May 2007 Archives

In yesterday's Supreme Court decision about pay discrimination, Ginsburg wrote the dissent in which she claimed the majority was wrong because it failed to ignore the plain language of the law.

Title VII, the prevailing federal law, sets a limit at 120 days for filing a claim of illegal pay discrimination. This woman waited longer than that. So the court correctly threw it out.

But Ginsburg argued that the law should not be read as it is written (criticizing the majority's "parsimonious" reading of the law) because it makes it hard for people to sue.

And? It's not the Court's job to care. It's the Court's job to follow the law. But she does not care about the law, she cares about righting a perceived wrong:

Ginsburg said in court Tuesday for the dissenters, "In our view, this court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination." She noted that Ledbetter's pay started out comparable to what men were earning but slipped over time.
Translation: so what if the time limit ran out? She was discriminated against!

This type of jurisprudence is offensive to both our democracy and our republic. She disrespects the court by substituting her judgment of what the law should be for theirs, and disrespects the role of the court by trying to legislate.

She is, in my moderately informed opinion, the worst justice in the history of the Supreme Court. slashdot.org
NewsHour had a story the other night in which it noted that universal health care for children is being framed as a moral issue.

I agree, it is a moral issue: it is immoral for the federal government to pay for or otherwise control health care for kids.

The only way to do this is to violate our 10th Amendment rights. The only way to do that without amending the Constitution is to say that the Constitution does not have to be followed if we "outgrow" it or if the people simply don't want to. And there is no way to do that and still preserve our other Constitutional rights.

To favor federal spending on social programs, without amending the Constitution to allow it, is to say that the government is not obligated to recognize our Constitutional rights, and I firmly believe that is immoral.

And the anti-intellectualism in this debate is terrifying to me. People who stand up on stage and say the choice is between demolishing our Constitutional rights, or hating children enough to want them to go without health care. There are other choices: states can do it, and private businesses and charities can do it.

But not the federal government, not unless you amend the Constitution, because otherwise you are saying we effectively have no rights, including the right to free speech that some of you will exercise here to tell me that I'm an idiot. The right you're exercising to rip me a new one has no firm legal protection according to any philosophy that says the federal government can fund universal health care for children. slashdot.org
So Al Gore has a new book out called "The Assault on Reason," which is basically a book that claims that if you disagree with Gore, then you are abandoning reason and logic.

He must be listening to Janeane Garofalo too much.

And I am not exaggerating. His claims on Olbermann tonight were just amazing. At the same time he is attacking a lack of logic and reason in our public debate, he says that one of the results of the lack of respect for facts is "climate crisis [mistakes]." Al Gore himself has pushed many lies about climate change, and because we are not convinced by his lies, we are making a "mistake" due to a lack of respect for "facts."

He had more examples, including -- incredibly -- "eliminating the prohibition against torture." Except for the fact that there was no elimination of the prohibition against torture, and in fact, the prohibition against torture was reaffirmed under Bush.

So who isn't respecting the facts, Mr. Vice President?

And he actually claimed this whopper:

I think that our public airwaves, and more importantly the national conversation of democracy, if you will, now is dominated by elements that were not features of the conversation that our Founders expected that we would have, and a lot of the public forum is taken up not just with trivialities, but also with very cleverly constructed propagandistic mesasging that really doesn't take logic and reason into account.

There was never a Golden Age whene everything was all logical in the past, of course not, but the relative role of facts and logic and reason used to be much larger than it has become in the age of 30-second TV ads and the multi-screen experience.
Not expected? Hell, the Founders themselves passed the Sedition Act in a misguided attempt to deal with the very same "features of the conversation."

Indeed, throughout the 1790s, almost every newspaper was affiliated directly with one or the other political party. It was Vice President Thomas Jefferson who hired a scandalmonger to print lies about President John Adams.

Bill O'Reilly isn't unique, anymore than Benjamin Franklin-Bache was. We have Ann Coulter, they had Thomas Paine. We have Michael Moore, they had James Callendar.

There's nothing new under the sun, and it's shocking that Al Gore would actually think that our discourse wasn't dominated by "propaganda" at any time in our history.

OK, it's not that shocking. slashdot.org

Yojimbo Script for Setlist

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So I saw some Yojimbo scripts over at DF and I remembered I have a Yojimbo script I use quite a bit, to create a setlist in which I keep song lyrics and chords and so on.

The setup required is to change the $htmlfile variable for your location of the created setlist; create a "Music: Setlist" group in Yojimbo (which contains note items with titles for song names, tags for artist names, and the contents in the note [with an optional __BR__ text to force a column break, such as you can see in several of the songs).

And of course, you need Mac::Glue installed, and glues for Safari and Yojimbo created.

And you need a stylesheet, which you can get from the source in the finished file.

#!/usr/bin/perl
use warnings;
use strict;
 
use File::Spec::Functions;
use Mac::Glue;
use URI::file;
 
our($header, $mid, $footer);
init();
 
my(%setlist);
my $artists = $setlist{ARTIST} = {};
my $songs   = $setlist{SONG}   = {};
 
my $yojimbo = new Mac::Glue 'Yojimbo';
my $browser = new Mac::Glue 'Safari';
 
my $set = $yojimbo->obj(collection => 'Music: Setlist');
my $count = my @items = $set->obj('items')->get;
for my $item (@items) {
    my $song    = $item->prop('name')->get;
    my $text    = $item->prop('contents')->get;
    my($artist) = $item->prop(name => of => 'tag')->get;
 
    $text =~ s/(\015\012|\015|\012)/\n/g;
    my $key;
    $key = $1 if $text =~ s/^(\[.+\])\s+//s;
    (my $songlink   = $song)   =~ s/\W/_/g;
    (my $artistlink = $artist) =~ s/\W/_/g;
 
    push @{$artists->{$artist}}, $song;
    $songs->{$song}{artist} = $artist;
    $songs->{$song}{alink}  = $artistlink;
    $songs->{$song}{text}   = $text;
    $songs->{$song}{key}    = $key if $key;
    $songs->{$song}{link}   = $songlink;
}
 
$count += scalar(keys %$artists) * 2;
 
##########################
 
my $htmlfile = catfile(
    '/Users/pudge/MacOS/pudge/work/songs/music',
    'setlist.html'
);
my $uri = URI::file->new($htmlfile);
open my $fh, '>', $htmlfile;
 
##########################
 
print $fh $header;
 
my $c = 0;
my $d = 1;
for my $artist (sort keys %$artists) {
    my $artistr = $artists->{$artist};
    print $fh qq[\t<li><a name="$songs->{$artistr->[0]}{alink}">$artist</a>] ;
    print $fh qq[<ul class="setlist_inner">\n];
 
    for my $song (sort @$artistr) {
        my $songr = $songs->{$song};
        print $fh qq[\t\t<li class="setlist_inner"><a href="#$songr->{link}">$song</a>];
        print $fh " <i><small>$songr->{key}</small></i>" if $songr->{key};
        print $fh "</li>\n";
        $c++;
    }
    print $fh "\t</ul></li>\n";
    $c += 2;
 
    if ($c > $d*int($count/3)) {
        print $fh qq[</ul></div>\n<div class="wrapper"><ul class="col">\n];
        $d++;
        $c--;
    }
}
 
print $fh $mid;
 
for my $artist (sort keys %$artists) {
    my $artistr = $artists->{$artist};
    #print $fh "\t<h2>$artist</h2>\n";
 
    for my $song (sort @$artistr) {
        my $songr = $songs->{$song};
        my $text = $songr->{text};
        $text =~ s/</&lt;/g;
        $text =~ s|__BR__\s+|</pre><pre>|gs;
 
        print $fh qq[\t\t<h3><a name="$songr->{link}">$song</a>];
        print $fh qq[ <i>$songr->{key}</i>] if $songr->{key};
        print $fh qq[</h3>\n\t\t<a href="#top">Top</a>];
        print $fh qq[ | <a href="#$songr->{alink}">$artist</a>];
        print $fh qq[\n\n<pre>$text</pre>\n\n\n<hr>\n\n];
    }
}
 
print $fh $footer;
 
##########################
 
close $fh;
$browser->activate;
$browser->open_location ($uri->as_string);
 
##########################
   
sub init {
    $header = <<EOT;
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
        "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
    <title>Pudge Setlist</title>
    <link href="../style.css" rel="stylesheet">
</head>
<body style="font-size: 11px">
 
<h1><a name="top">Pudge Setlist</a></h1>
 
<div class="wrapper"><ul class="col">
EOT
 
    $mid = <<EOT;
</ul></div>
 
<div class="body">
 
EOT
 
    $footer = <<EOT;
<pre>__END__</pre>
</div>
</body>
</htm l>
EOT
 
}

use.perl.org

A Memory for Memorial Day

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I was watching the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (as I usually do around Memorial Day each year), and in watching Episode 3, I got curious about Albert Blithe, the paratrooper who struggles with fear after landing in France on D-Day.

I recalled seeing the man who played him, English actor Marc Warren, in an extremely odd Dr. Who episode last season, and I started thinking about the differences between the two characters, and some slight imperfections in his accent, and so I looked up more information about the actor, and the man he was playing.

The miniseries notes that Albert Blithe never recovered from a shot to the neck shortly after D-Day, and died from his wounds in 1948. He did not.

In fact, though Blithe was portrayed in the show as a young man who was crippled by fear and never did much remarkable -- getting shot mere weeks after D-Day -- Blithe actually went on to a distinguished military career.

He was honorably discharged in 1949, and went on to serve in Korea, jumping over 600 times, being named Paratrooper of the Year, and being awarded two more Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, and a Silver Star, and achieving the rank of Master Sergeant.

He retired from the military in 1963, but was back for a third time in 1967. He died later that year in Germany of kidney failure -- shortly after participating in a commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge, in which his division, the 101st Airborne, famously helped hold the line against the Germans -- and was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetary.

His family must have been quite upset at seeing Blithe's career misrepresented -- not that the events in France were grossly misrepresented (apart from his really being shot in the shoulder, not in the neck), but his distinguished career following was blotted out -- but at least now, the truth is out there.

Thanks to Albert Blithe and all those who have served. slashdot.org

The Democrats Did Not "Cave"

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I've heard reporter after reporter and pundit after pundit complain that the Democrats caved by passing a war spending bill with no requirements for pulling out.

They are all wrong.

The Democrats said up front, all along, that this is what they would do. They said they would pass a bill requiring a pullout, but at the end of the day, they would make sure the troops got funded. They knew Bush was going to veto any requirements for pulling out, so they knew they would at the end pass a bill with no such requirements. This was their plan all along, from the beginning. They did precisely what they planned to do, and what they said they would do.

Not that I mind the far left being angry. I like it. So feel free to disagree with me, if it will result in making the left more angry at the Democrats! slashdot.org

Pudge Is A Bad Man

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Long before the All-Star Voting thing or Jesux, I was in high school and played one of my best pranks ever.

It was my senior year, and the school's literary magazine was accepting submissions. I submitted a few under my own name. Ironically, the point of the ones they accepted was that imagery and symbolism are nonsense, which was a direct assault on most of the works in the magazine. But that wasn't a prank, I just liked those verses, which happened to be from a song I wrote called Images (live performances by my band available at that link).

I decided (in keeping with the aforementioned anti-imagery in Images) to write the worst poem that I could, and submit it. I don't remember exactly how I decided to write it, whether it was free-from or whether I came up with theme first, but the result was pure crap. I submitted it under a pseudonym, and ... it was chosen for the very last page of the literary magazine, which, as you may know, is normally reserved for the best, most poignant, piece.

When I saw it, I was in English class and I laughed out loud and told a friend what happened. One of the editors of the magazine overheard what I said. She probably still hates me to this day, but man, it was funny.

Without further ado, here's the crappy poem I wrote:

Roofers

closing in, allowed to fall
Night sweeps over the land like the
blanket I pull over my
quavering head.
Things I have done
Dreams
        (nightmares)
                I have acted out
haunt my soul
shout my sin like so many
roofers,
        stepping
                dropping things
                        (nightmares)
                                on the
roof
        (conscience)
sins I have forgotten reform as
debris, falling through the
air-conditioning vent
reminding me
not letting Me
forget
the
        (sin)
                debris.

--Randolph Hsilgne slashdot.org
A kid's magician, Jack Turk, is the GOP candidate for County Executive.

        http://www.kidzwiz.com/
        http://www.turk2007.com/

There's been a lot of grumbling over at Sound Politics, but from what I know so far I think he's a very good candidate. Maybe he won't win. Maybe he doesn't have "a chance" to win. But he seems like a great guy, a smart guy, a Republican guy, and he can -- if we help -- bring a lot of energy and excitement to the party and the race. slashdot.org
I posted a music video for my song "George Bush is Hitler." This version contains an all-new exclusive verse: "Bush is Bin Laden"! slashdot.org

George Bush is Hitler

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Everybody knows George Bush is Hitler. And Big Brother. And Bin Laden. If only we had any freedoms left, we could complain about how bad he is! See http://pudge.net/tunes for more music.

Sex Offender

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I got a notice that a 15-year-old boy is being released into my neighborhood as a sex offender. He was convicted last summer of Residential Burglary with Sexual Motivation.

I went online to get more details. The county web site notes, "This conviction was the result of [him] entering the residence of a known neighbor, viewing pornography on the victim's computer and masturbating."

There is a little more to it, apparently. The kid is obviously disturbed. "[He] has admitted to going into this residence on several occasions doing the same thing. Previously in 2005 [he] was convicted of Residential Burglary for the same behavior and was given a deferred sentence. As a result of that conviction [he] attended Sexually Aggressive Youth treatment. After four months the deferred sentence was revoked due to inappropriate sexual behavior."

Still, I think I'll worry less about him, than the child rapist who lives nearby. He admitted to raping four children between 2 and 13, some of them over a period of five years, and he served a whole 28 weeks in juvenile detention in 1993. He was found guilty with failing to register as a sex offender when he was 20, in 1998, but served no additional time. slashdot.org

George Bush justified the sweeping expansion of FISA back in October of 2001 by insisting that the changes allowed full-scale surveillance of all modern means of communications -- including email and cell phones.

Yet now, his own Director of National Intelligence, when seeking still further expansions of the government's surveillance powers, goes to the Washington Post and flat-out says that FISA has not been changed since 1978 and has not been updated to reflect technological changes such as cell phones and email.


Except that Mike McConnell said no such thing, "flat-out" or otherwise. What he said was that it has not been changed "to reflect technological advancements," not that it has not been changed at all.

The thing I don't understand is that Greenwald is a lawyer and a writer, so how can he make so many language mistakes, if that's all things like this are? And he actually may have a decent point here, so why screw up that point by saying something that is blatantly untrue?

Reality-based community, my ass. slashdot.org

Typical Michael Moore

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See the details here, but basically, Michael Moore anonymously donated $12,000 to a guy who runs an anti-Moore website, to help pay for the guy's wife's medical expenses. Then, predictably, Moore includes that in his new documentary about health care.

"I want him to know that it was done with all the best intentions," said Moore. That is self-evidently false: if it were true, Moore would not have included it in his movie. Period, end of story. The best of intentions would be to simply help out a guy who could use help, without thinking of yourself or scoring political points at all. slashdot.org

RINO

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So how is Romney, McCain, or Giuliani a "Republican In Name Only" compared to former Republican Presidents like Roosevelt, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, or either Bush?

Just wondering here, because I am not seeing it. All three men are at least as conservative than any of the above former Presidents, and probably moreso.

I do wish all three were even more conservative. But to say they are RINOs is nonsense. It's to take the word "Republican" and turn it into something it has never, in 150 years, actually meant: a "right-wing conservative." slashdot.org
So a deal was reached today regarding immigration. Surely, this will bring claims of "amnesty" and counterclaims of "no, it's not." This is a very simple question to answer, theoretically: you just look at the definition of the word and see if it applies.

The problem is, of course, people use different definitions for the word. Some people say it means any time when, for a group of people, the government removes the possibility of penalty being applied.

Black's Law Dictionary (first edition, 1891, as well as the second, 1910*) says that amnesty is a "sovereign act of pardon and oblivion for past acts ... ." That is, not just a pardon, which is the act of not producing a penalty, but oblivion. That's what the Greek root of the word amnestia (which also produces our word amnesia) means. To forget, not merely to forgive. Indeed, forgiveness is not even necessary, because it is though the act never happened. Black's continues:

"Amnesty" and "pardon" are very different. The former is an act of the sovereign power, the object of which is to efface and to cause to be forgotten a crime or misdemeanor; the latter is an act of the same authority, which exempts this individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for the crime he has committed.
(It may also be worthy of note that the mere fact of being an illegal immigrant is neither a crime nor a misdemeanor, but that's beside the point here, as it still is an offense that carries a penalty.)

According to that traditional definition, then, an act which merely forgives, but still remembers the offense, is not amnesty. As this bill requires a $5,000 fine for being here illegally, in order to remain legally, it is not, according to that definition, amnesty, because there is no oblivion. It is forgiveness, not forgetfulness.

I know, English is pliable, and definitions can change. There is modern evidence that the definition of amnesty has changed somewhat over the years. However, why use the word amnesty at all? If the point is to inform, then why keep shouting "amnesty! amnesty!" which will often end up being misleading, to any of the many Americans who (for good reason) might believe "amnesty" means something different?

If you think they should be deported, just say, you think they should be deported. If you think the fines or penalties should be higher or different, then say that. Saying it is amnesty is at best confusing because your definition is contradictory with many others. Tell me specifically what is wrong with it, and what you would rather the bill do.

As best I see it, there's two viable options. This one, which involves legalizing millions of currently illegal aliens, and the one favored by many others, which would keep everyone just as illegal as they are now, but crack down on both employers who hire them, and deport some of the illegal aliens too.

I come down in the middle. I do not like unfettered immigration -- I think it causes serious social and economic problems when left unchecked, as it has been in the American Southwest for decades -- but I do think we should be allowing a lot more legal aliens into this country to live and work, and that part of the cause of the problem for where we are now is inefficiency in our immigration system and quotas that are way too low.

I don't know what I think about the new bill. But I want whatever opinion I come up with to be based on a careful examination of the facts of the bill, not a characterization based on scarewords.

* I downloaded Black's Law Dictionary editions 1 and 2 via BitTorrent. It's a lame set of JPEGs and HTML pages. But it's free. And it's in the public domain. And the index works. You can't grep it, so it's not much better than a dead tree, but still.

slashdot.org

Pudge Pwns PBS

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Search for "Nandor". They posted the e-mail I mentioned previously.

The funny thing is that all of the respondents except for me criticized only the right-winger, when the Soltz guy was really bad too. An interruption, several ad hominems, irrational appeals to authority, accusations of undermining, and more. Note the Executive Producer's reply, which -- like me -- criticized both guests for interruptions and producing more "heat" than "light." And the transcript shows that both of them were bad.

So why did the readers criticize -- except for me, of course -- her, exclusively, and not him?, Pudge asked rhetorically. slashdot.org
I don't know if Gruber-man ever came up with a solution to the unscriptable tabs, I have a workaround.

You cannot use Apple events to get every URL of every open document in Safari: the documents in nonvisible tabs are unavailable. So this workaround uses UI Scripting (turn it on in System Preferences -> Universal Access -> Enable access for assistive devices) to flip through the tabs. It (perhaps unreliably, if you have the same URL open in more than one tab) stops when the first URL fetched is equal to the last.

It does this for each window, then closes the window and moves on (it is not a simple matter to switch windows, and since I use this for quitting Safari, I want the windows closed anyway). It then simply prints out all the URLs into a Data::Dumper data structure.

#!/usr/bin/perl
use warnings;
use strict;
 
use Mac::Glue ':all';
 
my $safari = new Mac::Glue 'Safari';
my $sysevt = new Mac::Glue 'System Events';
 
my $next_tab = $sysevt->obj(
    menu_item               => 'Select Next Tab',
    menu                    => 1,
    menu_bar_item           => 'Window',
    menu_bar                => 1,
    application_process     => 'Safari'
);
 
$safari->activate;
 
my @windows;
my $win = 0;
 
my $windows = $safari->obj('windows');
for my $window ($windows->get) {
    my $url;
    while (defined(my $url = get_doc_url($window))) {
        push @{$windows[$win]}, $url if length $url;
    }
    $win++ if defined $windows[$win];
    $window->close;
}
 
use Data::Dumper;
print Dumper \@windows;
 
sub get_doc_url {
    my($window) = @_;
    my $document = $window->prop('document')->get;
    return unless $document;
 
    my $url = $document->prop('url')->get;
    $url = '' unless defined($url);
    return if @windows && $windows[$win] && @{$windows[$win]} &&
        $url eq $windows[$win][0];
 
    $next_tab->click;
 
    return $url;
}

Then you can do what you want the data structure. Here's what I do:

#!/usr/bin/perl
use warnings;
use strict;
 
use Mac::Glue ':all';
 
my $safari = new Mac::Glue 'Safari';
 
$safari->activate;
 
sub open_windows {
    my($windows) = @_;
    for my $window (@$windows) {
        $safari->make(new => 'document'); sleep 2;
        $safari->open_location($_) for @$window;
    }
 
}
 
my $VAR1;
 
$VAR1 = [
          [
            'http://pudge.net/',
            'http://pudge.net/tunes/'
          ],
          [
            'http://projects.pudge.net/'
          ]
        ];
 
open_windows($VAR1);

Saving and restoring to a file instead of copying/pasting the data structure is an exercise left to the reader. use.perl.org
So Michael Moore and Fred Thompson are going back and forth over Moore's trip to Cuba. Moore challenges Thompson to a debate on health care. Thompson responds.

Vote Fred! slashdot.org
Joel Connelly in the Seattle P-I wrote about how people who don't want federal arts funding are like Nazis.

No, I am not exaggerating, read it yourself.

So I reply to him via e-mail:

You do realize, of course, that federal arts funding is a violation of our civil rights?

That would be the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. It says the federal government can only do what the Constitution says it can do. And there's nothing in Article I, Section 8 that states (or, as per the "elastic clause," implies) that the federal government has any authority to fund the arts.

You can compare people who want to get rid of all federal arts funding to the Nazis, but it seems to me that you're the one who favors taking away my civil liberties as enshrined in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.


His short reply was amazingly ignorant:

If what you said had the least bit of truth to it, the Supreme Court would have been asked log ago to rule on legality of NEA.


*headdesk*

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes on the subject, from James Madison:

If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.


Of course, many people today want an indefinitely powerful federal government, subject to particular exceptions. Their first response is often, "the Constitution doesn't specifically prohibit it, so it is allowed." They believe the Tenth Amendment does not actually mean what it says. This essentially unlimited form of government was deemed by Madison and his contemporaries -- as well as by me and most libertarians and conservatives -- as antithetical to liberty, and as blatantly unconstitutional. slashdot.org
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has a video statement criticizing the Democratic governor of Washington for signing a bill from the Democrat-controlled legislature that allows the Democrat-controlled teacher union to use mandatory non-member union dues to get those same Democratic legislators and governor elected, without permission from the non-members.

Voters in Washington outlawed this practice. The state Supreme Court incredibly said the voter initiative violated the right of the union. The EFF appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the case has been heard, and most people think the SCOTUS will rule against the WA Court. So the Democrats, recognizing they are about to lose some free money for themselves, overturned the voter initiative, thereby nullifying the coming Supreme Court decision. (And they pretended that this was an "emergency" law, that the public's peace, health, or safety was imminently threatened unless this bill was passed, so that it could not be challenged by voters; this blatantly unconstitutional abuse, however, is not a matter for the SCOTUS, being purely a state constitution matter.)

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will hear the next suit the EFF brings, directly challenging the authority of the state to force employees to do this. The comments the judges made during the testimony on the current case was widely seen as not just against the notion that the law banning the practice was unconstitutional, but also seemed to be against the practice itself.

I would also not be surprised to see one or more justice reference this new law in the decision, and perhaps signal their view of it.

See http://www.teachers-vs-union.org/ for more information. This is really one of the most blatantly corrupt bills I've ever seen. Literally, one political party is forcing government employees to give money to get that party elected. slashdot.org

Vote Vets (or Don't)

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So there's this ad from Vote Vets, an antiwar organization, that stars General Batiste claiming (incorrectly) that Bush did not listen to the requests of his commanders on the ground, and that Bush is continuing a failed strategy.

Whatever. People, including generals, say incorrect things all the time. But this General happens to have been a paid news consultant for CBS. And they didn't like his overt opposition to the war, as it reduced their own integrity, so they fired him. As they should have.

There's some concern about other consultants who favor the war. I don't know anything about those and I don't care. If they should be fired too, so be it.

But the reason I am mentioning this is because I saw the head of Vote Vets on PBS NewsHour the other day, and due to his misbehavior, he is being "fired" (i.e., won't be allowed back on) that program. Apparently their leader, not just their high-profile spokesman, has issues too.

My e-mail to the PBS Ombudsman on May 9:

The May 8 "debate" between Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org and Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward was one of the worst such segments I've seen on NewsHour in awhile. I turn to NewsHour to escape the shouting heads pervasive on the 24-hour news networks.

Between Solz's offensive insistence that he represents "the troops" (when in fact, many of the troops vehemently disagree with his views), and Morgan's insistence that the Democrats don't want victory (merely because they want to fund it only six months at a time), and their nasty and disrespectful attitudes toward each other and the viewers, I was sickened by the whole display.

If I wanted red herrings, straw men, ad hominems, and other such nonsense I wouldn't be watching NewsHour.


The reply I received the next day:

Dear Mr. Nandor:

Thank you for writing to us. We asked Linda Winslow, the executive producer of The NewsHour, about the interview that aired last night and here is her response:

Last night the NewsHour attempted to help our viewers understand why the members of Congress are having so much difficulty arriving at a decision regarding the way forward in Iraq. We believe the intensity of the pressure being exerted on Democrats and Republicans by the "wings" of their respective parties is having an impact on those who are looking for some sort of compromise position. We decided to let representatives of those wings explain their positions, hoping they would participate in a dialogue with us and each other. As our guests demonstrated, however, that was a forlorn hope and the result was a lot of heat, but very little light.

Since neither guest was in the studio with Judy Woodruff, there wasn't much she could do to prevent them from interrupting one another, short of saying --as she did at least three times -- "please let him/her finish his/her point". The NewsHour style is to ask pointed questions politely; we expect our guests to subscribe to the same rules. Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun; what we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again.

Sincerely,
Linda Winslow
Executive Producer
The NewHour with Jim Lehrer
slashdot.org
I've posted before about how Janeane Garofalo is stupid. Here's another one.

I am watching Henry Rollins tonight, and she has her own little bit that she does on there. She is rambling about her dog and how they wear this thing that some people think is a muzzle, and how it's not, and they are scared by her dogs because of their misunderstanding. "And therein lies the problem of the conservative movement in general, and the conservative ideology."

Ooooooo K.

"It is buttressed and girded by misperception," she says. Then she reads off some quote, "'We contemplate the meaning of right mindfulness, right view, right intention, right understanding. Self-reflection means genuinely asking what are we doing, and why are we doing it?' That is exactly NOT, NOT the modus operandi of the ruling Republican body of this country, the ruling Republican ethos of the news media, and, unfortunately, for about fifty percent of the population, how they live their life. They are actually anti-self-reflective, anti-socially responsible, and genuniely disinterested. They seem to have a genuine distaste for evidence."

Translation: if you are in the half of the country that disagrees with Jeneane Garofalo, then you aren't thoughtful or reflective or responsible and you are ignoring the truth. But if you do agree with her then you are an enlightened person.

Of course, these sorts of ignorant logical fallacies -- ad hominem + question-begging = closed-minded self-righteousness -- are precisely her own modus operandi.

She probably likes to use the idiotic term 'reality-based community,' too. slashdot.org

Cell Phones While Driving

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The news said tonight that using a cell phone is as dangerous as driving while drunk.

Except, um, no, it's not.

There is absolutely no difference between talking on a phone, talking on a hands-free headset, and talking to an actual, you know, LIVE PERSON IN YOUR CAR.

Washington just passed a law making it illegal to talk on a cell phone. No word yet on whether listening to music or talking to a passenger will remain legal. (Hm ... now that I think about it ... the Democrats in WA who hate local talk radio maybe would want to ban the use of radios in cars. Except they would probably only ban conservative radio, on the grounds that it tends to contribute more to road rage than NPR does.)

Stupid nannystatists. slashdot.org

Pudge's song "You're Clueless" is "dedicated to Boo the waterhole sneak, Stacy for telegraphing the vote, and Cassandra for pitching in with Dreamz."

Suvivor Fans Podcast: Fiji Episode 13

There are two definitions of "cult." The more common one is pejorative, and is intended to imply that the religion is bogus (or seriously questionable at best), and perhaps that its adherents are brainwashed or duped.

That is not the definition I am using.

The traditional definition I am using, and that many scholars use when they call Mormonism a cult, only refers to the actual beliefs of a particular sect in relation to its parent religion. Mormonism is a cult of Christianity because Mormonism is an offshoot of Christianity that is different in significant enough ways that you can't really call Mormons Christians.

So for example, Mormons believe that there are multiple Gods; that God was once a man; that the Trinity is three separate Gods; that Jesus was not born of a virgin; and so on. Mormons simply are not Christians. Or at least, they do not share the same essential religious beliefs as Catholics and Protestants.

So because Mormonism is an offshoot of Christianity, yet it is not Christianity, Mormonism is therefore a cult of Christianity.

In a similar way, many people think Christianity is a cult of Judaism. The case is a bit less obvious in some ways, but you could just note the fact that Jews do not believe Christ is the Messiah, and Christians do.

This is not a value judgment of the particular religious views. It is a mostly objective look at the differences between related views, with the only real subjectivity of the matter coming in saying whether the differences are significant enough to call one a cult of the other.

I just throw this out there for two reasons. First, because Al Sharpton said Mormons are Christians. They aren't. He does not understand one or both religions to claim that.

Second, because the word "cult" gets thrown around a lot, and sometimes people take offense to it when they shouldn't. I could make the case, for example, that Christianity is not a cult of Judaism because it is a mere fulfillment of Judaism. Many Jews, of course, would disagree. But I shouldn't take an assertion that Christianity is a cult of Judaism as an offense; it's merely a claim that Judaism disagrees in some fundamental ways with Christianity.

Of course, some people probably do call Mormonism a cult in the pejorative sense. But some people say that George Bush is Hitler, so what some people say can be pretty stupid.

I am watching Christopher Hitchens on CNN right now. He says we would be better off without religion. Too bad he can't actually rationally argue the point, since all of his examples are neither unique nor universal to religion. It would be like me pointing out all the ills of Democrats and saying we would be better off without Democrats. Except, of course, that not all Democrats think or do those stupid things, and if we did get rid of the Democrats, other people would come along and do the same stupid things. Without religion, we would still have people doing the same stupid things, just for different reasons.

For example, Hitchens says religion has to "try and impose itself on others." This is quite clearly not true; some religions are not at all evangelical, and most people -- in this country -- don't think merely offering to discuss religion is a serious imposition. And of course, this is not dissimilar from any special interest group, from the ACLU to the NRA to PETA. It's not a religious thing.

He gives an example of the Pope saying we shouldn't give people condoms in Africa to combat AIDS. But that is not religion. That is one man's view of how religion should be implemented. Someone could have the opposite view, that religion dictates we should give them condoms to combat AIDS. And an atheist could have the view that we should simply let them all die and not waste our time and money.

He talked about death threats for cartoonists in Denmark. Yet enviromental terrorists have killed, completely apart from any religious beliefs, and most religious people would never consider threatening anyone's life for drawing a cartoon.

Hitchens made not a single valid claim against religion, or the nature of religion, but merely certain cherry-picked implementations of religion. Of course, the same goes for every single person who has ever tried to attack religion as a whole.

Hitchens and Dawkins and the other irrational haters of religion are a cult, too. But in the pejorative sense: their views are bogus, and most of the adherents to the view are duped. slashdot.org

Suffolk 'n' Cool 064

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SnC plays Pudge's "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday." They write, "I'm sure that someone will be looking to take offence at this comedy song. Such a rarity on SnC. It just made me giggle - I suspect out of relief that maybe, just maybe we are coming to the end of the obligatory furrowed brows and downcast eyes at the very mention of 11th September. If anyone is or wants to be offended, I would suggest that they are very brave and face it, lots worse things than offence happen at sea. Oh dear, maybe that's offensive too."

Suffolk 'n' Cool 064

Democrats and Timetables

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I am not crazy about the Democratic plan to have a bill to fund the war, but only for a few months if certain conditions are not met. I would proobably vote against it in the Congress. But I think I would sign it if I were President: it doesn't weaken the President's position, it funds the war for now. I suppose if Bush was confident he could get a better bill, a veto might be forthcoming, but ... beggars can't be choosers.

slashdot.org

Bush is a King?

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What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike [(a king and a President)] resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism. -- James Madison, Federalist 69

slashdot.org

Lil' Bush

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There's a new show on Comedy Central, apparently an animated sitcom, called Lil' Bush. All I know about it is the short commercial, which has a comically undersized Bush saying, "Ladies and Americans,d o you hate books? Well, me too. Best thing about my new show? It's not a book." Then he adds, "Watch my show or the terrorists win."

The first part wasn't very funny. Ha ha ha Bush doesn't read and he makes verbal gaffes. The last part was just retarded. What is this, 2003? "Do X or the terrorists win" was old years ago. I would expect such a ham-handed attempt at comedy from some networks, but this is supposed to be the comedy network. What gives?

slashdot.org

Firing Atheists

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There was a story in the news recently where someone was allegedly fired for being an atheist.

I can understand -- and agree with -- people who find that to be distasteful. But this was a private business. As best I can tell, the First Amendment guarantees us the right to discriminate against other people's views, through the implied right to free association.

As the Court has put it, "the freedom to join together in furtherance of common political beliefs ... necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitute the association, and to limit the association to those people only." And of course, there is absolutely no reason why I cannot consider my business as an association to further my political beliefs, even if it is merely an auto body shop or a farm.

As such, I fully support the right to fire atheists, and anyone else, for any reason, with two exceptions: women, and ethnic minorities. I hope someday even those antidiscrimination laws will be unnecessary, but given our history of institutionalized discrimination, I believe such policies are good ones, for at least another generation or so. But firing atheists? Christians? Muslims? Jews? Fatties? Gays? Straights? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I believe firmly that is your civil right.

If you're not convinced ... well, wouldn't you want to be able to fire people like this, the fun-filled folks from God Hates Fags? (Their Bush is a Fag Pimp movie is particularly inspired, and God Hates the World is indistinguishable from parody.) I sure would want to fire them. And don't tell me "well, that's just firing people not for their religion, but how they express it, or because they are hateful, or intolerant": that's just shifting an arbitrary line. I could say (but wouldn't, as I don't think it is true) that Muslims are inherently intolerant, or that atheists are not smart enough to see the truth. It's entirely subjective at that point.

There's no reasonable legal guideline to follow for what beliefs are good or bad: so, either you can fire people because of their religious beliefs, or you can't. And if you can't, then you can be forced to hire people who think "God Hates Fags" and that the Creator is bringing judgment upon us all for allowing gays to freely walk among us.

While I am on the subject of gays and workplace discrimination, Congress is working on a bill to ban workplace discrimination of people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I am absolutely against this, mostly for the reason I mentioned above. The only reason I support protection for women and minorities is because of our long national history of institutionalized discrimination, and for another generation or two, I strongly believe that this is an effective way to help combat the social problems created by that discrimination. I see no such justification for antidiscrimination laws for gays, fatties, or even people of alternative religious beliefs. As such, I cannot support such restrictions on our First Amendment liberties.

I don't like the idea of firing because of religion or sexual orientation. Other than working at an explicitly religious or political institution, I would never fire (or not-hire) someone merely because of their religious, cultural, or political views. Indeed, I know many atheists and gays and others whom I would hire in a second if I had the opportunity. But I dislike more the idea that the government would dare tell us we are not allowed to fire because of religion, because that is a simple and clear violation of our civil liberties. This country is plenty big: go somewhere else.

Yes, it sucks. I would hate to be fired from my job because of my political or religious views. And I would likely be quite angry at the company for it. But it's not the government's place to tell them they can't do it. The First Amendment prohibits it.

slashdot.org

Under the Carpet Music #9

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Under the Carpet Music plays "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday" by Pudge.

Under the Carpet Music #9

Multiple Sclerosis Blog plays "You're Clueless" by Pudge.

Multiple Sclerosis Blog 0144 - Get a Cluj

Disciple c. 1990

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I was in a band many moons ago called Disciple. I've put up some music and videos circa 1990.

Good times.

The band started in '87 (oh my ... that was 20 years ago). I did lead vocals and guitars, Hobbes did lead guitar and lead vocals. Robbie was on drums. Ian came on to play bass a little later, freeing me up to do guitar.

The videos and songs are all live, except for "Actions Speak Louder Than Words," which was recorded in the studio (without me!).

I am working on recording some of the songs again, with Hobbes and Ian, all over the Internet. Using GarageBand, probably. use.perl.org
From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18466213/:

Described as a road map for curbing global warming, a report was approved Friday by delegates from 120 countries that lays out what they said was an affordable arsenal of tools that must be rushed into place to avert a disastrous spike in temperatures.

But a U.S. official raised concern about the economic costs.

The report, a summary of a study by a U.N. network of 2,000 scientists, said the world has to make significant cuts in emissions through increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable fuels, and reforming both the forestry and farming sectors.

The document made clear that nations have the technology and money to decisively act in time to avoid a sharp rise in temperatures that scientists say would wipe out species, raise ocean levels, wreak economic havoc and trigger droughts in some places and flooding in others.

...

Delegates said the approval of the report should conclusively debunk arguments by skeptics that combating global warming was too costly, that it would stifle development in poorer countries, or that the temperature rise had gone too far to change.


What I want to know is, how can the conclusions of scientists possibly debunk -- let alone do so conclusively -- fundamentally economic claims?

For crying out loud, this is economics: how can anything be conclusive anyway? Even if they were economists and not scientists? That they would even claim it is conclusive make me question their motives and judgment.

Now Playing: The Beach Boys - Surf's Up
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today she hopes President Bush will "listen to the American people" by signing the bill to withdraw troops.

Except the American people elected Bush, while we were at war with Iraq, to continue to give him the veto and the role of Commander in Chief.

Senator Barbara Boxer said, "He acts as if he is a one-man show when it comes to Iraq. And, Mr. President, the American people said no to that this past election. And yet it continues, as if there's no Congress, there's been no election, there's been no change of heart by the American people, when, in fact, there's been an enormous change of heart by the American people."

Not as far as our government is concerned, no, there has been no change of heart. There is not a jot of hard evidence of this. We did not have a referendum on the war, even if you choose to want to frame it that way. People voted against (or chose not to vote for) Republicans for many reasons, not all of them related to the war.

But even if you don't believe that (not sure why you wouldn't, but whatever), it doesn't change the fact that the American people elected Bush as President, and explicitly gave him the authority to be President, with the intent that he would, for four years, do what he thought was best without swaying in the wind of public opinion as Congress does.

That's the major point of having a President, of having him serve for four years, and of having his election dependent primarily on electors instead of individual voters: to keep him insulated from changes of popular opinion. And the people elected him to fulfill that role.

In a very real sense, "listening to the American people" requires -- for the President -- to not "listen to the American people," but to do what he thinks is best. Congress operates under different rules; it is right and proper for them to usually do what their constituents want, especially in the House. But the President most definitely should not follow suit (and, frankly, neither should the Senate).

We, the people, elected Bush. It is not right, proper, or just to demand he follow our changing whims. It is right, proper, and just for him to veto a bill that he believes takes away his proper authority and judgment as Commander in Chief, if he believes it is the wrong thing to do.

You can think Bush is wrong. And you can elect someone else to replace him in 2008. Complaining that he is not "listening to the American people" is utter nonsense.

None of what I am saying here says that Bush is right to veto the bill, or that Congress is wrong to pass a bill demanding withdrawal. This isn't about the particulars, this is about separation of powers and the Constitutional requirements of office. I do think Bush is right to veto the bill, but I am not making that case here. slashdot.org

Sex Tips For Geeks cover

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pudge posted a photo:

Sex Tips For Geeks cover

The latest O'Reilly book is destined to be a big hit.

cf. www.flickr.com/photos/pkdouyk/241484893/ and www.catb.org/~esr/writings/sextips/ and www.oreilly.com/catalog/cathbazpaper/

Immigrants and Gall

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I favor a path to legalization for immigrants. Even the illegal ones. I don't want to kick them all out: it would serve no serious purpose and would be impossible.

I wouldn't even be opposed to a path to citizenship. Yes, even for illegal aliens who otherwise qualify. They should not get access to such a path as easily as those who did not break the law, but still: even if I thought illegal immigration made you a terrible person, I'd still have to look at the big picture, which is that our country can best assimilate a large group of immigrants over time by making some of them fully participating members of society.

But I don't want to dwell on this: my point here is only that I am not some anti-immigrant zealot.

However, when you are here illegally, and you fly an American flag upside down, or tell me that you have a "right" to be in this country (whatever your reason is), or that I am bad for not making you legal (or a citizen!) immediately, that I am un-American for wanting some sort of control of the problem (and please don't tell me it's not a problem, I lived in California for almost 10 years), or that I am committing a "crime against humanity" by "persecuting" you when you break the law ...

When you have the gall to demand legalization or even citizenship, as though you are in any position to make any demands ...

Well, I get annoyed.

And I am even sickened these days just by seeing them carry American flags right-side-upw, because I am well aware it's a publicity stunt. Some of them mean it, but many of them realized last year all the Mexican flags looked bad, so now they are carrying American flags to get on our good side, and frankly, it has an opposite effect on me at this point, especially when I see maps of Aztlan alongside the flags.

Look. I don't mind you saying you want to be a legal resident or citizen. I want you to, too. But don't pretend you have the moral high ground here. Remember, you have no right to be here. You really don't. And you are here increasing my taxes, and you are doing it all illegally. You really are. Yes, I know you contribute positively, too: you are mostly wonderful people who work hard, and reduce the costs of goods and services, and just want to provide for your family.

I get it. I don't dislike you. But I am on your side here, and yet you stupidly alienate me with your nonsensical rhetoric that comes from the imagined position that you are being wronged. You're not being wronged. You have the opportunity to work and to earn, and you are prospering. And this is our country, and you are our guests, and we have every right to kick you out, and it would not be wronging you to do so.

But we aren't kicking you out. We don't want to kick you out. We want to make it work. But you make it harder to make it work by treating us like we are the problem. slashdot.org
On Meet the Press this week, Senator Joe Biden said: "I was 29 years old when I came to the U.S. Senate."

If that's true, then he violated Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, which requires Senators to be 30 years old.

However, he was in fact 30 when he became Senator. He turned 30 shortly after being elected, and over a month before taking office.

(Obviously, the title to this journal is tongue-in-cheek.)

Had he been born a month and a half later, he could not have run for the Senate that year, being ineligible. Would he have become Senator eventually? Maybe he would have become governor, and then he actually would have had a great chance at the Presidency. slashdot.org
I celebrate International Communism Day by working to earn money that I might provide for my family.

Update: Hugo Chavez celebrates it by seizing private property.

Update: A protestor to legalize illegal immigration in the U.S. is celebrating it by flying a U.S. flag upside-down live on CNN. 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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