January 26, 2005
Although Rice's nomination was never in doubt, Democrats mounted a lengthy and biting protest that showed she will not immediately match Powell's collegial relationship with Capitol Hill.Sen. Durbin had a good, strong Democrat day, also giving torture apologist Alberto Gonzales the thumbs-down in committee. Kudos, Senator.
Democratic senators denounced Rice's job performance and truthfulness. Most criticism focused on Rice's role planning for war and explaining the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Some accused her of avoiding accountability for the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Others said she seemed unwilling to acknowledge errors in planning or judgment.
"In the end, I could not excuse Dr. Rice's repeated misstatements," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said of his vote against Rice.
According to some, it's illegal for makers of the civil rights documentary "Eyes on the Prize" to put it on DVD or show it in public? But at 8:00 PM on February 8th during Black History Month, Downhill Battle (downhillbattle.org) is encouraging Americans to celebrate the struggle and triumph of the civil rights movement with screenings of "Eyes on the Prize" in homes and public places with the goal of having a screening in every major city in America. The campaign is called Eyes on the Screen.
"Eyes on the Prize" is the most comprehensive and revered civil rights documentary ever made. But the documentary has not been available for public viewing for the past 10 years because of unreasonable copyright laws that impose stifling restrictions on artists and filmmakers. In one instance, copyright holders believe they should receive licensing fees for the song "Happy Birthday," which appears in footage of a group of people singing to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"To celebrate Black History Month, we believe that "Eyes on the Prize" should be seen by as many people as possible," says Tiffiniy Cheng of Downhill Battle. "The civil rights movement is just too important for this invaluable resource to be denied to the public. So, we're going to help distribute "Eyes on the Prize" to a mass audience and communities can have screenings."
January 25, 2005
Okay, they have figured out how to scrape a video (and presumably audio) feed for human language and put it all in the search relevancy results we've all come to expect. They've only been running their indexer against television feeds since December, but think about it: if it weren't for the stingy copyright, we already have the technology to google any TV show, really any media -- music, movies, audiobooks -- ever. That's pretty fucking amazing. It's not surprising, because all of the pieces to do this have been floating around for a while, and it takes a Google to pull it off, but as I was just sitting here thinking of how we could have truly on-demand entertainment ("oh, what was that one episode of West Wing, with the diary? Let's google it and watch it...," or, "I want to see a movie right now about Vietnam," or "How does that song, Genius of Love, go, again?"), it seemed to warrant mention.
UPDATE (minutes later): Alright, on further examination, it appears they are getting the text from speech via the closed captioning stream, so they've offloaded that heavy-lifting to existing infrastructure. It's still impressive, even if it isn't as sophisticated as it initially seemed :-( Reading the "About" page: who knew?
January 20, 2005
Still, it must have been hard to press the yea button.
January 14, 2005
A federal judge Thursday ordered a suburban Atlanta school system to remove stickers from its high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying the disclaimers are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.Here we have the problem of a word with a strong popular meaning and connotation also having a particular precise application in a more specific context. They only got away with this as long as they did because presumably well-meaning people looked at the term "theory of evolution," and it seemed a little soft, spongy enough to absorb controversy and able to be dismissed or argued by an average but reasonably well-informed person. Theory, in the scientific sense, is a word that's hard and neutral, and the price of admission to argue a scientific theory on its merits is high. Besides, if you start casting doubts about evolution because it's "theory" of evolution, it's a slippery slope: science is pretty much all theories.
While I tend to put myself in the Feyerabend camp and think that a community, not a group of scientists, should determine for itself how best to absorb and integrate scientific knowledge and its applications, if you're Joe Q. Schoolboard from Georgia, you're making a huge mistake climbing into the playing field of science, same with you "intelligent design"ers. It's absurd for you to adopt the framework of the thing you're trying to negate. Haven't you learned anything from your ridiculously successful, tax-cutting political brethern?
Update: I've had a change of heart: I'm pro-sticker.
January 13, 2005
Now, this is not to say that the party should go and start being all out and abortion-positive. Politically, it's a landmine where the media is not on our side and which animates the opposition. And I certainly think it's not inconsistent to woo moderates who find abortion morally suspect but aren't single-issue (single-issuers are going GOP every time, anyway, and are thankfully an extremely small group). But I think the advocacy groups that compose the party can try to take some of the taboo out of it, while the party basically stands pat on its current position. As Kevin Drum has pointed out, of all the social policies Democrats might want to bring under the microscope and have a heart-to-heart re-evaluation about, why are we so quick to tinker with the one core pillar that also happens to be the majority position?