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VP: Constitution ‘on its head’

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 13:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


Vice President Joe Biden said at a Florida fundraiser Sunday that the 60-seat threshold for passing legislation in the Senate put a dangerous new roadblock in the way of American government.

“As long as I have served, … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they’ve done. This is the first time every single solitary decision has required 60 senators,” Biden said. “No democracy has survived needing a supermajority.”

Dear VP, get your party to grow some balls.

[Nuclear Option:]

A senator makes a point of order calling for an immediate vote on the measure before the body, outlining what circumstances allow for this. The presiding officer of the Senate, usually the vice president of the United States or the president pro tempore, makes a parliamentary ruling upholding the senator’s point of order. The Constitution is cited at this point, since otherwise the presiding officer is bound by precedent. A supporter of the filibuster may challenge the ruling by asking, “Is the decision of the Chair to stand as the judgment of the Senate?” This is referred to as “appealing from the Chair.” An opponent of the filibuster will then move to table the appeal. As tabling is non-debatable, a vote is held immediately. A simple majority decides the issue. If the appeal is successfully tabled, then the presiding officer’s ruling that the filibuster is unconstitutional is thereby upheld. Thus a simple majority is able to cut off debate, and the Senate moves to a vote on the substantive issue under consideration. The effect of the nuclear option is not limited to the single question under consideration, as it would be in a cloture vote. Rather, the nuclear option effects a change in the operational rules of the Senate, so that the filibuster or dilatory tactic would thereafter be barred by the new precedent.

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  1. I’m not sure what is right. I know the “nukular” option scared me to death when the GOP was considering it. I hope whatever happens, and something does need to happen, the senate remains a bit more contemplative than the house.

  2. As Al Gore points out in his book ‘An Assault On Reason’, The Senate, intended by the Founders to be the calm considered place (6-year terms) as opposed to the Congress which was intended to be a place of passion (2-year terms), is these days more passionate than the Congress largely because Senators now have a higher turnover rate than Congressmen. On average, Representitives now serve for longer than the average Senator, something like 10-14 years.

    So Senators now serve their party more than they serve their constituents…

We’re Doing A Lot In Haiti With A Very Small Airport

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 13:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Col. Buck Elton, who was given the mission to open up airfield and assist with airlifts, says they have controlled 600+ takeoffs and landings in an airstrip that normally sees three takeoffs and landings a day.

Because the air traffic control tower has collapsed, all of this is being done by radio, on the ground – in a place that only has one runway/taxiway for planes, set directly in the middle of the airport and thus making it difficult for other planes to take off and arrive.

Col. Buck talked about how they have to “stack the aircraft until we have space for someone else to come in. ” The maximum number of aircraft that can fit on the ground: one wide-body, five narrow-body planes. and three smaller aircrafts that can taxi in on the ground, filling that spot as necessary. (It sounds like a game of Tetris.)

“The volume is similar to running a major airport without computers, radar or other equipment,” he said.

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The Great Megapixel Swindle: An Example

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 13:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Higher megapixel numbers are a swindle. They make pictures worse. Stop.

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Heirs to Sherlock Holmes Face Web of Ownership Issues

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 11:33 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property


For a 123-year-old detective, Sherlock Holmes is a surprisingly reliable earner.

Though readers were not always informed of his compensation for, say, uncovering the truth of the Red-Headed League or bringing the Hound of the Baskervilles to heel, Holmes remains a valuable literary property.

His adventures in books, plays, television shows and movies continue to pay dividends for the heirs of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes’s latest appearance on film, directed by Guy Ritchie, has sold more than $311 million in tickets worldwide, and on Sunday won a Golden Globe award for its star, Robert Downey Jr.

At his age, Holmes would logically seem to have entered the public domain. But not only is the character still under copyright in the United States, for nearly 80 years he has also been caught in a web of ownership issues so tangled that Professor Moriarty wouldn’t have wished them upon him.


In 1980 Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle’s other works entered the public domain in Britain. In America the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976 gave an author or his heirs a chance to recapture lost rights; Conan Doyle’s daughter, Jean, did so in 1981.

None of the current living “heirs” is a direct descendant of the author, and neither are the corporations milking the copyrights. This is further proof of how screwed up the system is – and we can thank that fucking mouse from Disney for this – anybody want to bet how large the amounts of cash will be that are transferred to law makers pockets next time the mouse is up for another renewal law?

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Apple, Microsoft Discuss Giving Bing Top iPhone Billing

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 11:29 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft


In 2003, when Apple said its iTunes music software would work on PCs using the Windows software of its age-old rival, Microsoft, Apple made up posters that read “Hell Froze Over.” Hell may be getting frosty again.

Apple is in talks with Microsoft to replace Google as the default search engine on its iPhone, according to two people familiar with the matter. The talks have been under way for weeks, say the people, who asked not to be named because the details have not been made public.

Wow. Now that would be interesting…

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  1. Iphone default search engine bing is also good but most users like google as a search engine. But is also good search engine. For me choosing bing as default search engine is not a problem.

動新聞 美國深夜脫口秀大風吹

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 9:41 by John Sinteur in category: Funny!

This is probably the most coherent and clear explanation I’ve seen so far. And I don’t speak a single word of Chinese.

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From Genomes, a Census of Early Humans

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 9:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


From the composition of just two human genomes, geneticists have computed the size of the human population 1.2 million years ago from which everyone in the world is descended.

They put the number at 18,500 people, but this refers only to breeding individuals, the “effective” population. The actual population would have been about three times as large, or 55,500.

Comparable estimates for other primates then are 21,000 for chimpanzees and 25,000 for gorillas. In biological terms, it seems, humans were not a very successful species, and the strategy of investing in larger brains than those of their fellow apes had not yet produced any big payoff. Human population numbers did not reach high levels until after the advent of agriculture.

Or, to put that in terms your puny human brains can understand, your race was roughly the size of Maple Grove, Minnesota.

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  1. Woo Maple Grove!


Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 9:02 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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G.O.P. Senate Victory Stuns Democrats

Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 8:51 by John Sinteur in category: News


Scott Brown, a little-known Republican state senator, rode an old pickup truck and a growing sense of unease among independent voters to an extraordinary upset Tuesday night when he was elected to fill the Senate seat that was long held by Edward M. Kennedy in the overwhelmingly Democratic state of Massachusetts.


The election left Democrats in Congress scrambling to salvage a bill overhauling the nation’s health care system, which the late Mr. Kennedy had called “the cause of my life.” Mr. Brown has vowed to oppose the bill, and once he takes office the Democrats will no longer control the 60 votes in the Senate needed to overcome filibusters.


If Brown wins, the Democrats have several options in terms of the health-insurance bill. Plan A is to get the merged bill through the Senate before Jan. 29. This is not easy because it has to be scored by the CBO and that could take up to 10 days. But it might be doable. The Republicans would scream at Plan A, but it would be perfectly legal. Lame duck Presidents and governors defeated for reelection often take actions on their final day in office.

Plan B is for the House to pass the Senate bill (technically, H.R. 3590) unmodified. This might be possible if the Democratic leadership agrees to pass the changes painfully agreed to last week using the budget reconciliation process, which cannot be filibustered. Part of the changes, such as modifying the excise tax on gold-plated health plans are actually appropriate for the reconciliation process and the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, would probably give his OK (knowing that a thumbs down might mean he would be fired–which is precisely what happened to his predecessor, Robert Dove, when he objected to the Republicans’ using reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts). Other proposed changes, such as a single national insurance exchange instead of 50 state exchanges, are not likely to get Frumin’s blessing, so the Democrats might have to replace him with their own man to get that through using reconciliation. Or they might simply not try,

The Democrats could figure out a way to lose an election to a grilled cheese sandwich.

“We just couldn’t compete with our opponent’s perceived deliciousness!”

“We were thwarted by the powerful Tomato Soup Lobby!”

“Surely, we thought, people would prefer Frozen-Turd-On-A-Stick to
a tasty hot sandwich! We were misled by the polls!”

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Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 8:39 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

Look at the bottom right. I tried a bunch of other tech companies, and none do this – does anybody know of ANY other company that does this?

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  1. I’m sooo sorry. You really are asking for it. Let’s put it in perspective:

    First of all, yes, other companies make it possible to donate, but they don’t advertise it as much. Try Google for instance:

    But moreover, the key is in how much the companies have donated themselves. The US Chamber of Commerce keeps track of that, they have a nice list on their site: http://www.uschamber.com/bclc/haiti_corporatedonations.htm
    Check out the list, it’s long. To name some of the companies and their donations:
    – Canon $ 220.000
    – Cisco $ 250.000 plus double employee donation up to $50.000
    – Comcast $ 1 million
    – Dell $ 500.000 plus double employee donation up to $ 250.000
    – Google $ 1 million
    – HP $ 500.000 plus double employee donation up to $ 250.000
    – IBM $ 150.000 in tech and services
    – Intel $ 250.000 plus double employee donation
    – Microsoft $ 1.25 million, plus double any employee donation up to $12.000

    The list goes on and on, with names like Coca-cola, McDonalds, Disney, Starbucks and many farmaceutical companies donating up to $ 2 million each. There’s quite a few smaller companies there as well.

    The one name shining in absency: Apple. No donation, nothing. No sign of any in the list, not on their own site, nor on Google. In stead, all Apple does is put a huge link on it’s site so YOU can donate and make Apple look good in the process.

    Thankfully, I don’t know of any other company doing this.

  2. What are you sorry about? You just improved the post a lot but this information, which I failed to find – you’re not worried about hurting my feelings, right?

  3. Of course I am. You’re a nice guy, point taken.

  4. It may help if you check tech companies that have transaction infrastructure? On Amazon.com, the donation teaser is at the top of the page, right below the banner. Not as big as the ad for the Kindle, but hey. On ebay, there’s a plea right below the banner as well.

    (PS, Jim: Microsoft always doubles employee donations up to $12,000, any time to any 501(c)3 charity.)


Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 8:16 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

Apple just approved another little project by yours truly:


More info…

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  1. Don’t forget us:-) Good luck!!

  2. Congrats!

    What’s the key difference between SP and Twitter?

  3. Twitter is one-to-everybody, ping is always one-to-one and private..

  4. Ah.

    Twitter does have direct user-to-user messages.

  5. Are you willing to publish the protocol spec so compatible apps can be implemented on other platforms?

  6. Some of the features that got pushed back from 1.0 are hooks from system alert software like nagios (you’d get a ping with “system x has load average Y” or “printer out of toner”), and group based task pings (where a group gets a ping like “task X needs Y”) with an “I’m on it” and a “Not me” button where the group gets a ping with “Task x: Pete is on it” back, and several similar ideas.

    All this basically implies publication of an API.