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Current Topic: Society

RE: HB 1259 Vetoed!
Topic: Society 11:30 pm EDT, May  9, 2006

Decius wrote:
I just received fairly reliable word that the Georgia Private Investigator Felony Statute has been vetoed by the Governor. Unfortunately I don't have a press link on that, so if anyone out there has a secondary source they can confirm this through, that would be helpful, but it seems like the Governor has heard the message from the technology community and understood the ramifications of this law. Thank you to everyone who communicated with them!


The existing definition of “private detective business,” continued in this bill, in conjunction with the applicable exemptions in the law, fails to exclude from the private investigator licensing requirement many professions that collect information or may be called as expert witnesses in court proceedings. To expand the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony without revision of the existing definitions in the law could result in unintended consequences; I therefore VETO HB1259.

Hell Yeah! Go Tom and his 1337 gubernatorial skillz

RE: HB 1259 Vetoed!

MySpace: A better WWW than the WWW.
Topic: Society 2:05 pm EST, Jan  9, 2006

Decius wrote:
MySpace gets into the competitive censorship game and quickly learns that they very much do not have control of the thing they just bought.

I am reminded of a line from Alien Resurrection, "You think you can tame them?"

I enjoyed this turn of events because it should me the so-called "new media" can resist crap that "old media" companies can pull. Murdoch and crew views MySpace as they view TV. It has content which maybe they don't directly create. The content attracts an audience. They sell advertising space to present to that audience. They take demographic samples of our audience to better sell our ads.

However, Fox and other TV studios *always* control the content of the content, because they want to tone and trim the type of audience they have. If content is objectional, old media simply edits or even removes the content. See the "Ellen" "Roseanne" "Family Guy" "Playmakers" and any number of other events as an example of this practice.

But with MySpace, the audience is the content creators. They revolved when the studios tried to pull their traditional shenanigans. I would make the argument that MySpace is an excellent microcosm of what the Internet should have been: a lot of bitchy teens with nothing of substance to read; a bunch of intellectually questionable folk who claim to be geniuses; some interesting tidbits here and there; some shady stuff most parents would not want their kids exposed to; some downright illegal things.

The difference between and the larger Internet is that with the ratio of content creators to content consumers is many orders of magnitude greater. This has some interesting and cascading side effects:

1-MySpace reacts to censorship threats much more effectively than the Internet. Because instead of reading some obscure article that says that Kazakhstan is censoring political humor, you personally find your words were removed from a website. Companies can less afford to censor their social networks than DNS registars. The Kazakhstan registry makes peanuts off your site and cares nothing about your traffic. News Corps loves your site and because even if only you visit it, they are serving ads to you.

2-MySpace will have more "scenes," "niche markets," and "sub-genres" than the larger Internet because more of the users will say "[issue] isn't being address and its easy for me to fix that." Further, the censorship protection (while not bulletproof) enables people to truly express their interests without revealing their idenities (WHOIS info enforced by law is scary).

3-MySpace's low barriers of entry for participation and feature set means it will attract more users that traditional web publishing. Maybe people will branch off, but creating and publishing to a Blog is much harder than creating and writing to MySpace. Userbase snowballs so more users continue to join. Again, (some) censorship protections.

4-MySpace is a better representation of Tim Berners-Lee's original World Wide Web than the WWW is because of the content creators to content consumers ratio. Granted the world-edittable features aren't their yet, those can be added for "friends" and other MySpace specific issues.

MySpace: A better WWW than the WWW.

Internet Backlash
Topic: Society 8:00 pm EST, Dec 13, 2005

There is a stupid notion going around that the news media would be better off if anyone and everyone got to make a contribution to it. Blogs and podcasts are examples of this and reader-generated electronic "newspapers" are beginning to spring up. People who should know better see this as democratizing the flow of news and information...

I have been concerned about this new, online "citizen journalism" becoming the source of more disinformation than truth, a concern that actually extends to most of the Internet.

Some people in the media are absolutely giddy about the opportunity to pile a complete and total indictment of the entire Internet on top of this incident. Oh my god! People can express their own views without control from the 4th estate! How will we ever know what is true anymore?!

Check out the headline on this article:

For all its wonders, the world-changing effects of the digital civilization contains a slimy, anarchic undercurrent of democracy run amok.

There is so much that is broken about the perspectives being offered around this incident:

The idea that Wikipedia and encyclopedias are the same kinds of things and their value should be judged by the same criteria.
The idea that Wikipedia must either be 100% reliable or completely useless for any purpose.
The idea that people are not capable of critical thinking and should not be responsible for doing it.
The idea that the alleged connection to the Kennedy Assasination would have been viewed as credible by anyone who isn't nuts.
The idea that internet anonymity is a bad thing.
The idea that "supporting freedom of speech" is compatible with "demanding accountability." (Haven't you people ever heard of the Federalist Papers?!)
The idea that the highly reliable totally awesome 4th estate should be the arbiter of the truth, when in their articles about this VERY incident they have repeatedly twisted this guy's voluntary resignation from his job (which he had to do because of the pressure THEY would put on his employer if he hadn't) so that it appears as if he was fired. "Man looses job over wikipedia prank..."

The biggest problem here is the idea that a national press campaign and the threat of lawsuits are a reasonable way of dealing with a problem on a publically editable wiki! This notion is so irrational that one suspects John Seigenthaler of taking advantage of the opportunity because he wanted to launch a broder attack on the Internet. You gunna sue me for suggesting that, John? Go ahead. Make my fucking day.

Internet Backlash

PBS | I, Cringely . October 27, 2005 - Changing the Guard
Topic: Society 12:03 pm EST, Nov  1, 2005

As the baby boomers retire, will it help or hurt high tech?

I think it can only help.

In the U.S. the Baby Boom generation includes anyone born from 1946-64, which means everyone 41-59 years old. Those ages generally cover the top technical management positions in most companies and universities and they are starting to retire.

The implications are huge. Imagine 100,000 engineers and programmers leaving the U.S. work force every year for the next 18 years, because that's what is going to happen. Some of those people will find other careers, but most of them will be motivated less by money than they were earlier in their lives. Most of them will want to remain active. And once a nerd always a nerd, so I think many of them will gravitate to Open Source.

But this new generation of retirees started with Pascal, quickly transferred to C, and has been doing object-oriented programming or program management for at least the last decade. Even the retiring Visual Basic programmers, of which there are literally millions, have skill sets that easily transfer into the projects being developed today.

So we're likely to have an influx of talent into Open Source projects, supplanting the mid-20s geeks that have been pushing that business. Yes, they are retired and therefore not inclined to stay up all night, but maybe they don't need to stay up all night, either. There's something to be said for wisdom.

Columns like this are why I read Cringley. Everyone writes about Microsoft's Vista or the latest Apple rumor. Cringley tends to take interesting events that aren't always tech related and look at them through a tech lens.

I had not considered the implications of the boomers in the light before. Very cool.

PBS | I, Cringely . October 27, 2005 - Changing the Guard

Firefly picked up by SciFi Channel
Topic: Society 9:21 am EDT, Jun 16, 2005

Fans of the cult-hit series Firefly will be pleased to learn that the show has been picked up by the Sci Fi Channel--just two months before the release of Serenity, a Universal Pictures film based on the series.

SciFi picked up the rights to show the 1st season of Firefly, including the 3 unaired episodes. They also will be showing them in order.

This move scares me. With the movie coming out in 2 months, you'd think Fox would adopt a "wait and see" attitude about the show. Why are they selling rights to a show that could get very popular? If they had any plans to restart the show after the movie, you'd think they'd want to keep the 1st season.

Not that this is the first time Fox has done something silly. Family Guy is currently showing on 3 different networks spanning 2 major studios: reruns are shown on Cartoon Network and TBS (owned by Time Warner), and reruns/new episodes are shown on Fox.

Firefly picked up by SciFi Channel

RE: FSF - Campaign for Free BIOS
Topic: Society 9:34 pm EST, Feb 28, 2005

bucy wrote:
] ]
] ] Since that time, the situation has changed. Today the
] ] BIOS is no longer burned in ROM; it is stored in
] ] nonvolatile writable memory that users can rewrite. Today
] ] the BIOS sits square on the edge of the line. It comes
] ] prewritten in our computers, and normally we never
] ] install another. So far, that is just barely enough to
] ] excuse treating it as hardware. But once in a while the
] ] manufacturer suggests installing another BIOS, which is
] ] available only as an executable. This, clearly, is
] ] installing a non-free program--it is just as bad as
] ] installing Microsoft Windows, or Adobe Photoshop, or
] ] Sun's Java Platform. As the unethical practice of
] ] installing another BIOS executable becomes common, the
] ] version delivered inside the computer starts to raise an
] ] ethical problem issue as well.
] FSF is starting to make a stink about BIOS now.

Stallman is once again blinded by ideology. Short of DRM BIOSes (Which seem eternally stuck in standards body limbo), what does the bios matter?

I have an old Packard Bell 486-DX2 motherboard I use for hardware hacking. Its small LBX form factor, so everything is on the board and has a lower profile than an ATX. It's BIOS is over 12 years old and will not recognize a drive larger than 504 megs.

And you know what? That doesn't matter. I have a 10 Gig drive attached to it, partitioned in a way so /boot is visible. Linux boots, detects, and provides (while slow) access to the whole drive. I have a ATAPI CDROM attached, which BIOS also doesn't recognize or have any idea how to handle. Linux does, and I've ripped CDs just fine. I even have a ISA/PCMCIA adapter, and, using a USB card, have added USB functionality to this box. BIOS is configured not to panic about the lack of a keyboard, and Linux sees the USB keyboard and mouse just fine.

None of these features are supported by the BIOS, nor do they need to be. Linux doesn't use BIOS functions through interrupts. I would be very surprised if the NT line of Windows used BIOS interrupts. Thus Stallman's whole rant about being locked in to the functionality provided by some proprietary BIOS is totally without merit, and the proof is happily spinning cycles right next to me.

Short of finding me a boot sector, the BIOS and its functionality are obsolete.

RE: FSF - Campaign for Free BIOS

CNN Is All Tuckered Out
Topic: Society 3:15 pm EST, Jan  6, 2005

Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise."


CNN Is All Tuckered Out

Resident Thinker Given Free Rein In White House
Topic: Society 11:57 am EST, Dec 14, 2004

] The OSI was Rove's idea, created shortly after President
] Bush was elected in 2000. It is the smallest unit in the
] Rove empire, with six employees, and represents the
] closest thing the White House has to an in-house think
] tank.
] The office, tucked away on the fourth floor of the
] Eisenhower Executive Office Building, conducts research
] on the presidency -- looking for historical patterns or
] analogies to guide the administration's strategic
] thinking.

This seems eerily like the Nazi Ahnenerbe (Ancestral Heritage) Department. They were scientists who made historic "discoveries" to justify Hilter's policies of Aryan supremacy and Jewish Conspirancy.

Resident Thinker Given Free Rein In White House

RE: Molatar's Castle
Topic: Society 1:08 pm EST, Nov 23, 2004

Romanpoet wrote:
] "This site is dedicated to spreading the Gospel in the
] werewolf and furry communities. It is my hope that many
] trans-species people will accept Jesus as their Savior through
] this ministry. "

and the best part, aside from his young earth psuedo-science bullshit is that he ends each page with:

Love you. God Bless.

Molatar Seth Pyrargent.
Dragon, Evangelist, Ranger.


RE: Molatar's Castle

Exploring Constitutional Law (formerly Constitutional Conflicts)
Topic: Society 1:02 pm EST, Nov 12, 2004

] This site explores some of the great issues and
] controversies that surround our Nation's founding
] document.

Exploring Constitutional Law (formerly Constitutional Conflicts)

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