My Archives: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

That paragon of libertarian business, Microsoft, in order to please the Chinese government, has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" (among others) from its Chinese search engine.

What else could they do, confronted with the Big Bad Government, you ask? Well, in response to South Korea's demand that Microsoft "unbundle" Instant Messenger and Media Player from Windows, Microsoft has threatened to simply withdraw their product from South Korea.

Microsoft has every right to withdraw their product from any market. But the fact that they would choose instead to Orwell their search engine, in order to appease Beijing, should tell libertarians exactly how principled and freedom-loving they are.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:17 AM EST [Link]

The discussion BB Sense of Life Objectivists (SOLO) has more information on the life and death of Joan Kennedy Taylor.

Posted by mac @ 08:07 AM EST [Link]

Two cautionary tales about finances, one in the present and one from the past.

From the Present: Beware the new no-late-fee credit cards being offered by Citigroup Inc. and American Express. Read the small print. The Miami Herald reports: "Clear card holders [American Express] can miss one payment every 12 months without consequences. Miss two in 12 months, however, and the interest rate spikes for the next 12 months -- from a minimum of 12.74 percent to 28.74 percent." With Citigroup, the rate can increase "from 9.99 percent to 30.74 percent." [Please click on 'more' to continue] [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:25 AM EST [Link]

Interesting news item: "In the last 12 years, U.S. immigration authorities have logged more than 50,000 deportations of immigrants with criminal records to Central America, including untold numbers of gang members like Cruz-Mendoza. But a deportation policy aimed in part at breaking up a Los Angeles street gang has backfired and helped spread it across Central America and back into other parts of the United States. Newly organized cells in El Salvador have returned to establish strongholds in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities. Prisons in El Salvador have become nerve centers, authorities say, where deported leaders from Los Angeles communicate with gang cliques across the United States."

This is a great example of 'unintended consequences.' Indeed, in this case, the consequence is the exact opposite of what was intended and may be very difficult for officials to counter or control.

But I have a separate question about the rise of gangs -- especially Hispanic and Asian ones -- in American cities over the last few decades....[Please click "more" to continue] [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:38 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, October 30, 2005

McMartin Preschool accuser recants. "Saying he lied to please his parents and protect his younger siblings, one of the children who claimed he was molested at the notorious McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach more than 20 years ago has recanted his original story. Kyle Zirpolo, now 30 and living near Santa Barbara, was among 360 children who told lurid stories of rape, animal mutilations and satanic rituals that would shock the South Bay and reverberate around the world starting in 1983."

During the McMartin hysteria, I lived in Los Angeles...[please click on more] [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:13 AM EST [Link]

Ken Gregg of CLASSical Liberalism blogspot announces, "Liberty Fund's Online Library of Liberty now has two of the great British Individualist Wordsworth Donisthorpe's books on their website: Individualism: A System of Politics (1889) and Law in a Free State (1895). He wrote a number of other works, but the essays included here are some of his best. They also have an essay of his, "The Limits of Liberty" (1891) from A Plea For Liberty: An Argument Against Socialism and Socialistic Legislation which is a fine expression of his ideas. "

Posted by mac @ 03:07 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I received the following message today: Dear Friends: Joan [Kennedy Taylor] passed away this morning at 12:30 A.M. The end was peaceful, and I am grateful that it came quickly....Current plans - which may change - are to have calling hours at Frank Campbell Funeral Home on 82nd and Madison on Wednesday, to have calling hours in Lee, Massachusetts on Thursday, and to have her funeral on Friday in Stockbridge, followed by a burial in the Stockbridge Cemetery, next to David [Joan's husband]."

Posted by mac @ 05:20 PM EST [Link]

I'm delighted to announce that Cathy Young has established her own blog and the writing is right up there with the high standards she maintains in her columns. BWAHAHA!!! Welcome to the time-consuming, thankless life of a blogger, Cathy!

Posted by mac @ 02:39 PM EST [Link]

Claire Wolfe had a fascinating commentary on her blog yesterday. She wrote: [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:53 AM EST [Link]

Friday, October 28, 2005

A man after my own heart: Tony Bove has just published a new book, Just Say No to Microsoft: How to Ditch Microsoft and Why It's Not as Hard as You Think. You can preview chapter 4 (on replacing Microsoft Word) at the No Starch Press site. (I haven't read it yet.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 12:56 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Quote of the day:

"Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers"

-- G. W. Bush, on Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw as a nominee for the Supreme Court

...which leads to the obvious question: did her original acceptance demonstrate her lack of respect for the separation of powers? Or did she just get around to reading the Constitution last week?

Posted by brad @ 09:54 AM EST [Link]

Check out this post by Cindy Sheehan on the blog (to which I also contribute). It is clearly marked "Posted by Cindy Sheehan at October 26, 2005 02:54 PM" and, so, is not a report. I know you need to be pointedly invited and given a password to post so I assume she now a regular member of the LRC crew. Well done Lew!!!

Posted by mac @ 05:34 AM EST [Link]

The following quote is from a press release issued by RADAR, Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting which is an organization working to assure balance and fairness in media coverage of the domestic violence issue. In essence it is a father's rights organization that works to correct the bias against divorced fathers vis-a-vis parental rights.

"The one-hour program, released by PBS this past Thursday, purports to be an exposé of how the court system ignores children subjected to parental abuse. But the program makes a number of claims about child abuse and custody that are refuted by government reports....Breaking the Silence asserts that parental alienation syndrome "has been thoroughly debunked" by the American Psychological Association. But Rhea Farberman, spokeswoman for the APA, recently labeled the PBS claim as 'incorrect' and 'inaccurate.' Over 25 counselors and psychologists are now calling on PBS to invite qualified mental health experts to give "a more accurate and complete view of parental alienation syndrome."

Within the men's rights movement, there has been a concerted letter-writing and protest effort aimed at exacting an apology or retraction from PBS for their recent TV program "Breaking the Silence." And, from all I hear, the program seems to have been a bad piece of reporting that was quite biased against fathers and inaccurate to boot. But the campaign against PBS is one of those backlashes that combine several issues together as tho' they were one and make it more difficult for there to be a broad base of consensus.

I'll take myself as an example. I have seen so much wildly inaccurate and biased material against divorced fathers and their parental rights that the call for accuracy on the stats is like music to me. But the press release referenced above is as much a call to validate Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS} as it is a cry for accuracy. I am certain that parental alienation -- by which one parent poisons a child against the other -- is a real and painful problem. But I am skeptical and cynical about turning every human problem into a psychological Syndrome registered with the APA so that is accorded legal weight and used in court decisions. (And legal weight seems to be the goal of PAS advocates.) The Battered Wife Syndrome, the Helsinki Syndrome, the Recovered Memory Syndrome...I think these have been damaging steps away from common sense and hard standards of evidence within the courts. In short, I couldn't in good conscience sign on to the above protest against PBS because I don't want to endorse yet another court room Syndrome.

I had a similar problem with the drive against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which I thought was a horrible measure on several grounds, one of which was the fact that it embeds gender more prominently, more deeply into the law. Most of my objections, however, revolved around the further expansion of the "domestic violence industry" through which massive government funds end up in the hands of ideologues: researchers, advocates, writers, lecturers, teachers, lawyers, etc. The solution favored by the men's rights movment -- which most of whom seemed to agree that the bill was bad in its essence -- the solution favored was to make the bill gender neutral by including men within its bad policies. I couldn't sign on to that either even though I opposed VAWA in several FOX News Columns. The intermixing of these two issues -- opposing VAWA and including men within its embrace -- is one of the reasons (I believe) that the drive against VAWA was so unsuccessful.

This makes you long for a single-issue issue. They are getting hard to find.

You are invited to check out a libertarian Bulletin Board that I've just set up. Come join the discussion!

Posted by mac @ 05:20 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quote of the Day:

" I think it's extremely important not to speak in apocalyptic language."

-- Condoleeza "mushroom cloud" Rice, speaking to Canadian government representatives about the softwood lumber dispute.

Posted by brad @ 07:28 PM EST [Link]

An interesting tho' predictable news item: "Irwin Schiff, the Nevada man who has made a career out of telling Americans that payment of federal income taxes is voluntary instead of mandatory, was convicted on all 13 counts by a federal jury in Las Vegas yesterday."

I'm sorry to see this happen. I am not a fan of Irwin Schiff's strategy to defeat the federal income tax (FIT) but I have to admire his sheer stubborn refusal to comply. Or perhaps it is a martyr complex? I can't remember a time when Schiff's contention that FIT was purely voluntary wasn't part of the libertarian debate. For those not similarly cursed with having *that* particular discussion hundreds of times over, Schiff's contention is that FIT is actually voluntary and cannot legally be required because the 16th Amendment, which gives Congress "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes," was never properly ratified. I always took the position that it didn't matter whether the 16th Amendment was properly ratified or not...tho' personally, I think it wasn't. The federal government is simply not going to surrender the flow of income especially not now when it is so desperate for money. Thus, Schiff's point may be historically interesting but it has no practical significance.

On a different note, I have just set up a forum for libertarian discussion. I invite you to check it out.

Posted by mac @ 03:55 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Good news! OpenOffice 2.0 is finally out of "beta" testing and officially available for download. Among the new features are OpenDocument support, a database application, and WordPerfect converters.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 03:49 PM EST [Link]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Oopsie. In my last blog entry I suggested that 69% of Windows users are looking for an alternative. In fact, it's 69% of those who adopted Linux did so because they were looking for an alternative. That's a very different statement. My apologies for misreading the article, and thanks to E.D. for correcting me!  —brad

Posted by brad @ 06:37 PM EST [Link]

Friday, October 14, 2005

Those considering using Linux in their enterprises may find this Information Week report (pdf) interesting. (Hat tip to Groklaw.) [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:37 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Here are some web links for open-source Content Management Systems that I thought others might find useful. [more]

Posted by brad @ 02:15 PM EST [Link]

Monday, October 10, 2005

Just a humor break today: from Ted Rall, the Phenomenon of Presidential Regression and Crisis! How Bush Responds. And check out Harriet Miers's Blog!!!  —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:07 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, October 8, 2005

"I can't afford to switch away from Windows."

Congratulations, sucker: you've just handed Microsoft a blank check. Because when you say you must use a sole-sourced product, you've just said "price no object" to its vendor. Microsoft knows this, and intends to take you for all it can. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:09 AM EST [Link]

Friday, October 7, 2005

It appears that Level 3 Communications is the party responsible for the Internet blackout. Lots of people are calling for government regulation. Not me. But I do intend to call Level 3's customer service line (1-877-4LEVEL3) to complain. Repeatedly, until service is restored.  —brad

Update: The customer service rep says that the peering connection to Cogent has been switched back on, and that a news release will be forthcoming shortly. The real joke in all this is the motto on Level 3's home page: "The Network Partner You Can Rely On." Gag.

Update 2: Here's the news release. Level 3 is only restoring the connection for 30 days, so keep that phone number handy. ISP-Planet has a nice summary of the business aspects of the dispute. Meanwhile, I suggest a new motto for Level 3: "The Company That Took Down The Internet."

Posted by brad @ 06:01 PM EST [Link]

Aha. Now I know why I couldn't connect to so many web sites yesterday. Level 3 and Cogent had what the Inquirer aptly called a "hissy fit", and decided to disrupt network connectivity for all kinds of people. ZDnet has the best coverage I've seen so far. See also Google News.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:49 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, October 6, 2005

More on scrubbing your hard disk... My friend Steve C. writes to point out that Knoppix includes the Linux "wipe" utility. Like "eraser" for Windows, this can securely delete any file from your hard drive.

To scrub the entire drive, however, the tool of choice seems to be Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). The last thing you do, before taking a computer to the dump, is to load this floppy disk (or CD-ROM) and boot the computer. DBAN will scrub the hard drive(s) clean. Warning: this is a dangerous tool! Accidentally leaving this disk in your current computer, and then rebooting it, will wipe everything from your hard disks! Label this floppy disk/CD-ROM clearly, and keep it in a very safe place.  —brad

P.S. There are links to more free scrubbing tools (for Linux and Windows) here.

Posted by brad @ 08:53 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

"Scarrrry stuff, kiddies." At a recent meeting of our local Linux Users Group, for fun, one of the guys brought three computers he dug out of the dumpster at the local recycling depot. The challenge was to install Linux on one of them. Instead, we found that someone had left Windows well as a variety of personal files. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:47 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

A very thorough article on the OpenDocument decision: Why OpenDocument Won (and Microsoft Office Open XML Didnít) by David Wheeler (thanks to Groklaw for the tip).

Bottom line: this is starting to sound like the "Internet" of office file formats, allowing true interoperability for the first time. Don't spend another dime on office software unless it supports (or will support) OpenDocument. (Right now that means OpenOffice, StarOffice, or WordPerfect for Windows users.)  —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:51 AM EST [Link]

A few weeks ago my alumni newsletter ran an article on computer security and passwords. Using the LC4 Windows password-recovery program (which tries dictionary words and dictionary words with added numbers) they cracked the following passwords:

sublimate 2 seconds
checkmate1 3 seconds
CheCkmate less than 1 second
ChEcK12 26 seconds
CheCk123 14 minutes 22 seconds
3x0n3rat3 4 hours 16 minutes 45 seconds
5ygn6thb ...could not be cracked

Posted by brad @ 11:03 AM EST [Link]

Monday, October 3, 2005

Good news: Opera Software is now offering the ad-free version of their Opera web browser as a free download. Previously the free version included ads, and you had to pay a small fee to remove the ads. (Not that I regret paying earlier this year; it's my favorite browser.) Available for Mac, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 04:13 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, October 2, 2005

A few weeks back I wrote about using Knoppix, a Linux that runs from CD-ROM, to make an Internet kiosk. A friend wrote and asked me about Ubuntu Linux as an alternative. [more]

Posted by brad @ 06:13 PM EST [Link]

Saturday, October 1, 2005

More evidence that These Guys Are Not Too Bright: after the U.S. military launched an Operation Iron Hammer in Iraq, they were embarrassed to learn that Hitler had also had an Operation Iron Hammer (Eisenhammer).

Now they've launched Operation Iron Fist. Clearly they're not conversant with recent Ugandan history....or with Google, for that matter.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 11:20 AM EST [Link]

Still don't believe Microsoft wants to lock you in? I just learned that Microsoft's new Windows, "Vista", will use encrypted file other operating systems can't read its files.

I recently helped a friend install Linux alongside Windows on his laptop. He was delighted to discover that Linux could read his Windows directory, and he could move his files over. (Windows, on the other hand, cannot read Linux.) And I know several people who have used Knoppix as a "rescue disk" to access their files when their Windows system crashed.

However, if you can use Knoppix to read your files, then Microsoft can't control your access. And they really, really want to control your access to your own data. That's why the much-reviled Palladium has resurfaced in Vista; only now it's being called "Trusted Platform Module."

If you value your freedom to compute, and the ownership of your own data, stay the hell away from Windows Vista.  —brad

Posted by brad @ 08:00 AM EST [Link]

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