January 2007 Archives

A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes.

  • polymath69 via slashdot: Could you say Zbigniew Brzezinski's name, as a person who records sounds, into your microphone, and put it on your webpage, simply to enlighten me, or, should I say give me one fewer thing to wonder about?

  • q via irc: If you were the Colts, how would you attack the Bears this weekend?

I am so glad the Democrats have given us a new Senate, one that will be productive and get things done. Like spending day after day on a resolution that is literally meaningless. And the GOP is playing along, pretending it is meaningful, actually filibustering a literally meaningless vote. And the Democrats in turn vow to work hard to have their literally meaningless vote. slashdot.org
Update to previous entry. The Kossacks picked up this story and ran. Apparently not reading / listening to what Cheney actually said, but nevertheless wasting no time in saying how great Hagel was for attacking something that (apparently unknown to Hagel at the time) Cheney never said.

What Cheney actually said, from the transcript:

But the biggest problem we face right now, is the danger than the United States will validate the terrorist's strategy, that in fact what will happen here, with all of the debate over whether or not we ought to stay in Iraq, where the pressure is from some quarters to get out of Iraq, if we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorist's strategy, that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task -- that we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's the biggest threat.

And then:

Now, the critics have not suggested a policy. They haven't put anything in place. All they want to do, all they've recommended is to redeploy or to withdraw our forces. The fact is we can complete the task in Iraq. And we're going to do it. We've got Petraeus, General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task.

It's pretty clear that Cheney did not say, as Ifill said, and as Hagel criticized (with the Kossacks cheering from the sidelines), "that people do not have the stomach to complete this mission."

He did not say, or imply, that anyone does not have the stomach for it, even if they want us to pull out. He implied, rather, that the country as a whole, should it pull out now, would show itself to be lacking in stomach. Two very different things. Cheney was speaking only of the country as a whole, and what pulling out would say about us in the future, should we pull out. He was not speaking about anyone individually or collectively at present. slashdot.org
From NewsHour tonight.

Well, first, if, in fact, the Senate passes a resolution, that's rather significant.

Not if it is a nonbinding resolution, no, it's not. In fact, it has no actual significance whatsoever. That's what "nonbinding" means.

Let's think about this for a moment, what that does say?

Nothing important or interesting.

The United States Senate is part of a co-equal branch of our government. It's worked pretty well for 200 years, Gwen.

In fact, no. We do not have coequal branches of government. We have, as James Madison said, a predominant legislative branch. I know this doesn't hurt his actual point, but it helps show how confused he is. It is amazing to me how many ignorant people we have in our government on such a fundamental tenet of our government.

For a president to step away from that -- if, in fact, we would pass a resolution, putting the Senate on record opposing his plan -- that's rather significant, and it represents the voices of the people we represent.

Step away from what? There is nothing to step away from. It's nonbinding. It means nothing. It is nothing.

Who cares if the Senate, and the people the Senators represent (which has been the case for far less than 200 years, in fact, Senator: closer to 100 years), don't like the plan? We do not have a democracy, we have a republic. We have a leader elected every four years specifically so he will be less inclined to give a rip about what the people think.

We do not want a President to care about what the people think. That's the whole point. If you disagree, I respectfully submit that you probably have never read Federalist #10. A democracy -- what you want if you want the President to automatically bend to the whims of Congress or "the people" -- is the very thing the Founders were attempting to avoid.

We have a Constitution. That Constitution says nothing about nonbinding resolutions, or the President only acting unless the Senate takes a poll that says he shouldn't.

The real problem here is that Hagel is emphasizing the wrong feature of our government. It's not coequality -- which is a myth anyway -- but separation of powers that matters here. And part of the doctrine of separation of powers tells us that it is entirely inappropriate for one branch of the government to extert its will over another branch except through those defined means, such as the President signing legislation, the Senate approving nominees, and so on.

That is, the Senate is violating the Constitution if it attempts to hold the President to a nonbinding resolution, and is violating the spirit of the Constitution if it tries to do so even informally. Hagel's saying what he does above is so contrary to the Constitution it's amazing that any Senator could even think such a thing, let alone say it.

The fact is, on November 7th of last year, there was an election, and I think it's quite clear. Some of the senators who are not back and House members who are not back went down because of one predominant issue, and that is the American people wanted a change in direction, not just on Iraq, but a number of things.

And, of course, as a New York Times reporter in Baghdad noted on Monday, Bush's plan is "a pretty big change in strategy." So it is not logical to say "the people want change so they don't want Bush's plan." Nor is it reasonable to look at the polls, because, frankly, the people don't know what the heck they are talking about in regard to this "surge," and even if they did, they don't get to vote on it.

You -- though not the people, who had their chance in 2004 -- do get a vote on it. The problem is, you are not actually taking a vote on it. Instead, you're futzing around with a meaningless nonbinding resolution. Pass an actual bill and then maybe you can expect anyone to care.

The way we're doing this is the responsible way. The American people expect it; they deserve it.

I've not met one person who "expects" or feels they "deserve" this meaningless resolution. I am sure some are out there, but I don't think this is quite right. slashdot.org
Gwen Ifill totally misrepresented what Dick Cheney said on CNN today. She said:

A final question, and for you both, and once again from Vice President Cheney. His interview, Senator Hagel, today at CNN, he said that part of what's going on here is that people do not have the stomach to complete this mission. Senator Hagel, your response to that?

Senator Hagel reacted very negatively toward Cheney based on Ifill's description, but her description was a total fabrication. What he actually said was entirely different:

The pressure is from some quarters to get out of Iraq. ... If we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorists' strategy that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task, that we don't have the stomach for the fight.

He was saying we DO have the stomach for the fight, not that we DON'T. It's hard to believe her mischaracterization was accidental. slashdot.org
For crying out loud. I am sick of hearing about all the different possible "firsts" for Presidential candidates. Bill Richardson the first Hispanic, or Barack Obama the first black, or Hillary Clinton the first woman, or Mitt Rmoney the first Mormon.

I don't care. I think most people don't care. It has all been done to death. Yes, not as President. And if you want to take pride in it, go ahead; I took pride in George H.W. Bush being born in Massachusetts, but most people didn't care, and that was cool too.

And I am also sick of people asking whether it matters. No. It doesn't. Indeed, it matters a lot less now than it ever did before, because we are so ideologically polarized: you really think someone who is pissed off at the Republicans and wants to stick it to them, and happens to be an older Southerner who's a bit racist or sexist is going to not vote for Obama or Hillary? Unlikely. Even if he is a racist or sexist, he'll say, "well, could be worse, he/she could be a Bush!"

Same thing with Romney and the Christian right. Romney is, socially, fairly conservative (including being pro-life), and the relatively small parts of the Christian right that may be inclined to vote against a Mormon as President will say, "could be worse, he could be a Clinton!"

In these times, anyone can become President if they win a major party nomination, because you're probably guaranteed at least 40 percent of the vote no matter who you are (unless you are George W. Bush maybe, were he allowed to run again ...). slashdot.org
A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes.

  • amanda via email: I have an ipod nano and it is only 1 gigabyte. well, I put more than the storage capacity of my ipod on my itunes causing the itunes to no longer put my library on my ipod when I updated it. It instead created an ipod updater playlist and selected songs from my library to put on the ipod. well, I accidentally deleted that playlist and now I can't get any songs on my ipod at all. Do you have any ideas of how could fix this problem?

  • Jerrad Pierce via email: Why doesn't the ask pudge page include filesizes, file runtime, and/or links to the original questions (to promote searchability)?


Ted Kennedy Supports the Surge

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Ted Kennedy today on Meet the Press expressed his support for Bush's troop surge:

I suggest that the President has the responsibility to demonstrate and prove to the American people that the surge will work.

The only way to "prove" that the surge will work is to try it. So, Kennedy supports trying it. QED.

Of course, he didn't really mean what he actually said. What he really meant is that he will vote against it no matter what Bush says. It's odd, isn't it, that Kennedy has been against this war from the beginning, and yet now his plan for "success" in Iraq happens to involve drawing down the American troops? Just weird!

Kennedy isn't above lying, as we all know. Kennedy said that they should consider cutting off funding for the war if the President goes forward against "if we have a President who is going to effectively defy the American people, defy the generals, defy the majority of the Congress ... then we, I think, have a responsibility to end the funding for the war."

As we all know, the American people are not being defied. They voted to elect, and re-elect, Bush. Period, end of story. The people had their say, and public opinions polls don't change that. We have four-year terms for a reason: so the people can have their say every once in awhile, but not often enough to be able to drastically influence policy.

Also, the generals are not being defied, as it perfectly clear. Some of the generals are being disagreed with, but this surge is the actual idea of other generals. But more to the point, "to defy" implies opposing someone with authority, and generals have absolutely no authority of any kind over the President. Indeed, for Congress to require Bush to follow what his generals say (to not "defy" them) would be a clear violation of the Constitution.

And then there's Congress. Congress has a say, but not through any nonbinding resolution. Congress' say is to either revoke the authorization for the use of military force against Iraq, or to revoke funding. That is, you don't revoke funding as a consequence for defying Congress, because Congress cannot defied unless Congress actually takes some action that can be defied.

So, as usual, Kennedy is lying: not only would Bush not be defying anyone at the point Kennedy claims, but it is not possible for Bush to be defying anyone at that point. Take action, then complain about defiance. But don't pretend that your nonbinding resolution means squat, or that the President has any obligation whatsoever to follow what your cherry-picked generals say, let alone public opinion polls.

Another whopper:

The American people never voted to authorize to send American troops in the midst of a civil war. They authorized it to look after weapons of mass destruction that weren't there, to look after the issues of the operational association between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, they looked at the violations of the UN Resolution, but not a civil war. Today, we have a civil war.

In fact, the authorization for the use of military force against Iraq was in part, explicitly, to stop the "brutal repression of its civilian population," which would likely continue -- with worse results than before -- if we left now. Sorry, Charlie.

Worst poll of the day: Russert quotes an NBC poll that asks, "if Congress passes a resolution against the President's position on more troops, should President Bush proceed?" Sixty-five percent said no, thiry percent said yes. But, of course, no one has been talking about any such resolution. There is no such resolution under any consideration. The only resolution people are talking about does not do that, it is a meaningless nonbinding resolution. This resolution is not actually against the President's position, because it is not actually meaningful in any way. [Note: jamie points out the poll Russert quoted notes the resolution is nonbinding. But that doesn't change what I said, as my emphasis is on the fact that the resolution is actually meaningless, not on whether the poll mentioned this fact.]

And worse, that percentage is also the same as support for the war and the surge even regardless of any resolution. My guess is the respondents recognize it is meaningless, too. slashdot.org

Pats by 24

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In my previous entry about the Pats, I should have factored in the Jets.

You see, the Pats three biggest rivals under Brady and Belichick have been who? The Steelers, Colts, and Jets. And every playoff game under B/B in years they went to the AFC Championship were won by three points except for games against their rivals, which were won by 7, 10, 14, 17, and 21.

So, Pats by 24.

I am probably the only one making that prediction. But if I am right, I will have bragging rights for time immemorial.

Oh, and also, everyone is still picking the Colts. For the same reason: they are "due." Yeah, they were due in '04 too, and they lost by 17. They might win, but it won't be because they are "due." use.perl.org


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"The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere [of 24]. "After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn't sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality."

So because you are irrationally afraid, the producers of 24 should pretend that one of the greatest terrorist threats to America doesn't come from Muslim extremists? slashdot.org

Pickin' the Pats

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Last week, I heard only two people on TV pick the Pats, and both were named Boomer: Berman and Esiason.

This week, I don't know about Esiason, but Boomer is the only one I've heard so far pick the Pats again. Everyone else has picked the Colts.

Works for me. use.perl.org

PudgeTunes: Under the Sea

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Following on the heels of Just Getting Started, I've now put up a new song on PudgeTunes, a cover of the Disney song Under the Sea.

I also did a cover of the Disney song "Small World" a bunch of years ago. I don't know why, but I think these songs are a lot more depressing than the original music portrays, and my versions attempt to reflect that.

This song borrows heavily in style from Thom Yorke of Radiohead. It's just one vocal, acoustic guitar, and a Rhodes Suitcase MkI emulator.

This was part of a contest I did with some friends of mine, where each of us did our own covers of the same song. Hobbes did a punk version a la Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Porthos did a sort of evil William Shatner. use.perl.org
Ovid had a code snippet for opening a new terminal window in the current Terminal directory. It was in AppleScript, and because it's what I do, I rewrote it in Mac::Glue, and also rewrote it to work in iTerm, whch is what I use.

I have for awhile wanted something similar for the Finder, but never got around to it. That is, open a terminal for whatever Finder window I am in. So ... here it is.

# Open a new terminal in the Finder cwd
use Mac::Files;
use Mac::Glue ':all';
my $finder = new Mac::Glue 'Finder';
my $cwd = $finder->prop(target => window => 1)->get(as => 'alias');
$cwd ||= FindFolder(kUserDomain, kDesktopFolderType); # default to Desktop
$cwd =~ s/'/'\\''/g;
my $iterm = new Mac::Glue 'iTerm';
my $term = $iterm->make(new => 'terminal');
$term->Launch(session => 'default');
$term->obj(session => 1)->write(text => "cd '$cwd'");

If you want to use Terminal, replace the lines about iTerm with these:

my $term = new Mac::Glue 'Terminal';
$term->do_script(with_command => "cd '$cwd'");

In Washington, Democrats usually get more money than Republicans for their campaigns. Not always, but the large majority of the time. One exception to this is the nonpartisan judicial races, where the "Republican" candidates often get a lot more money.

So now the Democratic Governor wants taxpayer-funded judicial elections. How much you wanna bet that if the Democratic candidates got more money, she wouldn't care?

I'll go along, Governor, if you don't limit it to judicial races. Why single those out, apart from your obvious bias? There's no actual logical reason. Sure, you might think money in judicial races is distasteful, but your thoughts are irrelevant: the law doesn't agree with you. It does not distinguish. People who say judicial races should not be political are saying the state Constitution is wrong, because it explicitly makes judicial races political.

If you want to make it so judges are not elected, let's talk about that. But as long as they are elected, they are political races, and should operate just like any other political races. slashdot.org

Ask Pudge 19: Pudge on Libby Jury?

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A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes.

  • 1 : Do you know any of the lawyers, or the defendant, in this case; have you had any dealings with their law firms; or have you heard anything about them?

  • 2 : The defendant, Mr. Libby is the former Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor of Vice President Cheney. Do you have feelings or opinions about the Bush Administration or any of its policies or actions, whether positive or negative, that might affect your ability to give a former member of the Bush Administration a fair trial?

  • 3 : In July 2003, there were press accounts discussing former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger (a country in Africa) and his criticism of the Bush Administration concerning the reasoning for the United States going to war in Iraq. In those accounts it was revealed that former Ambassador Wilson's wife (Valerie Plame) worked at the Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA). After the articles were published, a federal investigation commenced to determine whether any violations of the law had been committed by the disclosure to the news media, and if so, who disclosed the information. Arising out of this investigation, was the issuance of the grand jury indictment charging Mr. Libby, who as I indicated was Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor, with obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agents and a grand jury resulting from statements Mr. Libby made during the investigation. Do you personally know anything about this case?

  • 3b : Have you read or heard anything about this case in the news media?

  • 3c : Is there anything that I have said about this case that may affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case?

  • 4 : Do you know anyone else in the courtroom, including any of your fellow jurors?

  • 5 : Do you know any of the potential witnesses, and other individuals who may be mentioned during the trial?

  • 6 : Some of the possible witnesses will be former and present members of the Bush Administration, including Vice President Richard Cheney. Would the fact that former or present members of the Bush Administration will be witnesses in this case impair your ability to be a totally fair and impartial juror?

  • 6b : Would you have any difficulty fairly judging the believability of former or present members of the Bush Administration?

  • 6c1 : Do you have any feelings or opinions about Vice President Cheney, whether positive or negative, that might affect your ability to be fair in this case or that might affect your ability to fairly judge Vice President Cheney's believability?

  • 6c2 : Please describe any feelings you have about Vice President Cheney.

  • 6c3 : Sir?

  • 6c4 : Very well, please describe your thoughts about Vice President Cheney.

  • 6c5 : Based on what you know at this time, do you believe that the administration misled the American people to justify going to war?

  • 6c6 : Could you put the credibility of a Bush administration official on par with any of the other witnesses?

  • 6c7 : Have you been following any of the recent political scandals involving Jack Abramoff, William Jefferson, Tom DeLay, Cynthia McKinney, or Mark Foley?

  • 6c7 : Do you have particularly strong feelings about the war in Iraq?

  • 6c8 : Fine. Please describe your thoughts about the war in Iraq.

  • 6c9 : What is your political party preference? Democrat, Republican, Independent or other?

  • 6d1 : So you are a Republican, but you do not have a preference for the Republican Party, and that you favor the war in Iraq. And yet you believe you would be fair and impartial in this case?

  • 6d2 : If you were refereeing your son's basketball game, would you be a little bit more in favor of his team than the other team?

  • 7 : Several witnesses who will testify in this case are members of the news media. Would you have any difficulty fairly judging the believability of a person who is a member of the news media?

  • 7a1 : Do you read blogs?

  • 7a2 : Which ones?

  • 7a3 : What do you do for a living?

  • 7a4 : Wait, you work for a popular blog, but don't read blogs?

  • 7a5 : You have a degree in journalism? Did you ever work as a journalist?

  • 7a5a : When? Anywhere since college?

  • 7a5b : What types of stories have you covered?

  • 7a6 : Do you feel you would be biased too much in favor of journalists?

  • 7a7 : Do you feel you have any sympathy toward journalists that might bias you?

  • 8 : Do you feel that you might have any difficulty being fair and impartial in this case due to the race or ethnicity of anyone who is involved in this case?

  • 9 : Would you have any problems accepting and applying the legal principles of reasonable doubt, presumption of innocence, and burden of proof?

  • 10 : Do you feel that a defendant should have to prove his innocence?

  • 11 : Do you feel that merely because the defendant has been charged with criminal offenses in this case probably means that he is guilty?

  • 12 : Every defendant in a criminal case has the absolute right not to testify, and if a defendant decides not to testify, you cannot in any way hold that against him or consider his decision not to testify in deciding whether the government has proven that he is guilty. Could you accept and follow this principle of law?

  • 13 : A defendant is not required to call any witnesses. Would the decision by a defendant not to call witnesses cause you to conclude that he is guilty?

  • 14 : If you are selected as a juror in this case, you must have the ability and the willingness to discuss the facts of the case with your fellow jurors during the jury's deliberations. Do you think you can do this?

  • 15 : If you are selected as a juror in this case, you must have the ability to make your own independent decision about the defendant's guilt or innocence. Do you think you can do this?

  • 16 : If you are selected as a juror in this case, you will be instructed that if you find that the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt every element of an offense with which the defendant is charged, it is your duty to find the defendant guilty of that offense. On the other hand, if you find that the government has failed to prove any element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find the defendant not guilty of that offense. Would you have a problem following this instruction?

  • 17 : At this time, I want to ask you some questions about your beliefs or opinions about human memory. Do you believe that everyone's memory is like a tape recorder and therefore all individuals are able to remember exactly what they said and were told in the past?

  • 17b : Do you feel that a person could not honestly say something about a matter he or she truly believed to be the truth when that person several months earlier actually said something totally different about that same matter?

  • 17c : Do you believe that it is impossible for a person to mistakenly believe that he or she was told something by one person when in fact the person was actually told the information by someone totally different several months earlier?

  • 17d : Do you believe that it is absolutely impossible for a person to believe very strongly that he or she has certain memories about something, even though it is determined that those memories are inaccurate?

  • 18 : Would you have any difficulty fairly judging the credibility of a law enforcement witness?

  • 19 : Have you, close friends, or close relatives ever served as a law enforcement official or applied for employment for such a position (a police officer, law enforcement officer, prosecutor, prison guard or official, probation officer, parole officer, or a private security officer or guard)?

  • 20 : Have you, close friends, or relatives had interactions with the police or other law enforcement officials, whether positive or negative, that might impair your ability to give either side in this case a fair trial?

  • 21 : Are you a lawyer or have you ever studied law?

  • 22 : Have you, close friends or close relatives ever served as a defense attorney, defense investigator, or in some other capacity where you or they provided services to people charged with crimes, or applied for employment in such positions?

  • 23 : Do you have any feelings about prosecutors, defense lawyers or people accused of crimes that might affect your ability to be a fair juror in this case?

  • 24 : Have you or any of your close friends or relatives ever been employed or applied for employment with the CIA or any other national intelligence agency?

  • 25 : Have you ever held a position in which you had access to classified information?

  • 26 : Have you ever participated in any type of anti-crime activity or victims' rights organizations (neighborhood watch, the Orange Hats Program)?

  • 27 : Have you ever participated in any type of inmate assistance or ex-offender programs?

  • 28 : Have you ever participated in any efforts to either increase or lessen the punishment of individuals who are convicted of criminal offenses?

  • 29 : Have you ever served as a grand juror or a petit juror in a criminal case?

  • 30 : Have you, close friends, or close relatives ever been the victim of a crime, a witness to a crime, or someone charged with a crime, regardless of what may have happened to the case?

  • 31 : Do you have any religious, moral or philosophical beliefs that would affect your ability to sit as a juror in a criminal case and be fair and impartial to both the government and the defendant?

  • 32 : Do you have any health problems that might impair your ability to sit as a juror in this case?

  • 33 : Are you taking medication that might impair your ability to sit as a juror in this case?

  • 34 : Do you have any problems hearing or seeing?

  • 35 : Do you have any problems understanding or speaking the English language?

  • 36 : This trial could take up to 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Would you be unable to sit as a juror in this case due to the anticipated length of the trial?

  • 37 : I anticipate there will be a fair amount of news and other media coverage about this case. One of the things you will have to do if you are selected as a juror in this case is to avoid all contact with the news or other media coverage of this case. Therefore, throughout the trial, if you are a member of the jury, you will not be able to read the newspaper before it is screened by court staff and you will have to avoid watching or listening to the news and any other media programs. Do you think you would be unable to do these things if you were selected as a juror?

  • 38 : Do you for any reason feel you could not sit as a juror in this case and be fair to both parties?

  • 38a : Judge, I'd like to excuse this juror for cause. He knows and thinks way too much. Thank you, your honor. And thank you for your time, sir.



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A headline last night on NBC News was, "Why are gas prices staying up as oil prices drop?"

If we're going to force people to carry health insurance (I'm looking at you, MA and CA), can't we also force them to take an Econ 101 course? slashdot.org


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I am watching the local news last night, and there's a story about Port of Seattle cops who sent "racist" and pornographic emails to each other using government computers and so on.

From the story:

One of the videos sent from an officer to a friend shows a man laughing at and making derogatory remarks about Hispanic culture and a group of Latino men who want a job for the day.

"That's the good thing about (beep). They're always willing to work," he says.
Instead of taking the men to a job, he drives up to an INS office and honks the horn.

OK, um, nothing in the video they showed, or in this quote, is racist. Maybe it was racist, but I am not going to take their word for it. It's against illegal immigrants, as best I can tell, not any race. But it gets better/worse:

We showed the video to Roberto Maestas, director of El Centro de la Raza, a Seattle non-profit that's fought for equality for minorities and the Latino community for 35 years.

"I think it's sick, tragic, dehumanizing, to make fun of people, who all they want to do is work," said Maestas.

First of all, if you want to show me a group that will say this is bad, show me one with some credibility, not La Raza, which has some racist problems of its own. Second, he didn't even say it is racist, but merely against illegal workers.

And third, you actually want me to believe that it is a bad thing for police officers to think it is funny to mock people who are breaking the law? Are you serious?

Again, maybe there were some terrible racist things in those videos or emails, but I have been presented no evidence whatsoever to believe it.

However, there was porn sent around, and that's an open-and-shut case, really, so it's not like I am saying these cops did nothing wrong. Sending around the porn was just grade-A stupid. slashdot.org

The Tax-and-Spend Party

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It's official, the Democrats are now pushing a state income tax here in Washington. So, all you people who voted against local and state Republican candidates, or refused to vote for them, merely because of the war in Iraq or anything else that happens in DC ... you feel pretty good about that yet? slashdot.org


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In regards to YAPC::Houston, and the summer I spent there 15 years ago, I am reminded of the Chagall Guevara song "Take Me Back (To Love Canal)," which has the wonderful lyric:

Come on, little baby, you'll like it up there
The wide open space and the big blue air
You'd be surprised what you can get used to
When your only other choice is Houston

As heard last night on PBS NewsHour, from one of the designers of the MLK memorial they're building on the mall in Washington DC:

BONNIE FISHER, Roma Design Group: Well, if you look at the memorial as a whole and its location on the mall, you referred a little bit earlier to its relationship to the Jefferson, which is across the way on the Tidal Basin, and the Lincoln Memorial, which is very close by, if you were to draw a line between the Jefferson and the Lincoln Memorial, that line goes right through the new site for the Dr. King Memorial.

We tried to build on that axial linkage and express it in the entry experience so that one realizes that Dr. King is one of the most important democratic leaders of modern times, in equal footing to Jefferson, who was the author of the Declaration of Independence, and to Lincoln with his Gettysburg Address.

Um ... no?

OK, now I am more opposed to this thing than ever. MLK did and said some great things, but he is not on equal footing with Lincoln, let alone freaking Jefferson. Not even close. slashdot.org

The Gentleman from Massachusetts

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Many of you may have seen Barney Frank not letting Republicans speak on the floor of the House.

Many of my friends on the right think Frank was being unreasonable, a fascist, or whatever. They are wrong. Frank was in the right, totally, 100 percent. He was following the rules, and the Republicans were not. You may question Franks' motivation for strictly enforcing the rules at this time, but that's beside the point: you don't bring a knife to a gunfight. Learn the rules.

Maybe I am biased because, like Frank (my former Congressman, whom I campaigned against), I am from Massachusetts where we had annual town meetings and every year normal citizens would file into the school auditorium with their pet issues and these normal citizens would have Rules fights and the chairman would rule not on the issue, but on the following of the Rules. The Rules matter.

In MA we love the Rules, and no matter what your issue is, if you don't know or can't follow the Rules, that's your problem. Oh sure, for newbies we would bend the Rules a little, give them ample opportunity to do it right, and help them figure it out along the way. And indeed, that's what Frank did. He told them how they were wrong and gave them plenty of chances to do it right. He even told them how they could raise their issue within the Rules, which is the point: it's not about trying to shut anyone up.

If you don't know the Rules, don't blame anyone else but yourself if you can't get anything accomplished. And frankly, I am embarrassed by Rep. McHenry, who has been in Congress for two years now, and should know the Rules a lot better. slashdot.org


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The New England Patriots under Brady/Belichick have won all their playoff victories by three points, in years they went to the AFC Championship Game, except for games against Indy or Pittsburgh. In those four games against those two teams, instead of winning by a FG, they won by a TD, a TD and a FG, two TDs, and two TDs and a FG. Go see.

So Patriots over the Colts, by three TDs. I know that seems like a lot, but what else could it be? I suppose I could be reading the pattern incorrectly. Maybe two FGs? That would fit the drama of the occasion. Could also be one TD and two FGs.

And then, of course, Patriots over the Bears/Saints (probably Bears) by three in the Super Bowl. use.perl.org

We Are Not a Democracy So Stop It

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Overheard on a Sunday show today: the notion that Bush should consider pulling out, because, well, we just had a national election where people clearly expressed their preference for that.

I disagree with the fact presented in that question, but more importantly, the premise based upon that fact is utterly flawed. We do not have a democracy, we have a republic, and the reason we have an electoral college is first and foremost to insulate the President from the will of the people.

And seriously now, if we had the electoral college as it was meant to be (that is, based not on popular vote, but on legislative vote), we might not even have a President Bush today, even if he were elected in 2000. There is a very real chance the legislatures would have kicked Bush out in 2004, if given the chance.

But instead, the people chose, and they chose Bush. And he remains President until 2008, and he has no responsibility whatsoever to give a damn what the people think about anything he does.

It may be prudent for him to do it for political reasons, but he has no obligation to care, and I'd argue he has a responsibility to not care. Or at least, to not care to the point of necessarily agreeing with you. As the great 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." slashdot.org

Pretending to be Centrist

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Arnold Schwarzenegger's "new centrism" is, in fact, "old liberalism." I heard him talking about his new universal health care plan, and said that the new four percent tax he's proposing is not a tax even though it isn't, but that the cost of covering uninsured people, which actually is not a tax, is a "hidden tax."

He says he wants to "get things done" by working in the center but he's doing it by doing just what most liberals want to do. There's nothing centrist about it.

It's an old and boring trick, saying that you are a centrist, then picking a side and pretending that you're being sensible and moderate, when you're being no such thing.

It's like what the Democrats have done for the last few years on the whole, pretending to be centrist, in line with "the people," being the "reality-based community" and so on, when no such thing is remotely true.

One laughable (and sad) examples of this was last year in the Senate Intelligence Committee: there was no significant evidence that Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress had played a key role in America's decision to go to war, despite having fed us incorrect information, and there was plenty of evidence that it had not. The Committee's professional staff, the CIA, everyone said, nope, it didn't have a key role. As one CIA officer said, "If you're trying to say that the INC is the one that pushed us to go to war because of the WMD reporting, that's wrong."

But Senator Jay Rockefeller came up with his own, unsupported, alternate conclusion: "False information from the Iraqi National Congress (INC)-affiliated sources was used to support key Intelligence Community assessments on Iraq and was widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war."

With the help of Republican Senators Hagel and Snowe, Rockefeller's version won the day, prompting a nearly unprecedented reply from Pat Roberts, the Committee's chairman, who noted at the end of the official report: "These conclusions -- and the misconceptions they support -- are a myth." (See p. 130, although the whole section from pages 125 to 157 is enlighteneing.)

Again, I say: "reality-based, my ass." slashdot.org

Martin Luther King Day

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I am still against this holiday. I see no point in it. It's very un-American to me to honor a single man with an official holiday. I would strongly favor a day devoted to celebrating civil liberties, in which Dr. King would probably form a central place of honor along with other champions of civil liberties (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Eric S. Raymond ... ;-), but a day devoted to the man is nonsensical to me, and much moreso a whole monument devoted to him in the Mall at Washington D.C.

Last time I posted about this, I went into some detail about why holidays devoted to men are bad ideas. Nothing has changed, except that I am reminded of my dissastisfaction since the Day is tomorrow.

Arizona and New Hampshire -- two of our most liberty-loving states -- in fact call it Civil Rights Day. I prefer "civil liberties" because the term is generally broader, but "civil rights" works too. In Utah they call it Human Rights Day, which I dislike because of the political implications: "human rights" generally refers to leftwing international political ideology, despite the fact that all of us want to protect human rights.

Did you know MLK Day was originally promoted as a holiday promoting King's work with trade unions? Rep. Conyers even first introduced the idea in Congress for such a purpose. When that strategy failed miserably, they dropped it.

MLK Day was a stupid idea, and remains so. I know it's not popular to say such a thing, for fear of being branded a racist, so it's a good thing I don't care what anyone thinks about me, else this might not get said! Repeatedly! slashdot.org

Things I Want To Be Told

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Why do Democrats pretend they cannot revoke Bush's authorization for war in Iraq, and that their only power is the one of the purse?

Why is it acceptable for the Democrats to say it is a "false assumption" that more troops means more security, when they are asserting their own false assumption, that the proposal will necessarily fail?

Why does anyone at all think that the federal government should be responsible for minimum wage, when the states are obviously fully capable of deciding it on their own?

How does it actually matter, make any substantive difference at all, how many days a week that Congress will be in session, as long as they get the job done?

Why does anyone actually care that Pelosi is the first woman Speaker? What substantive meaning exists in this "accomplishment"?

I honestly want good answers to these questions, if any exist. :-) slashdot.org
A new episode of the superpodcast Ask Pudge is now online for your listening pleasure. Feel free to Ask new questions of Pudge here, for future episodes.

  • lottadot via email: What musical instruments do you play? How long have you been playing each? Which is your favorite to play?

  • brian d foy via email: Who's your favorite guitarist? Who was the best guitar player of all time?


Authorization to Go to Iran

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Senator Biden today made a big point that Bush, in his view, does not have authorization to send troops into Iran.

As best I can tell, he's wrong. He's right when he said the authorization for Iraq does not authorize Bush to send troops to Iran. But the War Powers Act, according to my understanding, gives the President the right to send troops pretty much anywhere, and get Congressional authorization later, else pull them out.

What's really funny to me about this, though, is that Biden says Bush can't go into Iran without Congressional authorization, yet just this Sunday, Biden was saying the only way Congress can force Bush out of Iraq is by cutting funding. That's almost self-evidently false: the very authorization that he says is required for Iran, that Congress passed for Iraq, may also be revoked. By a simple majority.

The Democrats don't want people to know that. They don't want their antiwar base to know the war could be over within about two months if the Democrats wanted to end it, without even cutting funding, because the Democrats know it's a bad idea to pull out of Iraq, and don't want to actually do it. slashdot.org

Bush's Military Plan

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I've heard not one convincing argument that Bush's plan has no chance to significantly increase Iraq's chances of having a stable government and country.

Because of that, I am in favor of it. Even if you think Iraq was a bad idea and that we shouldn't be there and so on, we owe it to Iraq, to our taxpayers, and to our soldiers to try to make this work, doing something that has a chance, that we've not tried.

Maybe if this fails, we go home. I dunno. But I am willing to give at least this one more chance.

I heard Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Adviser under Carter, who said that this is not a "military strategy, but a military tactic ... which is not going to alter the problems we confront," and that it is not a political strategy.

As to the latter, the political strategy remains unchanged: help create stability so Iraq can get down to fixing its problems. As to the former, the strategy is clear: the extra manpower gives you more ability to clear and hold, which is then going to help create the aforementioned stability.

I don't think the plan is perfect, but it seems like a reasonable one, that has a real chance of working. slashdot.org

Global Warming

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Say whatever you want about global warming, but, um, don't say that higher-than-normal temperatures in the Northeast right now have anything directly to do with it. You do realize that the temperatures have risen like 1.5 degrees over the past HUNDRED YEARS, right? You can't actually FEEL any difference, or notice it with your senses.

KTHX HAND HTH. slashdot.org
A Democratic legislator here in Washington state said that the drastic increase in the size of the state budget is not really a budget increase. Because, you see, the budget was both cut several years ago, and not allowed to grow much in other years, so it's not really increasing by tens of millions, it's just being adjusted to where it should have been all along.

One Democrat in DC this weekend said on a Sunday talk show that they were not going to raise taxes, but they might have to adjust the AMT in a revenue-neutral way ... that this would require taxes to go up for some people should not be misconstrued as a tax increase of any kind!

Says Governor Gregoire, she is not planning to spend more money on education and welfare and environmental cleanup. She explicitly denied she was spending, saying that, rather, she is "investing."

Also, I am not saying these Democrats are manipulative jerks. No. I am saying they are "snuggly."

State rep Hans Dunshee, ever the "intellectual," said that since they have the money, they are therefore going to send kids to college with it. "We do it in our families, we'll do it with the state budget."

Although his fellow 44th District rep Jon Lovick takes the cake this week. He said that to help curb ever-increasing car thefts, people could voluntarily put a sticker on their car that would give police permission to stop them and doublecheck to make sure their car is not stolen.

I made up none of the above. slashdot.org

Funny Poll

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Of course, almost all online polls are useless. But some are exceptional apart from being online. This one about Islam and America is funny because the questions are so bad. All require either a Yes or No response.

Do you consider Islam to be a peaceful religion?

Well, no. Nor do I consider it a violent religion. I don't think of it in such terms. So my answer is No, but is very different from many others who might answer No.

Do you consider Islam to be a tolerant religion?

See above.

Would America be a better country if it were a Muslim country?

No, but neither do I think it would be a better country if it were a Christian country.

Should America place equal emphasis on the Koran and the Bible?

No, but I don't think it should place any emphasis on either. Hm, I guess that means Yes, actually, since zero equals zero.

Would it be good for America to have more Muslims in elected offices?

No, but neither would it be bad.

Would you vote for a Muslim for president?

This is not a fair question: I cannot answer either Yes or No, unless I have a candidate to choose from. A better question might be something like, "would you exclude someone from your vote for President if they were Muslim?"

As a general rule, are women treated better in America than in a Muslim country?

It depends on what you mean by "better," and which Muslim country. Also, I don't know much about many Muslim countries (there's quite a few of them), so I can't even give an educated response.

Is America too dependent on Muslim countries for oil?

No, because we are as dependent as we should be, by definition. :-)

Do Muslim countries do more than America to help the poor?

How should I know? And by what standards? slashdot.org
Today there was a school shooting in Tacoma. One student died, apparently at the hands of another kid, an 18-year old student. Already, certain WA politicians are trying to say that we would be safer with more gun laws.

No matter that none of the laws they are proposing -- closing the so-called "gun show loophole," banning so-called "assault weapons," requiring trigger locks and safe storage of firearms -- would have prevented this killing: it was not an "assault weapon" but a handgun, and even if this gun was taken from someone who didn't lock it up, or was purchased through a "loophole," there's no reason to think the suspect couldn't have procured a similar weapon through other legal means.

This is just politicians exploiting a tragedy to push a tangential agenda. Nothing new there, I suppose.

But this is Washington. The Seattle Mayor said Washington has some of the "weakest" gun laws in the nation. Most Washingtonians think we have some of the best gun laws in the nation, and there's a good reason why the Democrat-controlled state legislature has largely stayed away from gun control legislation: they want to retain control of the legislature.

However, this, and the recent federal election, is cause for me to consider getting an "assault weapon" this year, before it's too late. I bought a gun in December, so we have three for the household (two Ruger handguns, one S&W). I want a shotgun next, but considering the political climate, it may be more prudent to get an AR-15 or somesuch first. slashdot.org

Mac-Glue-1.30 Released

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Mac-Glue-1.30 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

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

* v1.30, Wednesday, January 3, 2007
   Dynamically load application's scripting additions before sending event.

Posted using release by brian d foy.


Mac-Apps-Launch-1.93 Released

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Mac-Apps-Launch-1.93 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

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

* v1.93, Wednesday, January 3, 2007
   Bundle IDs can have non-alpha chars.

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

Breakfast With Laertes

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I just rented The Weird Al Show on DVD. It was a Saturday morning kids show in the 90s.

Episode 1 of this show is where I first saw/heard/heard of Barenaked Ladies. Except when Weird Al introduced them, I thought he said "Breakfast With Laertes." They played "Shoebox," and I instantly dug their music.

I don't know why I heard that. I couldn't rewind (no TiVo back then), and watching the DVD now, it seems obvious to me what he actually said. Google shows no other people who mention "Breakfast With Laertes." Maybe I will use it as an album title.

Also, I am the only person Google knows of who used "The December 1sts" to refer to "The Decemberists." slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

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

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