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109th Congress a success at naming buildings

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 13:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Despite criticism for adjourning last week without acting on several major legislative initiatives, members of Congress can boast significant achievements in at least one area of federal lawmaking — naming post offices.

Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures — primarily post offices — after various Americans.

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Ga. board: Harry Potter books can stay

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 13:30 by John Sinteur in category: News, Pastafarian News


The Georgia Board of Education voted Thursday to uphold a local school board’s decision to leave
Harry Potter books on library shelves despite a mother’s objections.

The board members voted without discussion to back the Gwinnett County school board’s decision to deny Laura Mallory’s request to remove the best-selling books.

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New Jersey Legislature Votes to Allow Civil Unions

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 12:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


The New Jersey Legislature voted this evening to allow civil unions between same-sex couples, quickly settling an emotionally fraught issue but frustrating advocates on both sides.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who has supported civil unions, he would give the measure careful review but added, “I think we’re doing the right thing.?

New Jersey would be the third state, after Vermont and Connecticut, to establish civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Same-sex marriages are allowed only in Massachusetts, which has a residency requirement, although many gays and lesbians have married in Canada.

The civil union law was written under pressure, in response to a directive by the State Supreme Court seven weeks ago to assure that gay and lesbian couples are guaranteed the same rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples.

The court left it to the Legislature to decide whether gay couples should be allowed to marry or placed on a separate, parallel track. Both houses settled on the civil union route, sending it through in just 10 days from introduction to voting.

I’m still waiting for some gay couple to get a civil union or marriage like this, and sue the (other) state they live in based on Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.

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Scooter hack

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 12:14 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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Bill Gates On The Future Of DRM

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 12:13 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


Microsoft convened a small group of bloggers today at their Redmond headquarters to discuss the upcoming Mix Conference in Las Vegas. Highlights of the day included:

  • The receipt of a Zune as a gift (the third I’ve received from Microsoft – I now have all three colors)
  • Seeing the look on Gates’ face when he walked into the room and every single one of us had a Mac open on the desk in front of us – Niall Kennedy had also set up a makeshift wifi network using an Airport
  • An hour-long anything goes Q&A session with Gates

One of the questions that I asked was his opinion on the long term viability of DRM. I don’t hide the fact that I think DRM isn’t workable, and actively support DRM-free music alternatives such as eMusic and Amie Street. The rise of illegal or quasi-legal options like AllofMP3 and BitTorrent ensure that users have plenty of options when it comes to DRM-free digital music.

Gates didn’t get into what could replace DRM, but he did give some reasonably candid insights suggesting that he thinks DRM is as lame as the rest of us.

Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which “causes too much pain for legitmate buyers? while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are “huge problems? with DRM, he says, and “we need more flexible models, such as the ability to “buy an artist out for life? (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.

His short term advice: “People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.?

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Turning Sharks into Robotic Sentries

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


It seems like science fiction, but the U.S. military would like to use sharks as underwater spies. The folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who dream up the future of weapons and military systems, envision squads of sharks prowling the oceans with sensors that could transmit evidence of explosives or other threats.

The military use of marine animals isn’t new. For decades, the navy has used dolphins and sea lions to patrol harbors, salvage expensive hardware, and locate potential sea mines. Indeed, mounting chemical, auditory, or visual sensors on a shark is the easy part. The challenge is finding a way to steer sharks over long distances. Over millions of years, sharks have evolved to pursue one particular target of opportunity — lunch — and military commanders would need a way to override that instinct in order to dispatch their shark spies to areas of strategic interest.

No indication they’ll have frickin’ lasers on their head…

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Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 12:07 by John Sinteur in category: News






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“20 million refugees left everything behind and found nothing new ahead of them.?

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 11:36 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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  1. Here’s the site: http://www.cpr.pt/index3.html
    Get involved.

Getting Bush Up To Speed On Iraq

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 11:31 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


Nearly four years into a war that has cost 2937 American and untold thousands of Iraqi lives, not to mention billions of dolars and our standing in the world, the White House decided it is time for a “new way forward” in Iraq.  For weeks we have been told that George Bush has been meeting with experts, both in and out of his administration, to decide how best to proceed in a situation that is “not working well enough, fast enough.”  Yesterday, Bush said:

There’s a lot of consultations taking place, and as I announced yesterday, I will be delivering my — my plans, after a long deliberation, after steady deliberation.

So why are his — his plans taking so long?  According to a report in Newsweek:

In a series of 45-minute sessions, Bush has worked through a steady program of question-and-answer exchanges with his own officials and a handful of outside experts. According to senior White House officials, who declined to be named when discussing Oval Office meetings, the extensive internal reviews have been moving along slowly but steadily. […]

The result: Bush’s aides have chosen not to overload the president’s schedule with the internal review. “We haven’t tried to do it all in one session,” said one senior White House official. “We’ve been going through it methodically, and all the issues individually.”

Well sure, we wouldn’t want to overload Bush’s schedule. Because after more than three years of a strategy that consisted of staying the course, getting Bush up to speed is going to take some time. After all, this is a man who just six weeks ago, when asked if we were winning in Iraq, declared:

Absolutely, we’re winning.

A man who two days ago, while speaking of his meeting with Iraqi Vice President Hashemi, said:

He brought me up to date on the terrible violence that is taking place in some of the neighborhoods in Baghdad.

One can only assume that in these briefings to find that “new way forward” in Iraq, Bush is starting from square one. But at least we have a new slogan.  

And while W. is taking his time, this is happening in other parts of the country:


Merlin German poses with actress Elisabeth Rohm at a Brooke Army Medical Center holiday ball on December 8, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. German burned 97% of his body after an improvised explosive device hit his convoy during a tour in Iraq. (Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 11:09 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


Goldberg’s descent into pathetic lack of humanity has been a pitiful thing to watch. I am so sorry to bother readers here with this one last posting on the whole Goldberg fiasco. And, note, that when pressed he was unable to name any books actually about modern Iraqi history that he has read (Republic of Fear is a dated political polemic, the others are not about Iraq). I was right.

But the ignorance was already apparent. The really sad thing is this paragraph:

‘ Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn’t want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let’s make a bet. I predict that Iraq won’t have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I’ll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there’s another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I’m all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc. One caveat: Because I don’t think it’s right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I’ll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is. ‘

I cannot tell you how this paragraph hit me in the gut. I was nearly immobilized by disgust and grief. This man really does see Iraqis as playthings. He is proposing a wager on the backs of Iraqis. Millions of Iraqis are going through winter with insufficient heating oil. They are jobless. The innocent 250,000 Fallujans are homeless. Imagine what $1000 means to them. And here we have an prominent American media star, a man who sets opinion on the Sunday afternoon talking heads shows, betting on them as though they are greyhounds in a race. They are not human beings to him, but political playthings on which to be wagered.

And now, two years later, Goldberg is still writing his crap columns, even though he lost all elements of his “wager”.

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Gizmodo Knows: iPhone Will Be Announced On Monday

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 10:40 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


I guarantee it. It isn’t what I expected at all. And I’ve already said too much.

Interesting if true.

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Britain stops weapons probe to save Saudi deal

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 10:39 by John Sinteur in category: News


British fraud investigators have stopped a probe into a multi-billion pound (euro/dollar) arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the country’s attorney general said, after Riyadh warned it would cancel the deal.

Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith said the decision had been made “in the wider public interest,” which had to be balanced against the rule of law.

Goldsmith told the House of Lords, the unelected upper house of parliament, that Prime Minister Tony Blair had agreed that continuation of the three-year probe would cause “serious damage” to British-Saudi relations.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had been running an investigation into claims that British defence group BAE Systems established a slush fund for some members of the Saudi royal family, which allegedly provided perks including luxury cars to ensure that they kept doing business with BAE.

So the Saudi don’t just run the US, they run Great Britain as well.

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moral luminaries

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 10:26 by John Sinteur in category: Quote


The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.

Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 – 1970)

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Ban urged on child abuse images

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 9:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Computer-generated child abuse images should be banned and a new “kite mark” standard introduced for software to protect children from paedophiles.

The Home Secretary, John Reid, said the Cabinet was discussing how to ban the images, including cartoons and graphic illustrations of abuse.

What’s wrong with cartoons depicting child abuse?

It’s not like we’re talking about images of Mohammed or something!

Let’s try this:

\|/ — Naked twelve year old girl!
/ \

\|/ — Prophet Muhammad!
/ \

There. I can now never go the UK or middle east again.

“Computer-generated images of child abuse are often found by police stored alongside illegal material held by paedophiles,” he said.

I’d bet 90% of married men have viewed straight porn. Can I conclude that porn incites marriage?

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify rape. They might be encouraging it.

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify murder. They might be encouraging it.

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify fighting. They might be encouraging it.

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify violence. They might be encouraging it.

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify sex. They might be encouraging it.

Then let’s ban depictions that glorify nonconformity. They might be encouraging it.

Obey, Citizen!

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  1. Where the *hell* did you get those pictures of my mother in law, without her burka?

Rising Metal Prices Prompt Ban on Melting and Export of Coins

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 9:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


The United States Mint, concerned that rising metal prices could lead to widespread recycling of pennies and nickels, has banned melting or exporting them.

And in other news, it’s still legal to light your cigar with a hundred.

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Third MS Word Code Execution Exploit Posted

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 9:22 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Exploit code for a third, unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Word has been posted on the Internet, adding to the software maker’s struggles to keep up with gaping holes in its popular word processing program.

Oh dear, here we go again.

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iTunes sales are NOT plummeting! Press credibility, on the other hand . . .

Posted on December 15th, 2006 at 9:21 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


What an interesting couple of days it’s been. What follows is a case study in how information — and misinformation — spreads on the Net.

We put out a simple little report about iPods and iTunes based on credit card transactions and publicly stated Apple data. And for those who aren’t Forrester clients, I blogged the highlighs. In case you are wondering, we ran the report by Apple, and they declined to comment.

Since then:

– The New York Times ran a little fairly balanced pieced on the research. This got us on the media’s radar screen. Then . . .

– A UK outfit called The Register and Bloomberg decided to dive in and highlight one finding of the report — that iTunes sales had dropped in the first six months of this year. We got treated to wonderful headlines about iTunes sales “collapsing” and “dropping” and “plummeting” and so on. Now for the record, iTunes sales are not collapsing. Our credit card transaction data shows a real drop between the January post-holiday peak and the rest of the year, but with the number of transactions we counted it’s simply not possible to draw this conclusion . . . as we pointed out in the report. But that point was just too subtle to get into these articles.

– Apple’s stock actually did plummet — 3%. I started getting calls from hedge fund managers. Apple’s spokesman called and, although they refuse to go on the record with any facts, they’re clearly upset. And I also heard from the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, Financial Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, thestreet.com, etc. At this point I was trying to get people off the “65% drop” idea and onto some of the more interesting ideas in the report, with mixed success.

Now, you can’t unring the bell. But I will try to focus you on the truth here, which is this: iTunes sales are leveling off, the Journal did an article about it last Friday with data from Soundscan. Apple is not in trouble — it makes its money mostly from iPods, and iTunes is just a way to make that experience better. It’s the music industry that has to worry, since the $1 billion a year or so from iTunes, globally, doesn’t nearly make up for even the drop in CD sales in the US, which are now down $2.5 billion from where they were.



But while Forrester claimed that iTunes sales were leveling off at roughly 20 songs per iPod, Apple’s digital music player, ComScore’s research showed that in the first three quarters of the year, revenue on iTunes soared by 84%. In addition, the number of transactions jumped 67%, and the amount spent per transaction was up 10%.

Both statements are probably somewhat near the truth: sales are probably leveling off, and let’s accept the 20 songs per iPod. Since the iPod sales are still growing strong, it makes sense that iTunes revenue is soaring as well, even with a “level” 20 songs per iPod.

All this is because Apple is not saying anything at all, of course. People will make up shit if you do that.

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