Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We can't afford four more years

Washington Post reports that the US poverty rates increased to 12.7% last year. The poverty rates have been going up every year for the past four years.

In New York City, the poverty rates are up to 20.3% from 19%. That's one in every five New York City residents living under poverty levels. I guess that happens when you have millionaires running the city.

I find these statistics completely mindboggling. To me they demonstrate a complete failure of the federal and city governments. We're spending unlimited funds to fight tyranny around the world, but then let our own citizens get poorer and poorer with seemingly no concern. When is the last time you heard George W. Bush talk about fighting poverty [1]?

It is not the job of non-profit organizations and charities to take care of the poor. It is the government's job to make sure poverty doesn't exist, as much as possible. The government is failing in its job. Switch it!


1. The social security system reform doesn't qualify, as it would actually increase poverty

Monday, August 29, 2005

The net being regulated by Christian conservatives

Declan McCullagh, of Politech fame, reports about the .xxx TLD roadblocks and how the Christian conservatives have been getting more and more power in the US regulatory agencies.

He also lists concrete examples of how these Christian conservatives are flexing their newfound powers in ways that threaten the 1st Amendment rights and/or don't make any sense whatsoever in the context of a global network like the Internet.


Friday, August 26, 2005

The war on drugs descends on the innocent

Looks like the Utah National Guard had a bit of free time in their hands last weekend, so they decided to stomp, literally, on a few ravers gathered on an outdoor concert in the middle of nowhere between the Utah mountains.

Also see the party organizer's statement and the video clips the stormtroopers didn't manage to destroy at Music versus Guns. Particulary interesting is the interview on the security staff for the party.

Even more amazing, it looks like the raid was, at least partially, triggered because the local Sheriff assumed there would be illegal activities committed at the rave sometime later. That truly is incredible.

More links to articles about the raid:
Daily Kos

Update: The party organizers and the land owner are suing Utah County and The Sheriff. They've put up a site reporting on the progress of their case.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Is some piracy actually good?

Chris Anderson posts an interesting article where he argues some piracy is actually good for business.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Google Desktop Crash

Google Desktop Search v2 (or GDS2) arrived yesterday with a big bang. Since Google can do no evil, I went ahead and installed the thing immediately like all good .netizens did.

I leave the thing indexing my personal life overnight and come back to work to find out all the apps have died with out of memory errors, the computer is crawling at a snail's pace and the GoogleDesktopCrawler.exe process is consuming 170% of my physical memory.

Hurray for beta software!

Update: Looks like the issue might be related to a DiskView Plugin and not GDS itself.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

War on terror descends on the innocent

Leaked information of Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the London subway shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian immigrant living in the same building with some of the subway bombers, reveals that the police made deadly mistakes prior to killing a completely innocent man, and then tried to cover their mistakes with reports that in no way accurately described what happened.

When de Menezes left his home, someone misidentified him as one of the bombers.

He was not wearing a heavy winter jacket, as reported, but a denim jacket, which would've been completely normal.

He also was not running from the police, but taking the escalators down at normal pace, then running inside a suwbay car, as people usually do, if they're afraid to miss the train. He then takes a seat, gets bumrushed by the cops, they restrain him, and shoot him in the head while he's in the ground with police on top of him.

It'll be interesting to see how the London police is going to handle this.

More news on this:
The Independent
The Guardian
The Times
BBC News
The Financial Times


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Up yours, spammer scum pt II

Scott Levine, the scum behind spam empire snipermail.com, was convicted on 120 counts of unauthorized access to data, two counts of access device fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He and his employees stole 1.6 billion customer records from Acxiom, a company whose business is to violate people's privacy, and used the data to spam and inflate the size of snipermail.com's contact database to make snipermail.com more attractive to buyers.

Maximum sentence is 640 years in prison and about $30M in fines.

Let's hope the people sentencing him were victims of his spams.

The only negative side to the story is that Axciom, once again, gets away with basically peeing on people's online privacy.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Amazon successfully blackmailed out of $40M

Soverain Software of Chicago, IL successfully blackmailed Amazon out of $40M using patents originally owned by OpenMarket, one of the many companies ruined by divine (*spit*). Soverain Software bought the patents from divine in a bankruptcy sale.

Soverain Software is run by a former divine Sr VP Katharine Wolanyk. I'm sure she learned the "ethics" of eCommerce at divine and is continuing the "good" work at Soverain Software.

OpenMarket owned several eCommerce patents most of which fall into the "so obvious I could design and code it, bug-free, in 2 hours"-category.


Microsoft patents breathing

The USPTO has published a patent filing originally filed by Microsoft in 2004. The filing is an attempt to patent a way to visually emphasize numbers in an eletronic document by surrounding the number in a rectangle frame. Wow! The groundbreaking research at M$ really does come up with some really great ideas!

Here's an example of what's getting patented:

In case any M$ lawyers are reading, you can send your cease-and-desist letters to me.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Up yours, spammer scum

Scott Richter, general scumbag and one of the biggest spammers in the world, settled the lawsuit Microsoft filed against him for $7M USD.

While it's a fair share less than the $40M or so sought by Microsoft in their suit, this is still a major victory over the parasites. Way to go Microsoft!

I've written about Scott Richter before


Privacy is in the eyes of the beholder

There's been some interesting debate recently on whether or not police can search your garbage without a search warrant. Apparently the police, district attorneys and judges think they can. They seem to believe since that stuff is put there to be discarded and people know it's going to be handled by sanitation workers and even sorted for recycling there is no expectation of privacy, so it's ok for the police to search it without a search warrant. And they routinely do.

Journalists of the Willamette Week newspaper in Portland, OR decided they'd exercise their rights to search this public depository of personal information by going dumpster diving in the Police Chief's, the Mayor's and the District Attorney's garbage cans.

They then went to said persons asking whether it was ok to search garbage. All of them said yes...until the reporters told them they had gone through their own garbage. How the tables suddenly turned.

The Police Chief was so upset he cut the reporters off midsentence and stopped the interview. The Mayor summoned the reporters to her office and nearly arrested them on the spot. The District Attorney, however, was playing the "hahhah, it's funny" game and apparently wasn't upset at all.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Guilty until proven innocent

Looks like a couple of the Michael Jackson trial jurors are milking in the dough on the media interview circus by basically saying "we thought he was innocent of the crimes accused, but we should've convicted him anyway, because he might've been guilty of other crimes".

That's exactly what was wrong in all the media coverage during the trial. Because the dude is a monkey-loving, plastic-surgery-defaced freak we should put him away, cause we don't like him. Fine. Let's go that way, but only if we get to jail other people we don't like as well. In fact, I have a LONG list of people I don't like and rather see neutralized before they can do more harm.

In fact, let's do one better. Let's have the MEDIA run trials and convict people using website polling:

Q. Should we hang this ugly african-american man?
1. Hell yea, hang the n****, I'm from the south
2. Heavens, no! I'm a tree-hugging liberal intellectual from Vermont, death penalty is wrong
3. Whatever YOU think, Geraldo Rivera
4. Dude, I don't know, I'm so high I can't even click on the right freakin button
5. No, but hang this other dude I don't like

That'd save a fortune and, even better, it'd be a revenue generating activity for the private businesses. What could be better???


It's all about public perception

Some crackpot government official in Indiana State decided it'd be a good idea to ban all clocks from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle waiting rooms so that people waiting for hours wouldn't know they've been waiting for hours.

A+ for creative thinking, F- for service


Thursday, August 04, 2005

NRA out to lunch

Now, I don't really usually care much what the kooks [1] at NRA are up to, but this time I have to wonder what in the hell are they thinking off.

In 2004 Weyerhaeuser Corporation in Oklahoma fired employees who were carrying guns in their cars parked in the company parking lot stating it was a violation of the company policy barring firearms from company property. The parking lot certainly is company property, so it's not an entirely unreasonable to hold employees in violation the firearms policy by bringing guns onto the parking lot.

NRA wasn't having any of it. If it was up to them, kindergarten cops would drive to work in a tank, so they called up a couple of friends in the Oklahoma State legislative office. The friends quickly passed a law that prohibits employers from banning firearms from locked vehicles parked on company property.

The legislation was co-authored by one interesting Oklahoma State Senator named Frank Shurden. He's also known for other interesting bills. Looks like he's trying to do that again. He sure got some balls. Wait, but it doesn't end there. Senator Shurden also wants teachers to paddle unruly kids. I wonder if he's into S&M. He sure fits the profile.

The law to allow firearms in locked vehicles hasn't been enacted, because several companies in Oklahoma are opposing the law and got a temporary restraining order against enacting the law.

NRA wasn't having any of it. If it was up to them, you could hunt deer with an M16, so they called up a couple of friends in the US Capitol. The friends quickly drafted a bill introduced in the US Senate last Friday that would essentially do the same thing as the law in Oklahoma. Naturally several companies are against any such laws, so NRA is calling on nationwide boycotts against them.

Yay for 2nd Amendment!


1. No, I'm not talking about NRA members, some of which may actually be quite sane however misguided they may be on a variety of issues. The leadership is, however, pretty much your standard garden variety kook

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Liberating Iraq one General at a time

The Washington Post article describes torture techniques CIA and the US Army used while interrogating an Iraqi General, who walked into a US Army base and surrendered soon after Baghdad fell to the US troops.

Turns out hitting people repeatedly with the butt of an M16 rifle and then sitting on their chest while said person is restrained inside a sleeping bag tied with eletric wire can cause sudden death. Who would've thunk it?