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Defeatism and attacks on the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 23:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


We have a rule in our country that “attacking the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war” helps The Terrorists and emboldens our enemies. Joe Lieberman put it this way: “in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”

President Bush said during the campaign that John Kerry’s criticisms of Iraq “can embolden an enemy.” And this year he warned us: “In a time of war, we have a responsibility to show that whatever our political differences at home, our nation is united and determined to prevail.” And last week, Ken Mehlman gave a speech in Cleveland and attacked what he said is a growing “defeatism,” and then oh-so-cleverly remarked: “Today’s Democrat Party has become the Defeat-ocrat Party.”

In the wake of the Bush administration’s engineering of the Israel-Lebanon U.N. resolution, it looks like the Commander-in-Chief has a lot of new enemies and the The Terrorists have a lot of new allies:

[many examples deleted – follow the link]

Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer both said this weekend on Fox that Hezbollah won and Iran has been strengthened. Attacks on the Commander-in-Chief and proclamations of American defeat are ubiquitous – among the same group that insisted for the last five years that such attacks are dangerous and wrong and that talk of American defeat helps the terrorists.

Aren’t terrorists going to be so happy to see that Americans are divided in this way? Doesn’t it make us less safe for all of these people to be branding the U.S. as weak losers and to be glorifying the strength and power of our enemies? Don’t these people realize that we’re in a war and that weakening the Commander-in-Chief with such criticisms and declaring American defeat endangers all of us?

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John McCain Breaks McCain-Feingold Law

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 23:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Hotline On Call today reports that John McCain will be raising money for Adjudant General Stan Spears in South Carolina. However the fundraiser violates the law he helped write. The invitation says that the “minimum donation requested is $100” and says nothing about the maximum.

The law that McCain wrote specifically prohibits Senators from raising more than $2100 for a state candidate. However, the Spears invitation encourages donors to give amounts up to and beyond that limit. This means that John McCain is raising soft money.

McCain has said repeatedly that the purpose of McCain Feingold was to stop federal officeholders from raising soft money. In July of 2004 he proclaimed his mission accomplished saying:

“Federal officeholders are out of the business of soliciting unregulated contributions.”

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The future of the patents battle

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 19:42 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


The last battle was about legislation. The law makers were asked to change the law to make software patentable. We countered by asking the law makers to clarify the law to a point where the patent office could no longer justify the granting of software patents.

In July 2005, the proposal to change the legislation was dropped entirely. So neither side won. We didn’t win, but we did something very significant. We showed that we are a capable player in the legislative arena. Those in favour of software patents evaluated our ability and decided that the risk that we might win was too high, so they walked away.

Now, those in favour of software patent have decided to try modifying the judiciary power. They don’t like that the national courts are dismissing cases where software patent holders try to litigate against people.

They’ve found two ways to get at the judiciary power. One is the “Community Patent”, and the other is the EPLA (European Patent Litigation Agreement).

There are proposals, backed by those in favour of software patents, for either of these to put the European Patent Office (EPO) charge of the judiciary power. So instead of patent litigation cases being decided by the national courts, they would be decided by special patent courts with judges appointed by the EPO. …and the EPO are the people who say that software is patentable. If this happens, software patents will exist in every measurable sense in the EU.

The argument for having this one court is that a single EU-wide court would be more cost effective and would create EU-wide precedent and prevent conflicting results between states. The argument for giving the EPO control over this court is that the court should be made of experts and the EPO are the experts.

The lawyers working for software patents are really creative and persistent. They must have spent hundreds of thousands of euros on developing this new strategy, yet anyone could now replicate their legal strategy without compensation. Is this fair? Surely we need legal claim patents to protect the inventors of new legal methods, and to incentivize the creation of them! How can these lawyers work in good conscience on other fields of business when their own creative ideas have so little protection? Clearly “legal strategy” patents are essential – after all, without legal strategy patents lawyers couldn’t own their own discover-… idea-.. inventions.

Then there would be no driving economic force behind legal innovation, and the entire legal industry would stagnate, retarding the progress of the Unites States/Europe and ensuring that legal development only took place in other countries…

No, wait-

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The riddle of China’s Area 51

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 14:50 by John Sinteur in category: News



On the internet, a little mystery can go a long way.

Six weeks ago, a man living in Germany and calling himself KenGrok, announced a fascinating discovery on a Google Earth Community forum.

Poring over satellite images of China on the free Google Earth service, he came across a strange plot of land – approximately 900 metres by 700 metres, about the size of six Sydney Cricket Grounds.

The land, which KenGrok said was landscape that had been modelled for military purposes, is situated near the town of Huangyangtan about 35 kilometres from Yinchuan, the capital of the autonomous region of Ningxia, in northern China.

Nearby, there is a substantial facility complete with rows of red-roofed buildings, scores of what look to be military trucks and a large compound with elevated lookout posts and a large communications tower.

The land was contoured in a way that was out of sync with the surrounding countryside.

It appeared to be a mountainous region, complete with snow-capped peaks and glacial valleys dotted with numerous lakes.

Yet this piece of land was slap bang in the middle of a largely arid area due west of the rich alluvial plains bordering the upper reaches of the Yellow River.

A fellow Google Earth enthusiast suggested that the topography indicated that this was probably a model of land on one of China’s frontiers.

KenGrok went looking and two weeks later came back with the answer. The swatch was a scale model of 157,500 square kilometres of territory in and around China’s Aksai Chin border region that abuts India and Pakistan.

The scale is exactly 500:1.

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Robin Williams plays John Stewart as Presidential Candidate

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 14:32 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008

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Christian Zionists and false prophets

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 14:30 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


As if we don’t have enough problems with Muslim and Jewish
fundamentalists, we are now confronted with yet another -ist.
Christian Zionists, mostly from the United States, are trying to
throw their weight behind one of the parties, in effect calling for
the continuation of the war and carnage in Lebanon.

A small minority of evangelical Christians have entered the Middle
East political arena with some of the most un-Christian statements I
have ever heard. The latest gems come from people like Pat
Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting
Network, and Rev. John Hagee of Christians United for Israel. Hagee,
a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone
Church in San Antonio, ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the
publication of his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” in which he argues
that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for
Armageddon (which will mean the death of most Jews, in his eyes) and
the Second Coming of Christ
In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must
join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill
God’s plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book’s
publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which,
as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, he said would cause “a political earthquake.”

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  1. Isn’t this also the neo-con manifesto?

RIAA’s “abundance of sensitivity” ends harassment of grieving family

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 14:26 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Last week, we posted about the family of a recently deceased defendant in a lawsuit by the RIAA being given 60 days to grieve before the RIAA went on to depose the dead man’s children in a renewed suit against his estate. In the intervening days, the publicity about this despicable act — suing the family of a dead man — has mounted.

Today, an RIAA spokesperson, Jonathan Lamy, contacted me today with this statement:

Our hearts go out to the Scantleberry family for their loss. We had decided to temporarily suspend the productive settlement discussions we were having with the family. Mr. Scantleberry had admitted that the infringer was his stepson, and we were in the process settling with him shortly before his passing. Out of an abundance of sensitivity, we have elected to drop this particular case.

I wrote back to ask him this followup question:

Where was the “abundance of sensitivity” when the RIAA failed to initially drop its case against the Scantleberry family following the death of the named defendant in the case? Given that this “abundance” only materialized within 24 hours of this story hitting several large news outlets and blogs isn’t it fair to say that the RIAA is demonstrating sensitivity to its public image, and not its sensitivity to the Scantleberry family?

To which he declined to further comment.

This is par for the course with the RIAA. A year ago, the RIAA contacted me to say that a takedown notice sent on their behalf to RPG Films was a forgery. When I asked if they intended to sue RPG Films for real, and whether these forgeries were common, and whether the RIAA would investigate the forgery, RIAA Director of Communications Jenni Engebretsen promised me she’d get back to me with answers. After repeated emails and phone calls, I finally took the extraordinary step of calling her from a different, borrowed phone (suspecting that she was ducking my calls) and reached her — only to be told that the RIAA had no further comment.

The RIAA’s approach to PR is much like their approach to culture in general: read-only. The RIAA issues statements like the Pope emitting a bull, and we mortals may squabble over its meaning among ourselves, but they are not available to participate in any further discussion. This is reminiscent of the RIAA’s approach to things like YouTube lipsynch videos: “our songs are released to be listened to and nothing more; should you dare to make them part of your life, we will use the copyright law we bought to break you.”

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Report: X-rays don’t detect explosives

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 14:23 by John Sinteur in category: News, Security


The government’s new order that all airline passengers put their shoes through X-ray machines won’t help screeners find a liquid or gel that can be used as a bomb.

The machines are unable to detect explosives, according to a Homeland Security report on aviation screening recently obtained by The Associated Press.

The Transportation Security Administration ordered the shoe-scanning requirement as it fine-tunes new security procedures.

Those procedures were put in place after British police last week broke up a terrorist plot to assemble and detonate bombs aboard as many as 10 airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to the U.S.

Among the new procedures are a ban on liquids and gels in airline passenger cabins, more hand searches of carryon luggage, and random double screening of passengers at boarding gates.

On Sunday, the TSA made it mandatory for shoes to be run through X-ray machines as passengers go through metal detectors. They were begun in late 2001, after the arrest of Richard Reid aboard a trans-Atlantic flight when he tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his shoe. The shoe scans have been optional for several years.

In its April 2005 report, “Systems Engineering Study of Civil Aviation Security — Phase I,” the Homeland Security Department concluded that images on X-ray machines don’t provide the information necessary to detect explosives.

In other words, everbody who had to take off their shoes to be scanned has been subjected to security theater. They’ve known for well over a year now that it is useless, yet they’ve expanded the practice after last week…

Do you feel safer already?

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Passport photo of girl, 5, banned ‘in case it offends Muslims’

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 12:44 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, What were they thinking?



A five-year-old girl had her passport form rejected when an official said the bare shoulders on her photograph could offend Muslims.

The post office assistant stunned Hannah Edwards’s parents by claiming the skin exposed by her daughter’s halter-neck dress would not be accepted by the Passport Office as it might prove unacceptable in a Muslim country.

I was naked from the waist down in my passport photo. Nobody kicked up a stink about that…

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  1. It is your site, John, but Please Please Please In The Name Of All That’s Decent don’t post your full frontal shot…
    of course, it’s just a suggestion.

Remapping Our World

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 12:33 by John Sinteur in category: News

Here is where you’re going to find the best infographics you’ve seen in a long time…

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Poll: Snow White’s dwarfs more famous than Supreme Court judges

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 12:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


Three quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Snow White’s seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices, according to a poll on pop culture released Monday.

According to the poll by Zogby International, commissioned by the makers of a new online game on pop culture called “Gold Rush,? 57 percent of Americans could identify J.K. Rowling’s fictional boy wizard as Harry Potter, while only 50 percent could name the British prime minister, Tony Blair.

The pollsters spoke to 1,213 people across the United States. The results had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

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Looking through cats’ eyes

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 10:49 by John Sinteur in category: News



These are the first pictures from an extraordinary experiment which has probed what it is like to look through the eyes of another creature.

As reported on BBC News Online last week, a team of US scientists have wired a computer to a cat’s brain and created videos of what the animal was seeing.

By recording the electrical activity of nerve cells in the thalamus, a region of the brain that receives signals from the eyes, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley were able to view these shapes.

The team used what they describe as a “linear decoding technique” to convert the signals from the stimulated cells into visual images.

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Liquid Terror

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 10:29 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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DM’s Esoteric Programming Languages – Piet

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 8:54 by John Sinteur in category: Software


Piet is a programming language in which programs look like abstract paintings. The language is named after Piet Mondrian, who pioneered the field of geometric abstract art.

This program prints “Hello world!” and then exits. It is shown in two sizes: 1 pixel per codel, and 25 pixels per codel.
Program flow proceeds clockwise from the upper left red block along the edge of the program until the dark blue block at lower left is reached. It then proceeds up to the single light blue codel, right to the dark cyan codel, and right into the large green block at centre. From there it flows left through the dark green codel to the yellow block, then up through the dark yellow codel to the red block inside the black codels, where execution halts. This produces the required ASCII codes in a brute force manner, with each of the large blocks coding one of the required characters, but there are a few stack tricks in there to prevent having to redefine the same character more than once. (Thanks to Matt Rudary for debugging!)

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Insurance company add

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 7:15 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself



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James was the last to go into the chocolate dip.

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 7:08 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Great Picture, Pastafarian News



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Windows 2410 professional

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 7:07 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


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