log  ->  quadium.net

Tue 2003-10-07 18:09

electioneering

I might as well toss in my 2 cents about the California recall before everyone's done voting.

I've been annoyed since the whole business started with the people whining that they're trying to override the will of the voters. I really can't think of anything further from the truth. The recall is a yes or no question decided by majority vote. And as for it being misused, I will quote directly from the California constitution:

Recall of a state officer is initiated by delivering to the Secretary of State a petition alleging reason for recall. Sufficiency of reason is not reviewable.

Another complaint is that this is the first use of the recall provision in a long while. I find this complaint specious and invalid, and a reflection of the stagnation of our society. Novelty must not be counted as proof of illegitimacy.

Regardless, it's just a simple vote of no-confidence. Many organizations provide for those. They even had one in Star Wars! But then again, its use was because they had been tricked by the baddies... What does that tell us?

In all seriousness, while I don't have a problem with the recall itself, I do have a problem with the likely replacement governor. Schwarzenegger is clearly pandering to the lowest common denominator of voters with his campaign based entirely on movie quotes and a purposeful lack of clearly stated policy (life imitates Onion yet again). The way he's dodging the issue of sexual harrassment allegations should give pause to anyone who took issue with Clinton's dalliances. And then there are the suspicions that Schwarzenegger's candicacy is merely a way for Enron to keep their ill-gotten gains. (Why aren't the Democrats making that an issue, anyway?)

So if you're in California, don't look to me for advice. Davis doesn't seem to be making the brightest decisions, and Schwarzenegger isn't impressive either. Here's an idea: Vote Libertarian. For once a Libertarian candidate might have a chance.

me

I've been lax in updating, yes. Mainly I've been festering, getting personal finances and things like that in order, and waiting to comment on events like the Iraq war until things have settled down enough to make intelligent comments. I've recently found a 2" binder's worth of PDFed reports online, so I think I'll have comments on those soon. Plus stories of yet another corporate collapse, adventures with C++, and more. For now it's time to nap though.

Sat 2003-10-11 16:30

drugs

Eli Lilly seems to be stepping up their mail-related privacy violations. It seems they got a doctor's signature on a blank piece of paper, copied a form letter onto it, and sent 1 month's worth of unsolicited unprescribed Prozac to 145 people.

Meanwhile, there's a new drug that halves the return of breast cancer after treatment. And yeast may provide a cancer vaccine. (This was in Friday's Rocky Mountain News, page 44A, titled CU researchers studying innovative use of yeast in fight against cancer, by Bill Scanlon, but I can't find it on their site. Maybe someone wanted it pulled?) Anyway, yeast is kind of like cancer, so the idea makes sense.

california

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday (the first part of the show; I didn't get to hear his Oxycontin "revelation") and heard him discussing the California recall. He stated that California's tax revenues are up, that this is likely due to an economic rebound, and that it will make Schwarzenegger and the Republicans look good. Offhand, this would seem to lend credence to Gray Davis's claims that he was held responsible for economic circumstances beyond his control. Hmm.

The Rocky Mountain News gives us a good clue as to where to look for evidence of the alleged conspiracy:

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he'll meet with President Bush, perhaps as early as next week, to seek more federal dollars for California. Let's hope the president gives the governor-elect the same answer he gave Gray Davis two years ago regarding California's electricity shortages. The president then said the state's energy meltdown should be solved "in California by Californians."

fairly unbalanced

Funny, but more pathetic really: the Fresh Air interview of Bill O'Reilly [Real or Windows Media]. Terry Gross was woefully underprepared for a guest that didn't at least put up a nicey-nice façade, O'Reilly couldn't seem to handle not being in control of the situation. He seemed to be doing all right, then just snapped into a paranoid frenzy. Slammed the door on his way out, too.

For those of you that handn't already figured this out empirically, there is now proof that Fox News makes you dumber. A new 7-month study [PDF] (with an average sample size of 1233 respondents per month) shows that misperceptions about the Iraq war were strongly correlated with the use of Fox News as the primary news source. Support for the war, in turn, went up dramatically with each misperception. Luckily, when I do pay attention to broadcast news, I listen to NPR, which makes you smarter.

My one quibble with the study was that it seemed to take the inaccuracy of the misperceptions for granted. The only source cited was the nebulous intelligence community. That said, I haven't heard any credible reports supporting the misperceptions, so I will continue to treat them as such until I hear otherwise. In any case, if they haven't yet been proven to be true, then it is indeed incorrect to currently believe they have, so I feel the study is still valid.

And just in case the government's embedded reporters weren't getting you enough misinformation, they've started astroturfing! That's right, the US Army has been sending out fake letters to the editor, to newspapers across the country, signing the names of real soldiers at the bottom without their knowledge.

random, or, what i found on metafilter lately

I'm somewhat envious of European privacy laws, since I'm currently suffering from unfair items on my credit report, but I wonder if they might not be going a bit far if they treat office phone numbers as "personal information".

EMusic has just made themselves much less cost-effective and much much more hated. I suspect Magnatune and CD Baby may start seeing some of my business. I may even transfer it over.

Neil Postman, the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, has died. I've owned that book for years, and I keep going back to it. Strongly recommended. I didn't know how prolific he was, and I'm going to have to get some of his other books.

Thu 2003-10-16 15:16

random

Last weekend wasn't the greatest. I hit a deer going to work Saturday, destroyed my headlight and side mirror, and damaged my hood and right fender. I'd been planning to leave anything cosmetic alone until I had things like a short shifter, intake, headers, and exhaust, but it looks like I'll be getting a vented carbon fiber hood and a set of nice projector headlights. I actually got lucky in that StreetStyler is having some pretty good deals on both right now, but I still hate it when large purchases get forced on me.

I tried out AllOfMP3.com the other night, and I'm highly impressed with it. As far as the technical aspects go, this site is great. You can pay with PayPal if you want, which shields your credit card number. Once you have a balance on your account, you simply select which tracks you want, choose your encoder and bitrate, and wait until they tell you your music is ready for download. I'm only going to mention this site once, as I want to make sure it stays under the radar, but I suspect the only reason they haven't been sued yet is that it would be legally hairy for the RIAA to do so. As long as they have the appropriate licenses, I can't see any legal difference between this and going to Russia, buying a disc there, and bringing it back with me. Also don't forget that Russia is likely to be less than enthusiastic about extraditing anyone for copyright-related matters, after the whole Sklyarov debacle.

politics

The CDC was unable to find a link between stricter gun control and lower rates of violent crime. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that the scientists there are apparently so enamored with gun control that they had to be ordered by Congress not to use their funding to promote it.

iraq

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Article 33

Courtesy of Pacific Views, we learn this:

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.

We are becoming the bad guys from our own war movies. Ever seen Operation Dumbo Drop? The beginning of the movie depicts the North Vietnamese killing a village's sacred elephant because they refused to give away the activities of Americans. Right away it becomes "obvious" that the North Vietnamese are the bad guys and the Americans are the good guys. Why? Because we are horrified that anyone would engage in such cruel, illegal, heavy-handed, and ultimately pointless attempts to compel loyalty.

Is it any different when our military does the same thing? What excuses us from responsibility? I fear that the answer is that the North Vietnamese were a bunch of gooks, while we have Manifest Destiny on our side and the towelheads are getting in the way. We will soon have to face the consequences of this blind spot in our national psyche. In fact, I believe we already are:

In the nearby town of Aduluwiya, Israeli-like "collective punishment" tactics were in full-effect. Last week, the Americans destroyed the palm orchard that has been in twenty-five year old Mohamed Ali Sadoun's family for fifty years because passing U.S. convoys had been attacked from its cover. "As far as I am concerned, it is Israel that destroyed my orchard," Ali Sadoun said. It took three days for the American bulldozers to uproot all of his one-thousand date palms. When Ali Sadoun asked for a few days reprieve to harvest the dates, the Americans refused.

"I hated the Americans before and I hate them more now," he said. "I will teach my children and their children to hate the Americans until the end of their lives. Even if they pave our streets in gold, we don't want them here."

Who will honestly be surprised when one of Ali Sadoun's children grabs an RPG and takes out a tank?

"In the beginning I was into this; we all were," he said. But now, he feels the war is a waste.

"We haven't found anything, no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam, no nothing. And the people there hate us. If we were rolling through a town and they were cheering, hell yeah, it would make us feel better. But when they're not cooperating and throwing rocks and giving us evil looks, we don't want to be there. We're conquerors to them. It wasn't supposed to be like that."

New York Times, On Furlough, Soldier Savors Every Moment

Soldiers and their families seem to be starting to recognize the fallacies embedded in the "Support Our Troops" slogan which is so popular. While rereading an article on the form letter issue, I noticed that the Army's fraudulent attempt to portray an outpouring of support for the war is causing some military families to point out the difference between supporting soldiers and supporting the war:

Moya Marois said she is proud of her stepson Alex, the former Olympia resident. But she worries that the letter tries to give legitimacy to a war she doesn't think was justified.

"We're going to support our son," she said. But "there are a lot of Americans that are not in support of this war that would like to see them returned home, and think it's going to get worse."

Meanwhile, the United States makes another insensitive blunder by selecting the Turks, of all people, to perform peacekeeping duties in the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

health

The November 2003 issue of Wired has an article about artificial sweeteners, tagatose in particular. I was strongly disappointed to find that the article only mentioned stevia once, in passing, and that it was not included in their chart of sweeteners. I would expect Wired, of all publications, to want to be all over something so subversive.

life and death

Recently I heard an interview with John Prestwich, the longest surviving user of an iron lung. It was extremely interesting to hear the extent to which he had adapted to the machine, both in his descriptions and in his speech itself. I never once heard him interrupted by his lung taking a breath for him; in fact, his intentional pauses for breath seemed to give him a sort of dignified cadence. This machine is like a comfortable friend, not a prison, he says, which is an interesting counterpoint to what seems to be the prevailing attitude toward life-support devices.

Terri Schindler-Schiavo began starving yesterday due to the removal of her feeding tube. While her parents and their site are clearly biased, my suspicions are raised by the fact that her husband apparently placed her in a nursing home rather than pay for therapy from a fund specifically set aside for that purpose, that if she dies he will inherit the remainder of that fund, and that his account of her wishes has changed several times.

Opponents of abortion are often accused of unfairly using slippery slope tactics in argument, but evidence seems to be on their side. An Illinois court has ruled it legal to kill a newborn baby, as long as the umbilical cord has not yet been cut.

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