whom they know to escape significant punishment, getting short sentences in exchange for treatment.

Another parent, a mother from Washington, spoke about her daughter, who was raped repeatedly over a period of two years by a neighbor. The rapist also repeatedly raped another neighborhood boy. He got six months in prison under SSOSA, because he knew his victims. Now a teenager, the daughter -- who also spoke -- has to live with the knowledge that he is out there, and despite violating the terms of his release three times (by, among other things, refusing to register: and Jessica's Law would also require a minimum one year in prison for that offense), the state refuses to do anything about it, and just recently dropped his 10 more years of required treatment, declaring him cured (whatever that means).

Not that I care much about the treatment, since I don't believe it works. But it shows you how sick and twisted the system is. This one story is not nearly alone, there are scores like it all across the state. But WA doesn't hold a candle to Vermont, where a judge recently sentenced a man in a similar case to 60 days in prison, saying he doesn't pose a serious risk to reoffend (bullshit), and that jail isn't a good place for him.

I don't care what a good place for him is. He should be locked away for a long time, preferably until he is dead. Although a significant number people in WA seem to think people like him would be better off with a noose around his neck, and I can't say the idea's a bad one.

What's most puzzling to me is that there has thus far been party-line opposition to Jessica's Law, as though this is a partisan issue. It's incredible. Mind-boggling. I don't understand it at all.

The Democrats give various excuses, but none of them stand up to logical scrutiny. They say it will be harder to prosecute some offenders, because people will be less willing to come forward. That might be true in a few cases, but if you are only giving them six months in prison, what's the point? That's not even a school year of time the guy is in prison, then he is out again to try another time, or to carry out his threat of murdering his victims if they ever told.

Also, of course, it's easier to plead guilty in exchange for 6 months than it is if you've got a mandatory 25 years. So yes, this will cost more money, to prosecute the crimes. I can think of few better ways to spend the billion-dollar surplus our state recently found for itself.

The prosecutors and some other groups are against this law, as they are against pretty much all mandatory sentencing laws, which make their job more difficult. Normally, I have some sympathy for them. But they've had decades to try to get tough on sex offenders, and they continue to fail the citizens of the state. Enough is enough: if you can't put them away for long sentences without legislative requirement, then you will get a legislative requirement. You've no one to blame but yourselves and the short sentences you've been getting.

One Democrat attacked the young woman who told her story, saying it was shameful for the Republicans to use her (and other victims who testified in the House and came to the rally) as political pawns, being exploited for political gain. That's a terrible statement to make for many reasons, because it's very difficult for them to do what they did, and most people don't even see this as a political issue. But even worse is the fact that none of the victims were asked to appear by anyone in the House, they came on their own. So he's actually criticizing the victims themselves for using themselves as political pawns. Nice.

The bottom line though is that, yes, I am perfectly willing to "exploit" these stories and many others for political gain, if you define political gain as working to get this laws passed, and if it doesn't, going after each and every politician who voted against it, regardless of party. If I was being in any way deceptive or partisan, I might feel guilty about such "exploitation." But this is about one thing only: protecting children by putting away convicted offenders for as long as possible. And I don't really care how that gets done. slashdot.org

SENATOR BIDEN: Bruce Sutter, you're remarkably well-qualified. You helped revolutionize modern pitching with your use of the split-fingered fastball and your use as one of the first dedicated closers. You are 19th on the all-time saves list, led the National League in saves five times, and had a 2.83 career ERA, all in a career cut short to 12 years because of injury.

No one can, or ever would, question your qualifications for entrance to the Hall. We're not here to talk about your qualifications, but to understand the philosophy under which you played.

What troubles me, sir -- and maybe you can help me figure this out -- is that on a warm summer night in Chicago in 1979 -- the very same year you won the Cy Young Award, given to the best pitcher in the league -- you were at bat in the bottom of the ninth against Pittsburgh, down by one with one out and one on.

The squeeze was called by your manager, and your teammate Miguel Dilone was at third with a big lead. Do you remember the situation, sir?

BRUCE SUTTER: Yes, Senator, I do.

BIDEN: You were told by your manager to bunt, were you not?

SUTTER: Yes, Senator, I was.

BIDEN: Do you feel as such that it was your obligation to bunt?

SUTTER: Yes, yes, I do.

BIDEN: And yet you chose to instead swing away. Miguel Dilone, with 15 steals that season in limited playing time, and a 75 percent success rate, stole home. You missed the pitch, Pittsburgh catcher Ed Ott easily tagged out Dilone for the second out, and then you proceeded to pop out to short for the final out. Is that what happened?

SUTTER: Yes, Senator.

BIDEN: Maybe someone else can explain this. I've never played in the major leagues. Maybe I'm missing something. But for the life of me, I can't understand why you did that. And it frankly troubles me that we would allow someone into the Hall of Fame, the top honor for a baseball player, who would do such a thing.

I'm sorry, my time is up, but I hope we can get back to this again in the next session, and maybe you can help me understand why you did this.

CHAIRMAN SPECTER: Thank you, Senator Biden. Senator Grassley?

SENATOR GRASSLEY: I'd like to address this issue directly. I think you've been treated unfairly. As you can see from this graph held up by my able assistant, you only successfully bunted once. In your entire 12 seasons. Is this correct?

SUTTER: Yes, I remember it well. (laughter)

GRASSLEY: That was also in 1979, and you drove in a run on that play, did you not?

SUTTER: I did, Senator.

GRASSLEY: Were you ordered by your manager to bunt on that play?

SUTTER: Yes, I was.

GRASSLEY: Was there any other time you were ordered to bunt, and did not do so?

SUTTER: No, Senator.

GRASSLEY: Was there any other time you were ordered to bunt, and did so, but failed in the attempt?

SUTTER: Yes, Senator, many times. (laughter)

GRASSLEY: I submit to my respected colleague that the the esteemed ballplayer made a decision to do what he thought was best at the time, and that whether or not this was the right decision, it is certainly not dispositive of the presence what he might call an "acceptable baseball philosophy."

Poll Voting

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I am totally serious about this: come voting day this November, for the first time, I will be asked by my government to trust the U.S. postal system to deliver my vote, as there will be no polling places. There will be no no reliable chain of possession of my vote between me and the elections officials, should I do this.

I won't. Instead, I will go to the county auditor's office at noon on voting day to cast my vote. And I am going to encourage everyone else to do the same. And I hope for their sake that they have a lot of employees available to handle the influx. slashdot.org

Mr. Chairman (Official)

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I was unanimously elected last night by the 12 of our 23 PCOs in attendance to be the chair of the 39th Legislative District Republican Committee of Snohomish County.

The meeting was called by the county party. They sent out a call letter in December notifying all the PCOs (Precinct Committee Officers, people elected by the public during the primary election every two years to serve as the precinct's representative in the party) of the reorganization meeting.

I arrived with the credentials report in hand. This listed all the PCOs and required signatures from 30 percent of them. We have 120 precincts in the district, but only 23 of those spots are filled. Three members couldn't attend, but notified us. So we had well over fifty percent participation, which is a nice start.

As the county-chair-appointed temporary chair, I called the meeting to order. The first order of business was the election. No one else wanted to do it, and I was elected unanimously. Next up, we also had a vacancy for vice chair. The former executive director of the county party -- who is taking a break, and was not in attendance -- agreed to be the vice chair, and she was the only nomination, and was elected unanimously.

She had worked for her county councilman after leaving the county party last year, but then he lost reelection, so "lucky" for us, she's now got the time to do more for the district.

The new vice chair had been the treasurer, so now we needed to elect a new one. Two PCOs are close neighbors and friends, and agreed to be co-treasurers. They were elected unanimously.

I listed a bunch of areas where we needed volunteers, and we had lots of people help. One of the co-treasurers will call members before meetings (and any other time they need calling); the secretary will handle meeting location arrangements; another gentleman is handling maintenance of our group web site (calendar, mailing list, etc.); and another is going to work getting us guest speakers.

I mentioned county committees -- platform, events, campaign, and so on -- that need participation from our county, and no one immediately stepped forward, but I'll hit them up again next meeting when they've had a chance for it all to sink in.

The most pressing issue is that Washington has the precinct caucuses (at which we select delegates to the county convention) on March 7, and the state needs our precinct caucus locations by the end of the month. Another PCO said she would contact our previous county chair (who remains involved at the county office) about which locations we used the last time (two years ago), and she and one of the co-treasurers volunteered to help secure locations (for now, one in Arlington, and one in Monroe).

I don't know that two locations is enough for 120 precincts, but then again, turnout has not been great in election years where there is no seriously contested position, such as President (my precinct of some 800 or so voters had only two voters attend the caucus in 2004, as Bush was running for re-election).

So, that's the long and short of it.

Oh, and I got some huge precinct maps of the district from the county to put on my wall. slashdot.org

Intel Macs and My Modules

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I have no idea if my Mac modules work on the new Intel Macs.

If you have trouble with them and want my help, be prepared to do a lot of work with me to test things out.

My father-in-law might be getting one; if he does, I can use that one. If not, I won't have one to work with, and can't do any real support of them, without help from someone else.

Most of these modules are included with Mac OS X, but when I did have a short chance to play, the Apple events stuff didn't work at all, so no Mac::Glue. Maybe they've fixed it, though. use.perl.org

Super Duper

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ALITO: I personally would not get into categorizing precedents as super precedents, or super-duper precedents ...
SPECTER: Did you say 'super-duper'?
ALITO: Right.
SPECTER: Good, I like that.
ALITO: Any sort of categorization like that sort of reminds me of the size of laundry detergent in the supermarket. I agree with the underlying thought that when a precedent is reaffirmed, it strengthens the precedent ...
SPECTER: What about being reaffirmed 38 times?
ALITO: When a precedent is reaffirmed, each time it is reaffirmed, that is a factor that should be taken into account in making a judgment about stare decisis.


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I've mentioned this before, but sometimes things are worth rementioning. Several times. From Meet the Press this weekend:

MR. RUSSERT: Does he believe that the executive, legislative, judicial branches are equal?
SEN. CORNYN: Well, I don't know. We'll ask him, but I assume he would, that they're co-equal under -- that is basic high-school civics course.

I agree it is basic high school civics. However, it is also incorrect.

As Madison said in Federalist 51, "... it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense (from the other departments). In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates." He goes on then to explain some ways in which that predominance can be mitigated, such as with two separate (and therefore opposing) houses in the legislature. But it is without question that they beleived the legislature to be the most powerful branch of government.

And any modest perusal of the Constitution bears this out. The Congress can overrule the President on almost any matter, and the Court too, except in Constitutional matters, where the Congress can amend the Constitution, without any input or interference from the other two branches (though, of course, they require the aid of the states, but the states are comprised of the people who elected the Congress in the first place).

Congress can, in effect, do anything it pleases to, if it puts its collective mind to it, which is precisely why we've done so much work to prevent them from doing just that. Madison continued: "The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit." And this, in a nutshell, is why the 17th Amendment was such a bad idea.

What's sad to me is that Senator John Cornyn is a lawyer, the former Attorney General of Texas, and is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he doesn't know these things. Of course, I'd not single him out: he's probably in "good" company in his misunderstanding.

Update Ugh. Senator Grassley asked whether Judge Alito believed all three branches were coequal, and Alito responded affirmatively. slashdot.org

Chuck Connors

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The aforementioned Chuck Connors, star of the silver screen, played a season each for the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Cubs. He played one game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, too. (Incidentally, I first learned this at the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, where they had a picture of him and a blurb about his pro sports career.) use.perl.org


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Brit Hume: "Would you consider someone that though Roe v Wade was improperly decided by the court, does that place someone outside the mainstream, in your view?"
Dianne Feinstein: "In my view it does ... Roe could have been overturned 38 times. Precedent has been estbalished. Women all over America have come to depend on it. An overwhelming majority of people support it. ... I think it would be for many of us a very difficult thing to see somebody you knew was going to overthrow Roe at this point in time."

Hume did not ask about someone who would overthrow Roe, he asked about someone who thought it was improperly decided. Heck, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the greatest champions of legal abortion rights, has said that Roe was improperly decided, that the court should not have made the law, but let the political process play out.

Just because you think it was improperly decided -- as many legal scholars of all stripes and beliefs do -- does not mean you want to overturn it.

Further, just because you want to overturn it, does not mean you would. Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery, but wouldn't support doing so, because it would cause war. More recently, some gay rights advocates opposed trying to use the courts to force gay marriage on society, because of the inevitable backlash. Be patient. Let society change. It had already changed so much in the last 15 years in favor of acceptance of homosexuality ... don't push it.

But they couldn't resist. They could not wait for society to change. They tried to change society, and now, guess what? Gay marriage is now more illegal in the U.S. than it ever has been before.

And mark my words, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will become a part of most state Constitutions in this country, and the anti-abortion cause will be set back decades. Society is not ready for it, and you can't force things like that on society.

I am as opposed to abortion as almost anyone. But I am not in favor of "overthrow[ing] Roe at this point in time." Even if Alito still believes Roe was wrong, and even if he believes abortion is evil and should be abolished, who is to say whether Alito would overturn Roe, even if he could (which he couldn't, since there are five solid votes for Roe right now)?

Which brings me to the word "mainstream." George Bush got more votes for President than anyone in our history. And he said he would nominate judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas during that campaign. And Scalia and Thomas were two of the votes dissenting from the Casey decision that reaffirmed Roe. If a person such as this is not mainstream, then the word mainstream has no real meaning, beyond "what I personally believe, and believe that everyone else should believe."

Part of the problem is probably that her measurements don't measure what she thinks they measure. There's several different things here: disagreeing with Roe, thinking it should be overturned, and being willing to overturn it. When you take a poll about whether Roe should be overturned, most people will likely answer based on whether they think it should be overturned now, and the answer is surely, mostly, no. But if you ask people if they think we should work toward the "eventual abolition" of abortion -- to borrow from Lincoln -- a lot more people would say yes, including many people who call themselves pro-choice.

Is that mainstream? slashdot.org

Call Me Lucas McCain

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OK, Lucas shot a rifle and not a shotgun, but still.

I fired a shotgun for the first time in my life on Sunday. A 12-gauge Beretta over-and-under, trap model. The bottom barrel is a full choke, which means the shot stays together longer; the top barrel is modified, so it has a wider spread, making it easier to hit those flying discs.

I joked with my brother-in-law that I'd be happy to hit with just one of the 50 shells I had. Of course, that would not make me happy. But it'd be better than missing them all.

For my first shot, I used the (harder to hit with) bottom barrel. I planted my left foot in front, put most of my weight on it, crouched down a little, and closed my left eye (it's far more powerful than my right, so I can't clean it open unless it's covered) as I sighted the front of the tower. I meekly coughed "pull!" and followed the clay pigeon up to the left, and just as it reached its peak, I pulled the trigger.

Shards of pigeon flew every which way. Victory is mine.

I dunno how much of it was beginner's luck though, as the rest of my day saw me hitting only about 4 out of 25 shots with the full choke. But I hit about 18 of 25 with the modified choke, so that's still pretty good for a beginner.

It's the stationary targets I have trouble with ... if you're breaking into my house, pretend I'm a grizzly bear, and just stand still.

Speaking of Lucas McCain -- you know, The Rifleman -- I picked up three episodes of The Rifleman on DVD for $1 at Target. The had a whole box of DVDs of old TV shows, and they don't even give you a case for the disc: it's got gummy glue on the label side, attached to the inside of a cheap cardboard box. Nice way to mass produce some of this stuff people wouldn't spend much money for.

Today I went skiing. First time this season. I've not played hockey since Christmas 2004 either, so I am just out of shape. By mistake I went to an intermediate trail for my first run, and my legs were burning trying to navigate the several inches of powder. I got better as the day wore on, of course.

Until we decided to go home, and I left my skis behind, which I didn't realize until I got home. We called them, and they said they would look. We'll call again in the morning. I *really* hope they find them. I am optimistic. slashdot.org


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Quoth Jeremy Zawodny in criticizing Slashdot's editorial model, "Haven't we figured out that the crowd is generally smarter than any one individual in the crowd?"

No, it isn't. I don't know where he got that ridiculous idea, let alone why he thinks it's true, when centuries of history have shown that it's not. It is, after all, the reason we have a republic here in the U.S. and not a democracy: we don't trust the fickle whims of the masses. Nor should we.

Raise your hand if you really think the Perl community is better suited to make the design decisions for Perl 6 than Larry Wall is. The community can, should, and did have significant input, but in the end, someone who is smarter and wiser and so on should make the decisions.

The question is not whether the individual can be smarter and better suited to doing a certain task than the crowd is, because it's obviously true. The only questions have to do with which individuals we're talking about, for which crowds, and so on. The specifics matter.

So I'm not saying the Slashdot editors are necessarily better than the crowd, just because they are the Slashdot editors. It's a given that this isn't true. But it's also a given that they *could* be.

That's also not to say that crowds should be ignored. To stick with the government theme, most politicians think well-conducted public opinion polls are useful tools for providing effective government, but, as Edmund Burke said:

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

Maybe there's more room for "public participation" in the editorial process, but the public should never serve as a replacement for the personal editorial process.

At the end of the day, though, he has a point, though he doesn't bring it out very well: if the crowds don't get stories they want at Slashdot, they will stop reading Slashdot. It's quite simple. There are other reasons to stop reading Slashdot too, of course, but if Slashdot really doesn't post the "right" stories, Slashdot will die. Conversely, if Slashdot remains alive and prosperous, then it obviously is posting the "right" stories.

The problem with Jeremy's argument is that this is all true regardless of whether those stories are chosen by a crowd or by individuals, and as someone who's been in the story-posting business for many years, I can confidently say that -- depending on who they are -- you've got a much better chance with the individuals than the crowd. slashdot.org

Interview with Pudge

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Josh McAdams interviewed me for Perlcast. Josh does a really nice job with these interviews, I've enjoyed listening to them all. We did it using Skype, which I'd never used before. Not sure exactly how he recorded it, I forgot to ask (if it were me, I'd probably have used Soundflower). I supplied the bumper music with one of my amazing smash hits, You're Clueless. slashdot.org

Perlcast: Interview #17

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Josh McAdams interviews Chris Nandor.

Perlcast: Interview #17

<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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