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From User: Decius

Current Topic: Society

MAKE: Blog: LED art all over Boston today
Topic: Society 10:57 am EST, Feb  1, 2008

This is interesting - it seems that a group of artists have celebrated 1-31-07 in their own way and have created a series of political themed LED art sculptures and (you guessed it) placed them all over Boston.

I love this note:

This is not a bomb. It is just for lulz

MAKE: Blog: LED art all over Boston today

Charting various aspects of life of last 8 years
Topic: Society 9:12 am EST, Jan 25, 2008

Via the Democratic Caucus...

I'm rerecommending this chart because of the data it contains and not because of the conclusions it seeks to have you draw from that data.

The Bush Administration is certainly directly responsible for some of the changes on this list, such as international opinion of the US, and the increases in our budget and trade deficits.

However, in many respects this chart is pure partisan bullshit. The most starkly annoying aspect is the inclusion of US dependence on foreign oil as a percentage of total oil consumption by the party that faught domestic oil exploration in Alaska. You're blaiming your partisan enemy for the inevitable consequences of the policies you advocated. That's as low as it gets.

Many of the items on this list, such as the increase in oil prices and the amount of job creation, are related to aspects of the business cycle or developments in the global economy that aren't the direct responsibility of the Bush administration. Some, such as changes in the cost of insurance and the number of people insured, are more clearly political, but are the fault of a wide array of actors and not just the Presidency. In fact, the Administration did work on the insurance problem.

The things that I like about this chart are political but I don't see them as directly related to Bush. The most important statistic, I think, is the median household income. It dropped. In 8 years, it dropped.

Charting various aspects of life of last 8 years

Things that were not to be:
Topic: Society 10:02 pm EST, Dec 10, 2007

Virgil made the list with Wikiscanning. Congratulations, Virgil!

(Interestingly, one of the other ideas was also one Virgil came up with a few years ago, but didn't pursue perhaps due to discouragement from several friends.)

Actually, Virgil's idea was to create so people wouldn't find your note before you killed yourself. Revenue models included creating, and I shit you not, a coffee table book of suicide notes.

It was one of the most surreal conversations I have ever had in my life: Strick and I sitting in the student center at Georgia Tech trying to explain to Virgil that this was a bad idea.

This was back in Summer 2003 or so. Got to give my partner-in-crime credit, he's a visionary!

Things that were not to be:

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!

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

Best Election Data visualization yet
Topic: Society 6:52 pm EST, Nov  5, 2004

County by county 3d breakdown with Y axis showing margins.

Does a good job showing how liberals tend to live in the cities

Best Election Data visualization yet

Stargate Information Archive - Federal Charges Filed Against SG-1 Archive
Topic: Society 6:46 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2004

] However, instead of thanking Adam for his promotion of
] their product, officials at MGM and the MPAA have chosen
] to pressure the FBI into pursuing criminal charges. Adam
] was first tipped off about the investigation when the FBI
] raided his and his fiancee's apartment in May of 2002 and
] seized thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment.

] Adam later received a copy of the affidavit filed in
] support of the search warrant, and was shocked to
] discover that this document, prepared by the FBI,
] contained significant amounts of erroneous and misleading
] information. For example, two social security numbers
] were listed for Adam, one of which is not his. References
] were made to a cease and desist letter sent by the MPAA
] to an email address that did not exist.
His online
] friendship with other Stargate fans across the globe was
] portrayed as an international conspiracy against the
] MPAA. And perhaps most disturbing of all, it was later
] revealed that the FBI invoked a provision of the USA
] Patriot Act
to obtain financial records from his ISP. The
] FBI's abuse of its powers did not stop there. When they
] seized Adam's computer equipment, he was given written
] documentation stating that it would be returned within 60
] days. The equipment that they did return did not arrive
] until more than 8 months later, and only then after much
] prodding from his lawyer. Much of it was damaged beyond
] repair - one laptop had a shattered LCD screen, an empty
] tape backup drive was ripped apart for no apparent
] reason, his fiancee's iBook was badly damaged when it was
] pried apart with a screwdriver.

1. Welcome to the new world of criminal copyright prosecutions. This reminds me of operation Sun Devil. The FBI is usually far more professional then this. Apparently they've assigned a bunch of idiots to their copyright sqaud, which is reasonable at first glance in that its not very important, but ultimately a mistake because this issue is too controversial and too visible to be handled by thugs. These guys aren't going to stop behaving this way until a judge throws the book at them (as occured to the Chicago Secret Service agents who raided Steve Jackson Games). Therefore, I suggesting holding on to your seats. There will be a bunch more stories where this came from, and as the net is a hell of a lot louder then it was in 1991 you can expect the FBI to feel some very serious pressure over the issue as the horrors mount up.

2. The seizure of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, the destruction of said equipment, and then the choice of legal venue meant to maximize the financial costs associated with trial... This has all the earmarks of an investigation that is intended to be punative in and of itself. Punative investigations are unconstitutional.

3. This is why copyright issues need to remain in civil courts and not criminal courts. We don't need our security forces out smashing computers for the MPAA. There is absolutely no reason why the MPAA couldn't have filed a civil motion in this case in the jurisdiction the actual website was in.

It seems clear that a properly delivered cease and desist letter would have solved the problem here. No fuss, no muss. Handling crimes like this in this manner is extremely expensive for taxpayers and tends to disrupt and destroy innocent people's lives when they accidentally become the target of it.

Moving copyright cases into the criminal justice system was bad, bad, bad law. It seems like we're going to get a stiff lesson in why.

Stargate Information Archive - Federal Charges Filed Against SG-1 Archive / News / Nation / Infiltration of files seen as extensive
Topic: Society 1:28 pm EST, Jan 22, 2004

] Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary
] Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a
] year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically
] passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The
] Globe.
] From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003,
] members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer
] glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic
] communications without a password. Trolling through
] hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points
] and accounts of private meetings discussing which
] judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what
] tactics. / News / Nation / Infiltration of files seen as extensive

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