Archive for May 7th, 2007

New Frontiers In Legal Defense

Oh, this is brilliant:

Verizon is one of the phone companies currently being sued over its alleged disclosure of customer phone records to the NSA. In a response to the court last week, the company asked for the entire consolidated case against it to be thrown out – on free speech grounds.

The response also alleges that the case should be thrown out because even looking into the issue could violate state secrets, of course, but a much longer section of the response tries to make the case that Verizon has a First Amendment right to “petition” the government. “Based on plaintiffs’ own allegations, defendants’ right to communicate such information to the government is fully protected by the Free Speech and Petition Clauses of the First Amendment,” argue Verizon’s lawyers.

Essentially, the argument is that turning over truthful information to the government is free speech, and the EFF and ACLU can’t do anything about it. In fact, Verizon basically argues that the entire lawsuit is a giant SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit, and that the case is an attempt to deter the company from exercising its First Amendment right to turn over customer calling information to government security services.

“Communicating facts to the government is protected petitioning activity,” says the response, even when the communication of those facts would normally be illegal or would violate a company’s owner promises to its customers. Verizon argues that, if the EFF and other groups have concerns about customer call records, the only proper remedy “is to impose restrictions on the government, not on the speaker’s right to communicate.”

Wow. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that this defense would essentially render the concept of privacy or confidentiality meaningless, at least where releasing information to the government is concerned.

(Cross-posted at Greatscat!)

3 comments May 7th, 2007 at 10:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans,Technology

So Much For That, Then…

May 4, 2007: Death to the liberal tyranny of YouTube! All hail QubeTV!

Yes, that’s right, a YouTube imitation for rightwingers only.

No, seriously:

QubeTV.tv is dedicated to bringing your conservative take on politics and culture to the Internet. We know that the history of the modern mass media has been liberal in both its ownership and content for decades. With the world of the Internet playing an increasingly vital part in both our politics and culture, conservatives cannot sit back and cede the territory of online videos and pictures. There will, doubtless, be many conservative sites vying for your attention. We here at QubeTV hope to win your loyalty by committing ourselves to making this your favorite conservative place in the Internet universe. You are the star the investigative political reporter, the anchor, the comedian, the believer, the student, the jock and you have a camera.

May 7, 2007: The glorious right-wing netroots revolution is here! Huzzah!

To get involved, you can join our Google Group and add your thoughts to the threads or start your own discussion topics. You can also follow our blog through our Twitter account, join our facebook group, organize under our DiggRight initiative (digg it!), connect with us on our YouTube channel, our myspace account, and many other socnets that we’ll tell you about.

Heh.

4 comments May 7th, 2007 at 07:47pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Republicans,Technology

Priorities

One of the most disturbing stories to come out of the slow-motion train wreck of the US Attorneys scandal is that of Tom Wales, an Assistant US Attorney and gun control advocate in Washington state, who was shot to death a month after 9/11. John McKay, one of the recently fired US Attorneys, who took that position a few weeks after the murder, pushed aggressively for more resources to catch Wales’ killer. Not only was he rebuffed, but the House Judiciary Committee suspects that the DOJ was so irritated by McKay’s insistence that it may have been one of the reasons he was added to the firing list (the fact that he was asking for those resources in early ’05, when the DOJ/WH wanted him to be trumping up pursuing investigations of fraud in the 2004 election probably didn’t help his cause).

Personally, I’m not convinced that this was why he was fired, except in the sense that he was focused on something other than advancing Karl Rove’s bogus voter fraud narrative. But the fact that the Bush DOJ did not want to be bothered with chasing the first-ever killer of an Assistant US Attorney? Unless there’s more to the story, that’s just mind-boggling, and more than a little suspicious.

Much more on the subject from Wales’ brother-in-law, and James Fallows in the Atlantic.

5 comments May 7th, 2007 at 02:47pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans

Polltry

Some interesting tidbits in Saturday’s Newsweek poll results:

Independents don’t like Hillary: In the head-to-head matchups of the three Democratic presidential frontrunners vs. the three Republican frontrunners, Obama and Edwards consistently outperform Hillary among Independent voters. It breaks down 40-53 Clinton-Giuliani, vs. 43-48 for Obama, and 46-47 for Edwards. Against McCain, it’s 42-48, 47-42, and 48-44; and against Romney, it’s 54-35, 55-31, and 61-27. Independents generally seem to prefer Edwards over Obama, except against McCain – not sure exactly what that means…

Democrats like their candidates better: 77% of Democratic respondents are satisfied with their field of candidates, and only 14% are dissatisfied. Among Republicans, the numbers are 52-38. Ha-ha!

We want Gore, they don’t want Newt: 60% of Democratic respondents would like to see Al run; 62% of Republican respondents don’t want to see Newt run. Actor/lobbyist Fred Thompson’s support is more lukewarm than I expected – only 46-34 in favor.

Dubya is circling the drain: Approval/disapproval has gone from 33-60 to 28-64 since the end of March. Satisfied/dissatisfied with how things are going has gone from 28-66 to 25-71. Ouch. Still waiting for that bounce.

Bush is a coward: I like this one even more than the approval rating, because it totally blows up Dubya’s Decider-In-Chief narrative. Only 4% said that he showed the greatest political courage of any president (defined as “commitment to doing what’s right for the country even if it meant risking his political career”), while Bill Clinton tied for first with Ronald Reagan at 18%. Dubya got crushed by Ronnie among Republicans 41-13, even though Ronnie never did anything as “courageous” as invading Iraq.

Better yet, when asked flat-out whether Dubya was politically courageous or not, only 40% said yes, and 53% said no. Even the Independents weren’t buying: They broke out 38-58 against. The Emperor is looking more and more naked, and it’s not a pretty sight.

There’s courage, and then there’s courage: Newsweek asked whether the Democratic and Republican candidates had shown political courage in the past, and then asked whether they had shown it in their campaigns. For the first question, the top three were Rudy, Hillary, and McCain. But for the second question, the top three were Hillary, Obama, and Edwards. So apparently the Republicans’ political courage does not translate to the campaign trail.

It really is not looking like a very friendly climate for Dubya and the Republicans right now. Unless there are some major changes in the next 18 months, the 2008 election is going to be very very ugly for the GOP.

2 comments May 7th, 2007 at 02:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,Iraq,Politics,Polls,Republicans

Monday Media Blogging

Everybody dance!!!


In case you ever wondered what the offspring of Richard Simmons and Gilda Radner might look like… (h/t Ripley)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3DeSYLLrUk
Dancing tank engines! I suspect that tank engines may have more active sex lives than we ever imagined.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb6jJ4nUfZw
What Air Force cadets do when no-one is watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGGWgp5_UhQ
I’ve used this one before, but… well.

May 7th, 2007 at 11:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Maybe Someday We Can Download MP3 Players, Too…

It’s still in its early stages, but this is just too cool:

Sometimes a particular piece of plastic is just what you need. You have lost the battery cover to your cellphone, perhaps. Or your daughter needs to have the golden princess doll she saw on television. Now.

In a few years, it will be possible to make these items yourself. You will be able to download three-dimensional plans online, then push Print. Hours later, a solid object will be ready to remove from your printer.

(…)

Three-dimensional printers have been seen in industrial design shops for about a decade. They are used to test part designs for cars, airplanes and other products before they are sent to manufacturing. Once well over $100,000 each, such machines can now be had for $15,000. In the next two years, prices are expected to fall further, putting the printers in reach of small offices and even corner copy stores.

The next frontier will be the home. One company that wants to be the first to deliver a 3-D printer for consumers is Desktop Factory, started by IdeaLab, a technology incubator here. The company will start selling its first printer for $4,995 this year.

Bill Gross, chairman of IdeaLab, says the technology it has developed, which uses a halogen light bulb to melt nylon powder, will allow the price of the printers to fall to $1,000 in four years.

“We are Easy-Bake Ovening a 3-D model,” he said. “The really powerful thing about this idea is that the fundamental engineering allows us to make it for $300 in materials.”

(…)

“In the future, everyone will have a printer like this at home,” said Hod Lipson, a professor at Cornell University, who has led a project that published a design for a 3-D printer that can be made with about $2,000 in parts. “You can imagine printing a toothbrush, a fork, a shoe. Who knows where it will go from here?”

(…)

IdeaLab hopes companies will sell three-dimensional designs over the Internet. This would allow people to print out replacements for a dishwasher rack at home. And it would open up new opportunities for toys.

“You could go to Mattel.com, download Barbie, scan your Mom’s head, slap the head on Barbie and print it out,” suggests Joe Shenberger, the director of sales for Desktop Factory. “You could have a true custom one-off toy.”

(…)

Professor Lipson said researchers are developing ways to use the process to build parts with more complex functions. They have preliminary designs for batteries, sensors, and parts that can bend when electricity is applied.

“A milestone for us would be to print a robot that would get up and walk out of the printer,” Professor Lipson said. “Batteries included.”

This reminds me quite a lot of Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, in which every home has a nanotechnology fabricator which can build anything if provided with raw material and a template. If you think digital piracy’s an issue now, just wait until physical goods become downloadable.

UPDATE: Just a few follow-up thoughts:

1) I think it will take nanotechnology to get to the robot-printing stage. Something like my digital camera, for example, has fine circuitry and precision lenses that I just can’t see being replicated through extruding stuff from syringes, or building up from layers.

2) This would have huge impacts on the manufacturing sector. Smaller products would be printed entirely in the home, or at the retail outlet, and larger products might be printed by giant factory printers instead of being assembled. At a bare minimum, the parts would be printed instead of manufactured.

3) None of this may ever happen. 3D printers may never evolve beyond creating simple mechanical or possibly electrical (but not electronic) devices.

4 comments May 7th, 2007 at 10:47am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Sunday Sucky Softball Blogging

Very frustrating and bizarre opening day for me. I absolutely crushed the ball in batting practice, including the longest home run I think I’ve ever hit, and then proceeded to flail haplessly for most of the game, virtually unable to make contact with anything. So that kinda sucked, but it’s nice to know that I’ll have some power if I can get my mechanics back together.

I still managed to go 3-for-6 with a swinging bunt and a couple of sharp ground balls between short and third, but I didn’t really contribute much of anything. I was behind the plate for most of the game, so I didn’t do a whole lot defensively either (one putout at home, and I almost threw someone out on a dribbler in front of the plate, but the first baseman dropped it).

2007 Stats: 1 game, .500 BA (3-6), .500 SLG, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 runs, 0 RBI.

Career Stats: 48 games, .591 BA (194-328), .802 SLG, 32 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 109 runs, 85 RBI.

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
Incoming!

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
This may very well be my favorite softball picture ever.

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *
Busted mirror on someone’s car.

May 7th, 2007 at 12:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Softball


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