31 January 2004

It certainly sounds like Big Brother to me, a paranoia that government wants to know what all the people are doing because government knows best

Utah residents enter the MATRIX.
It sounds like a sci-fi thriller: a super computer program that gathers dossiers on every single man, woman and child — everything from birth and marriage and divorce history to hunting licenses and car license plates. Even every address you have lived at down to the color of your hair.      

It sounds surreal, but former Gov. Mike Leavitt signed Utah's 2.4 million residents up for a pilot program — ironically called MATRIX — that does just that. And he never bothered to reveal details of the program to Utah citizens or to state lawmakers who, upon learning of the program on Capitol Hill this week, are now worried the state could be involved in a program that jeopardizes basic civil liberties.

Here's an article on Georgia rejecting the MATRIX and the MATRIX homepage is here.

26 January 2004

I am very disappointed with this sentence

I wonder if Richard Romley said the same words upon hearing the sentencing news of South Dakota Congressman Bill Janklow, found guilty of manslaughter for killing a motorcyclist when he sped through a stop sign at an insane rate of of speed.

Janklow will in all probability, serve a mere 30 days in jail and will even be granted an expunging of any felony record regarding the matter. Contrast Janklow's case with one here in Arizona recently. Rogelio Gutierrez received a 12 year sentence for the results of an epileptic seizure that caused his cab to crash into a police car and horribly burn the officer inside the vehicle. Romley, in the press release in the wake of that sentence, bemoaned the "lenient" sentence handed out, given the horrid state that it left Jason Schechterle in. Gutierrez, like Janklow, had a history of driving mishaps, yet continued to get behind the wheel of an automobile.

Janklow killed an individual however, while Gutierrez harmed an officer.

Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook lays it out in this statement.

Janklow flouted the speed limit for years, practically bragging about his lead foot. He knew well that speeding – particularly traveling at speeds of 90 mph and greater – is dangerous, yet he continued to do it. In a particularly hypocritical stance, Janklow used to advocate stiff sentences for breaking the law, including the laws of the road. It is an injustice that he is getting off so lightly.

The hundred days in jail, of course, really aren’t 100 days. Janklow will serve only 30 days, after which he will be released during the day to do community service. Drug users are put behind bars for years, yet when a prominent politician’s ongoing reckless behavior kills a man, he is sentenced by a judge to what amounts to just a month behind bars. That is not justice or punishment.

It is even more galling that the judge ordered Janklow’s felony record to be expunged. How insulting and hurtful to the family of the man who was killed. While the court may try to pretend the death never occurred, the man’s family will never forget.

The Janklow sentence strikes me as a gross miscarriage of justice. Is manslaughter committed by a man who set a consistent record of reckless driving really 144 times less severe than a cab driver whose negligence critically harmed a police officer? Or is the death of a motorcyclist worth 1/144 of an officer getting severely burned? Or is it because Janklow is a white politician while Gutierrez is of Latino descent?

A Jingo is Not a Patriot

So much good stuff and food for thought at Orcinus.

19 January 2004

Majority of nightly network newscast evaluations of Democratic Presidential frontrunner Howard Dean were negative

According to a recent study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs
Only 49 percent of all on-air evaluations of former Vermont governor in 2003 were positive while the rest of the democratic field collectively received 78 percent favorable coverage.

Conservatives recognize that America has a need for labor that Americans are unable or unwilling to fill...

... at the wages being offered.

Jeff Flake didn't properly end the sentence in his defense of President Bush's open immigration campaign that no doubt will insure full campaign coffers for Republican candidates in 2004.

Just another politician, completely out of touch with the electorate on a hot issue. On Saturday I heard Son of Jake speak on a local radio show and gleefully toss out the tidbit that his family eagerly employed illegal aliens. An elitist privileged son who cannot fathom the everyday existence of working Americans and the economic harm inflicted upon them by the hiring of unlawful aliens. It truly is an outrage.

Congressman Kolbe faced off against jeering protesters in Sierra Vista last Thursday:

"He (Kolbe) has turned his back on America," said protester Todd Evans, president of the Southeast Arizona Republicans Club. And while Evans said he was not protesting in his official capacity as president, he added, "Many of us believe he (Kolbe) doesn't deserve to be a Republican. We have been betrayed by his ideas."

Among the protesters were about a dozen members of local citizen border patrolling groups, including participants in American Border Patrol, Civil Homeland Defense and Ranch Rescue, each calling upon Kolbe to abandon his guest-worker proposal, jointly authored by Kolbe, Sen. John McCain and U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake. All are from Arizona.

In addition to waiving signs and display illegal immigrant garbage left on private property throughout the county, protesters, which included several children, displayed a mock-up of a U.S. Border Patrol agent with a knife through his back, with the words "Kolbe Amnesty" on the blade, as well as baby doll nailed to a crucifix.

18 January 2004

The user gives commands by pointing the cursor at graphic symbols on the screen

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh, Silicon Valley has republished a 20 year old article on the Apple rollout of a new machine. Amusing it is that the writer had to explain what a mouse was.
For $2,495, Macintosh buyers will get a computer that operates unusually quickly and is directed by a mouse - a handheld device that, when slid across a table top, moves the cursor on the Mac's screen.

The user gives commands by pointing the cursor at graphic symbols on the screen, such as a paint brush and an eraser to enable the user to draw a picture, or a trash can to destroy a document.

The user also will be able to divide the screen into a variety of compartments, or ``windows,'' that each can be used to perform different jobs. For example, the user could be writing a letter on one part of the screen, then create a window and begin another.

Here's another take on the early years at Apple.

Once they're gone, they're gone

Vanishing jobs destined to never return, according to U.S. Labor Department and Forrester Research.
Since 2001, some 2.9 million private sector jobs have been lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many of those jobs won't ever return, even as the economy recovers, say experts. What's more, this isn't just true for blue-collar workers at places like Pillowtex.

"It's starting to happen in high-tech professions which we felt were 'ours,'" says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insights, a consulting firm. "That's what's shocking people."

A new model for work is needed, one that allows all to be productive and share in the economic pie, on both a national and global level. Otherwise, we're in for some cataclysmic consequences, unleashed like a chain of dominoes.

16 January 2004

Ads which do not promote the selling of things basically are not welcome

Viacom CBS Rejects Superbowl Ad

Well, it looks like the policy isn't as stated but simply based on arbitrary chocies.

That also means the networks are free to bend their own rules against issue ads when the ads in question strike them as inoffensive. According to Teinowitz, CBS actually plans to run three such ads during the Super Bowl -- an anti-smoking spot, a public service announcement about AIDS, and a commercial from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Of course, the drug war is controversial to plenty of people, and the mere mention of AIDS upsets others, but the networks are under no obligation to be consistent.

Plenty will say it no censorship, just free enterprise. But the government gets to air its "issue ads" anytime it pleases. I wonder how many who are opposed to clean elections laws because of free speech restraints feel the same way in this instance. Or is this a policy that is targeted at selected groups, while other groups that are on chummy terms with politicos are not encumbered here? Like does it apply to NRA, ACLU, CATO, or the umbrella of arch-conservative scions who've a unexhaustable supply of finances to fund propaganda campaigns?

14 January 2004

Improving operational efficiencies at Earthlink?


At home, we have the broadband experience, but when traveling on the road, many hotels still do not offer high speed internet access. Thus, I'm relegated to dialing in the internet via my laptop modem. For these instances, I've kept an Earthlink account active.

No more. Immediately, I am going to cancel it.

Laziness and the initial free month spurred me into the deal, but the shoddy and subpar online download speed will cease to frustrate me. I've switched dialup companies, opting for Hawk Communications. Three times cheaper and a return to snappy downloads. While I'm not going to be downloading huge ISO images or appending to my iTunes collection, the web page load time is significantly shorter than I've experienced with Earthlink. All of those silly Earthlink commercials prattle on about how much faster Earthlink is, but my empirical results illustrate otherwise. And the new ISP choice is three times cheaper Earthlink.

And then I discovered this recent news about Earthlink relocating jobs offshore and it pleased me more to discontinue their service.

Plus I don't like their deceptive advertising about their "Web Accelerator" that boasts of download speeds five times greater than regular 56K access. Only so much data can fit through a narrow pipe, even if optimizations like keeping a persistent connection and compressing the data stream, then expaning on the client side. First, data other than text is already compressed and on many web servers, pages are already served up in a compressed format. As for the advantages of a persistent connection, yes there will be a gain there but not that big of a spread, and several of the modern browsers now are capable of caching images and refraining from reissuing redundant get requests for image files. Again, the accelerator proponents proclaim that they utilize proprietary compression techniques that are more efficient than the traditional web compression algorithms, but there not going to shave that much from the download byte count. And for large file downloads like music files and binary images, that nifty accelerator snake oil won't provide for any faster of a download.

But don't take just my word for it - read what the hardcore geeks have to say on this matter...

11 January 2004

Criticizing Bush and Clear Channel

KFYI talk radio host Charles Goyette tells his tale of how opposing Gulf War II as a Clear Channel employee was not conducive to his long term career there.
Clear Channel Communications, the 800-pound gorilla of the radio business, owns an astonishing 1,200 stations in 50 states, including Newstalk 550 KFYI in Phoenix, where I do the afternoon program … or did until last summer. The principals of Clear Channel, a Texas-based company, have been substantial contributors to George W. Bush’s fortunes since before he became president. In fact, Texas billionaire Tom Hicks can be said to be the man who made Bush a millionaire when he purchased the future president’s baseball team, the Texas Rangers. Tom Hicks is now vice chairman of Clear Channel. Clear Channel stations were unusually visible during the war with what corporate flacks now call “pro-troop rallies.” In tone and substance, they were virtually indistinguishable from pro-Bush rallies. I’m sure the administration, which faced a host of regulatory issues affecting Clear Channel, was not displeased.

Criticism of Bush and his ever-shifting pretext for a first-strike war (what exactly was it we were pre-empting anyway?) has proved so serious a violation of Clear Channel’s cultural taboo that only a good contract has kept me from being fired outright. Roxanne Cordonier, a radio personality at Clear Channel’s WMYI 102.5 in Greenville, S.C., didn’t have it as good. Cordonier, who worked under the name Roxanne Walker, was the South Carolina Broadcasters Association’s 2002 Radio Personality of the Year. That apparently wasn’t enough for Clear Channel. Her lawsuit against the company alleges that she was belittled on the air and reprimanded by her station for opposing the invasion of Iraq. Then she was fired.

Some will say that these are merely the words of a disgruntled employee and not censorship. But consider the behemoth that Clear Channel has become, and how soon dissenting voices will have no place what so ever in the realm of traditional media due to monopolistic conglomerations.

10 January 2004

Valley of the Sun, not the Land of 10,000 Lakes

An interesting Arizona Republic letter to the editor submitted by Carl Paglia asking about the wisdom of eco-unfriendly golf course development in the desert.
My job takes me throughout the county, mostly to areas of new development. I see a disturbing trend with large planned communities and their artificial lakes and multiple golf courses.

It was my understanding that new courses were to be irrigated with treated effluent, but I've found that several new developments have dedicated wells on site and pump groundwater to irrigate these courses.

This water is not reclaimed, as a large part of it is lost to evaporation. In the face of a continuing drought we can no longer afford these excesses. Local agencies for planning and development and Arizona Department of Water Resources need to work more closely to make sure we don't squander this resource.

I've often heard the spiel about "reclaimed water" when I questioned all the existence of lavish golf courses using a great deal of water when residents are told to put a brick in their toilet to conserve.

9 January 2004

He's the hottest goalie in the league

Phoenix Coyote goaltender Brian Boucher vies for his fifth consecutive shutout tonight in Minnesota against the Wild. Wednesday night, he tied an NHL record by recording his fourth straight shutout, encompassing a stretch of 265 goalless minutes for the opponents who've had the misfortune of trying to score with Boucher in net.

There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore

So says Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in defending her company's pursuit of off shore migration of high tech jobs. I suppose those nine brave soldiers in Iraq who died today for their country and Ms. Fiorina didn't have any "God given responsibility" either.

It truly is an outrage and total sellout of American workers. Ms. Fiorina and others like Intel head Craig Barrett reap the benefits American taxpayers provide, like the world's top military defense protections, knowledge transfer from public works projects like internet development for example, exporting of intellectual property law to protect their information monopoly realms, and lucrative tax incentives. Furthermore, it's an outright insult on the intellect of our work force, who've studied and trained arduously to take technology positions and now are being pushed out onto the street to fend with hordes of illegal immigrants, now being courted by President W. Bush, when Ms. Fiorina suggests that American tech workers lack the necessary education.

"It's interesting to me that so many people talk about China or India or Russia as being a source of low-cost labor," Fiorina said. "Truthfully, over the long term, the greater threat is the source of well-educated labor. And if you look at the number of college-educated students that China graduates every year, it's close to 40 million. The law of large numbers is fairly compelling."

What a crock!

I can tell you one thing for certain. I'm NEVER going to buy anything made by HP, at least while Ms. Fiorina and others of her ilk are at the helm there.

5 January 2004

Let's bring the S factor out of the closet and into the daylight where we can all see it

Why Bush is going to win in 2004:
It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright.

It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.

You know these people; they're all around you (they're not you, else you would not be reading this article this far). They're the ones who keep the puerile shows on TV, who appear as regular recipients of the Darwin Awards, who raise our insurance rates by doing dumb things, who generally make life much more miserable for all of us than it ought to be. Sad to say, they comprise a substantial minority -- perhaps even a majority -- of the populace.