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April 22, 2004

E-voting follies 

posted by Paul Smith @ 3:50 PM
A must read (via Slashdot):
Diebold apologizes for device flaws

Critics of electronic voting and voting

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

It is an uncommon day when the nation's second-largest provider of voting systems concedes that its flagship products in California have significant security flaws and that it supplied hundreds of poorly designed electronic-voting devices that disenfranchised voters in the March presidential primary.

Diebold Election Services Inc. president Bob Urosevichadmitted this and more, and apologized "for any embarrassment."

"We were caught. We apologize for that," Urosevich said of the mass failures of devices needed to call up digital ballots. Poll-workers in Alameda and San Diego counties hadn't been trained on ways around their failure, and San Diego County chose not to supply polls with backup paper ballots, crippling the largest rollout of e-voting in the nation on March 2. Unknown thousands of voters were turned away at the polls.

"We're sorry for the inconvenience of the voters," Urosevich said.

"Weren't they actually disenfranchised?" asked Tony Miller, chief counsel to the state's elections division.

After a moment, Urosevich agreed: "Yes, sir."

Flanked by most of California's local elections officials and advocates for the blind and speakers of minority-language, Diebold executives and attorneys pleaded for one more chance.

"There's still not any evidence of electronic voting sys- tems anywhere in this country counting votes inaccurately," said Conny McCormack, the Los Angeles County registrar of voters.

But critics of electronic voting and Diebold said enough is enough.

Seattle journalist and BlackBoxVoting.org leader Bev Harris took a microphone two feet in front of Urosevich and said, "What we have is a company that lies. Yes, I'll say it -- lies."

"You have got to vote them off the island," said Jim March, a Sacramento lobbyist for the right to bear arms and see a paper ballot. March waved an especially harsh state report on Diebold's poor compliance with California election law.

"After this report, doubts will always remain not only about their credibility but their sanity," he said. --Tri-Valley Herald Online

It's so remarkable to see a corporate CEO in a mea culpa at all about anything that, well, it's refreshing. I'll give him that. It's less refreshing that the anti-e-voting crowd comes off as a little nutty, or at least are presented that way.

April 21, 2004

Weekend Activity 

posted by Scott @ 12:43 PM
Go break things at the Pottery Barn. Apparently you don't have to pay for it. Thanks for clearing that up PB.

April 20, 2004

Last Week's Slate 

posted by Scott @ 3:18 PM
Finally getting myself together after my vacation (it's amazing how hard it is to get the engine started after even a short shutdown). Here are some must reads from Slate:

A defense of G-Mail. I for one am very excited about this. A whole gig for each account you make. Think of all the space for data that you would normally have to throw out. There's no way that could be free, so I don't care if they forward my mail to their friends and claim it as their own. But the kicker is that the privacy argument against G-Mail is moot; any email provider that has anti-spam services scans through your messages anyway. They just don't tack on corresponding ads, which from most testers of G-mail are said to be very unobtrusive.

Baseball blogs: of course, the medium is perfect for obsessive sports fans. Some good links to start on in this article. I love baseball but my sport is hockey all the way. Anybody know any good NHL blogs?

If like me you're been befuddled by Bob Dylan's appearance in those Victoria Secret commercials, check out Seth Stevenson's assessment. He does a good job offering possible motives and explanations, but it's still a mystery to me.

TNR and NRO in the Cage 

posted by Scott @ 1:53 PM
In the interest of honest liberal/conservative debate, Opinion Duel has been launched featuring writers from The New Republic and the National Review facing off. The first debate about intelligence failures prior to 9/11 is just OK, but you have to like the spirit of the idea. We'll see how it develops. Could be a great site, though I'm not sure how representative TNR is for liberal opinion. More Center vs. Right. [via Hit&Run]

April 18, 2004

Woodward on 60 Minutes: stunning 

posted by Paul Smith @ 8:33 PM
I'm still processing Bob Woodward's 60 Minutes appearance after watching it for the second time, but the most immediate "actionable intelligence" from Woodward seems to me to be 2 things: 1) When Cheney, Franks, and Rumsfeld went to brief the Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Bandar, they brought with them a top secret war plan map marked "NOFORN," meaning no foreigners are allowed to view its contents; and 2) they are conspiring with a foreign government to influence the outcome of the election by manipulating oil prices.

OK, this is treason, right? I'm not being glib or rhetorical, I'm really asking. I mean, if it's not, what do we call it?

April 12, 2004

Forbidden Words 2004 

posted by Paul Smith @ 2:51 PM
Just for fun, and in the spirit of Paul Ford's The Passivator, I whipped up the Forbidden Words Flagger, 2004 Edition, based on Matt Groening's annual list of forbidden words he reveals through Life In Hell.

Yeah, he does this on January 1st and it's already April, I know. Next year I'll turn it around faster. What do you want from a lunchtime, boredom-induced hack?

April 11, 2004

Short Break 

posted by Scott @ 1:05 PM
I'm heading out of town for a short vacation.
Should be back up posting by the end of the week.
until then......

April 08, 2004

Thurston Moore Weighs In 

posted by Scott @ 4:40 PM
Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth, has a surprisingly insightful interpretation of Kurt Cobain and the rise of "alternative music" in todays NYT. With the 10 year anniversary of Cobain, there'll be lots of garbage coverage about his legacy and troubled life, but I doubt many reports will be as perceptive of what he and Nirvana actually represented as this one.

Tomorrow on Brooks 

posted by Scott @ 4:22 PM
I was waiting for someone to point out how ridiculous David Brooks' op-ed article was the other day. For a guy who defines himself as a political-culture critic, Brooks routinely exudes some of the lamest observations and quips. He's just so out of touch (flannel-shirt wearing screen writers?), and his attempts to act like he's "with it" make his humor and cultural analysis funny in itself. He sounds like a dorky Dad trying to talk slang with his kids, who just roll their eyes and cringe with embarrassment. He's the Republican Seinfeld. Tom Tomorrow concludes that "The rest of us in this funny-joke-making business might as well just pack it in. We have met our match."

April 07, 2004

List of liars 

posted by Paul Smith @ 10:52 AM
In case you haven't been keeping track, the list of Bush administration officials or associates who are liars includes:
The President and his staff tell a different story on various issues than these folks do, therefore, liars all. Why do they hate America so much?

April 06, 2004

Nader in Chicago  

posted by Scott @ 11:34 PM
DJwinfo was there and brings up a good point about Nader's candidacy:

"The place was filled with 200 or so mostly young, mostly white people. And this is a crowd that represents 1 to 5 percent of the Democratic Party coalition. John Kerry -- or any centrist presidential candidate -- will not bring these people out to vote. These people (many of them first-time voters) need an unalloyed candidate who doesn't seem part of the establishment to inspire them to participate. They need a candidate who can call for President Bush's impeachment for an "unconstitutionally-authorized war based on untruths" in order to register to vote and feel that they aren't selling out."

He's right to say that certain fringe elements on the left just won't involve themselves in politics unless there's a voice like Nader's to lead them. Nevertheless, I still think that Nader can do nothing but harm for Kerry. In the end, even these die-hard Naderites types can be persuaded that not voting for Kerry is bad for the things that they care about. Which leads me to the conclusion that Nader's candidacy is not objectionable if one condition is met: early in the fall, he gets on national tv and directs all of his followers to vote Kerry. He'd have to be stern and earnest: "do not vote for me, vote for Kerry."

More Nader news here and here.

April 05, 2004

Reason Is Watching You...... 

posted by Scott @ 9:35 PM
....that is if you're a subscriber. Check out this great idea they had for this month's issue. In a demonstration of the positive possibilities and the scary reach of increasingly powerful databases, Reason has customized the covers of each of their 40K subscribers with a satellite picture of their house and other personal information. Makes me wish I shelled out the dough for a subscription. What a cool idea. For more on how databases are tracking our every move, check out this NYT Magazine article on the mailing databases of both national parties.

The National Review Cedes Illinois 

posted by Scott @ 6:16 PM
The always moronic John J. Miller over at the National Review can't muster too much confidence in Ryan.

"ILLINOIS: Democratic state Sen. Barack Obama will face Republican investor-turned-teacher Jack Ryan. Democrats will try to make Obama a national cause celebre because he is black; in Ryan, Republicans are pleased to have a nominee that they tried and failed to recruit two years ago. Ryan is an underdog, but if 2004 turns out to be a stronger-than-expected year for Republicans everywhere, he has a chance to eke out a win. LEANING DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER."

I love the fact that Miller can't acknowledge any other positive qualities in Obama beyond his race. White suburbanites and downstaters in Illinois sure did when they voted last month.

April 03, 2004

A few Senate Items  

posted by Scott @ 8:51 PM
More standard Obama hype from the Boston Globe

Robert Novak tries to ruffle the Jacksons' feathers.

Obama's Sense Of Direction


Illinois could be in play for the GOP after all

April Fools? 

posted by Scott @ 8:26 PM
I'm up for a joke as much as anyone, but this April fools gag about Obama heading to Kenya just seems cruel and not in the least bit humorous:

"Reports that the American of Kenyan descent in the race to clinch a seat in the US senate, Mr Barrack Obama, was jetting home to meet supporters and build a Simba - a traditional Luo grass-thatched hut - in his father's home, deceived many.
However, plans by some people to move to the Moi Stadium to secure seats for his rally were marred by drizzles, which went on for the most part of the morning.
It was not until 1pm, when people saw Works and Housing minister Raila Odinga addressing a business function in Nairobi, that most Obama supporters realized they had been fooled.
According to the story titled "Obama jets in today", Raila would have been one of the key leaders to attend the politician's rally.
In Siaya, residents, among them Cllr Awando Ondere, also fell for the hoax. Ondere, a distant cousin of Obama, had, on reading the story, started arranging a party in honour of the senate aspirant.
Anxious residents, longing to see their "son", made arrange-ments to move to the Nyangoma Kogelo village for a grand reception.
Others, led by Ondere, planned to travel to Kisumu - about 80 kilometres away - to attend the rally. The councillor could not hide his disappointment when journalists informed him that it was, after all, a joke. "What do you mean a joke. This is a very serious matter," he remarked in vernacular."

Wow, who's the comic genius behind this one?

Nice Move 

posted by Scott @ 8:14 PM
Here's what Obama recently said about the Ryan divorce files:

"I'm not the policeman for what the media and everybody else does," Obama said. "What I can take responsibility for is my campaign and those people who are supporting me. And to the extent that people who are supporting me, including the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic [Senatorial Campaign] Committee are engaging in these kinds of things, I would urge them not to do so because I think Illinois voters really want to focus on those issues that are going to help them in their lives."

This is exactly what he needs to do at this point. Now thanks to the Tribune's lawsuit and the rest of the media's infatuation with these files, he can pull back and distance himself and the rest of the Democratic party from this whole affair. With the traditional media and blogs to keep the divorce story in play, he can coast above the fray on this one right through November. Even if the Trib lawsuit fails and other news sources choose to back off the topic, the blogosphere is an easy place to keep this story alive. After seeing Atrios and Kos in prominent places at the Democratic Unity Dinner, it's clear that the party knows the value of bloggers at the national level not only for fundraising but also for doing their dirty work, just as Limbaugh et al have done for the GOP for years.

Avert Your Gaze....... 

posted by Scott @ 6:06 PM
......Lamisil is back. For some reason that disgusting commercial for that toenail funk medicine is back. I agree with this Slate piece that it is one the most disturbing commercials out there, and after disappearing from the airwaves for almost a year it's now on regular rotation again. The thought of popping open a toenail like the hood of a car makes me cringe.

Again with the missle defense 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:20 PM
The Bush Administration is rushing to enlist Japan and other countries in a missile defense shield alliance, the idea being that by having "facts on the ground" -- the defense system itself by the end of the year and widespread international buy-in -- it'll be that much harder for the program's critics to impede its progress. Seems like a sound approach, given that it has more or less worked for Israel and their security wall, but putting aside that for a moment--are they fucking kidding? Given the fact that Condi Rice was scheduled to deliver a pro-missile defense speech on 9/11 which explicitly downplayed the threat of asymmetric terrorist threats and she'll soon have to answer questions about the Administration approach to terrorism under oath to the 9/11 Commission, you'd think the President would, strictly from a political perspective, recognize that Star Wars is for all intents and purposes off the table for at least the duration of the election season. But, you know, it makes a world of sense, as its absolutely typical of an Administration that brazenly pursues its narrow self-interests, flaunting it even.

April 01, 2004

Bridgeview Dome Deal: Get your mob on 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:56 PM
Regular Polis commenter 'wilson' has pointed us to a brewing scandal surrounding the acquisition of a sports dome in Bridgeview for a Chicago Fire practice facility. NBC 5's Anna Davlantes has done some fine reporting on the story (apparently at some risk to her safety as not-so-thinly veiled threats were hurled at her), which focuses on a man named Steve Reynolds who forced the owner of the dome to sell (using the ol' send some muscle in the form of an ex-felon/ex-cop to do some convincin' technique), and Reynold's wife, who then profited from the sale of the dome to the city of Bridgeview. It's also apparent that Reynolds and the mayor of Bridgeview, Steve Landek, have had business ties in the past. The NBC 5 story links to The Daily Southtown's exhaustive piece on the deal and the background of its players. You know it's going to be a good story when one of the principal's says, "She didn't make nothing! Lies!"

Social software invades politics 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:07 PM
Stanford's Political Friendster combines regular Friendster's innovative six-degrees web technology with regular Friendster's annoying lag times with … politics! Actual, it's pretty fascinating and has a fairly comprehensive inventory of major and minor political entities, from the the Carlyle Group to Ralph Nader to Christopher Hitchens. There's also a cool visualization tool that let's you map the connections between these players; it reminded me of that Flash app from a few years back that mapped out the connections between corporate CEOs. Perfect for both your tin-foil hat and early adopter sets.

ArchPundit Diagnoses Ryan's Ills 

posted by Scott @ 3:09 PM
ArchPundit has a good post summarizing the challenges Ryan faces in the next 8 months.

"Ryan's problems at this point are many. He is spending what should be a press honeymoon, talking about something that is not on message. His opponent is being fawned over in the press nationally and locally more than a candidate usually gets in that honeymoon after a primary.
He is making the press annoyed. The press, out of lots of experience, don't trust candidates when they say "trust me". The more they do it, the more cynical and jaded the press becomes. Ryan's short term press problem could easily be turned into a permanent problem. Ask Hull."

The fact that Ryan has not put this issue to rest at this point makes me surmise that there is indeed damaging information in his divorce files. Everyday that he allows the press to harp on this issue pushes him deeper in the hole; and with Obama playing national superstar that hole just gets more and more overwhelming. If I were the RNC, I'd give up on him too.

Cole on Falluja 

posted by Scott @ 2:43 PM
Juan Cole weighs in on the atrocious violence yesterday.

"It seems likely to me that the guerrilla violence will continue for years, since it has a firm class base in the Sunni Arab rentiers who had benefitted from Sunni dominance in the Baath, and to whom the best jobs, infrastructure and most power had been thrown. They are not going to be quietly reduced to a small powerless and much less wealthy minority.

The only hope is political. The Sunni Arabs have to be convinced that they are not playing a zero-sum game. ......But politics does not have to be a zero-sum game. The Iraqi economy has the potential to expand greatly. So the pie won't stay the same size, and Shiites could get richer without robbing the Sunni Arabs. Likewise, in a parliamentary system, the Sunni Arabs could make coalitions with Kurds and moderate Shiites in such a way as to be a key player and to retain a great deal of political power and to forestall the radical Shiites from taking over. A minority can leverage its power by being a swing vote.

Unless the Sunni Arabs are drawn into parliamentary politics and convinced that the new game is not a zero-sum game, the bombs will continue to go off."

Freeing Your Mind is So Passe these Days 

posted by Scott @ 1:48 PM
Well, not exactly. Slate reports that LSD use is way down, but mainly because the supply has been hit recently by some major busts by the Feds.
And a more interesting explanations may have compounded this supply drought:

"The LSD market took an earlier blow in 1995, when Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia died and the band stopped touring. For 30 years, Dead tours were essential in keeping many LSD users and dealers connected, a correlation confirmed by the DEA in a divisional field assessment from the mid-'90s. The spring following Garcia's death (the season the MTF surveys are administered), annual LSD use among 12th-graders peaked at 8.8 percent and began their slide. Phish picked up part of the Dead's fan baseā€”and presumably vestiges of the LSD delivery system. At the end of 2000, Phish stopped touring as well, and perhaps not coincidentally, the MTF numbers for LSD began to plummet."

Surely kids are just moving on to the fancy new designer drugs that are all the rage these days, but my questions is what this will do to the future of America? Can our democracy survive a generation that hasn't spent the requisite time staring at its melting hand while in black-lit rooms? Will Phish do the right thing and start touring again to get the country back on track? Perhaps Congress could mandate Phish to include a rehashed Space and Drums set at each new show.

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