Friday, October 13, 2006

Black Box Voting

I had the pleasure of listening to my favorite radio show on the way into work this morning and they interviewed Bev Harris from BlackBoxVoting.org. Morse posted a bit on problems with the Diebold voting machine a while back, but according to Bev the problems go much, much deeper.

Did you know that:
22,000 defective Diebold voting machines were sent to Georgia in 2002?
a computer miscount overturned the House District 11 result in Wayne County, North Carolina?
a cell phone was used to transfer a vote database in Marin County, California?

Neither did I.

In her book and on the site she discusses ways in which voting machines (computerized or mechanical) can be hacked. The source code on the Diebold voting machines is open source. While that's not a bad thing in and of itself it does mean that people interested in exploiting the weaknesses therein can do so more easily. The good thing is that since that's a known quantity things can be done to help ensure that vote rigging is at least hard to get away with.

So what can we do? BBV.org covers that in quite some detail. Warning, it does require some work on our part. If you're interested you can download what they call the Citizens Tool Kit. It's an extensive document consisting of twenty modules. Each is self contained and they encourage you to just pick one and run with it. To look at each module separately you can look here. The complete book, BLACK BOX VOTING: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century, is also there so that you can download it and find out why this is so important.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spat-tastic

Posted by codemorse

From MSNBC:

Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday accused former President Clinton, the husband of his potential 2008 White House rival, of failing to act in the 1990s to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

"I would remind Senator (Hillary) Clinton and other Democrats critical of the Bush administration's policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure," McCain said at a news conference after a campaign appearance for Republican Senate candidate Mike Bouchard.

McCain's criticism elicited a strong response from Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 presidential nominee and a potential 2008 candidate....

"The truth is the Clinton administration knew full well they didn't have a perfect agreement. But at least they were talking. At least we had inspectors going in and we knew where the (nuclear fuel) rods were. This way, we don't know where the rods are, the rods are gone. There are no inspectors. Ask any American which way is better," Kerry said.



Well, don't ask any American. Ask Americans who can find their own home state on a map - which was, at last count, just about 70% of the country.

The way in which the Republicans have shifted all blame for failure at the feet of a past administration is not only disingenuous, but vaguely pathetic. Imagine this back and forth over foriegn policy as a domestic dispute:

Wife: "You haven't taken the garbage to the curb in six months! The rats have overrun our yard, our garden is totally destroyed because of dogs and raccoons rooting through our trash bags at night, the smell is stinking up the house, and all the neighbors are complaining!"

Husband: "Don't blame ME for the trash! Eight years ago, when you were in charge of the trash, you failed to put together a comprehensive plan for taking it out! Who knew that there would be so much trash each week? Who knew that I'd have to tie the bags, take them outside, place them on the curb in trash cans, and cover them with lids? Clearly, this is your fault!"

Wife: "But that's insane."

Husband: "What's insane is your failure to come up with a far-reaching, totally effective garbage-hauling policy. Maybe, if you'd dealt a little more proactively with the garbage men, they wouldn't refuse to come into our house each week and remove the trash for us!"

Wife: "Even if that's true, wouldn't it make our lives and our relationship a lot easier if you'd stop blaming me for your every failing and just started taking out the trash again?"

Husband: "What trash? I don't see any trash. I intend to pursue diplomatic relations with the garbage men in order to insure that perhaps, someday, they will realize their responsibility to come and take the trash for us."

Wife: "I'm sleeping with your best friend."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Livin' It (And By "It," We Mean "A Ridiculously Polarized Form Of Religion That Ironically Mimics Radical Muslims")

Posted by codemorse

From Salon.com:

Baldwin preaches that free will is a lie of Satan -- we must shut off our brains, he says, and be led by what God tells our hearts. Furthermore, he writes, efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of "stupid arrogance" that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse....

"I am smart enough to know that Satan is alive and well today," he writes. "Satan has all kinds of power, and he is able to control the minds of anyone whose mind isn't controlled by God."

....All of this might seem like the easily ignorable ravings of a Hollywood has-been if the book wasn't climbing bestseller lists. Baldwin writes that "God has called me to go and make disciples of the youth of America.

That is what I am going to try to do, and if you try to stop me I am going to break your face."


Boo-ya, Baldwin!

Do you hear that, unbelieving sinners? Baldwin is going to BREAK YOUR FACE if you try to stop him from converting the youth of America to Jesus Christ's philosophy of unconditional love!

In! Your! Face! Satan!

There's a popular movement to transform Christ into a figure of righteous anger and vengeance - based almost entirely on the book of Revelation. It's striking, and telling, that a spiritually-questionable and ultimately-unimportant book of the Bible has become the whole of the Bible for so many people. It's as if all that stuff about lovin' thy brother is just too much work.

the actor travels as a headline act with a group of skateboarders who provide entertainment, authenticity and conversion stories at "radical" revivals. The Livin It tour drew an audience of over a million in 2005, selling out stadiums from Atlanta to Kingston, Jamaica. At the Minneapolis Metrodome, the tour packed in 40,000 people in a single evening; the wait for an autograph after the "altar call" lasted three and a half hours. (Last year's X Games drew only 16,000 to a skateboarding competition.)

Ryan Dobson receives a shout-out in Baldwin's book as a messenger for "Homey," as Baldwin calls God. In Dobson's book "Be Intolerant," he rails against relativism, homosexuals, environmentalists and "inclusive, open-minded Christians," charging his readers to "get your armor on and take up your cross."

He knows just how to instill pride in the heart of his father. "I bleed conservatism, Dobson told me when I met him at a Christian publishing convention in Denver last year, crossing his ornately inked arms over a T-shirt that says, "Jesus Loves My Tattoos." "I see conservatives like me everywhere, at hot rod shows in Vegas, surfing top breaks on the coast, crazy motocross freaks like me living for Jesus. We know we're right, we have the power of the truth behind us.

And because of that, I see cities on fire."


Here we have what amounts to a near-perfect illustration of the differences between moderate faith and 'radical' faith. A thinking man will see that there is no fundamental difference between the rhetoric that Baldwin preaches and the rhetoric of radical Muslim fundamentalists. Both philosophies rely upon the assumption that the world is a damned and unholy place - and that only by cleansing it of the unbelievers will we earn God's love/respect/milk-and-cookies.

Were a Muslim to speak out that his faith knows "we're right, we have the power of the truth behind us. And because of that, i see cities on fire," what do you suppose the reaction might be?

Do you think the irony of Baldwin's conversion happening as a result of 9-11 resonates at all with the man himself? Do you think that he understands how an act of ignorant and violent radicalism has made him ignorant, violent and radical?

I'd guess not. To Baldwin, his brand of homo-hatin', God-as-homeboy Christianity is just plain radical, dude. Tubular.

In Fourteen-Hundred And Ninety-Two...

Posted by codemorse

...Columbus opened up the Americas to trade, colonization, uniquely European barbarism, slavery, and the near-devastation of indigenous peoples.

It's not quite as catchy as "...Columbus sailed the ocean blue," but it is just as accurate.

Students of history that goes beyond that famous schoolyard catechism know that Columbus did not "discover" America. That honor goes to the Vikings - if not older civilizations. Nor did Columbus discover "America" as we know it. He discovered the Indies.

He also implemented a reign of cruelty that left the native population enslaved, crippled by disease, and wondering what the hell they'd done to deserve it.

So, of course, we've dedicated a national holiday to him.

Like most national holidays, we spend this one shopping. And unlike most holidays, that somehow seems deeply appropriate. Columbus brought an already-ancient tradition of exploitation to the Americas, and we're proudly continuing that tradition in modern times.

When you're out today buying packs of tube socks for a $1.99, give a thought to Christopher Columbus. Without his foresight and his ingenuity, would we truly understand the joy inherent in the ravaging of the less "civilized" for our own benefit?

Probably.

Happy Columbus Day.