Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Spam + Litigation = Spamigation

Brad Templeton has coined "Spamigation" for spam litigation, lawsuits that are automated by computers, noting that while suing people can be readily automated so that it's possible to sue millions, legal defenses are much harder to automate.

This means that while it's possible to sue millions, it's impossible for millions to defend against those lawsuits. The RIAA has practically invented this; a friend in the know confided about 18 months back that the RIAA's litigation was actually turning a profit: that is, the RIAA's network of sleazy bounty-hunters, boiler-room intimidators, and software-generated legal threats were costing less to run than they were bringing in through the persecution of American music fans.

That means that there's no technical reason the music industry can't individually sue all 70 million American file-sharers. Indeed, that might be their last profitable business-model in an era when they refuse to give sell what people will buy: DRM-free music at a reasonable price.


Mind Control Parasites: For Real!

You are not the only one controlling your mind.

Approximately one-quarter of Americans host a parasite that has been shown to affect personality in both rodents and humans. According to a recent study, this single-celled organism may be able to shape entire cultures.

In a paper published in the online edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society, United States Geological Survey researcher Kevin Lafferty argues that a significant factor in why some countries exhibit higher levels of neuroticism than others may be the prevalence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The study also indicates that it may influence a society's preference for strict laws, an expression of uncertainty avoidance, and its valuation of 'masculine' priorities such as competitiveness and financial success over 'feminine' values like relationship-building.

"Toxoplasma appears to explain 30% of the variation in neuroticism among countries, 15% of the uncertainty avoidance among Western nations and 30% of the sex role differences among Western nations," Lafferty said via e-mail.

There is more here.

And here.


Watch This Video

This is a video by a group from the US call LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). I have heard about them before and their message is interesting and powerful, though not with the greatest production value. They want to end the war on drugs.

Here is their video.


Monday, August 21, 2006


She Gets Stuff For Free

If you work hard enough you will get something for free.
She wasn't shoplifting. She was taking advantage of the chain's price accuracy guarantee, which gives shoppers a product for free if it scans at the register for a price higher than advertised. Lipkin is so good at finding mispriced items that she says she typically snags more than $200 worth of free merchandise per store visit


The Mexican Invasion

Yay! more fear-mongering. This time courtesy of Pat Buchanan.
The nature and character of the invasion is far different than anything that used to happen. 58% of the Mexican people in one survey indicated they believed that the American Southwest belonged actually to Mexico. It was stolen from them. It belongs to them and I think that the Mexican government has a direct program basically to push it’s poor, unemployed, and uneducated into the United States for a variety of purposes. And one of them, in my judgment — in which I believe I documented it in the book — is an attempt at the reconquista they call it, the reannexation of the seven days states of the American Southwest, link linguistically, ethnically and culturally to become as much a part of Mexico is they are a part of America. And I think that is well underway.
In case you didn't realize... Brown people equal bad 'cuz Uncle Pat tells you so.



Back in 1848 we called it Manifest Destiny, which loosely translates as "we've got better guns than you, so it's manifest that your shit belongs to us."

- The Wanderer


North American Taliban Watch

Doesn't this just warm your heart:
The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job -- outside of the church.
The taliban stike in Watertown, New York. Can Canadian forces be far behind?


Why Honour Can Be a Problem

"There's a kind of Southern culture of honor that persists to this day. There's the sense that if you're dishonored, you should do something, and 'do something' is a euphemism for 'hit' or 'be violent.' "

Murray Strauss, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire


"Canada needs to protect Israel"

Audacity is thine name:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has given Israel important political support throughout the conflict, but “there is more Canada [can do] now,” he said in a conference call yesterday with reporters.

Israel understands that Ottawa may not have army troops to contribute to the UN peacekeeping mission on the ground because of the heavy Canadian military commitment in Afghanistan, Mr. Baker said.

However, he said Canadian warships might be able to help patrol the Lebanese coast to make sure Hezbollah does not get new shipments of arms arriving by sea.

Or perhaps a small Canadian army contingent could be found to help patrol the Syrian border, he added.

More like stationing our forces of the coast of Lebanon to protect the next convoy of rescue ships we'll have to send.

I am not cynical at all...


Iran's Follows Old American Script

George Bush recently announced:

Today, I’m announcing that America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million. These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities. … America is making a long-term commitment to help the people of Lebanon because we believe every person deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all (emphasis from Think Progress).

In an earlier post I estimated that Iran was giving Hezbullah a budget of $850 million+. Now, my estimate is based on some wild back of the envelop calculations but it looks like Iran/Hezbullah are going to out spend the US 4:1 in South Lebanon. Basically, they are using the same tactic that the US used in the start of the cold war to lock Western Europe into the capitalist bloc, outspend your opponent. Iran is running a marshall plan for South Lebanon , and it betting that the Bush administration will be unwilling to invest in social welfare for foreign brown people. This is probably a safe bet for Iran, and Hezbullah will walk away with victory in peace as well as war.



The tried and true method of taking no casualties from a static defense bears remarkable similarities to the tried and true method of not getting hurt by sticking a finger in a light socket, doesn't it?

Comment by Escher Sketch


Don't Kill Your Customers... Its Bad for Business

Merck made a bad decision... and it is only starting to crush the black bile of Satan out of them.

A retired FBI agent who suffered a heart attack after taking the painkiller Vioxx is entitled to $50 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from Merck, a federal jury found Thursday.

The jury of eight men said Merck was negligent for failing to adequately warn doctors about the risks associated with the drug. The jury also found that Merck “knowingly misrepresented or failed to disclose” information about the drug to the plaintiff’s doctors.

“We disagree with the jury’s verdict. The plaintiff was at increased risk for a heart attack regardless of whether he was taking Vioxx,” said Phil Beck, Merck’s lead trial lawyer in the case, in a statement.

With this latest decision, Merck’s three-trial winning streak has come to an end. The score after nine trials: Merck, 5; Plaintiffs, 4. There are more than 14,000 to go. <Link>


Judge Taylor's Ruling

For those of you who have not been following this story. A judge in Detroit has delievered an incredibly harsh (and true) ruling on George Bush's illegal surveillance of Americans. In response the pundit class in the U.S. has been attack Judge Taylor for her lack of "scholarship" and the "language" of her ruling. Jonathan Turley (via Glenn Greenwald) explains why.

The far more difficult question is the implication of Taylor's ruling. If this court is upheld or other courts follow suit, it will leave us with a most unpleasant issue that Democrats and Republicans alike have sought to avoid.

Here it is: If this program is unlawful, federal law expressly makes the ordering of surveillance under the program a federal felony. That would mean that the president could be guilty of no fewer than 30 felonies in office. Moreover, it is not only illegal for a president to order such surveillance, it is illegal for other government officials to carry out such an order.

For people working in government, this opinion may lead to some collar tugging. If Taylor's decision is upheld or other courts reject the program, will the president promise to pardon those he ordered to carry out unlawful surveillance? The question of the president's possible criminal acts has long been the pig in the parlor that polite people in Congress refused to acknowledge (Emphasis not mine).
The president can issue pardons... Can he issue one to himself?


The Success of French Diplomacy

Matthew Yglesias argues for recognizing the brillance of French diplomacy in ending the war in Lebanon.

In essence, through two consecutive bait-and-switches -- first over the wording of a UN resolution, and second over the deployment of French troops to Lebanon -- France managed to get both parties to agree to a return to the status quo ante, which is better for both sides (that's why the tricks worked), but that neither side could admit to wanting. That's a pretty good result, especially considering that Chirac spent essentially none of France's resources achieving it.

As far as I can tell this analysis is true. Which is why the security council resolution worked, both sides wanted an end to the fight but needed some political cover to achieve it.

Of course, this does not resolve the conflict and it will probably destroy the Olmert government in Israel.


Let's All Be Racist Together!

A summary of the authoritarian right's reponse to terrorism:

The government’s appalling lack of racism gives people no recourse but to take racism into their own hands.

The full article is excellent.


Sci Fi Space Ships to Scale

How much smaller is Serenity then an Imperial Star Destoryer, inquiring geeks want to know. Get your answers here.


Sunday, August 20, 2006


Quote to Quote

"The first reaction, of course, of Hezbollah and its supporters is, declare victory. I guess I would have done the same thing if I were them. But sometimes it takes people a while to come to the sober realization of what forces create stability and which don't. Hezbollah is a force of instability."

George W. Bush
August 18, 2006

"For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course."

Condoleezza Rice
June 20, 2005

Hoisted. by. own. petard.


Not Quite the Way It Was Planned

This speaks for itself.

a poll of the Egyptian public. . . found that Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, is the most popular politician in Egypt. In second place comes Khalid Mashal, the radical Hamas leader who operates from Damascus and has been implicated in terror attacks inside Israel. In third place? Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.



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