I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a political moderate. More than any ideology, I care about rational discourse. In the year that I've been blogging, I've taken a lot of different positions, some left and some right. What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side. Why is this happening? I find it terribly, terribly sad.
I like to self-identify as a political moderate, although I agree with the War on Terror, disagree with gun control and support contesting in 2004 Washington election, which apparently puts me between Mussolini and Hitler in a lot of people's books.
In my sad experience those on the right actively seek out similar voices because they feel they are not heard by the general public and those on the left actively suppress contrary voices because they feel those voices are heard too much and need to be quelled. Because I have identified with both libertarians (I feel government is far too complicated and controlling) and gun owners (I'm a tool user that resents being told he can't own something because it might be misused) and been intimately involved with the politics of these groups that are deliberately shunned. I notice a lot of similarities. Both groups feel as though they are not taken seriously nor given a fair shake in the press. When I was involved with both groups I've seen them shouted down and insulted by smug, superior contrarians.
I wish I had a far left example. I have been involved with the ACLU before, but dumped them over the gun control issue. I have been involved with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but I haven't been a regular contributor.
I have been arguing about gun control online since the mid-1980's. I've run into a lot of smug, superior contrarians. They don't read what you say unless they want to pick it apart. They ignore the meat of your arguments and look for subtle claims to strawman and disassemble. If they're losing they do it in private emails to their friends or, nowadays, on their own blogs.
One interesting experience came from when I appeared on a cable access show with other libertarians, including the veteran congressional candidate Bruce Alexander Knight. At the time (mid-1998) all of us were running for office. We had a discussion (I wouldn't call it a debate) on various issues, but the gun control points apparently struck a chord with one of the women that worked the camera. After the show, in a local pizza shop, she got into a knock-down row with us because she felt that self-defense, in and of itself, was immoral. We were shocked. That was well outside our experience. It made me get involved in more local political groups outside my own. I needed to expand my view to understand such huge gulfs of thought.
I learned a lot from Tammy Bruce, for example. I got interested in audible.com and listened to these people talk. I had spent a long time with books and Usenet and I lost the emotional content of discussion that pervades real life. I even met people on the swpdx mailing list that I regularly debated remotely. The theory is that you wouldn't say the same thing to someone's face as in an email. The debates I had on swpdx were far more interesting than the petty, spiteful, in-politics I find in groups of like-minded people.
However, I discovered I'm different than some.
The most interesting thing I've discovered is that like-minded thinkers like to point out other people's postings and swoop down upon them like righteous fury. They haven't read your entire blog. They only look at individual postings one of their group found interesting. This is why I find trackbacks so interesting, although many blogs have disabled them because of trackback spammers.
I'm hacking together a roadmap discussion for my boss tomorrow and spent much of the week getting things together from my group. When it comes to making a presentation of that material, however, I have a lot of flexibility. However, I also have limitations. Only one of the people involved in the presentation will be local to me. All of us will be on a conference call. I'll be sending any information out in advance and then talking to slides as everyone will sit there and page through the material at their own pace. It's extremely non-linear and unfocused.
I think a lot of remote presentations suffer from this problem.
This weekend my copy of The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint arrived, and I have to agree with much of what Tufte wrote. It's hard to drive a discussion with Powerpoint. He indicated that when it came to getting a lot of data across to an audience it was better to write a technical paper and distribute printed copies of it. In my experience this often leads to people paging through the material instead of paying attention to the speaker. However, my primary experience with this is teaching basic firearms skills to a diverse group of people.
I did a little more poking around and found that Tufte's web site has a discussion on how to present and handle project management information. The usual problems with Microsoft Project crop up first. Also many of the same problems I mention are covered.
Even in my normal 1600x1200 mode, Microsoft Project's Gantt charts are not an easy way to get a handle on the big picture. It does, however, allow one to roll up details if needed and expand them when it's relevant.
I did like Tufte's project plan displays (shown above), though. Less grids, more meat, obvious visual flow of work. Especially nice was the bigger picture view at the top so you could see the plan in context. Why on earth can't project management programs do this? I have hopes for Open Workbench but since IBM bought one of their competitors I don't think I will have all that much influence on an open source project management program.
Tufte made the above chart with Adobe Illustrator by hand. He didn't programmatically generate it. Obviously doing this sort of thing back hand is time-consuming. Time is something few of us have in surplus, but we would all like to transmit information better.
I suspect I'll end up splitting things up, which Tufte warns against. Pretty much each of my teams will have their own slides, with features at the top, quarter-by-quarter, major releases highlighted, and supporting processes at the bottom. This is a cliché, but it's comfortable to everyone involved, including myself.
Today we packed up the whole family and went off to the Portland International Auto Show. Why did I go? Dodge all-but-promised me a look at the new Charger. In reality, I have a chance to win 30,000 towards any Dodge, Jeep, or Chrysler.
I did get my picture taken with this odd car…
And Alana, Ryan and myself appear here with the dual-hemi Jeep concept vehicle…
The show was a lot of fun, but at the end of it all, Misty and I agreed that conversion vans were more appealing than minivans for our needs. sure, they had lousy gas mileage, but Mommy doesn't go all that far with the kids.
I still need a sedan that's fun to drive, safe, and gets good gas mileage though. Still working that issue. I liked the 300Cs we saw at the show, but I want to try a Charger.
In a followup to yesterday's posting, we have text!
SB 5342, “AN ACT Relating to safe storage of firearms; amending RCW 9A.36.050; adding a new section to chapter 9.41 RCW; and prescribing penalties.”
This one specifically states that a person is guilty of reckless endangerment if they leave a loaded firearm where a child (defined as anyone under sixteen years of age) is likely to get ahold of it. Defenses include locking the gun up in some way, providing adult supervision, or if the child obtained it through unlawful entry. What I don't like, however, is that there may be some pretty responsible teenagers out there (sure, we hear about the irresponsible ones) that could need to defend themselves with the family firearm.
This bill has a lot of compromise wording in it, including
Nothing in this section shall mandate how or where a firearm must be stored.
However, it does mandate that stores selling guns conspicuously display a sign with the following far less friendly language:
…the following warning sign, to be provided by the department of licensing, in block letters at least one inch in height: “IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE OR LEAVE AN UNSECURED, LOADED FIREARM WHERE A CHILD CAN AND DOES OBTAIN POSSESSION.”
The typical person reading that does not get the comforting glow one might get from reading the bill itself. Notice the sign does not actually call out RCW 9A.36.050 or 1997 c338 s45 where they could look up the actual rules.
No news on whether the signs will cost $500 apiece and take fourteen months to ship. The Department of Licensing is pretty much on top of things. They run the DMV, for example.
SB 5343, “AN ACT Relating to the sale of firearms at gun shows and events; amending RCW 9.41.010; adding a new section to chapter 9.41 RCW; and prescribing penalties.”
Apparently there's been some trouble at gun shows and the legislature is here to save us. I have difficulty remembering the incidents they are responding to, other than the fear, uncertainty and doubt promulgated by the hoplophobes.
The basic idea of this bill is that all sales of firearms at gun shows must be conducted through a dealer, and a dealer may assist with transfers between private citizens for a reasonable fee. (Dealers are folks with a FFL, obtained under 18 USC 923(a).)
We have three basic definitions of “gun show” from this bill:
“Gun show or event” means a place or event, a gun trade show, gun collectors' show, flea market, or auction, other than a permanent retail store, at which three or more individuals assemble to display, sell, lease, or transfer new or used firearms or firearm components to the public and that is not exempt from collecting sales tax under RCW 82.08.0251.
This seems like a reasonably good definition of a gun show.
“Gun show or event” includes a place or event where ten or more firearms are offered for transfer or transferred.
Ah, so if I were to sell off my collection (more then ten firearms) and people came over to my house to look it over, it would now become a gun show. This is a gotcha. I can imagine putting an ad in the paper having people come over and getting stung by the WSP.
“Gun show or event” includes, but is not limited to, an area near the gun show or event that the sponsor knows or should reasonably know will be used for parking for the gun show or event.
Duh, it's a bad idea to circumvent the law by going out in the parking lot to conduct the transaction. However, notice the chilling effect here. They specifically call out the sponsor! The sponsor can hardly regulate the activities of every attendee at the show. In fact, imagine two people driving up to the gun show and advertising and selling in the parking lot. Sponsors will now have to hire security to wander through the parking lot breaking up possible sales.
The other change comes to this line (changes highlighted):
“Dealer” means a person engaged in the business of selling firearms at wholesale or retail who has, or is required to have, a federal firearms license under 18 USC 923(a). A person who does not have, and is not required to have, a federal firearms license under 18 USC 923(a), is not a dealer if that person makes only occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or sells all or part of his or her personal collection of firearms, in a private transaction not through a gun show or event.
They are, at least, clarifying that people who make personal sales in private transactions are not dealers… for now.
SB 5344, “AN ACT Relating to possession of firearms on the state capitol campus; reenacting and amending RCW 9.41.300; and prescribing penalties.”
Not a big change, just adding the legislative building at the state capitol to the list of restricted areas in Washington:
It is unlawful for any person to enter the state legislative building on the state capitol campus when he or she knowingly possesses or knowingly has under his or her control a firearm…
Doesn't matter if you have your state-issued CCW, of course. They don't like us. Of course, this only tells us that our state legislators are weenies, since this will not prevent criminals and cronies from bringing their guns onto the capitol. They don't like licensed private citizens from having guns near them.
Last, but certainly not least. SB 5475, “AN ACT Relating to the assault weapons ban of 2005; amending RCW 9.41.010 and 9.94A.515; reenacting and amending RCW 9.94A.515; adding a new section to chapter 9.41 RCW; prescribing penalties; providing an effective date; providing an expiration date; and declaring an emergency.”
Sounds ominous. So, what do they think an assault weapon is?
"Assault weapon" means: (a) Any semiautomatic pistol or semiautomatic or pump-action rifle or shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine, with a capacity to accept more then ten rounds of ammunition and that also possesses any of the following: If the firearm is a rifle or shotgun, a pistol grip located rear of the trigger; If the firearm is a rifle or shotgun, a stock in any configuration, including but not limited to a thumbhole stock, a folding stock or a telescoping stock, that allows the bearer of the firearm to grasp the firearm with the trigger hand such that the web of the trigger hand, between the thumb and forefinger, can be placed below the top of the external portion of the trigger during firing; If the firearm is a pistol, a shoulder stock of any type or configuration, including but not limited to a folding stock or a telescoping stock; A barrel shroud; A muzzle brake or muzzle compensator; Any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the hand that is not the trigger hand;
(b) Any pistol that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine at any location outside of the pistol grip;
(c) Any semiautomatic pistol, any semiautomatic, center-fire rifle, or any shotgun with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition;
(d) Any shotgun capable of accepting a detachable magazine;
(e) Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder;
(f) Any conversion kit or other combination of parts from which an assault weapon can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of any person.
Quite a laundry list of cosmetic or convenient features. For some reason cylinders on shotguns are scary, even though there are many ways to have a large amount of ammunition in shotgun magazines.
It's crap of course. However, this is a grandfather clause:
Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any of the following:… The possession of an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, but only if the person legally possessing the assault weapon has complied with all of the requirements of subsection (5) of this section;
Now that's especially ominous. What does section five say?
In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing the assault weapon shall do all of the following:(a) Within ninety days following the effective date of this section, submit to a background check identical to the background check conducted in connection with the purchase of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer; (b) Unless the person is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, immediately register the assault weapon with the sheriff of the county in which the weapon is usually stored; (c) Safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection; (d) Annually renew both the registration and the background check; (e) Possess the assault weapon only on property owned or immediately controlled by the person, or while engaged in the legal use of the assault weapon at a duly licensed firing range, or while traveling to or from either of these locations for the purpose of engaging in the legal use of the assault weapon, provided that the assault weapon is stored unloaded and in a separate locked container during transport.
I can pass a background check. I've done it a hundred times. However, I'm not really happy about giving the sheriff a free fishing expedition on my property every year. I'm not happy about registering my firearms.
As I mentioned before. This lame duck governor may do whatever possible to make this pass. We shall have to be vigilant.
Update: Some have asked about the “State of Emergency” for the Assault Weapons bill. The main piece of information from the bill is this:
This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately, except for section 4 of this act which takes effect July 1, 2005.
Seems mild, but I believe the Democrats want this bill on the books before the possibility of a different governor.
No, I don't mean Locke. He's gone. I mean Gregoire.
As the election contest in Washington continues, the wheels have apparently been greased for a series of anti-gun initiatives. Are they trying to get them to the Governor's office before a revote is called? With a legislature and executive (and judiciary) controlled by Democrats, it's probably a good reason to get pet projects out of the way as soon as possible.
On the 25th of January seven gun bills had a hearing (from the 1/25/05 GOAL Alert):
(The “SB” items are public Senate Bills, and private citizens can indeed get a copy of them if they want it. The “S-” items are not yet public and we can't get a copy of their contents, yet.)
The Gun Owners of America also sent out an alert on some of these bills, and also included a link for finding your state legislator. They suggested sending a note asking for a “No” vote, along with the following suggested language:
SB 5342 is an unnecessary bill that will make it difficult for me to defend my loved ones and property. It is nothing more than a “Lock Up Your Safety” bill which is otherwise meaningless, given that Washington already has reckless endangerment statutes for prosecutors to use against the truly negligent.
Seems straightforward to me. What they are leaving out is that many people prefer to have a firearm safely stored but relatively handy for use. Attempting to regulate this area may cause confusion or increase danger.
SB 5343 would ban ALL private individual sales of firearms at gun shows—and is designed to shut down gun shows altogether by holding promoters responsible for the actions of patrons. And no matter what those seeking to disarm me will tell you, gun shows are not the venue of choice for violent felons seeking firearms. Not even close.
To me SB 5343 is a solution in search of a problem. It's a clear case of looking for little victories in order to boil the frog. However, it's not unheard of for feel-good, ineffectual laws to get onto the books, is it?
We will have to watch as these bills march forward. It is just as bad down south in Oregon. Maybe I'll post on that later.
Jack-Jack's Attack chronicles “what takes place at the house with (babysitter) Kari and Jack-Jack while the rest of the family is on the way to the island or on the island,” Pixar DVD producer Ann Brilz says. As the story plays out, the toddler reveals his latent powers.
The kids loved this movie and were rolling on the floor over Jack-Jack's antics. I'm sure they'll love this short feature on the DVD.
So, the latest count from the GOP in Washington has 737 illegally cast votes in the 2004 election for Governor: 186 felons in King County, 54 felons elsewhere in the state, 44 people who died before mailing their ballots, 10 who voted twice, 6 who voted in two states, and our old friend, the 437 provisional ballots mixed with the general votes instead of being kept separate in three different counties.
Gregoire's margin was 129 votes.
First, a gun picture:
Ah, yes, welcome to the plastic fantastic twenty-first century.
Second, the Brady claims:
The gun, the Five-SeveN handgun manufactured by FN Herstal of Belgium, is lightweight and easily concealable. IBPO Legislative Director Steve Lenkhart referred to the Five-Seven as “an assault rifle that fits in your pocket.”
If it was an assault rifle, then it would be fully automatic. The version sold to private citizens is not, of course, as it would be regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and thus unavailable to private citizens, like any fully automatic firearm made after 1968.
It is marketed by the company on its website as intended “to defeat the enemy in all close combat situations in urban areas, jungle conditions, night missions and any self defense action. Enemy personnel, even wearing body armor can be effectively engaged up to 200 meters. Kevlar® helmets and vests as well as the CRISAT protection will be penetrated.”
Well, no, the private citizen version of this pistol is not marketed in this fashion. The law enforcement and military version of this pistol is marketed this way. The Brady Campaign is not sensitive to market segments, however, activism is a global issue.
What does the ATF say?
FTB has also examined a 5.7 X 28 mm projectile that FN Herstal has designated the “SS196.” The SS196 is loaded with a Hornady 40 grain, jacketed lead bullet. FTB classified SS196 ammunition as not armor piercing ammunition under Federal firearms statutes.
According to FNH USA, FN Herstal tested the SS192 ammunition. SS192 ammunition did not penetrate the Level IIIA vests that were tested. FNH USA states that SS196, Hornady V-Max 40 gr. bullets fired from a 4-3/4 inch barrel did not penetrate the Level II vests that were used in testing.
FNH USA has informed FTB that SS192 is no longer imported for commercial sale to the United States and that commercial sales of 5.7 X 28mm ammunition are restricted to the SS196 (not armor piercing).
In my opinion, if you want a hot .22 pistol, there are certainly better choices than this expensive number with its expensive ammunition. Criminals and terrorists don't have a lot of money to spend on this crud when there are easier targets.
But to the Brady Campaign there is no easier target than guns it thinks no one should ever need. If you want to boil a frog, you turn the heat up slowly. They attack the .50 caliber guns and the hot .22s and continue working their way towards the middle, at which point no guns or ammunition would be legal.
If I was going to spend another $900 on a pistol, I'd get another 1911, probably a longslide in 10mm. If I had more than that to spend, I'd be getting a .50 GI. I'm not going to waste my time with a hot .22. There are far better target pistols and there are far better defensive pistols. This gun was targeted at people who like to have guns that look like what the professionals use.
I've updated the calendar at the Northwest Safety and Firearms Education (NWSAFE) web site for the first time in a year. I can't believe it's been that long. I know the guys had complained but I've really let some things fall by the wayside.
Once I get done with the MST I'll have to think about teaching again.
There's an old Dilbert comic, which I'll avoid posting here due to copyright problems, that featured a presentation where an audience member collapses due to “PowerPoint poisoning.” Another strip has Dilbert critiquing a presenter, accusing him of having a “PowerPoint disability.”
In the course of my work I encounter a heck of a lot of presentations, many made with OpenOffice but more often than not it's PowerPoint. It's a tool where a little knowledge and default templates are an agonizing thing.
Recently, because I read Tufte's blog, “Ask E.T.”, I read a review of The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint in the Marine Corps Gazette column “Survival for Briefers.” It reminded me that I have not yet ordered this book and consumed it. (Many who know me might scoff at the idea of an interesting book that I do not own.)
A search for the Dilbert cartoon, I found this article on scoring PowerPoints. More good reading beyond the well-recommended $7 book from Tufte.
With the sheer number of presentations that go through our office, I plan on working on presentation skills with my group. With any luck, we can have a viral effect on the rest of the organization.
Don't I feel special. Movable Type has released version 3.15 simply to deal with the comment hijacking issue. I'll be installing it later today so we can turn comments back on.
Update: Okay, update complete. We'll test things out and go forward! A three day turnaround on a security bug is not bad at all. Thanks, Movable Type!
Leading up to the Iraqi elections, we hear from Captain Ed that two more Zarqawi associates have been captured. I certainly appreciate that efforts to squash the leadership of the terrorist arm of the Iraqi insurgency continues apace.
Many believe that Zarqawi has fallen into a trap with his response to President Bush's inaugural speech. Just after the president said he had been too strident with his “Bring it on!” gibe, his speech emphasized his desire to bring democracy and end tyranny around the world.
Some took his speech as a threat to Saudi Arabia, but I doubt it. It was aimed squarely at the Axis of Evil.
We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it.
An interesting thing to say. What alternatives are he offering to democracy? The tyranny of dictators or شريعة (shari'a) law.
He did get one reaction that I suppose he would consider positive:
Polls have shown that most Iraqis plan to vote despite such threats and unremitting violence, but the fear is palpable in conversations with Iraqis, many of whom refuse to be photographed or even to talk to Westerners.
I hope the elections go well, although there are many jokesters already saying that Saddam Hussein will win.
Update: James Taranto points out another Zarqawi quote in today's “Best of the Web” column in OpinionJournal:
“Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion,” he said, and that is “against the rule of God…”
Now there's an argument for the separation of church and state if I ever saw one.
Looks like all of us have strep throat. Misty showed symptoms first and is already on antibiotics. Now Ryan and myself are showing symptoms and will have to visit the doctor and get prescribed next. Sigh.
I've been slow to post here lately. Partly this is due to the fight with comment spammers, and then comment hijackers. While we've identified and corrected the problem at pun.org, and chatted with others about it, I suspect many Movable Type users don't realize what the problem is. I hope that MT's response to this comes quickly.
School has been pretty busy too. That sure helps when you're feeling down…
Email spammers hijacked my comments script this morning and were sending those godawful “Your Ebay account has been compromised…” emails. We've disabled it for now and are investigated the bug that may, in fact, be in all MovableType 3.14 installations. I'm a paid subscriber to MT and I'll be pursuing a support ticket, you betcha.
Update: It is a bug. I'll hold back on the rest until a fix comes out.
I had mentioned that I installed Microsoft's Anti-Spyware Tool (which is in beta test) to give it a whirl. So far it has found exactly one problem to date and otherwise annoyed me with modal dialog boxes indicating it did a nightly run with no results.
I'm not the only one to have noticed. The Associated Press, who I generally don't take seriously as a news organization, has nonetheless posted a review of the same tool. The review is significantly negative but nonetheless apologetic for criticising Microsoft. If it had been some other vendor it wouldn't have received a free ride.
For now the other tools I use (AdAware, SpyBot, Norton Antivirus, Zone Labs Integrity Client) have nothing to fear from this new upstart. After all, I have something almost unheard of in the PC industry: a laptop that gets regular daily use on the Internet thats has not been reinstalled from scratch in four years…
The Incredibles is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com. It looks like it will ship in March. Yes, I ordered mine.
I love the old James Bond movie style and superhero comic book references throughout the movie. Pixar never disappoints on story, either. If there's anything I regret about this purchase its that some of the money goes to Disney.
I tend to preorder DVDs from Amazon.com a lot because you get a decent discount. Beyond that I use their recommendations engine a lot.
In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that I am an Amazon.com associate and that if you buy things through my links I get a kickback.
So, the Judge in Chelan county has ruled:
The Democrats have also not backed away from legislators saying that it's something for the courts to decide and also asking for a dismissal because election contests are something the legislature should decide.
I think that too many obvious shennanighans will cause a backlash against the Democrats in this contest. I get a feeling that is what motivated a lot of the base (on both sides) in the 2004 elections for President. I still have my “Sore Loserman” T-shirt, and I did wear it in the days after the election when many wanted to make Ohio into the new Florida.
The GOP mantra is at least consistent. “The only way out of this is a revote.”
Because comment spammers don't actually look at my web pages, yesterday we saw a little over 100 unique visitors and over 200 page views to my pages on pun.org, but my web server shows 3071 hits. The vast majority is comment spammers directly calling my comment script.
The Movable Type folks recommend changing the name of the comment script in order to prevent these automated attacks. I have to say I agree with them.
Update: I've changed the name of my comment script and rebuilt the site. As a result, if comment spammers want to attack they have to actually look at one of my pages to find the name of the script… then they'll start again.
Looks like we get to look forward to The Fantastic Four this July. They have a movie trailer out.
While I'm a big X-Men fan, I didn't read as much about this quartet when I was young. I have to admit the things I'd really like to see next are Thor (Amazing Stories) and Uncle Scrooge the way he used to be written.
Heck, Spiderman promptly treated the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, so where the heck are the Sentinels in X-Men?
Don't mention the later Batman movies, Catwoman, Daredevil, Elektra or Supergirl to me. I'm still trying to forget them.
I did enjoy Hellboy…
Update: I've learned from Demure Thoughts that Ioan Gruffudd (of Horatio Hornblower fame) is Mr. Fantastic. I didn't recognize him right away, but now it's obvious.
For the past three days I've been under constant attack from comment spammers. They want to get their comments on here not because a lot of people read my postings and comments, but because search engines will find their links and if they find enough of them they will raise the rank of their pages.
To reduce the value of this, Moveable Type, along with the major search engines, has come out with a attribute and a plugin to exploit that attribute, to be added to link tags to stop the inflation of pagerank through spam. This has been called rel="nofollow".
This initiative, with announced support from Google, Yahoo, MSN (and surely more to come), will direct search engines to ignore links with this attribute set for the purposes of spidering or increasing search engine relevance or ranking.
Jay Allen has commented in more depth at the Comment Spam Clearinghouse, which supports the find MT-Blacklist plugin that has protecting this blog from so much comment and trackback spam. He has words that make many people happier about the adding of comments and trackbacks to search engines:
It is important to note that while the links will no longer count for PageRank (and other search engines' algorithms), the content of user-submitted data will still be indexed along with the rest of the contents of the page. Forget all of those silly ideas of hiding your comments from the GoogleBot. Heck, the comments in most blogs are more interesting that the posts themselves. Why would you want to do that to the web?
He also is optimistic about the future:
In the end, of course, this isn't the end of weblog spam. But because it completely takes away the incentive for the type of spamming we're seeing today in the weblog world, you will probably see steady decline as many spammers find greener pastures elsewhere. That decline combined with better tools should help to make this a non-issue in the future. Every little step counts, some count more than others, and history will be the judge of all.
Me, I never actively sought to increase the popularity of these pages through bombing other blogs with comments and trackbacks, so it has no effect on me. People come here because they might find something interesting. Heck, with this my rank may go up!
Timoth Goddard discovered through an alert commenter that the Democrats who represent us in the Washington Legislature appear to be talking out of both sides of their mouth, telling constituents that the election contest is up to the courts to decide while at the same time attempting to get the case thrown out of court because it's really the legislature empowered to invalidate elections.
He has collected quotes from ten different legislators at the time of this posting, pointing towards a very likely “party line” on the response to the election contest.
So, people are already wondering why I didn't post yesterday, at all, after a long string of days where I posted several times. Well, not only did I have lots of reading to do (of which I did some), there really hasn't been all that much interesting to post about. We had an ice storm on Saturday that melted off by noon on Sunday so we were perhaps a little stir-crazy. I did break out my copy of Microprose's Diplomacy for my computer and played around with it. It's far too easy to beat, though, as I remembered. Civilization III is a little too addictive, so I avoid that. I can rule the world in 15 minutes with Diplomacy.
Sure, there are allegations of massive voter fraud in Milwaukie, WI, but I'm pretty burned out from the discussions of King County and Ohio and Florida in 2000. I still think we should have a revote on the Washington Governor's race, but the proper thing is to reform what we have to make cheating and incompetence harder.
There is a Q&A session with the Clark County Auditor tonight (7:00pm at the Clark county Elections office in Vancouver) where he will address questions about the election, and I am tempted to go to see what's going on, but will it really change anything? Maybe, instead, it would mean that my name would go on someone's list. I don't really need that.
A bunch of folks are excited about the upcoming inaugural. Well, I'd like to celebrate, but I'm not a crowd of people person. I'm also not the gung-ho Republican many seem to think I am. Yeah, I fight against gun control, support cops surviving on the streets, and the War on Terror, but I also don't care as much as others about gay marriage, abortion, and religion. I'm a libertarian because I want to be left alone by everyone else.
Not many people care about my work on the MST program, so maybe I'll stop reporting on that. There's mild interest in the cruise stuff, but not much. I suspect people would be more interested in a six pound hamburger. As it is, I see that I get a lot of visits from spammers who have nothing useful to say. Pictures draw far more interest than text, too.
I'm not about to start lecturing on technology management anytime soon, if people are hoping for that. I got to lead a discussion this week in my marketing class and it wasn't a resounding success. I guess it takes a different personality than mine to drive an online discussion. It seems like that if many of these folks didn't have a grade riding on their participation they'd just read the book and be quiet. Of course, I'm a big fan of reading books quietly myself… if only the rest of the family liked that too.
Update: I admit that I've been involved in a lot of ASLET bickering on the “LETrainer” mailing list. I wasn't sure that folks find that interesting… Some of my ASLET articles here are popular, especially the report on Mark Rizzo.
Filling out my forms for this year's upcoming cruise I ran across a Crown & Anchor Society photo and essay contest where the prize was a cruise on the Freedom of the Seas, a ship that's not set to sail until April of 2006. It got me curious, I needed to go look this one up.
Turns out Freedom is the anticipated name of the “Ultra” version of the Voyager of the Seas that we cruised on in 2003. It's to be the largest cruise ship in the world, surpassing Queen Mary 2. Now, I selected Navigator of the Seas because of my experience on the gigantic Voyager so now I gotta get onto Freedom.
“Freedom of the Seas will be the most head-turning, most innovative and most forward-looking ship in the cruise industry,” said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO. “Its name was chosen deliberately to convey the enormity of features and amenities offered on this extraordinary ship.”
“Freedom of the Seas is really all about freedom of choice. Freedom to explore. Freedom to relax. Freedom to make one's own holiday plans reflective of one's own tastes and interests,” he added.
Some of the features I look forward to sampling some day are the shipwide cellular coverage and Wifi access. That's a dramatic improvement from the 56K dial-in offered to me onboard Voyager in 2003. Folks might have noticed I was hard to reach for that week, because I just didn't bother.
They also make a big deal about the global use of flat-screen TVs throughout the ship, included all 1800 staterooms. That will certainly reduce some of the bulk in the cabins. However, they also point out that they intend to increase cabin space in other ways as well.
cruises.about.com has the full press release and some more information.
2/10/05 Update: I found pictures of the keel being laid at Cruise News Daily
Also, it appears that Crown & Anchor Society members will be able to start booking on Freedom of the Seas starting February 28th, 2005.
Timmothy Goddard examines the Washington voting contest precedent of Foulkes v. Hayes.
The fact that in 1975 those extra votes came from fraud, and that today they came directly from the negligence itself is moot. The law clearly draws no distinction between fraud and negligence for the purposes of an election contest, and the Supreme Court decision clearly stated that it was the negligence, not fraud, that led the the revote.
A lot of folks think that the voting problems have to be proven to be deliberate for the contest to succeed. By looking at this precdent it's clear that fraud did not have to be present, just negligence.
The only argument that I can see that Democrats can make against this is that it’s not clear that Gregoire gained any votes from the irregularities—this is notably different than the argument currently being made by Democratic officials, that it’s not clear that the irregularities were enough to alter the election. As we’ve seen, that’s not necessary. To make this new argument, Democrat lawyers will have to argue—with a straight face—that irregularities that added new ballots to the pot in the most overwhelmingly Democratic county in the State (let alone provisional ballots) might not have increased the Democrat’s lead.
When Victoria Taft had Rossi on her show Thursday Night, he seemed optimistic and upbeat, although he was more concerned about the delay tactics in the court case tiring out the public attention. Gregoire has gone for fait accompli by getting inaugurated as quickly as possible, but that has no bearing on contesting the election.
Rossi says that if everything goes well and there's no further delay we're looking at an election in March or April. With delay tactics who knows how long it might take.
In today's OpinionJournal Political Diary John Fund notes that more and more people are moving to where their politics are more acceptable:
Political scientists are turning up evidence that people are increasingly relocating to states where residents share their basic political values. Count the Motor City Madman, rocker Ted Nugent, as one of them. The lifelong Michigan resident, an enthusiastic conservative and gun owner, has pulled up stakes and turned Texan. He's even donating his services to help the local Crawford High School band raise the money needed to perform at the inauguration on January 20. He will hold a concert tomorrow night that he expects will raise a grubstake of $25,000.
Nugent had a wonderful outfitting store in Michigan (although it is somewhat dwarfed by Cabela's). I wonder if he will try to open up a similar concern in Texas. Competition will certainly be stiffer.
The idea is hardly new. Libertarians got together and proposed the Free State Project where a significant number of libertarians would join together and move to New Hampshire in order to dominate the local political scene.
The primary red versus blue determinant appears to be density, however. The closer together people live the more it seems that they must erect dependency on government services. I can understand police and fire departments, but there does seem to be a movement towards socialism when one's available piece of the landscape diminishes. Perhaps people demand government control of property because what they can afford is so miniscule. I live outside of town so I can afford 15 acres. I used to pay though the nose for 1,000 square feet in downtown Portland.
I don't miss it. And I don't miss the “tax them to death” mentality of my neighbors. Even so, I was not alone. When I ran for office in 1998 I got 15% of them to vote for me.
Edward Tufte, best known for his Visual Display of Quantitative Information, has given us a sneak peak at a chapter from his new book, Beautiful Evidence.
Here is the first of several chapters on consuming presentations, on what alert members of an audience or readers of a report should look for in assessing the credibility of the presenter. Most of Beautiful Evidence is about helpful techniques in evidence presentations; these 3 or 4 chapters, however, will describe sources of corruption.
This draft will be posted for a month or so; I'd appreciate helpful comments.
Tufte's work has always fascinated me, and it's probably sacrilege that I have his books in the hanger in storage as opposed to on the shelf of prominence. I admit the shelf is infested with books for school at the moment, and not necessarily books of beauty.
Give his new chapter a read. I love the part about bullet lists on business plans. It is certainly something I've noticed in my travels.
On December 21, I posted about the National Research Council report on John Lott's research, and subsequent book, More Guns, Less Crime. Eugene Volokh, over at The Volokh Conspiracy, has pubilshed John Lott's lengthy response to the report.
Choice quotes include:
The big news that has been ignored on all the blog sites is that the academy's panel couldn't identify any benefits of the decades-long effort to reduce crime and injury by restricting gun ownership.
Based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some of its own empirical work, the panel couldn't identify a single gun control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents.
James Q. Wilson's very unusual dissent is very interesting (only two out of the last 236 reports over the last 10 years have carried a dissent). Wilson states that all the research provided “confirmation of the findings that shall-issue laws drive down the murder rate…”
Even with the very selective sample of regressions that they pick, there is not one statistically significant bad effect of right-to-carry laws on murder. Only one case for robbery and that is one problematic specification from Ayres and Donohue.
While the NAS is in name an academic organization, the process was hardly an academic one. Members of the panel were forbidden to talk to me about the issues being examined by the panel. Despite promises to get my input on the panels' review as it went forward, that never occurred… If I had been involved, I could have helped catch some of their mistakes. When the report was finally released to the public, I was promised that I would get a copy at the beginning of the presentation and that I would be allowed to ask questions. I was told that they preferred that I not attend the presentation, but there would be no problem with me asking questions. Instead even though the presentation ended a half hour earlier than scheduled because there were supposedly no more questions, my questions were never asked.
It is hard to look through the NAS panel's tables on right-to-carry laws and not find overwhelming evidence that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime. The results that don't are based upon the inclusion of zero values noted in point 1 above. Overall, the panel's own evidence from the latest data up through 2000 shows significant benefits and no costs from these laws.
Despite all the statistics and finagling, I find the argument for right-to-carry is far more personal. Individuals should be allowed to defend themselves with the best tools for the job, and they should be allowed freedom in that selection. No one is going to assign me a bodyguard anytime soon, nor are they likely to assign one for my wife and kids.
We'll have to watch and see if this response prompts a dialogue.
(Hat Tip to Sound Politics)
Timothy Goddard examined the law and the issues over at The Flag of the World and came up with a list of what issues matter in the Revote debate:
Broadly speaking, the only thing that matters is the Washington State Supreme Court decision that will be made after the Chelan court decision is appealed. Within that, though, there are a lot of things that matter, based on Washington law, and a lot of things that don’t–and it can be easy to confuse the two.
He then examines the law and divides the issues into the important ones and the side issues.
What's on the “hot” list?
What's on the “not-so-hot” list?
There is one issue remaining that have not been allocated to the hot list, or the not list: military voters. King County may have messed up their absentee ballots but it's unclear if they broke the law and invalidated the election.
Mr. Goddard has another post that has a marvelous coincidence:
Care to see something kind of spooky and completely irrelevant? If you take the total difference between Rossi’s initial margin of 261, and Gregoire’s current margin of 129, you get 390. If you subtract from that Rossi’s second margin of 42 votes, you get 348–which is the exact number of provisional ballots mixed in with regular ballots. Ooooh–spooky.
It's quite unlikely that the numbers are related, but it is a cute observation.
Update: Tim Harris of BIAW has identified an additional 76 felons who voted.
Buddies Dan and John will be excited, the pricing and the availability of the (12 Megapixel) Nikon D2X have been announced.
Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce pricing and availability for its highly anticipated D2X professional digital SLR camera. The camera will begin shipping on February 25, 2005 with a suggested street price of $4999.95 (MSRP $6299.95).
If you're a camera buff, I recommend reading www.digitalslr.org.
(Picture from Gizmodo)
Me, I could take the family on another cruise for that kind of cash, and I think I can suffer along with my old camera. In fact, I'm more in the market for a camcorder at this point…
Update: I should have mentioned that my current camera is the Nikon Coolpix 4500.
Via Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics we find that KHQ-TV in Spokane conducted a poll on the revote and 62% of Washingtonians support it. The MSNBC page says the survey was based on the responses of 600 people in the Spokane area, but Stefan looked at the raw data and says it was based on statewide polling.
Stefan's entry also reports that the www.revotewa.com petition has over 221,000 signatures. If you have not signed it yet and you think the recent election was dysfunctional enough to have invalid results, please go sign it.
Update: John Fund comments on Gregoire's inaugural ball in today's OpinionJournal Political Diary:
The public reaction, along with the possibility that a court may yet order a revote, has certainly put a damper on Ms. Gregoire's inaugural festivities. About 1,000 tickets to her inaugural ball tonight remain unsold, and many other tickets were bought by supporters of Mr. Rossi, who was leading the vote count until December 23. The Rossi supporters aren't eligible for refunds and, so far, neither are voters who would like to see November's tainted election thrown out and replaced with a new, clean election instead.
Cox & Forkum have another hit with this little number on the Thornburgh and Boccardi report on Rathergate.
I read their blog regularly at this point. I still need to buy their books.
There was a Revote Rally in Olympia today. Stefan Sharkansky of Sound Politics, amongst others, spoke to the crowd of over 1,000:
We can all see how our elections process, the core of our democracy, has broken down. It’s kind of a metaphor for all that ails our political institutions. Underperforming, untransparent, unaccountable. Is it really “good enough for government work” to have 3,500 or 2,000 or whatever is the number du jour more ballots than voters? The airlines figured out years ago how to count both boarding passes and the people sitting in the airplane and come up with the same number. Why can’t our elections officials figure out how to match the number of ballots cast with number of eligible voters who cast them?
He didn't get to read all of what he prepared, but he did post his speech.
Even so, Gregoire was certified by the Democrat-controlled legislature as the winner of the election.
The vote to delay failed on a 65-80 vote (65 in favor of delay, 80 opposed, with two members excused for health problems).
Despite problems in King County, tomorrow she is scheduled to be sworn in.
In fact, the saga in King County continues.
Initially, King County's records showed 3,539 more ballots cast than people credited with voting. Elections officials worked to reconcile that number and announced last Friday they had accounted for all but 1,217 of the votes.
In reviewing the reconciled list, however, state Democratic Party officials noticed a mistake: The names of many voters appeared twice.
This puts it at approximate 1,800 more ballots than people counted as voting, in a county that voted for Gregoire far more than it did for Rossi. Add this to 348 provision ballots that were mistaken added to the mix without being verified and while we don't have proof of fraud, we have proof of a failed election.
More and more I support the revote. Go to www.revotewa.com to join the petition. I don't know if it is relevant once she is sworn in, but one can only hope that it is.
In the press release “NASA Details Earthquake Effects on the Earth” we are told
NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated it affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. The earthquake that created the huge tsunami also changed the Earth's rotation.
They also found the earthquake decreased the length of day by 2.68 microseconds.
I wonder how this will affect global warming?
The net effect was a slightly more compact Earth.
We're always improving efficiency.
I was born in Michigan, so I get a little of the new car fever. Yesterday the new Dodge Charger was launched with deliveries expected in early summer. In fact, I loved the launch because they tied it to bringing out a new NASCAR stock car. I don't watch NASCAR, but I appreciate the idea of starting with a production model and making a racer out of it.
It's also a lot prettier than the updated Dodge Magnum and Durango. Even my wife thinks the new Durangos are hideous and wouldn't even test drive a Magnum. I did get her to go with me to test the 300C.
(Pictures from the Autoshow Photo Gallery at Dodge.com.)
I'm certainly interested because I also liked the new rendition of the Chrysler 300, especially the 300C which I priced out more than once (once when it launched, and again when they added AWD). Why don't I have one? Well, my Durango is going strong, despite its lousy gas mileage and, well, we're going on a cruise again this year.
Also, the 300C had a decent interior, but I hated the radio/navigation interface. I'm not alone in that. However, the Dodge's new spartan interior might appeal to me more:
If the Charger is a little less expensive than the 300C but still has all the features I want, it's going to be the next car for me. After all, it's got a HEMI.
There's several articles that were released with the launch of the Charger at the 2005 North American International Autoshow. I think their key message is harkening back to the muscle car eras of yore:
“The Chargers of the ’60s were distinctly styled, conveying fast, powerful and affordable performance,” said Creed. “That was a winning design formula then, and that’s our design formula for 2006.”
“The rear-wheel-drive 2006 Dodge Charger will provide muscle car enthusiasts an unequaled sense of exhilaration, power and control during every drive,” said Craig Love, Vice President—Rear-wheel-drive Product Team, Chrysler Group. “Our customers will appreciate the balance of characteristics drawn from the worlds of racing and street cruising.”
“Never has the time been so right to bring a bold and powerful passenger car to market,” said Love. “New technology advancements in fuel economy and safety have led to the development of the 2006 Dodge Charger as a muscle car for a new generation.”
Maybe we finally found a new cruiser Ann Althouse will like. (She thought the 300C was ugly!)
The bad news is that the initial Charger features the 5.7 Liter HEMI, but the SRT (Street and Racing Technology Group) announced a 6.1 Liter HEMI at the same Autoshow. It would have been more of a coup (no, not a coupe, that was the Charger in the 60's) to also announce a SRT8 Charger at the same show. Maybe they are saving that for later… but now I have to wait and see! They did launch a SRT8 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, though.
At any rate, now I wait for the local dealer to get one in to try out. Hopefully there's not a huge premium on them like there was with the 300 in this town (a $7K markup). I could have taken delivery at my Dad's local dealer in Michigan and driven it cross-country without paying a premium. Is the Pacific Northwest a gouging zone?
As for looks, the Dodge Charger is stellar. Although the jade 300C is pretty nice looking, I really like the traditional Dodge red on this car… but does it need a red or a white racing stripe to really set it off? How about gills?
ASLET had its annual conference this past weekend and it appears to have been a success. They also elected a new Board of Directors:
Phil Messina, Treasurer
Bob Bragg, Chairman
Kat Kelley, Vice Chair
Pat Martin, Secretary
They changed their name back to “American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers,” already secured a site for the next annual conference (New Mexico), brought back the gun give-aways that Frank Hackett had dissolved, and more.
It looks like they are going to rely on their state representatives a lot more. I'm not one of ASLET's state reps, so I guess I'm safe for now. No news on what the committees will be up to (I'm on the Bylaws Committee, and my name has been bandied about for other committees as well).
Hindrocket at Power Line not only read all 243 pages of the CBS report on the investigation into Rathergate, but he has posted a detailed analysis of the report.
In general, the Thornburgh report is better than I expected. It criticizes 60 Minutes harshly, and is a treasure trove of factual information.
However, he doesn't think it criticizes enough in some areas. He funds the denial of political bias “unpersuasive” and directs most of his baleful eye at Mary Mapes. Just a taste:
The Thornburgh report does an excellent job of analyzing the content of the fake documents, and showing that they are, in many respects, at odds with reality as we know it from other sources. And the report discloses for the first time that, during the course of her “investigation,” Mary Mapes was told that no influence was used to get President Bush into the National Guard, that there was no waiting list for pilots, and that Bush actually volunteered to go to Vietnam.
He also doubts the lack of bias claims based on other finding in the report:
The report, often in harsh and condemnatory language, specifically finds that the program misrepresented what CBS had been told by document examiners. It says, with respect to the interview with Robert Strong, that “virtually every excerpt used from the Lieutenant Strong interview was either inaccurate or misleading.” And it concludes that the Ben Barnes interview excerpts were “misleading.” These characterizations are at odds with the report's assurance that the problems with the report were due only to haste and competitive pressure.
He also digs into faint admissions of collaboration between Mary Mapes and the Kerry campaign:
In addition to Mapes's famous phone call to Joe Lockhart, asking him to talk to Bill Burkett, she had several conversations with Chad Clanton, who also worked for the Kerry campaign. Clanton told the panel that Mapes asked him what information the Kerry campaign had gotten from other reporters about the National Guard story, and also told him about the story she was working on for 60 Minutes.
And digs deeper…
First, it notes that early in the summer of 2004, Mapes wrote in an email that the program would air in September—a time usually devoted to reruns. At that time, the story had not yet coalesced; how could Mapes state with such assurance when it would run? Then, the program was moved at the last minute from late September to September 8. The Thornburgh panel attributes the haste with which the show was put together to this schedule change, but never asks why the change was made.
Since the DNC “Fortunate Son” campaign pitch started the day after the story was run, it's a little bit too coincidental for Hindrocket.
Read the whole thing…
Sound Politics' Stefan Sharkansky has received anonymous email from a King County Elections worker telling about the total mess inside the office. His article is titled “Omerta Breaks” referring to the mafia word for the code of silence.
Some key items from the email:
Here are some things from the inside view that seem like they should be important to this election.
- I think you should ask Bill or Dean point blank if there were any problems with the military ballots and see what they tell you…
- …if you want any documents for a recount or for any lawsuits, better ask King County for them now, because we have been told to delete things…
- I think someone needs to do the math and find out where the extra mystery 10K ballots really came from, because we sure don't know and we work here…
- The Democrats asked to see just the provisional ballots that had no signature. If they were aware of what is really going on, they should have also looked at the provisional ballots that are being set aside and not counted because the voter is "not registered". We were so far behind with putting registrations in the computer that at one point the supervisors just made a set of boxes with thousands of registrations "disappear" overnight…
Read the whole article and the pleas for more information from workers.
From the report by the panel:
While the focus of the panel's investigation at the outset was on the Killian documents, the investigation quickly identified considerable and fundamental deficiencies relating to the reporting and production of the Sept. 8 segment and the statements and news reports during the aftermath. These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story about President Bush's TexANG service, and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.
The most serious defects in the reporting and production of the Sept. 8 segment were:
- The failure to obtain clear authentication of any of the Killian documents from any document examiner;
- The false statement in the Sept. 8 segment that an expert had authenticated the Killian documents when all he had done was authenticate one signature from one document used in the segment;
- The failure of “60 Minutes Wednesday” management to scrutinize the publicly available, and at times controversial, background of the source of the documents, [Lt. Col. Burkett];
- The failure to find and interview the individual who was understood at the outset to be Lt. Col. Burkett's source of the Killian documents, and thus to establish the chain of custody;
- The failure to establish a basis for the statement in the segment that the documents “were taken from Col. Killian's personal files”;
- The failure to develop adequate corroboration to support the statements in the Killian documents and to carefully compare the Killian documents to official TexANG records;
- The failure to interview a range of former National Guardsmen who served with Lieutenant Colonel Killian and who had different perspectives about the documents;
- The misleading impression conveyed in the segment that Lt. Strong had authenticated the content of the documents when he did not have the personal knowledge to do so;
- The failure to have a vetting process capable of dealing effectively with the production speed, significance and sensitivity of the Segment; and
- The telephone call prior to the segment's airing by the producer of the Segment to a senior campaign official of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry—a clear conflict of interest—that created the appearance of a political bias.
So, while it doesn't allege that there was political bias, it does indicate that CBS employees should have made the effort not to appear biased in their reporting. If there's anything Bernard Goldberg should be more proud of, I can't think of it. His books Bias and Arrogance were all about the new media's inability to recognize that bias, or at least the appearance of it, was turning viewers off.
As James Taranto noted in today's OpinionJournal, they went so far as to even mention bias beyond the segment:
In fact, USA TODAY on September 9 published a similar story relying on the same Killian documents, but has not been as criticized for its story as CBS News has been for the September 8 Segment. The Panel recognizes that some will see this widespread media attention not as evidence that 60 Minutes Wednesday was not motivated by bias but instead proof that all of mainstream media has a liberal bias. That is a perception beyond the Panel's assignment.
They might not have had a mandate to look into it, but I'm sure the blogosphere, and maybe even CBS, will.
The big news on the radio this morning (I got to listen to KPAM for an hour and forty-five minutes on my commute in this morning) was CBS firing three executives and a producer over the Rathergate Memos. The blurb from the Wall Street Journal in my inbox this morning read thus:
CBS fired four employees—including “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes—after an independent investigation into a report about Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard found that “basic journalistic steps were not carried out in a manner consistent with accurate and fair reporting.”
This should read as a massive victory for the blogosphere. More later.
(From Cox & Forkum)
Even the political cartoonists have discovered our Washington Election.
Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics has dug up evidence that King and Snohomish counties have violated election law because they cannot give a list of eligible voters for the 2004 election, or they have violated election law for not complying with a request under the Public Disclosure Act.
He also determined that there have been problems with King County's handling of votes before (from Secretary of State Sam Reed):
The county is not consistent in their ballot enhancement procedures. The reviewer observed that ballot enhancement, while done in full view of political observers, did not use the procedures outlined in the Washington Administrative Code. Inconsistencies in how this procedure is handled significantly increase the possibility of a successful election contest.
Illegal ballot enhancement is a long-term problem, apparently.
Charles at Little Green Footballs examines a puff piece by the AP about Abbas, who is likely to win the elections in Palestine. It's a great study in contrasts.
Well, I'm not getting married again, as much fun as Alana thought that was, but it was certainly the highlight of the last cruising. Misty's friend Katherine is performing crowd control in this scene.
Brian Crouch has listed the bases for a contest of the 2004 Gubernatorial election in Washington over at Sound Politics.
The Election Contest Petition sets forth a series of errors, omissions, mistakes, neglect, and other wrongful acts by election officials that make it impossible to determine with certainty who won the 2004 election for Governor of Washington.
There's a long list of specific claims, which I won't include here… just click on the link above.
The Contest Petition seeks an order setting the election aside; declaring that any certification of the results of the election and any certificate of election issued as a result of the election are void; and directing that a new election be conducted as soon as practicable.
My name is supposed to be on that petition somewhere, since I signed it at www.revotewa.com.
Last night there was a distributed denial-of-service attack on many major blogs on the Hosting Matters service. Since I am hosted through the extremely independent cgi101.com I was not affected, but I did notice I couldn't read a few sites.
For example, I could reach any of these:
It will be interesting to discover who engineered this attack, and why. Hosting Matters is not home to only conservative blogs. Perhaps trackback and comment spammers are getting frustrated with efforts to shut them down.
Update: Looks like Say Anything was hit too. Heck, this is the start of a blogroll.
Another update: Apparently Wizbang was affected too.
Last night Brent from Ironwood came over, ostensibly to get TiVo working on my DirecTV connection, but really we need to get my dish working for both DirecTV and DirecWay. After five hours of replacing almost everything except the reflector on my dish we got things working better than they've ever been before.
Almost all of my connections were corroded, including the new stuff we got a year ago when we got my Internet connection working. Ground blocks and splitters were clearly shorted and ruined. The sidecar on my dish had corroded out. A wasp's nest was living under my weather cover. At least one of my satellite receivers was cooked (which was okay, we were replacing it).
The main take-away from the whole deal is that the installed from DBS (local installers, not the Direct Broadcast Satellite company) that came out to do my job last year did a crappy job. I'm not afraid to say it. I looked at the connections. There was water and brown corrosion inside the connectors when we pulled them off. The new stuff has dielectric compound and rubber grommets. At least we didn't have to replace any cabling.
On the other side of it, the pipe that my fifty-pound dish hangs on was also pretty darn bad. I could make the whole thing shake with my finger. Not a big deal for DirecTV reception, but my Internet transmission side is quite sensitive to being aimed correctly. I suspect my overall Internet experience will greatly improve.
So, thanks Brent from Ironwood. Jeers to DBS.
There's loads of information at Sound Politics and plenty of interest from across the blogosphere, but first we start with KGW's report, although much of it comes from the much-maligned Associated Press:
Republicans have been building a case over the past few weeks, gathering evidence of voting irregularities, including illegal provisional ballots and a handful of votes cast by dead people. They are pushing for a revote, an unprecedented step in a statewide election.
Unprecedented? It's been done before in Washington. It's being done in the same 2004 election in North Carolina! In fact, the news conference the AP covered in this election, Rossi mentions this. Kinda stupid to say it is unprecedented, unless you mean it only to cover elections for governor in Washington in 2004.
Brian Crouch at Sound Politics covered the same press conference and got a little bit different tag line for it:
Governor-elect Dino Rossi, standing before a sign reading “Every vote should have a voter,” just announced that his campaign will be contesting the election results.
Since I don't trust the AP anymore (just search my blog and you'll see why), I'm more inclined to believe Brian's assessment.
Michelle Malkin's column in the Washington Times is a good read. Choice quote:
I wish I had room to print the name of every sailor, pilot, rescue swimmer, technician and engineer who serves in this strike group—and on every other U.S. ship, plane and helicopter on its way to help the tsunami victims. You deserve to be seen and known and thanked and remembered. You make America proud.
Much of the article evokes shame from the radical left on how it hates the military, except when it's helping.
Since “www.revotewa.com” is my most popular posting, I should post a follow-up. The main place people should look for updates, however, is Sound Politics “2004 Governors Race” category archive. Those guys are able to be more on top of the King County debacle and are even closer to Olympia than I am down here in Clark County.
Even so, things are moving. Instead of this coming Monday, the Democrats will vote to certify the election this coming Tuesday, Janaury 11th. That's the same day that a revote rally was expected:
On Tuesday, January 11 at 10:30am, there will be a rally in support of a revote in front of the Clark County Elections Office at 1408 Franklin (Mill Plain & Franklin). This will be held on the same day a rally in Olympia will be held asking for a revote. In honor of the recent successfully sought revote (and result reversal) in the Ukranian national elections in the face of allegations of fraud, bring an orange ribbon if you can.
(That's from the Clark County GOP)
I don't know if the opposition actively reads my blog, but I do know that far more revote supporters than detractors do, so I'm going to post that info.
KGW reports that there have been two different court challenges filed against the election.
Daniel P. Stevens of Fall City sent the court a one-page notice saying he was contesting the election because the margin of victory is within the election's margin of error, “to the point that error must be assumed as a certainty.”
Arthur Coday Jr. of Shoreline filed an 11-page brief arguing that the hand recount was fatally flawed for several reasons and asking the high court to inaugurate Rossi as governor.
I pointed out in a comment on my original revotewa posting that the hand recount is considered the best count, which is why Gregoire is ahead. However, looking through RCW 29A I have not found that statement of priority. It must be a administrative rule.
Update: Captain Ed has his own comments and observations. He also noticed this great quote:
“These are not indications of fraud,” said Bill Huennekens, King County's elections supervisor. “Fraud is a concerted effort to change an election.”
(From an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.)
On Voyager of the Seas this buffet is called the Windjammer. This was lunch on our first day at sea. (This is also the first time I've included pictures of Alana and Ryan on these pages. Hopefully it will be okay.)
Via Instapundit I found The Mudville Gazette has a ten question test on the facts about Abu Ghraib. I didn't do very well on it, but that's partly because I didn't really pay attention to the individuals involved but rather to the larger details. Even so, the details appear to be misunderstood by many.
Give it a look.
Despite John Kerry's quote from yesterday,
Despite Widespread Reports Of Irregularities, Questionable Practices By Some Election Officials And Instances Of Lawful Voters Being Denied The Right To Vote, Our Legal Teams On The Ground Have Found No Evidence That Would Change The Outcome Of The Election.
…Democrats have interrupted the normally symbolic acceptance of the electoral college votes to challenge the Ohio results. California Senator Barbara Boxer and Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (both Democrats) officially contested the results. According to the Fox News report both houses will quickly decide what to do and report back.
After the two-hour debate in each chamber, the House and Senate are to vote separately on whether to uphold the objection or go back and certify the president. The two bodies are expected to reconvene later in the day in a joint session to report their respective actions.
I wonder how seriously these folks in the Capitol are taking the very real possibility that abuse, fraud, and incompetence changed an election here in the State of Washington?
At any rate, this exercise, while intended to point out real problems with the voting system, will serve nothing more than to energize the “moonbat left” in their belief that the election was stolen and the “annoyed right” in their belief that Democrats will do anything (legal or otherwise) to steal, or at least disrupt, an election.
Update: Lt. Smash liveblogged the hissy-fit. Great reading!
In a continuing bid to own more market share, Six Apart—the makers of Movable Type—have bought Danga Interactive—the owners of LiveJournal. Danga is right here in Portland, Oregon so this one hits close to home (and Danga's Brad Fitzpatrick has already said they are moving to San Francisco). The combined user base is estimated at 6.5 million, so it's hardly a minor acquisition.
We'll see what happens with TypePad and LiveJournal after this merger. So far the indications are that they will continue as separate products. I don't use either so I'm not really concerned. I am a Movable Type customer, though (I actually paid for it, which shocks some people).
Brad's initial question—an expected one—was “why does Six Apart want to acquire Danga (LiveJournal)?” The answer was simple: “Many of our weaknesses are LiveJournal's strengths and many of LiveJournal's weaknesses are our strengths.”
There's the infrastructure that LiveJournal knows how to build, the talent of Brad and his crew, and the community that we can learn a lot from. Yes, LiveJournal also has a large user base and joining companies make us stronger.
And of course we're doing this deal because we believe it will increase the value of Six Apart. We're a company and don't make apologies for that.
There's some of the standard answer there. “We each fill holes in the other company and it's expected that efficiencies from the merger will be accretive to earnings.” Everyone says that.
The fact is, webloggers and LiveJournalers are in essence doing the same thing: they are posting their thoughts to people who are important to them.
Always good to articulate a core value.
I've seen LiveJournalers worried that we're going to turn around and start charging, close the LiveJournal source, own the content on LiveJournals, force the users to use TypePad/Movable Type and plaster their sites with advertisements. (We're not going to do this).
Attack fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) early and often. It will certainly be spread by agitators and competitors. Most of the posting is about allaying the fear of change, something I'm pretty familiar with.
What disappoints me is the move of Danga employees to California. This is the Internet age. Why can't those employees work from here? Why can't they be in Belize? Is it really that critical to move them?
Brad's entry is a lote more like LiveJournal's style. Down to Earth, more nuts and bolts. He points out that he doesn't like to run a business but didn't trust anyone else to run LiveJournal. He trusts Six Apart.
And, finally, LiveJournal will get Trackback support, just in time for fighting Trackback spammers! With Jay Allen of MT-Blacklist in Six Apart's team, though, I expect the spam problem to get a lot of attention.
While my wife likes the integrated Mozilla package better, we have been using Firefox (and Thunderbird) for some time now. I test my web site with IE, Mozilla, and Opera regularly and with my involvement with Linux, Mozilla/Firefox is definitely my browser of choice. Why? Mainly because I support open standards, especially when it comes to the web.
Even so, IE is used by just under 80% of visitors to my site.
With Microsoft's efforts today concerning viruses, spyware, and pop-up ads, maybe they can fight against this loss of market share. To me it seems like a half effort, too late, except Microsoft has a history of making baby steps before it dominates and destroys a market that interferes with its ownership of mass market computing platforms. At the moment their anti-spyware software is going into beta. We'll see how it does against Spybot Search & Destroy and Lavasoft AdAware, both of which I recommend.
Update: Well, I ran Microsoft's tool and it did find something, although I haven't run any anti-spyware stuff in a little over a week. It has an always active piece that I'll watch to see if it interferes with anything. Since I also have Norton Antivirus and Zone Labs Integrity Client running constantly, we'll see if this newcomer picks a fight with them.
I just received this BIAW press release from the Clark County GOP:
ELECTION NOT OVER—ROSSI AND BIAW CONTINUE TO FIGHT
While the state’s liberal newspapers are calling the election over and are calling for Dino Rossi to concede, Rossi (winner of two out of three ballot counts) continues to press forward in his effort to ensure a clean and fair election result in the Governor’s race. The Rossi campaign believes the only way this will now be accomplished is through a revote to determine the winner once and for all. BIAW members and staff are continuing to do everything possible to assist Dino Rossi in finding the necessary ammunition to legally challenge the election.
Over the last two months, BIAW members and staff have actively participated in the recount process. BIAW has done everything from coordinating recount observers in key counties to providing in-house attorney support to challenge voting irregularities and arbitrary decisions of county election officials. BIAW even filed a brief in Supreme Court two weeks ago challenging King County’s decision to count an additional 700 plus votes.
Evidence is Mounting
Since Gregoire’s apparent margin of victory is 129 votes, election law requires that at least 130 fraudulent votes must be found in order to contest the election. Assuming Gregoire’s supporters would steal the election, BIAW staff set out in mid-November to find as many fraudulent votes as possible. Starting with an initial list of 400, BIAW found felons, voters who voted twice and even voters who said they didn’t sign affidavits from Democrat campaign workers attempting to harvest more absentee ballots for Gregoire. Armed with this initial success, BIAW staff working over the Christmas holiday expanded the search and discovered a large number of fraudulent votes were cast in Pierce County. Dozens of Pierce County felons voted in the past election. Under law, convicted felons are prohibited from voting unless they have applied for and are granted voting rights from the court. BIAW is now in the process of comparing the list of felons to voters in both King and Snohomish Counties. In addition, BIAW has uncovered instances of potential signature fraud and even a couple of instances where it appears dead people have voted.
Armed with these illegal votes, along with the fact that the number of ballots cast in King County exceeds the number of registered voters by over 3,500, Rossi and BIAW have a decent chance at getting the election thrown out.
I think they misspoke here. It's 3,500 more ballots than the number of people counted as voting, not registered to vote, if I understand correctly.
The Legislature is scheduled to certify the Governor’s race on January 12. All of the evidence of voter fraud will be presented to the press, public and Legislature before certification. Although the Legislature can throw out the election and call for a new one, it is expected that the Democrat controlled House and Senate will certify Gregoire as the winner. At that time, if enough evidence of voter fraud is collected, you can expect the Rossi Campaign to go to court in order to ask for a revote. In the meantime you can assured that BIAW is doing all it can to uncover more instances of voter fraud.
What Can You Do?
If you know of any instances of voter fraud or election irregularities in your County, call Brian Minnich at 1-800-228-4229.
Sounds like they made a pretty good case.
One benefit of getting involved with Amazon is that they can make it easier to promote helping those adversely affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and floods in Southeast Asia…
After my short fight with trackback spam this morning, I got my stuff together to be an Amazon associate. I played with the MTAmazon plugin briefly before I discovered that MT macros in the entries themselves don't actually get parsed. Argh! Now I cut and paste in a standard Amazon link when I need it. I noticed a few places back into December that could benefit from links, so they are in there now. I also added the Amazon.com search beastie to the strip on the left side.
Some might think I'm getting a tad commercial, but my provider pointed out that I'm using a lot of space now (250MB of mail alone). It wouldn't hurt to get a trickle in from the content I already cover. I used to review books and DVDs far more often before the schoolwork kept me so busy.
I also put in Gravatar support, not that anyone uses it that visits here.
Update: I forgot to mention that I allow unregistered comments again. apparently restricting it to just Typekey users was a bit too harsh. I hope the MT-Blacklist is now ready to handle the spam a bit better. (My activity log shows I get a lot of attempts.)
I've apparently drawn the interest of trackback spammers this morning. MT-Blacklist seems to be keeping it under control but what a pain to deal with idiots that think this sort of thing works.
We saw this beautiful trimaran on our way out to see stingrays at Grand Cayman.
This latest quote, via Sound Politics but really from OpinionJournal's John Fund in his “Poltiical Diary” daily, which I used to subscribe to and maybe will again:
A handwriting analyst hired by the state's home-building industry believes there is strong evidence that one person may have signed over 300 provisional ballots cast in a controversial precinct  in which hundreds of voters listed the county's administration building as their home address.
As usual, I will advise you all to read Sound Politics, because they already noted that the quote is questionable, since the fellow hired to do the handwriting analysis has not issued a report.
They did find something else:
…their investigation has revealed a substantial number of illegal votes cast by felons!
In the past couple days my entry on “www.revotewa.com” has drawn a couple hundred visitors looking for the site. Welcome!
Yesterday the DirecTV guys came over to install a $49 PVR and look into my mysterious lack-of-satellite TV issue. They found a half-melted ground block which they though might have had a power surge (and we have had power outages), but my Internet connection was working, until they replaced the block. Now I don't get enough signal to connect. Argh!
I'm back at work now, so I connect from there, but the semester I have two online courses I suddenly have no online access!
Update: they might be back tomorrow with someone who knows how the dish works so they can diagnose. The original technicians didn't understand my multi-capable dish. After all, receiving a signal is a lot different than transmitting one.
Yes, it's my wife Misty! She had a blast playing with dolphins and stingrays.
(Map from Royal Caribbean's itinerary from my cruise reservation…)
Last time we did
This time we are doing
Maybe if we do another one some day we'll do the Southern Caribbean. However, even one cruise every other year looks like it will be a lot of work.
Hooray for 2005!