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"The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb." -- Marshall McLuhan, 1969

Official American Sadism
Topic: Politics and Law 1:18 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2008

At the convention, Sarah Palin quipped:

"Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and [Obama]'s worried that someone won't read them their rights."

Decius wrote:

This is the road to despotism. This is the fevered dream of theocracy. This is America.

Initially I thought Palin just hadn't been paying attention [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and didn't know what she was saying. But as her comment continues to reverberate, her intention becomes increasingly clear: this was not just an offhand or ignorant remark, but rather a big Fuck You to the Supreme Court and its decisions over the last four years. And in this she stands in league with McCain [and Yoo and Addington et al], echoing his disdain for the foundation of democracy.

Anthony Lewis writes:

Three times in the last four years the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush administration's legal defenses of its program for detention of alleged "enemy combatants."

Each of these decisions brought an outcry from the political right. Senator John McCain, a survivor of torture as a prisoner in North Vietnam who was once a critic of the Bush detention practices, called Boumediene "one of the worst decisions in the history of the country."

Opening the federal courts to habeas corpus applications from the detainees hardly promises them a swift ticket to freedom. But it marks at least a first step toward accountability—a forum where the treatment of a detainee and the asserted reasons for his imprisonment can be examined. As George Will wrote in a column blasting Senator McCain for the ignorance of his comments on habeas corpus, "the Supreme Court's ruling only begins marking a boundary against government's otherwise boundless power to detain people indefinitely."

A striking example of the importance of having courts check official decisions that someone is an "enemy combatant" is the case of Huzaifa Parhat, one of a number of Uighur Muslims from China who are in Guantánamo. Parhat, who the US military claimed was at a Uighur training camp in Afghanistan in 2001, was captured in Pakistan in the fall of 2001. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found in June that there was no persuasive evidence to support the government's labeling of him as an enemy combatant. The panel included the court's chief judge, David Sentelle, one of the most conservative federal judges in the country. Its opinion ridiculed the government argument, comparing it to the statement of a Lewis Carroll character: "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."

Official American Sadism

Obama to Palin: 'Don't Mock the Constitution' | The Trail |
Topic: Politics and Law 1:14 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2008

It was in St. Paul last week that Palin drew raucous cheers when she delivered this put-down of Obama: "Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

But Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus.

Calling it "the foundation of Anglo-American law," he said the principle "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'"

"The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting,"

Obama to Palin: 'Don't Mock the Constitution' | The Trail |

23andMe slashes price on personal genetics test
Topic: Technology 12:40 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2008

A Google-backed startup that analyzes customers' genetic makeup to predict health risks... has slashed the price on its personal DNA test... from $999 to $399. DNA analysis chips have made the process... significantly cheaper

This could lead to a significant increase in the use of genetic testing and a renewed focus on political questions about its use.

23andMe is also compiling databases of customers' genetic information to make available to researchers seeking new insights into those links.

The price cut will ideally mean an influx of new information that will speed discoveries in the lab...

23andMe slashes price on personal genetics test

From Air Command to War Games to Cyber Command
Topic: Security 2:57 am EDT, Sep  9, 2008

Via Danger Room:

In the past year, as the Air Force's nuclear problems have come to life, there have been calls to bring back Strategic Air Command (or, at least, an SAC-esque organization). That talk is growing louder in the Air Force. The service plans to “craft a roadmap, organizational construct, and associated implementation strategy to reinvigorate our strategic nuclear deterrent capability,”according to a letter from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, obtained by Inside Defense.

But that's not all. This roadmap will also have “far-reaching impacts on other areas, such as cyber.”

I've been hearing similar things. Air Force nuclear and cyber troops, well-place Air Force sources say, could be combined into a single "Global Effects Command." These forces would work with U.S. Strategic Command, to deter foes with missiles, bombers, or electrons. In effect, it would be Strategic Air Command, revamped for the Internet age. In other words, America's cyber forces wouldn't just protect military networks. They'd go on the attack, against online foes.

The blog post notes that the logos for SAC and USAF Cyber Command are basically the same.

Apparently, we started with this:

Added this:

And wound up with this:

It's only fitting.. Every single NOC ever built since that movie came out has been directly inspired by the NORAD set.

From Air Command to War Games to Cyber Command

Kim Jong-Il 'died in 2003', says Japanese professor - Telegraph
Topic: International Relations 1:07 am EDT, Sep  9, 2008

Interesting... Remember when there were reports that they were taking down Kim's picture from public places?

"In the years before he died, Kim took some really big decisions on North Korea's relationships with the outside world," says the professor, pointing to the historic June 2000 summit with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, a visit from Russian leader Vladimir Putin the following month and then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in October 2000.

The following January he was in China, met Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in September 2002 - and admitted that Pyongyang had abducted Japanese nationals to train its spies - and August 2003 saw the opening of six-way talks on halting North Korea's nuclear weapons programmes.

Then, suddenly, Kim disappeared, says Shigemura, and there was chaos in the upper echelons of the country's leadership. "I have been working on the book for four years," said Shigemura, a former journalist for the Mainichi newspaper who was posted to Seoul for six years from 1979 and then served for another five years in Washington D.C. A North Korean agent told him in 1995 that he had met one of Kim's doubles - there have been as many as four - and that he used them to stand in at outside ceremonies because he was fearful of a coup.

After Kim's death, a group of four very senior officials in the regime decided to protect their own positions by making the stand-in more permanent. Whenever anyone meets the North Korean leader, Shigemura says one of the four is alongside him "like a puppet-master."

If it turns out he did die in 2003 and they are covering it up, it would be a shame. That would mean he never got a chance to see Team America.

It wouldn't be all that weird as compared to everything else the North Koreans do. It did take awhile for power to fully transition from Kim Il Sung after his death to Kim Il Jong. So logic would follow that it would take awhile for it to transition from Kim Il Jong to Kim Il Nam, assuming the whole succession process there didn't go completely off the rails.

In Jong's case, it was because he was an alcoholic playboy. In his son's case, I think it's a combination of too many video games and getting caught with his family in Japan trying to visit Disneyland.

If it is true, then North Korea is officially the most crazy regime ever. If it isn't, it's still pretty crazy that North Korea is so cut off from the rest of the world that people are wondering if their leader is dead.

Kim Jong-Il 'died in 2003', says Japanese professor - Telegraph

RAVE Act was Biden's idea
Topic: Politics and Law 2:39 pm EDT, Sep  6, 2008

The bill was sponsored by Senator Joseph Biden

You can read MemeStreams discussions about this bill here and here. When a politician writes up a paranoid, funhouse mirror description of a widespread youth counterculture and attaches to it to a bill intended to target and shut down that culture, well, those youth ought to remind him of that when he desires their vote for political office.

RAVE Act was Biden's idea

MTSU student knifed over parking space
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:30 am EDT, Sep  5, 2008

The parking situation at my alma mater has gotten so bad knife fights are breaking out.

Campus Police arrested an MTSU student at 10:14 a.m. Wednesday following a confrontation over a parking spot with another student that led to a bloody assault involving a bladed instrument.

The incident took place after two MTSU students tried to pull into the same parking place in the Bell Street parking lot.

One of the drivers, Starlett Custer, then allegedly assailed the other driver by pulling a sharp instrument out of her purse and repeatedly cutting her.

"There was blood all over. Blood on her hair, blood on the car, blood on the pavement," said parking authority employee Howard Rhodes, who was working in the parking lot when the assault happened. "It was ugly. It seemed like [Custer] came at her 20 times."

The 17-year-old victim, whose name is being withheld, was taken by ambulance to Middle Tennessee Medical Center for treatment of her lacerations. She was then transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center a few hours later for specialized attention. According to police, the victim was cut on her face, left shoulder, fingers and hands, though it is possible she may have sustained further injuries.

"The wounds that the victim received are consistent with defensive wounds," said Peaster. "There was some difficulty getting the ambulance to the scene of the crime within the Bell Street lot, and at least three or four illegally parked cars had to be towed in order for the ambulance to reach the victim."

Apparently one of those cars was Becky's.

"It was a very unfortunate incident," said MTSU President Sidney McPhee. "I hope that this will teach students to make better decisions when it comes to the parking situation. [MTSU] has more than enough parking, and students need to learn to plan ahead and come to campus earlier so that they can make it to class on time. We are very sorry for what happened to this young girl, and we hope that she will get well and make a quick recovery."

It's tough out in those parking lots...

MTSU student knifed over parking space

Rattle's Prius hits (3)1337
Topic: Travel 8:36 pm EDT, Aug 18, 2008

My Prius turned 1337 during it's third tank of gas. It's therefore (3)1337.

Yes, I did try to take a pictures while driving exactly 3 mph, but it was blurry.

How that for k-lame? Beat that!

Money for me, databases for you.
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:15 am EDT, Aug 13, 2008

This is a perfect example of why we force Decius to drink and rant at conventions. He's been the regular closing speaker at PhreakNIC several times.

That's way more relevant than Jello at HOPE.

Money for me, databases for you.

The Volokh Conspiracy - Temporary Restraining Order Against Crime-Facilitating Speech About Security Vulnerabilities:
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:27 pm EDT, Aug 12, 2008

Unprotected speech generally can only be restricted after a finding on the merits that the speech is indeed unprotected. It generally can't be restricted via a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction that's just based on a preliminary, quick-and-dirty estimate of whether a crime was violated and whether the speech is therefore constitutionally unprotected.

A discussion of the legal issues involved in the MBTA suit, which are familiar.

The Volokh Conspiracy - Temporary Restraining Order Against Crime-Facilitating Speech About Security Vulnerabilities:

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