Monthly Archives: November 2006

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills …

My brother has a fun (and pugnacious) column up at Nieman Watchdog Blog bearing the gentle title of On Calling Bullshit:

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do.

What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.

Calling bullshit, of course, used to be central to journalism as well as to comedy. And we happen to be in a period in our history in which the substance in question is running particularly deep.

But here’s the good news for you newsroom managers wringing your hands over new technologies and the loss of younger audiences: Because the Internet so values calling bullshit, you are sitting on an as-yet largely untapped gold mine. I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter – whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, The Media | Leave a comment

Homeland Security Privacy Meeting in Miami Dec 6

DHS is having a meeting of its Data Privacy and Integrity Committee here in Miami and I am really really annoyed that I’m going to hve to miss this: DHS: Privacy Office – DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Committee Meeting Information

Privacy Office – DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Committee Meeting Information

The quarterly meeting of the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee will be held on December 6, 2006 at:

Eden Roc Hotel
Mona Lisa Ballroom
4525 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Public Sessions

Mona Lisa Ballroom
8:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
12:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Details of Meeting

Public Comments

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Registration and Attendance

Any member of the public who wishes to attend the public session is requested to provide his or her name by 2:00 p.m. EST, Friday, December 1, 2006, to:

The DHS Privacy Advisory Committee
The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Email: privacycommittee@dhs.gov
Phone: 571-227-3813
Fax: 571-227-4171

Everyone who plans to attend is respectfully requested to be present and seated by 7:45 a.m. for the morning session and 12:00 p.m. for the afternoon session. Registration is requested to assist in the preparation of meeting materials and seating arrangements. Attendance information, including names of members of the public attending, are to be made public as part of the official meeting minutes.

Persons with disabilities who require special assistance are asked to indicate this in their admittance request, and are encouraged to identify anticipated special needs as early as possible.

Contact Information

The DHS Privacy Advisory Committee
The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Email: privacycommittee@dhs.gov
Phone: 571-227-3813
Fax: 571-227-4171

I have to miss it because I will be in Sao Paulo for the second half of an ICANN meeting — it seems I’ve been reappointed, or re-sentenced (I’m not quite sure) to the ICANN NomCom.

If anyone goes — register by tomorrow — I’d love a report.

Posted in Law: Privacy, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

Fake Friends for Online Spaces

Via Slashdot | Who Says Money Can’t Buy Friends?, I find a link to the amazing Fake Your Space, a service that for just 99 cents per month will provide users of MySpace and Facebook with all the fake friends they want two messages from a fake friend (all the fake friends you want costs lots more). Yes, impress the other kids with…no, lets let them tell it in their own words:

FakeYourSpace is an exciting new service that enables normal everyday people like me and you to have Hot friends on popular social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook. Not only will you be able to see these Gorgeous friends on your friends list, but FakeYourSpace enables you to create customized messages and comments for our Models to leave you on your comment wall. FakeYourSpace makes it easy for any regular person to make it seem like they have a Model for a friend. It doesn’t stop there however. Maybe you want to appear as if you have a Model for a lover. FakeYourSpace can make this happen! The possibilities are endless. You can have our Models leave you any type of customized message you may wish. Want to make an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend jealous? No problem. Have one of our Models personally flirt with you on your comment wall. Are you interested in being one of the most popular people on MySpace or FaceBook? Then FakeYourSpace is just what you need. You never need to worry about people finding out about your fake friends because all of our Models profiles are set to private. You may be asking yourself why should you pay for something like this? Our answer to you is because it’s dirt cheap. Our basic plan starts at only $.99 This will give you 2 messages per week for 4 weeks. So for only $.99 you will receive 8 messages that will be there forever, not to mention our Models picture which will show up on your friends list. A pretty small price to pay for online popularity don’t you think?

Amazing.

Posted in Internet | 2 Comments

Iraq Panel Makes Incoherent Recommendation

It's too little, too late.

The so-called “The bipartisan Iraq Study Group” (actually heavily weighted to the right wing, and including zero progressive Democrats) has produced its recommendation. And while they deliberated, Iraq slid into chaos.

The NYT has the leak at Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullback of Combat Troops.

The report recommends that troops move away from the heart of combat (“a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq”). Some day.

But here's the thing: there's no timetable (Chairman James Baker didn't want one),

The report recommends that Mr. Bush make it clear that he intends to start the withdrawal relatively soon, and people familiar with the debate over the final language said the implicit message was that the process should begin sometime next year.

That “implicit message” would of course be aimed at that master detector of nuance, George W. Bush.

Uh-huh.

And that would be the same George W. Bush who said just two days ago that, “there's one thing I’m not going to do: I’m not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.”

(Remind me again what “the mission” is please?)

The inside-the-beltway politics are clear:

“I think everyone felt good about where we ended up,” one person involved in the commission’s debates said after the group ended its meeting. “It is neither 'cut and run' nor ‘stay the course.'”

No, it's “stay the course” for a while then “cut and run.” With “run to where” left open — maybe to laagers in the Iraqi desert — just don't call them “permanent bases”. (“The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries.”)

It's amazing that anyone involved could feel “good” about this report: if followed, it will have hundreds of our soldiers killed and wounded before the now inevitable departure. And for what exactly? Or even approximately?

Posted in Iraq | 3 Comments

Only In Florida

Forget about South Florida corruption. Up north a ways, in Central Florida, they bring weirdness to new heights.

I mean, where else but Florida could you ever get this fact pattern:

Deputies: Man on crack when alligator attacked. LAKELAND — A man who was attacked by an alligator this morning was naked and smoking crack at the time, Polk County deputies who rescued him said today.

Lest you should be tempted to try this at home, I should add that the victim got chewed pretty bad:

Apgar, 45, of Polk City, suffered a broken arm, partially amputated left arm and trauma to his left leg. Doctors are trying to reattach the arm at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where [he] was listed in critical condition.

“We don’t know whether he’ll make it or not,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

It was pretty dark, but Sheriffs think they have identified the perp:

Posted in Florida | 2 Comments

Cooliris: A Fun Firefox (etc.) Extension

Once in a while Lifehacker’s Download of the Day is something neat. Today is one of those days, as they have Cooliris Preview (IE/Firefox/Safari):

Simply mouse over any link or thumbnail image, then point to the little Cooliris icon that appears next to it. In a second or two you’ll see a pop-up window containing the page, image, or even video. This isn’t just a screenshot, however you can actually play the video or interact with the page, clicking links, filling out forms, etc.

Best. Extension. Ever? It might just be. Cooliris changes the way you interact with the Web, and for the better. Cooliris Previews 2.0 is free for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari browsers.

Get Cooliris for firefox here. I’m having fun with it.

Posted in Software | 1 Comment

Major Ruling (Partly) Limiting Abusive Presidential Power

Judge strikes down part of Bush anti-terror order.

A federal judge in Los Angeles, who previously struck down sections of the Patriot Act, has ruled that provisions of an anti-terrorism order issued by President George W. Bush after September 11 are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins found that part of the law, signed by Bush on September 23, 2001 and used to freeze the assets of terrorist organizations, violated the Constitution because it put no apparent limit on the president’s powers to place groups on that list.

“This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists, an authority president Bush then used to empower the Secretary of the Treasury to impose guilt by association,” said David Cole of the Washington-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

I’m looking forward to reading this decision. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to find a copy on Westlaw or elsewhere. Meanwhile, here’s some background on the litigation.

Interestingly, the judge’s preliminary observations on the case, several months ago and prior to an additional round of briefing, indicated a leaning towards upholding the statute.

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | 1 Comment