Monday, December 26, 2005

MiamiHerald.com | 12/26/2005 | Bush: Science comes before intelligent design

SCIENCE FIRST

``The more important point is science itself and how important it is, and we right now have adequate standards that may need to be raised. But worse: Students are not given the course work necessary to do well with those standards.''

[Govenor Jeb] Bush, after meeting with Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick and city commissioners concerning the community's widespread power outages after hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, also noted that the federal ruling came in a case that involves Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District.

''It is one school district in Pennsylvania,'' he said.

POINT OF VIEW

The Watchdog Report asked a follow-up question: Does the governor believe in Darwin's theory of evolution?

Bush said: ``Yeah, but I don't think it should actually be part of the curriculum, to be honest with you. And people have different points of view and they can be discussed at school, but it does not need to be in the curriculum.''

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Kennedy on Bush Wire Tapping

On wiretapping, Bush isn't listening to the Constitution

By Edward M. Kennedy | December 22, 2005

THE PRESIDENT is not above the law; he is not King George. Yet, with sorrow, we are now learning that in this great land we have an administration that has refused to follow well-crafted, longstanding procedures that require the president to get a court order before spying on people within the United States. With outrage, we learn that this administration believes that it does not have to follow the law of the land.

Not just above the law, this administration seems to be saying that it IS the law. It contends that it can decide on its own what the law is, how to interpret it, and whether or not it has to follow it. I believe that such an arrogant and expansive view of executive power would have sent chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers -- as it does for every American hearing these startling revelations today.

The president, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the attorney general tell us that the president can order domestic spying inside this country -- without judicial oversight -- under his power as commander in chief. Really? Where do they find that in the Constitution? Time and time again, this president has used his express, but limited, constitutional power to command the military to justify controversial activities -- after the fact.

The president is the commander in chief of the military. That doesn't give him the power to spy on civilians at home without any judicial oversight whatsoever, without ever revealing those activities to even well-established courts that review these matters in secrecy. Otherwise, every phone and computer in America should now come with a warning label: Warning: the privacy of your communications can no longer be guaranteed, by order of President Bush.

The president has the constitutional obligation to protect and defend the American people. That is obvious -- but he also took an oath of office, to ''preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." With his arrogant usurpation of power and refusal to follow well-established wiretapping laws, I believe that this president is not living up to that oath. By shunning the oversight of the courts and ignoring the express language of the laws passed by Congress, this president is, in my judgment, defiantly and stubbornly ignoring the Constitution and laws passed by Congress.

Our founders did not fight a Revolutionary War to give such expanded, unchecked powers to the executive. Quite the contrary. Their concern was precisely the abuse of executive power.

The president has admitted, without any remorse, that he has repeatedly authorized his own advisers at the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on individuals inside the United States, without the prior court approval required under well-established laws. This president is focused on scapegoating The New York Times for breaking the story that brought this questionable spying program into the light of day. Once again, he's telling us -- ''trust us, we are doing whatever we can to protect you." Well, that's just not enough. We want real answers about this program. Why were the courts cut out of the process, when judicial oversight is required by law? Yesterday the vice president cut short his trip to the Middle East to break the tie in a vote on an irresponsible budget proposal that will hurt America's families, yet he couldn't find the time to level with the American people and tell them exactly where the president has the authority to spy on them.

This is not a new debate. Years ago, with bipartisan support, I spearheaded the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which specifically requires the attorney general to obtain prior authorization from a judge, in a secret expedited proceeding, before engaging in domestic spying or wiretapping. Now, the president says that that law is ''insufficient" and ''outdated" to meet the current threats in the war on terror because it was passed nearly 30 years ago. The Constitution took effect in 1789 -- and it is still good law today.
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I hope the president doesn't continue to hide behind such transparent and irrelevant justifications. Congress has amended the 1978 FISA law over time, most recently with the passage of the PATRIOT Act -- and there is no reason to think we wouldn't do so again -- if we knew what the administration is doing. If the president needs more powers to lawfully protect the American people from terrorism, then he should come to Congress to seek modification of current laws. The president has failed to provide a sufficient legal basis for his actions; instead he and his Cabinet spent the week refusing to negotiate with Congress and opposing bipartisan efforts to extend the PATRIOT Act for three more months.

Just this past week there were public reports that a college student in Massachusetts had two government agents show up at his house because he had gone to the library and asked for the official Chinese version of Mao Tse-tung's Communist Manifesto. Following his professor's instructions to use original source material, this young man discovered that he, too, was on the government's watch list.

Think of the chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom when a government agent shows up at your home -- after you request a book from the library.

Incredibly, we are now in an era where reading a controversial book may be evidence of a link to terrorists.

Something is amiss here. Something doesn't make sense. We need a thorough and independent investigation of these activities.

The Congress and the American people deserve answers now.

Edward M. Kennedy is the senior US senator from Massachusetts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Boston City Guide - Recommendations and Reviews by Citysearch

This MSN branded City Search page gives you a link to search by neighborhood in Boston. Unfortunately they missed a few and put in a couple that don't belong at all. Notable among the missing are Dorchester, Roslindale, West Roxbury and East Boston. Take it from a native, that's most of the city. Places on the list that aren't Boston neighborhoods? Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Somerville all cities in their own right. Kendall Square, Metro West, North Shore and South Shore round out the list.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Google Video of the Day: Matrix Ping Pong

Must see Ping Pong It's not just plain vanilla ping pong, in fact it's not even a real game.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cue The Castrati

It’s Holiday season again and the Belden Jewelers theme song is back.

I looooooooooooooooovvvvvve her sooooooooooooooooooooo. This sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee must knoooooooooooooooooooow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

USATODAY.com - Copy-protected-CD flap raises questions

Q: Just how restrictive are these XCP CDs?

A: The CDs can be played safely in most conventional CD players. But in computers, they can be played only by accepting a software download of a special media player from Sony BMG. Researchers discovered that the software contained a hidden file — called a "rootkit" — that made computers vulnerable to viruses. Microsoft and anti-spyware companies are working on solutions to find and remove the files.

Q: So what is the best way to remove the software?

A: That's another hornet's nest. A Princeton researcher, J. Alex Halderman, says Sony's uninstall program "makes the computer even more vulnerable." He has posted instructions for how to find out if your PC is infected at the Freedom to Tinker blog (www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=924). But he recommends consumers leave the XCP software on their computer until Sony fixes the situation. Sony says it is working on a new uninstall program.

Q: What's the worst thing that can happen to my computer?

A: Spyware writers have developed programs that can piggyback on the hidden files, potentially wreaking havoc.
CDs with copy protection
Not all copy-protected CDs have the controversial XCP software from First 4 Internet. Sony hasn't issued a list, but the number grows daily. Sony now says nearly 50 titles are affected. Here's a sampling of the XCP discs — and other copy-protected CDs as well.

Sony BMG CDs with First 4 Internet XCP copy-protection

Van Zant, Get Right with the Man

Sarah McLachlan, Bloom Remix Album

Celine Dion, On Ne Change Pas

Neil Diamond, 12 Songs

Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten

Chris Botti, To Love Again

Pete Seeger, The Essential Pete Seeger

Cyndi Lauper, The Body Acoustic

Burt Bacharach, At This Time

Ricky Martin, Life

All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross, So Amazing

Sony BMG CDs with SunnComm MediaMax copy-protection

Foo Fighters, In Your Honor

Santana, All That I Am

Alicia Keys, Unplugged

Switchfoot, Nothing Is Sound

Babyface, Grown & Sexy

EMI CDs with Macrovision CDS-300

Ryan Shupe & the Rubber Band, Dream Big

Jermaine Dupri presents Young Fly & Flashy Vol. 1

But tech-security researchers say even tech-savvy individuals who try to uninstall the XCP files on their own could be asking for trouble. Rob Enderle, an independent technology analyst, says the only way to get your computer back to normal is to reformat the hard drive and re-install the operating system. "A rootkit changes the operating system and is incredibly insidious," he says. "If you leave it on your machine, it will become one of those things that drive you insane with intermittent crashes and instability."

Q: How can I tell if these XCP CDs are in the racks at the store? Are they labeled?

A: Yes and no. Sony also sells copy-protected CDs with software provided by SunnComm. The company says all SunnComm and XCP discs are clearly marked, with a sticker on the cover. However, the stickers don't specify whether they are XCP or SunnComm, and not all stores carry the stickers. When USA TODAY went shopping at a Los Angeles-area Barnes & Noble store Tuesday, there was no sticker on XCP CDs from Neil Diamond, Cyndi Lauper, Chris Botti or Ricky Martin. To find an XCP disc, look on the back of the CD, where in tiny print, it says "?cp.sonybmg.com/xcp."

Q: How many people could be affected by Sony's flawed software?

A: A lot. Dan Kaminsky, an independent Internet researcher, estimates thousands of computer networks — including those for businesses, schools, government agencies and homes — were probably exposed.

Q: What about other copy-protected CDs? Are they as problematic, and how do I find them?

A: At the Barnes & Noble store, copy-protected CDs from Sony artists Alicia Keys, Santana, Babyface and Maroon 5, which use software from SunnComm, also were not labeled with a sticker. The fine print on the back of those CDs says "?www.sunncomm.com/support/sonybmg."

To listen to these CDs on a PC, you also must install special software. They aren't supposed to play in iTunes, but USA TODAY initially had no trouble playing the CDs in iTunes or saving the files to the hard drive for copying to the iPod. But that was before we clicked on the album cover icon when it showed up in My Computer. Then, we had to accept a license agreement. Once that was done, the CD would no longer play in iTunes.

Record label EMI has only a handful of copy-protected titles in U.S. release. EMI uses a different copy-protection program: CDS-300 from Macrovision.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Google is not God - It's not even Eric Clapton

From Danny Sullivan on Search Engine Watch

>>>We get more irrational exuberance of the type I haven't seen since 2003, when New York Times quoted someone comparing Google to God. This time, Google slips in the view of one to:

Google is the realization of everything that we thought the Internet was going to be about but really wasn't until Google.

Oh, come on! Get a grip. Google offers search results, wasn't the first to do that, did raise the bar and stayed ahead for about two years, but Yahoo and Ask Jeeves in particular deliver a great experience as well. This makes Google the realization of everything the internet was supposed to be?

Yep, Google does cool things. Gmail is cool and an advancement, but again, one that others have caught up with (and don't make you use a flippin' SMS messaging system to sign-up for it). Google Maps is way cool and another advancement, but it's hardly the realization of everything the internet was to be about.

Heck, I don't even know that anyone can agree on what the internet was supposed to be about, but I darn well know that if I grab 10 people off the street, they won't all agree that Google is the sum total of everything. In the end, Google and any search engines aren't everything. They are only pointers to everything, to the actual content that people want.<<<

NYT On Google As Threat To Other Businesses

eBay Feedback

Huge amount of negative feedback. By far the most I've ever seen. Note to self, don't buy from this guy.

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