Category ArchivePolitics

Philosophy &Politics 10 Oct 2006 03:29 pm

Thinking Points by George Lakoff

I just picked up Thinking Points by George Lakoff. I read the first few chapters over lunch, and so far I am impressed. It is an easy read, and it is optimistic; It posits that if progressives authentically and articulately talk about progressive values then they will win the majority of votes.

The problem, the book states, is that progressives don’t know how to talk about their values because the values are so much a part of American life that they are taken for granted. The rest of the book plans to lay out these values in articulate terms that can be used to communicate with bi-conceptuals (formerly called the swing voters.)

Though some of the intro material is a restatement of his previous work, I am looking forward to the presentation of the values; I wonder how they will compare to my own values. It’s also interesting that the book is the kickoff to a website for the creation of a progressive manual.

Politics &Science 15 Sep 2006 08:13 pm

Election Stealing Virus Study

A study released recently discusses even more attacks on Diebold Accu-Vote TS machines.

A great quote from the Princeton paper describing 3 types of attacks they identified:

The first method requires the attacker to remove several screws and lift off the top of the machine to get access to the motherboard and EPROM. The other methods only require access to the memory card slot and power button, which are both behind a locked door on the side of the machine. The lock is easily
picked—one member of our group, who has modest locksmithing skills, can pick the lock consistently in less than 10 seconds. Alternatively, this slot can be reached by removing screws and opening the machine. Some attackers will have access to keys that can open the lock—all AccuVote-TS machines in certain states use identical keys [24], there are thousands of keys in existence, and these keys can be copied at a hardware
or lock store.

A poll worker, election official, technician, or other person who had private access to a machine for as little as one minute could use these methods without detection. Poll workers often do have such access; for instance, in a widespread practice called “sleepovers,” machines are sent home with poll workers the night before the election [27].

(Via Ars Technica)

Philosophy &Politics &Words 31 Aug 2006 10:55 am

Liberty Fund, Inc.: The Online Library of Liberty

Liberty Fund, Inc.: The Online Library of Liberty has 1400 books online on liberty. I am impressed with the Liberty Fund’s mission. From their about page:

Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. The Foundation develops, supervises, and finances its own educational activities to foster thought and encourage discourse on enduring issues pertaining to liberty.

These programs focus on the place individual liberty has in an intellectual heritage evident from ancient times and continuing through our own times. The programs are intended to enrich understanding and appreciation of the complex nature of a society of free and responsible individuals and to contribute to its preservation.

I discovered it when researching Dr. J Rufus Fears, the teacher of a course on the great books to which I have been listening from the Teaching Company.

The course is focused on the lessons we should take from great literature. Initially it was really annoying me, but I have come to appreciate what the teacher is trying to accomplish and how he has gone about it. I am still not done, so I will save that discussion for later. Suffice it say, I found this library of free books online. It includes such classics as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Gibbon, and On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill.

Great Outdoors &Miscellaneous &Politics 01 Aug 2006 12:26 pm

Grizzly Man

Last night we watched Grizzly Man, a documentary by Werner Herzog, about Timothy Treadwell, a self-styled eco-warrior, and protector of brown grizzly bears.

I recommend it highly. This is after I was dreading watching it, since Treadwell was eventually killed in a bear attack. Herzog made a really thoughtful documentary though, and while the issue of his death and the gruesome manner in which it transpired need to be dealt with in the documentary, he managed to do it better than I ever could have imagined.

We originally picked the movie up because we recognized Herzog’s name, and because after just having visited Yellowstone and Yosemite this summer, we were interested to learn more about bears. Mostly, it was to see the bears. We were not disappointed in the bear footage, or the other little animals that Treadwell met in his 13 summers in the Alaskan wilderness. Herzog edited down over 100 hours of Treadwell’s footage, and I feel he did an honest, yet subjective rendering of Treadwell. He balanced outtakes, and interviews with friends, family, native inhabitants, and the eventual rescuers.

Most valuable though was the way that Herzog, and Treadwell for that matter, really prompt reflection about nature and our role in it. Should we co-habitat with giant, ferocious, wild animals like bears? Does nature boil down to cold, heartless expediency when resources like food get tight? Are we as humans destined to follow those same rules? Along with these questions, we see first-hand how different people deal with the enormous, immediate fear that bears evoke. These ten foot tall creatures with razor claws strip away the self-consciousness of the people interviewed. Treadwell acknowledged that fear and yet he spent 13 summers living among the bears. That is a remarkable response to that fear, no matter what his politics or other daemons that he was confronting.

I’ll refrain from commenting any more so as not to ruin the movie. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not interested in bears.

Speaking of not-bears, the DVD also contained a short documentary of the two days spent creating and recording the music for the documentary with Richard Thompson and a collection of studio musicians. This smaller documentary was as engaging as the main documentary. It let the viewer in on how the music was built to support the movie, and how the director works interactively with the musicians to achieve his vision. The camera work was excellent, and the exposition of the iterative process of creation, along with some of the tedium in making music for a documentary were enlightening. I have a much more profound respect and appreciation for both Werner Herzog and Richard Thompson.

Politics 13 Feb 2005 03:09 pm

Administration Coerces Scientists to Change Findings at US Fish and Wildlife

U.S. Scientists Say They Are Told to Alter Findings

A nice quote from one of the scientists in the article:
“Political pressures influence the outcome of almost all the cases,” she said. “As a scientist, I would probably say you really can’t trust the science coming out of the agency.”

Politics 10 Feb 2005 10:33 am

The Administration’s Seeming Contempt for America

Plastic: Fake Reporter With Fake Name Outed

Gannon, was a member of the White Press Corp for Talon News. Turns out that is not his real name, and turns out Talon news is a front too. How did they get into the White House Press Corp?

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter asks some good questions here.

Perhaps it is time to start a newspaper. It sure would be nice to ask a whole bunch of legitimate questions to the administration, and apparently it’s not that hard to get into the press corp. Ha.

Politics 02 Nov 2004 09:41 am

Peter Norvig on Hiring a President

Hiring a President is a great pragmatic look at the job duties of the Presidency. A good read that gives tangible criteria for evaluating someone in the role as president.

Peter Norvig is head of Google Labs, I believe, and is the author of a couple of really good AI textbooks.

Politics 02 Nov 2004 09:36 am

New Yorker Editorial for Kerry

The New Yorker: Editorial for John Kerry gives a well reasoned argument for taking Bush out and putting Kerry in the Whitehouse. Kind of long, and I wish I had found it sooner, but its worth posting still.

Please vote today. My support is behind John Kerry.

Politics 11 Sep 2004 12:31 pm

Molly Ivins on Bush’s Supporting Cast

WorkingForChange-Forget Bush

Molly Ivins points out that the president’s appointments have a much greater influence on the country than the president does directly.

Politics 30 Jul 2004 01:31 pm

Mediocre, Irrelevant Media Coverage of Presidential Race

Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Triumph of the Trivial” href=””>The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Triumph of the Trivial

I agree with Paul Krugman’s assessment of the media coverage of the presidential race so far. It has been completely vacuous. I hear more about what a pundit thinks Kerry has to do to win votes, or what Bush has to convince the people than what the candidates are actually saying.

This type of coverage plays well for Bush who seems to have no compelling position on anything other than war, but then again, I can’t say that because how would I know just from watching the news?

I have dug a little deeper on Kerry (my bias) and he does have good ideas about how the country could be lead. Once again, how would anyone know from watching the news?

I was particularly unimpressed by MSNBC’s coverage of the convention. The Daily Show pointed out one glaring moment. Brian Williams was interviewing Al Sharpton after his speech. It was a great speech. It was eloquent and powerful, and carried substantial messages about the party platform. People were excited and energized by it. It was an important speech.

However, it did last 23 minutes instead of his allotted 6 minutes, and apparently he didn’t read the speech that was playing on the teleprompter. So, what were the questions that Brian Williams asked? Not anything about anything he said, but instead he asked him why he didn’t read what was on the teleprompter and instead “riffed on whatever you were riffing on” for so long. No questions on the content were asked in the short interview.

He apparently didn’t even listen to the speech to analyze it to ask good questions. WTF!

There have been many other instances in which I have been annoyed at the commentator coverage. (I don’t think we should call them reporters.)

What I would like in press coverage:
I want to know what the platform is and I want to hear critical discussion of the planks of the platform. I want to know how other candidates and citizens are responding to the message of the platform.

I don’t give a crap what the candidates are wearing or who they ate lunch with or what some idiot with a microphone thinks they need to do to win votes. I also don’t care what the commentator thinks personally. I want information about the issues, supported with facts from verifiable, reliable sources. I want multiple different reporters on the story.

More journalism on the presidential race please! More people demanding journalism please!

If we ask for that, the media will give it because they think it will keep us watching, which is money in their pocket. We can make this change. We need good journalism to be effective citizens. We cannot make good decisions without information.

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