May 2006 Archives

Step one: apply fix for T_OSTYPE to typemap, and fix the same problem in MacPerl::GetFileInfo, which bypassed T_OSTYPE.

Step two: fix ReadHex in Carbon.h, which takes a hex string of two or four bytes and converts it to an integer for use in GUSIPath2FSp, which converts a GUSI-encoded file spec to a FSSpec. For Intel, it was doing it in the wrong order.

Step three: there's no step three!

Fixing those three bugs tonight dropped me from 79/199 failed tests, down to 1/199. And the one remaining is GetAliasInfo(), which is deprecated, and simply does not work on Intel Macs (nor UFS volumes).

So, it's all done. Well, not really. I have a lot more testing to do. But I am far further along after one night with this loaner Mac than I thought I would be. I really need to doublecheck and expand my test coverage, and then test a bunch of other things that use Mac::Carbon.

The remaining point that worries me most is that I was informed that the blanket fix for OSType might be wrong on a per-API basis, as mentioned previously, but so far that doesn't seem to be the case with any of the APIs I am testing.
Carolyn Diepenbrock, the Snohomish County elections manager, called me tonight.

First, she explained the 200 missing votes was not a tabulation error, but a reporting error. The report says 233 people showed up to vote in the Cliff precinct for the Fire District 18 election, but in fact, less than 100 people in the Cliff precinct are in Fire District 18, and so those other 200 voters were voting in a school district election, and not the Fire District 18 election. So this is simply a non-issue, unless the issue is better reporting software.

Second, she admitted her office should have notified us of the all-mail voting, and that it was their fault that the envelopes told us we could drop the ballots off in the local precinct polling place, when we could not. Of course, both problems could have been solved with the same action: a notice inside the ballot envelope explaining it all. She said they normally do this, but this time, did not.

Unfortunately, admitting the mistake and being sorry doesn't change the fact that we had an election decided by only 37 votes in a district of 3,957 voters, where 1,099 people voted, with countless voters who did not vote because of the county's misinformation.

The simple and deeply unfortunate fact is that we cannot reasonably trust the result of the Fire District 18 election -- and this has been tacitly admitted to me by the County Auditor's office -- and chances are nothing is going to be done about it.

More On The Right To Vote

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That Fire District 18 election I was complaining about before ... I today found something that is at least on par in terms of badness, if not worse, with the same election. I today got around to looking at the numbers, and 1300 out of 3957 registered voters voted, but only 1099 votes were counted. 200 of the 201 missing votes were in one precinct.

I thought maybe 200, being a nice round number, was added by mistake. But you take away 200 and you get only 4.5 percent voter turnout, which is unreasonable, given the 28-37 percent in the other precincts.

And considering 200 votes are simply missing, and my right to vote (along with others) was taken away, and the difference in the election was only 37 votes ... something has to happen.

I've notified the chairman of the county GOP, my county councilman, and the elections manager at the County Auditor, whom I have little faith in, given the misinformation, negligience, and unresponsiveness she's been involved with. But perhaps something will be looked into in this. There should be a do-over.

Now Playing: The 77s - U U U U

Intel Mac mini

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I got a loaner Intel Mac mini from Apple for the next month (thanks!) to port Mac::Carbon. The first patch I've got reduced the number of test failures from 79/199 to 57/199. A lot more left to do, plus, I was informed that four-char-codes are SOMETIMES taken in network byte order, and sometimes in native order, and that it changes on a per-API basis.

Well, I've been wanting to improve the test suite coverage for Mac::Carbon, so this may be my opportunity ...

There is a screw loose inside the Mac. A little black screw. I can see it through the vents on the base of the unit. I shan't upend it, especially while power is connected, I suppose.

I am connecting to the box via VNC and ssh. I installed ceno on it so I can easily open files to BBEdit on my PowerBook. No need to bother using the maching directly, although if I have time before I send it back, I'll install some games etc. on it to give it a whirl.

I'll be giving a talk on porting Mac::Carbon at YAPC.

Now Playing: King's X - Send A Message

iTunes Music Store Ratings

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Apparently, Apple has no problems with rating your own stuff on their store, as shown here and here (both links require access to iTMS through iTunes).

Pudge Answers

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I've finally answered the questions from the recent Ask Pudge. I took your questions and ran them through speech synthesis and played them back and recorded the whole thing and it resulted in this. Download the audio file directly or subscribe to the podcast feed.

Let me know what you think. Or not. And send me new questions for next time. Or not.

iTMS Podcast Server Note

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You can immediately start to listen to tracks/episodes from a podcast on iTMS by double-clicking it directly in the music store. If you do that, it starts streaming immediately from your server; Apple doesn't cache it at all.

Just so you know.

New Macs

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Apple is sending me a Mac mini for a month so I can port Mac::Carbon to Intel. Now my YAPC talk won't be 20 minutes of me saying "um."

Although to get it I have to say I am the authorized representative of "The Python Foundation," as there was a mixup on the request. I am not sure if it is worth it. :-)

Old Macs

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I have a bunch of old floppy disks with papers and other junk on them. I don't need most of it, but I don't want to lose it either.

So I need a computer with a floppy drive and HD that can read both DD and HD disks.

(And, preferably, one that I can install my old software on, in case I need to export data as I did with the MIDI programs from one of the songs I recorded a couple of years ago, but had originally programmed back in '92 on Deluxe Music Recorder.)

I had a Power Mac 7100/66. I figure I can copy to it, then move over the network. But alas, the clock battery leaked all over the motherboard. $10 to drop it off at the dump.

Next up: an LCII. I can copy to its internal HD, and then move to high-density disks, which my USB floppy drive will read, and I can then copy to my server for archival. That would suck, but I could always connect my PowerBook G3/400 (which runs Mac OS X 10.3) to it as a SCSI drive (making sure I use the correct cable), since it has a SCSI port.

Ah, but then, I remember I have a Syquest EZ135 SCSI drive. So even better: copy data from floppies to EZ135 cart, then to PowerBook from there. I forgot I also had archived stuff on those carts, so I first test it on the PowerBook, copying off all the carts (some of which are temperamental). Then I go to the LCII. And it works great ... until the LCII stops working. Restart. Death chime.

Ow. But it still sorta works, for a few minutes, so last resort, I can try to use the LCII anyway.

Next up: a Quadra 610. It works OK ... except no video. Argh. Video card just plain doesn't work. $10 to the dump.

Not wanting to waste any more time, I find a IIsi on eBay for $20.50, shipping included. It says it all works fine. So, I get it, it arrives, and I plug it all in. No video. I forgot the IIsi video is a little wacky. But I have some video adapters, and one of them actually works.

That obstacle hurdled, I pop in some floppies. The first two work, then ... the next dozen don't. The floppy drive doesn't work properly. This was not mentioned on the eBay page, except for a little item about having to load the OS from an external hard drive. Figures.

But I still have the LCII. And a SuperDrive is a SuperDrive (at least, it was circa the early 90s). So I switch them, and ... happiness. (And the LCII will cost me another $10 at the dump.)

Among my floppy archives were tons of games. And now I have a IIsi in great condition to play them on! Mmmmm, Falcon. I have only 9MB in it, maybe I should try to max it out to 65. It also has over 100MB of HD space.

Updated Music Page

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I've updated my music page again. I finished the rather incomplete-looking design from before, giving it all a border and making it into a more cohesive page.

If anyone wants the JS and CSS, feel free to steal. Just link back. You can click on the playlist sources to change playlists, mouseover tracks to get the "album cover" and track notes. Click the speaker icon to download, and it changes to a playing speaker. I think it's pretty darn cool.

I also got the PudgeTunes podcast on iTunes Music Store.

Because Apple has some strict rules about content rights, I added the itunes:block tag to some tracks that are covers or remixes. Those items do not show up in iTMS, but if you subscribe to the feed in iTunes, through either the feed link on the web page, or through iTMS, you do get those tracks. Nifty.

Siege of Minas Tirith

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I can't find anything about this anywhere, but I was reading up on the famous Siege of Belgrade (at the time, called Nandorfejervar) in 1456, and the similarities of this bit of history to Tolkien's battle of Minas Tirith, struck me.

The similarities are both obvious and striking, starting with the name: Nandorfejervar means "Nandor's White Castle," and Minas Tirith is also called "The White City." It's a white castle on a hill, next to a river and surrounded by the city, with elaborate walls between each segment of the city.

Janos Hunyadi (Aragorn), king of Hungary (Gondor), learns that Turkey (Mordor) is planning a massive invasion of all of Europe (Middle-Earth), beginning with the closest major city, Nandorfejervar (Minas Tirith). So he goes across Europe gathering allies, and the Pope (Elrond) announces a crusade (quest) to repel the invaders.

Few nations (races) respond, and Hunyadi returns to Belgrade -- including by boat up the river with more reinforcements -- to find the massive Turk army having already encircled and invaded the city, though the castle in the center has not yet been breached. They attacked the much larger force from behind, and eventually drive them off.

Then Hunyadi contracted a disease from the Turk soldiers and died (married an elf).

Now Playing: The Ventures - Telstar

Re: Felonies and Misdemeanors

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Any time someone complains about the House immigration bill, H.R. 4437, makes illegal immigrants felons, tell them to blame the Democrats.

Tony Blankley mentioned on The McLaughlin Group last week that the Democrats blocked an amendment to the bill to reduce the sentence for illegal entry or unlawful presence from one year (the change that made it into a felony), to six months (a misdemeanor, which is currently the actual maximum jail time for illegal entry).

Intrigued, I looked it up, and it's true. House Amendment 656, introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner himself, was opposed by 191 of the 202 Democrats, and lost 164-257. Granted, if all the Republicans had voted for it, it would have passed without the Democrats, but that's beside the point: the Democrats voted against this because they wanted to be able to say the Republicans are trying to make all illegal immigrants into felons.

So when Democrats blame the Republicans for this, or say that they opposed the Sensenbrenner bill because it makes illegal aliens into felons, they are lying.

Ask Pudge

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It's time for Ask Pudge. The rules are simple: Ask me any question. One per person. I reserve the right to refuse to answer if the question is crass or overly personal, or if I come up with some other good reason.

I may not respond immediately, but, rather, queue up my responses.

Discussion2 Updates

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Lots of fixes for the Discussion2 beta. Nothing too obvious by looking at it, but it should work properly on IE7 beta and non-Mac Firefox now.

It does not work in IE6.

It does not work in Opera, because of an odd bug in how Opera parses object literals in JavaScript: numeric keys are restricted to 2^23, and our cids are greater than that. (I filed a bug report, it's bug-207597, but I have no way of knowing if or when they plan to fix it.)

It does not work in iCab 3 beta, because of what I suspect is improper CSS implementation.

We can work around the problems remaining in Opera, but I would prefer they fix their bug. I don't think we will bother with iCab, and the three people who use it. I like iCab and all, but we're busy ... patches welcome. Hopefully they can fix it on their end.

IE6 is, of course, the biggie. I have no idea how and if we can get it working on IE6. That IE7 works properly is great, because it means a. IE6 is the problem, not us, and b. it will be fixed in the next version. But ... can Slashdot wait for Microsoft?

Beyond all this, the CSS was made a lot more sane and proper, and I changed a lot of the JavaScript behavior, using plenty of feedback from users. So, thanks. Still in progress though ... hopefully soon we can open it up to more users than just subscribers.

Now Playing: Matisyahu - Youth
I am no big fan of the filibuster. But if ever there was a good use of it, this would be it. The majority of the GOP Senators who are against this bill, it seems to me, probably have enough votes to filibuster it. There are several egregiously bad portions to this bill, including Social Security benefits for illegal aliens, which passed by a single vote. There was also an amendment, defeated 55-40, that would have required securing of the border before any guest worker provisions went into effect.

A GOP filibuster would be great for the party's chances this November, apart from also perhaps improving the legislation at hand: while you normally don't want to stick it to your own party's President, the fact is, in this case, the party faithful is unhappy with the President on this issue, and they might very well stay home rather than support a do-nothing GOP majority who won't even stand up on this issue, that they almost all agree on.


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NewsHour changed its theme music. I ... I ... I ... I don't know what to do!

Be Quiet!

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I wrote this back in late '96, in a fit of anti-polling fervor. I think the thought was that we pay attention so much to polls, we might as well just get rid of elections.

Enjoy. Or not.

CLINTON:    Be quiet!  I order you to be quiet!
OLD WOMAN:  Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
CLINTON:    I am your president!
OLD WOMAN:  Well, I didn't vote for you.
CLINTON:    You don't vote for presidents.
OLD WOMAN:  Well, how did you become president, then?
CLINTON:    The Pollster of the Swamp, after calling a random sample of
            the populace, held a piece of paper aloft from the bosom of
            the Delaware signifying by Divine Providence ...  that I,
            Clinton, was your favourite ... That is why I am your
DENNIS:     Look,  strange men in ponds calling strangers and
            distributing leaves of papyrus is no basis for a system of
            government.  Supreme executive power derives from a mandate
            from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
CLINTON:    Be quiet!
DENNIS:     You can't expect to wield supreme executive power
            just 'cause some bespectacled outcast called a few people!
CLINTON:    Shut up!
DENNIS:     I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor just
            because some shriveled fruit had called my friends,
            they'd put me away!
CLINTON:    (Grabbing him by the collar) Shut up, will you. Shut up!
DENNIS:     Ah! NOW ... we see the violence inherent in the system.
CLINTON:    Shut up!
PEOPLE (i.e. other PEASANTS) are appearing and watching.
DENNIS:     (calling) Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
            Help, help, I'm being repressed!
CLINTON:    (aware that people are now coming out and watching)
            Bloody peasant!
            (pushes DENNIS over into mud and prepares to ride off)
DENNIS:     Oh, what a give away.  Did you here that, did you here
            that, eh?  That's what I'm on about -- did you see him repressing
            me, you saw it didn't you?
CLINTON:    Come on, Hillary.

WA Government Not Getting It

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This is wonderful.

A legislative panel sunk its teeth into a plan Tuesday to create a citizens panel charged with reviewing proposed initiatives to aid puzzled voters ...

Retired political scientist Ned Crosby and his wife Pat Benn in 1999 began pushing their idea for a Citizen Initiative Review program, which would make independent recommendations to voters inundated with campaign propaganda.
Note that "independent" means, as it says later on in the article, that it "would be housed under the Secretary of State's Office and overseen by a nine-member board of appointees. The program would operate on $500,000 a year of state money." That is, it is independent of everyone except for the state government.

Why do all this?

Trust in the media to explain issues is slipping and too much of the information provided in the voter's guide is written by campaigns, so plain-spoken recommendations from ordinary citizens would offer a new level of credibility, Benn said.
So because we do not trust the media to tell us how to vote, we should therefore trust ... the government? The lack of trust in government is why we have an initiative process in the first place, and now they want the government to make official recommendations on the initiatives, and put them on the ballot.

And no, they are not kidding. They really believe this is a reasonable thing.

What's really underlying this, of course, is that a lot of liberals think they and the government know better than the people do, so when a ballot initiative passes, it must be because the people weren't properly informed, so obviously, the people need the liberals to tell them how to think and vote.

Of course, my right to vote was stolen from me, so they obviously don't really care what I think anyway.

Now Playing: Woody Guthrie - Swimmy Swim

Path Carelessness

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I was mailed a perl script, and I double-clicked it in Eudora, which opened it in BBEdit, where I ran it from. I got this error:

/Users/pudge/Documents/Eudora Folder/Attachments Folder/ Perl lib version (5.004) doesn't match executable version (5.008004)

Heh. Oops.

Letter: Right to Vote

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Tuesday, for the first time in my life, I voted absentee, because I was forced to, in the Fire District 18 vote.

No one told me this was happening. Indeed, I recently attended a meeting where County Auditor Bob Terwilliger and Election Manager Carolyn Diepenbrock talked to us about the upcoming election changes. They told us that mandatory absentee voting would begin with this year's primary. So when the absentee ballots came to my house, I very nearly threw them away, trusting the word of our elected official.

But to make sure, I first emailed Diepenbrock, who informed me that she had misinformed me. When I asked why no one had bothered to tell us we were forced to vote by absentee, she said the Fire District was going to do that. Well, I have the literature from the Fire District -- passed out at the annual pancake breakfast I attended, and when the firemen walked door-to-door -- and it says nothing about it.

I wonder how many poll voters were disenfranchised Tuesday due to this misinformation and lack of notice, and I wonder if the county will do its duty to investigate and hold Terwilliger responsible.

Update: Because of the misinformation, lack of notice, and incompetence of the County Auditor, my wife and I cannot vote.

We have no stamps, and my wife has an infant and four-year-old with her, and can't wait in line to get them. So, as the ballot envelope said we could, she went to drop off our ballots at the polling place. But the envelope was wrong: none of our local polling places have dropoff locations. My wife called the county auditor's offce, who said we could go to Lake Stevens or Stanwood to drop off the ballots, but they have no directions to either location.

Or, she can lug the kids down to the County Auditor's office, presumably, although they did not give this to her as an option. And it's too far for them to go anyway.

If anyone cares, we had marked our ballots to approve of the levy increase, not that it matters, since our votes won't be counted.

If I can get any help, I plan to sue to have the election thrown out.
In a recent editorial, The Editors note, "Anyone who wants to argue for this [immigration] policy should not insult our intelligence by pretending that it is not an amnesty."

I expect this sort of thing out of The Weekly Standard or The American Conservative or some other journal that isn't steeped in the grand tradition of the Buckley attention to careful language. But not National Review.

The word "amnesty" means -- in this context -- a pardon, the removal of all charge and penalty for an offense. However, under the Senate bill and Bush's proposal, there remains both charge and penalty. There is no amnesty here -- clearly -- but, rather, a commutation. The two concepts are not interchangable.

The NR view appears to be simply that because illegal aliens get to stay here, therefore it is amnesty, but the word "amnesty" regards no such thing. By NR's logic, because we do not force people to return back across the street if convicted for jaywalking, we grant them amnesty.

In fact, it is the other proposals that result in more amnesty: encouraging people to go home of their own free will by reducing opportunity for employment, or by making that the only way to get legal employment (such as the Cornyn-Kyl plan), is like telling the jaywalker: go back across the street and we'll forget the whole thing. It is, by the proper definition of the word, amnesty.

If you really want to avoid amnesty, as you say, then the passed Senate bill will result in less of it than any other plan on the table, because it would enact penalties for the crime (even if you think those penalties are insufficient).

You don't really want to avoid amnesty, though, you want to get these people out of the country, and want to discourage more of them from coming. That's fine, but the concept of "amnesty" is orthogonal to that: you can discourage people while having amnesty, and encourage them without it.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was on The Colbert Report last week. She recently released a new book, and she said that before she started research for it, she thought President Bush's use of religious language was unique in U.S. history.



How could our former Secretary of State think that? I would hope that she would know a lot more about U.S. history than I do. Apparently not.

I mean, sure, points for learning and admitting you were wrong, but ... just wow.
On NUMB3RS last Friday, Peter MacNicol's character, Larry, who is the brilliant scientist who knows a lot about everything, made the very pedestrian mistake of saying "begs the question" when he meant "raises the question."

Far worse, though, was on the series finale of The West Wing. President Bartlet, an extremely knowledgable student of history, is asked by his wife whose idea it was to have Inauguration Day in January. Bartlet dryly quipped that she could blame Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin, implying she should stop complaining, unless she wanted to impugn our wise Founding Fathers.

Except, of course, that until the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, Inauguration Day was usually held in March. President Bartlet never would have made such an obvious mistake. And it's frankly quite sad that no one else caught the error before the episode was completed.
On "Reliable Sources" today, Phil Bronstein, the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, was discussing a recent subpoena directed at two of his reporters, who wrote a book based largely on illegally leaked grand jury transcripts.

Obviously, the point of the subpoena is to find out how illegally leaked those transcripts, because if you allow people involved with grand juries to get away with that sort of thing, then grand juries lose a significant amount of their effectiveness: part of the point is that you can more freely speak in a grand jury because it is a secret.

So, therefore, the government wants to vigorously attack this illegal act, to protect the integrity of the process.

However, this obvious point and goal of the subpoenas was not even mentioned, once, in the seven-minute interview. Instead, Bronstein went off about total nonsense.

He said this is not about national security, only steroids: but the courts don't care what the case is about when you commit perjury or contempt or some other offense against the court, because when you harm the integrity of the court in one case, it affects all other cases, including, perhaps, those having to do with national security.

He complained that his reporters could get more jail time than the defendants in the original case, but again, that completely misses the point.

He accused the government of being out to get the media, even though he admits the government is following the law. He even has the gall to say maybe the Ninth Circuit will violate the law and exonerate his reporters.

He said that grand jury secrecy is not absolute, which, while true, has nothing to do with this case, because the information given to his reporters was, in one way or another, provided illegally.

Perhaps worst of all, he attacks the government for its "strategic leaking," saying if they can leak, what makes this leak wrong? He does not consider the fact that "strategic leaking" of the kind he was referring to is not, in any way, illegal, and the leaks to his reporters were.

This case is simple. The reporters did nothing wrong, but if they do not give the information the court is requiring of them, they will be breaking the law -- a law necessary to the entire judicial process -- and they should go to jail for it. Anything less means that the grand jury process as we know it, which has served us so well for a long time, will cease to exist.

This case has nothing to do with the press specifically, nothing to do with Barry Bonds, nothing to do with anything except prosecution of crimes that are necessary to prosecute, and refusal to create special privileges and loopholes for journalists that will render completely ineffective any efforts to enforce those laws.

And the same thing goes for the journalists held in contempt over the Valerie Plame investigation.

And, as usual, the press is entirely shirking its responsibility by not giving us any opposing view to theirs: journalists need special rights and privileges. That's probably the part that makes me most angry about this whole thing, is that journalists are supposed to be the government watchdogs, but when it comes to protecting their own interests in regard to the government, they completely ignore the opposing view, and pretend it doesn't exist. I've seen only one journalist come out against a federal shield law, and he was on -- no surprise here -- the NewsHour (by far, the most responsible TV news program in the U.S.).

Elections 2006

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There's a big difference between 2006 and past years in which the minority party took control, and the Democrats know it, and are having a tough time figuring out what to do about it.

In those previous years, such as 1994, the country moved in the opposite political direction of the party in power, toward the minority party, which had a clear agenda for what it wanted to do.

But in 2006, with the Republicans in power, the country is still moving to the right. The majority of discontent with the Republicans is that the Republicans in Washington, DC are too far to the left/center.

And the Democratic leadership -- all of it pretty far to the left -- is doing its best to appear far more moderate than they really are, and in the process, they have very little of an agenda to present to the American people. The only firm policy goal they really talk about is a balanced budget, which is the least believable of anything they could say, since it's their lack of ability to balance the budget that led to the Republican takeover in '94, which subsequently led to the Republicans getting the first balanced budget in decades. (Not that it is believable that the Republicans could balance the budget today, either.)

And, of course, what Pelosi leaves out is that the way they want to balance the budget is with economy-crippling tax increases. And when the Republicans and enough Democrats vote against those tax increases, Pelosi and the Democrats will just blame the Republicans for refusing to balance the budget, giving them free license to increase spending with little political repercussion, because it's all the fault of Republicans and greedy rich people.

But, I digress. The point is, the Democrats will not put forth a substantive plan for what they would do as a majority, because they know it is too leftist to get them elected. They stick with unrealistic goals like a balanced budget that they can later blame the failure of on other people, and promise investigations of the President and Republicans. Their whole campaign is nothing more than "we aren't Republicans, and we will get the Republicans if you give us a chance."

Contrast this to the positive campaign the Republicans ran in 1994, which laid out specific, nonpartisan, goals for the new Republican majority. That's not to say they didn't criticize the Democrats, but it didn't take the form of "elect us because we'll get the Democrats," but instead, "we all know there are problems, and this is our set of solutions." With the earmarks and lobbyists getting out of hand, the Democrats can't even agree on a set of solutions to those problems, and instead just promise investigations of Republicans.

So, 2006 is 1994. There simply will not be a large number of voters switching to choose the Democrats over the Republicans, because the country continues to move to the right, and the Democrats are still on the left, and have no real goals to present to the American people. If the Democrats win, they will do so not in any way resembling 1994, but simply by convincing Republican voters to stay home.

Elections 2008

Quick note: Donna Brazille was with David Brooks and George Will on This Week, and they were talking about Hillary for President. Brooks and Will were laughing at the idea of Hillary as a moderate, but noted her gambit was probably going to work: despite how silly the notion is, given what we know about her views over the years, it looks like she is actually convincing people she is a moderate.

Brazille wasn't fooled by Hillary either, and she was actually apologizing for her, trying to explain away ther centrist things Hillary was saying, in an attempt to wink-nudge at the leftists in the Democratic Party, as if to say, "don't worry, she's still one of us." They quoted Hillary talking about how people should not expect to be rich upon graduating college, but should expect to work hard, and Brazille basically said, "she doesn't mean it, and she'll explain herself later," as if there was something wrong with the notion. Amazing.

Felonies and Misdemeanors

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The immigration debate has highlighted that many people know little about our criminal justice system.

There are two basic classes of criminal offense: felony and misdemeanor. Being in this country illegally, with no additional crimes, is a misdemeanor.

Both misdemeanors and felonies are punishable by deporation, fines, and imprisonment. The difference is primarily of degree: a prison sentence of a year or more requires a felony charge.

Current law says there is a fine and maximum prison sentence of six months for illegally entering the country, eluding immigration officials, or entering the country by lying/concealing information. The House bill did two things: it increased the penalty to one year, and it added "otherwise present in the United States in violation of the immigration laws or the regulations prescribed thereunder" to the definition.

This last part is really just a housekeeping detail, for most practical purposes: the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants in this country entered the country illegally. Adding it to the law makes it easier to prove in court, but for overwhelmingly most people, does not change culpability.

So if you entered the country illegally, all it means is that a. the government can more easily prove you broke the law which you actually broke, so whining about that fact just makes you look stupid, and b. the maximum penalty for that crime you broke is doubled, and since we don't want to put most of you in jail because it costs us too much, this has no practical effect.

Now, for the relatively few illegal aliens who entered the country legally, and then lost their legal status, this does represent a substantive change. But for everyone else -- the people most angry about it, and marching in the streets -- it does not.

But since the news media doesn't tell you these things, it requires actually reading the law on your own.

Now Playing: Sox @ Yankees 2006-05-09

Gay Rights

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Discrimination against people because of what group they belong to is, in the general sense, wrong.

However, it is also wrong to tell people that such discrimination is illegal. If I want to be a jerk and discriminate, it is my right to do so, and it is your right to avoid my place of business.

However, because of a serious problem of past injustices in society, there's room for a temporary remedy of making discrimination against people in certain groups illegal, especially, but not limited to, blacks and women.

However, that does not mean the proper remedy for resolving all problems of discrimination is to make that discrimination illegal.

So, I am therefore opposed to anti-discrimination laws regarding homosexuals (and so on). I do not believe there is sufficient need for a law to solve the problems of discrimination against gays, when it can be more properly addressed through other means, including protesting and so on.

That said, I am open to consideration of the idea. If it can be shown to me that the problem is so serious, the injustices on a society-wide basis so severe, that a law against it is the only feasible remedy, then I may change my mind.

However, none of that has anything to do with why I am absolutely against the new law in Washington, H.B. 2661. This bill adds to the list of protected characteristics of people -- characteristics you may not discriminate against in employment or housing etc., which currently includes sex, race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, and disabilities -- "sexual orientation."

At first glance, apart from my prior objection that I don't feel it is warranted, this is not a big deal. It does not apply to sectarian organizations, so in theory, few people would be affected by it anyway. You just can't discriminate against someone because they are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. No big deal.

But the devil is in the details. So we have to look up our definitions:

"Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity.
OK, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, I'm with you. Wait ... what the hell is "gender expression or identity"?

As used in this definition, "gender expression or identity" means having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.
So here's where the train goes off the tracks. I am not going to not-hire a waiter because they are gay, but I sure as hell am going to not hire a 6-2, 250-pound man named Buck who wears a dress and lipstick, talks with a falsetto, and has an extremely effeminate walk and gestures.

I am not saying I should be able to cause harm to Buck, but I don't want to scare my customers away either. Under previous laws, I could reject him simply because I thought it was not good for my business. But under this law, "what is not good for my business" is indistinguishable from his "gender expression," which is now protected by law.

This bill opens me up to serious liability if I discriminate against Buck. There's no indication in the text of the law that I would not be violating the law by discriminating against him, and there's no indication from our state courts that they would find in my favor.

Of course, in a restaurant, I could simply impose a dress code on all employees: slacks for everyone, no makeup. But that doesn't take care of his falsetto, walk, and gestures. He is going to scare away my customers, and there's not a damned thing I can do about it.

Call me a bigot if you want to, but I am against this bill, and I am signing the petition to overturn it, and will encourage everyone else in Washington to do so.

Now Playing: Johnny Cash - Sam Hall
I love closets. We have a bunch of them in the house, and I use them for putting all sorts of things I don't want to see.

The main coat closet near our home's front entrance is the stereo closet. All our stereo components and DVDs are in there. The only stereo-related things out in the family room are the TV and speakers.

In my new office, I have a walk-in closet. That has all my hard drives, peripherals, printers, extra computers, network hardware, books, magazines, boxes of cables, papers, manuals, CDs, and so on. Everything I don't need to be able to see is in there.

Adjacent to this closet is another big walk-in closet, for Jennifer to load up. This should help clean up the house considerably too.

I am more efficient when my mind is uncluttered. Organization helps keep my mind uncluttered. But keeping it not just organized, but out of sight, and hence out of mind, is even better.

Now Playing: The Chieftains - Country Blues


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I have a really good memory about some things, and really bad memory about others. I can barely remember most of my experiences at college, except for a few notable ones. Like, I remember playing an outdoor show on the front lawn of the campus, plying guitar with my two mates Porthos and Hobbes, but I can't really remember much about it. Not any of the songs we played, not what the audience looked like, or anything.

I don't think back too much on things that don't directly affect me today. I am good with remembering various facts, but not so much personal experiences or impressions. I don't think about them, and they fade. It's not that they were not important or interesting to me at the time, but, of course, they did not continue to be.

I am sure these flaws in my memory would bother me if it weren't for the fact that I would forget about it pretty soon.

Impeachment: Just For Fun

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Let's examine the actual proposed articles of impeachment against Bush.

  1. Seizing power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the  rule of law; carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of over one hundred thousand Iraqis, and thousands of U.S. G.I.s.

    Both houses of Congress approved of this. Any argument that this is a high crime or misdemeanor is a complete joke and waste of time. Many of the "Articles" are of this sort: implying Congress would ever impeach the President for something Congress gave the President explicit authority to do. Not going to happen.

  2. Lying to the people of the U.S., to Congress, and to the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war.

    There's no substantive evidence of lying.

  3. Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties were unavoidable.

    This is not a crime of any sort, if that attack was deemed necessary to the war effort. It's happened in every war, and while a tragedy, it is not something Congress would ever impeach over, unless it were shown civilians were specifically targetted, where civilian casualties were reasonably avoidable.

  4. Instituting a secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States through the National Security Agency.

    Frankly, impeachment over this would constitute a violation of separation of powers, a virtual coup of the legislature over the executive. There is a legitimate argument that what Bush did was not legal, but the actual law is not clear, and the only reasonable course of action is to have the Supreme Court adjudicate the dispute, because there is also a legitimate argument that what Bush did was legal. The Legislature does not have the right to tell the Executive how to interpret the Constitution.

  5. Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently changing its government by force and assaulting Iraq in a war of aggression.

    See 1.

  6. Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    There's a lot here, and I don't have the will to break it out and address it individually. For much of it -- such as "summary executions" -- there is absolutely no evidence of any kind. For others -- such as "psychological coercion" -- there is absolutely nothing illegal about it. And for all of it, what little evidence exists, there's no direct tie to Bush.

  7. Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.

    Again, there's no evidence that intentionally false statements were ordered or condoned, or that anyone was intentionally manipulated with false information, or that any vital information was withheld. It's like the recent hubbub over the Libby leak on July 8, and then July 18, where lots of people on the left said, "well, but they never told anyone that they were warned about that intelligence being wrong!," even though if you cared to look, you saw that the warnings were right there in the NIE itself. The information was there, it was available. If you followed along, you knew well before the invasion that there were serious questions about the aluminum tubes, and that the Niger documents were forgeries, and so on.

  8. Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the "Supreme Law of the land" under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.

    First, see 1. Congress approved, so Congress won't impeach. Also, note that here they say the invasion of Afghanistan was illegal and immoral. Yeah, that's gonna fly. Right. And finally, on what planet is refusal to submit to the International Criminal Court -- again, something neither Congress, nor any President, would ever agree to anyway -- an impeachable offense? I call this the Anationalist Wacko Article of Impeachment.

  9. Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an "enemy combatant."

    This has already been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, which found in Bush's favor on some points, and against on others, and the administration has been in compliance with those rulings, and there's no room for Congress to step in here.

  10. Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.

    See 9.

  11. Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.

    This is a technical issue that, again, is properly adjudictaed in a court of law, if there remains a reasonable legal question. There's nothing preventing appeal to a higher court, and no reason to suspect that should it reach the Supreme Court, the administration would not do what that court says.

  12. Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.

    Again: "summary execution"? Pull the other one. Also again: see 9.

  13. Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.

    Again: see 9.

  14. Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.

    "And elsewhere" has already been addressed. If there's a credible case of violation of rights of persons in the U.S., sue.

  15. Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.

    See 1.

  16. Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed "terrorist."

    See 1.

  17. Engaging in criminal neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, depriving thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and other Gulf States of urgently needed support, causing mass suffering and unnecessary loss of life.

    This is just utter nonsense. I've spent more than enough time on this issue, but I am including it only for thoroughness.

  18. Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.

    Again, See 1. But further, our tradition has never held that noninvasive surveillance of potentially dangerous groups violates any law. If I, as a civilian, can go into a public place and look at what people are doing there, so too can the government. You may find it distasteful, but this information collection is not illegal, nor a high crime or misdemeanor in any reasonable sense.

  19. Refusal to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.

    This is laughable. If the Executive were withholding information that Congress had a right to, they would sue. They have done that, in fact, and the Executive has won each time. Again, this is something that Congress cannot reasonably impeach over, because Congress cannot be the arbiter over Constitutional power struggles between the Legislative and Executive. That is what the Court is for.

  20. Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court.

    Simply false. The text of the ABM itself, which Congress approved of, gave the United States the authority to withdraw. The Constitution says the Executive has the power to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate; this does not imply that Senate approval is required to exercise the provisions of that treaty.

    I don't know what they are referring to regarding the Treaty of Rome, but I do know that no existing treaty obligates the U.S. to participate in the ICC, so their continued wanking about the ICC is moot.

So let's count up the score. Out of 20 articles, six were approved of already by the Congress; two were about things there's no evidence of; one was not actual crimes or wrongdoing; nine were violating the spirit of the Constitution by putting the Congress over the Executive (and the Supreme Court) as final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution; and one was in three of the other categories. And one was absolutely nonsense about Katrina.

In other words, there's no reasonable chance of impeachment.

Discussion2 Update2

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I updated Discussion2 again just now. The "Threshold" popup is replaced by a couple of buttons.

The main point of the More/Less and Worse/Better buttons is to help narrow a discussion based on the scores of the comments. This is not very useful in most use Perl; discussions, but you can see it in action in some big discussions.

Also, one thing not mentioned previously, is if you have a long comment so you get the "Read the rest of this comment" link, that will now use AJAX-y goodness to fetch the rest of the comment and load it in-place. Spiffy.

Reagan Did Not Help

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In The Colbert Report's "The Word" segment Monday, Colbert mentioned Joe McCarthy "singehandedly mak[ing] a list of which Hollywood liberals we should get rid of." That got a laugh. Then the caption came up, "Well, Reagan Helped." Which got a bigger laugh, and some clapping.

Except, of course, there is no truth of any kind to it. Reagan testified about the problem of communism in Hollywood, but absolutely refused to name names, and it's pathetic that so many people don't know their history.

There should be an intelligence test to get into the audience for TDS and TCR. That joke, among educated people, would have bombed. Or maybe it's the writers who need intelligence testing ... ?

Spanish Star-Spangled Banner

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I've heard several people say the Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner means the same thing as the English version.

If this were true, I'd have virtually no problem with it. The fact, however, that it virtually eliminates references to the actual events witnessed by Francis Scott Key -- that is, you know, the whole point of the anthem -- means I have a huge problem with it.

There's nothing in there about rockets or bombs or, most importantly, the fact that the flag still waving was a sign the fight was not yet over.

And, worse, this important feature of the Star-Spangled Banner is replaced by a call to continue to "fight on" and "march toward liberty." Now, there's nothing wrong with those things, but they seem to be an expression of contemporaneousness that is missing from the Star-Spangled Banner, which is all about what happened before and the hope it provided at the time. To turn that into an explicit call for civil action today perverts it.

Also, the fact that it is called "Our Anthem," which is a way segregating people by language even further, so they have their National Anthem and we have Our Anthem, is more than a little disturbing.

The fact that it is in Spanish bothers me the least of all the bothersome things about it. It's that it is changed significantly and is being used to cause more separation and division is what is dangerous about it.

Discussion2 Update

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We are making discussions in Slash be DHTML-ified.

Today I rolled it out for all users on use Perl. You need to check the box either in your user preferences (select "Slashdot's New Discussion System" under "Discussion Style") or activate the checkbox in the huge box at the top of a discussion.

Much of this will work without JavaScript, but much of it will not. So, you non-JavaScript users are warned.

Read the FAQ entry for more information, and feel free to comment here.
How's your day going? Has it been helped or hindered by the lack of immigrants?

Since I never leave my house, it's had no effect on me, and I don't believe it will.

What about you?

Another Newsitorial

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Back in March I wrote about a newsitorial -- an editorial masquerading as a news story -- that claimed Bush often engaged in "straw man" logical fallacies.

Apart from being incorrect on most of its claims, the article simply was not news. It was pushing a particular opinion of the President and trying to make it look like a news article.

This morning I read another such piece, Bush challenges hundreds of laws. It purports to show that Bush asserts "he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."

Now, the first thing to note is that this statement in the article's lede is apparently intended to be remarkable. Far from remarkable, the President takes an oath to do just that. The only caveat is that the Supreme Court trumps the President in most matters of Constitutional interpretation (though, contrary to popular belief, the Court's power in this regard is not absolute: if it told the President that the Supreme Court had to approve his nominations to the Supreme Court, he would and could and should defy them).

So let's skip ahead to where this gets to the important part of the story: where the article tries to prove Bush defies the Supreme Court. It's under the heading "Defying Supreme Court."

The author gives only two examples of "defying" the Supreme Court. Both are, if you'll pardon my bluntness, complete bullshit.

In the latter, yes, the Court did uphold an affirmative action program in 2003; but, if you will recall, they struck down an affirmative action program at the same time, and the one that was upheld was specific to the goals of education to provide a diverse student body. So yes, while "the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld affirmtive-action programs, as long as they do not include quotas," is true, the reverse is also true: the Supreme Court has also repeatedly struck down non-quota affirmative action programs (including the "20 points" rule for minority students in the 2003 case that was struck down).

So to then add "despite the court's rulings, Bush has taken exception at least nine times to provisions that seek to ensure that minorities are represented among recipients of government jobs, contracts, and grants" is to, simply, lie, because the cited Court ruling in 2003, supporting the goal of a diverse student body, has absoltely nothing to do with government jobs, contracts, or grants.

The former example suffers from a similar logical flaw: it incorrectly implies that the Supreme Court has ever recognized that Congress blanket authority to make laws giving officials of the Executive Branch authority to act independently of the President, and then implies that any resistence to Congress trying to do just that is therefore defying the Supreme Court.

That's utter nonsense, of course. The "power of Congress to make such arrangements" is not a blanket authority, but specifically tailored to individual cases; otherwise, the Congress could take away virtually all Presidential authority, by simply giving every department head the power to act independently of the President.

And there's a strong case to be made -- which is not made in the article, of course -- that such arrangements, despite past Court decisions, are inherently unconstitutional, and are due for another Court challenge, and that this is a good way to go about doing it.

But -- of course -- the article does not give voice to any of the significant arguments against the arguments pushed by the article. And this is really what makes it not-news. There is not one line offered by one of the many legal experts about how the President has a right, even an obligation, to defy laws he thinks are unconstitutional; this would be fine, if not for the fact that the article tries to push "legal scholars" who support the author's thesis. It says, for example:

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to "execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.
What is that "however" doing in there? If he believes a law is unconstitutional, then the Constitution supercedes any Congressional law, and he has a Constitutional responsibility to take care that the Constitution be faithfully executed.

And yet there is not one word in the article describing this Presidential conundrum, nor one legal scholar supporting the President, despite the fact that there are a great many out there. The closest the author comes to offering any defense for Bush is saying that his actions are not unprecedented, and that what he does -- issue signing statements -- is legally meaningless anyway. And both of these facts are at the end of the article, and the legal meaningless of signing statements -- which is a fact, make no mistake -- is offered as merely an opinion. And even then, the author quotes only a single scholar.

There is so much wrong with this article and I have limited time. I want to mention one other thing, though, that is so egregious it bears a staggering "Whaaaaaa- ?" The author quotes Senator Lindsey Graham saying:

I do not believe that any political figure in the country has the ability to set aside any ... law of armed conflict that we have adopted or treaties that we have ratified.
By leaving this out of context and unremarked, the author leaves the impression that Graham is claiming Bush has set aside any ratified treaty, and this is simply not true (nor is it true that Bush has done so).

I am not defending everything Bush has done. Sometimes I disagree with his interpretation of the Constitution in such matters, although I absolutely agree with his right to resist Congress' interpretation in favor of his own. Further, I believe, as the article mentions, that it is proper for the President to veto a law he thinks is unconstitutional (although the article also blurs the line between disagreeing with the text of the law, and disagreeing with the Congress' interpretation of that law, and there's a world of difference between the President giving his interpretation of a law, and the President saying he thinks the law itself is unconstitutional, though sometimes the line between the two is, itself, hard to determine).

The bottom line is that the author does not give opposing arguments to most of the main points, and the main support he needs to really make his case -- that Bush is defying the Supreme Court -- is completely fabricated. Its lack of even attempting to provide argument for the President's legitimate legal case makes this not a news article. And what's left of the article is, in all key areas, woefully inaccurate.
<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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