Archive for December, 2004

I am holding back on the Scientologist jokes and the Michael Jackson jokes as I write this.

Here’s the scoop: Scientologist, Michael Jackon ex-wife, Elvis heir, recovering drug addict and rock star impersonator Lisa Marie Presley is selling her father. Not his body, which if he is really dead, is buried on the one bit of the EPE holdings that Lisa Marie will keep. That is the 13 acre Graceland. But almost everything else. Even though the estate brought in over $45 million last year and even though Elvis is the top earner among dead celebrities according to Forbes, Lisa Marie is selling 85% of EPE for only $100 million! There’s more in the AP report on Salon. and in Forbes.

Those of us who have seen Bubba Hotep know the true fate of Elvis (and of JFK)>

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I may have seen fried Mars bars, sold as Milky Way in the US, in Edinburgh, but one thing is for sure there was a lot of frying going on in those pubs and takeouts. For some reason, it took a mention on Jay Leno’s show to send health officials out looking for candy friers. The health scientists verified that 1 in 5 fish and chips shops fry Mars bars. Batter ‘em up. Drop ‘em in. Sell ‘em for 70 p. Reported somewhat sensationally by the nearly unbelieving Times. Also covered by the BBC.
Miles, we missed this treat whilst in Scotland. But you can try this at home.

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I opened this morning’s NYTimes to see a giant two page spread on FireFox as long promised. The Mozilla project was counted down several times by many people including some of those who started it, but since the lizard and his offspring have florished and grown to the world’s best browser. Yes I’m using it to type this now.

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Elections officials in Gaston County, NC resigned after having lost over 13,000 votes or 1 in 5 votes cast in that county, reports the News and Observer.

“Sandra Page, elections director, and Tony Branch, chairman of the elections board, resigned Wednesday following a closed-door meeting of the board.”

Still waiting to hear from Carterett County and others.

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It’s sad to have to spend time on this. Spambots are not only email pains but they are blog bothers too. Every day I get a number of comments sprayed at this blog. Luckily I have spam words alerted to them, but I still have to go through and clean them out. I will never play texas hold’em ever ever ever.
Besides turning on Spam words and tuning the list to catch the latest, there are a few tricks that I do not yet use but plan to.
This discussion is very helpful http://www.tamba2.org.uk/wordpress/spam/ as is http://wordpress.org/support/3/13443 as is AuthImage (thanks to Daryl L. L. Houston for pointing that one out).

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Say good bye to fat stupid paperbacks designed to divert you during long flights, the FCC just approved high-speed Internet via WiFi on domestic flights with a promise to decide, probably favorably, on in air cell phones. The FCC site has the full articles in Word and PDF formats. Not HTML. Grrrrr!

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Framed Contest Image
As Jennifer Jenkins of Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain says in the release below, you can help choose among the finalists in their Moving Image Contest.
The Movies are fun and deal with Intellectual Property issues for music makers and documentary film makers. That is not a self-contradicting statement.
So Watch. Enjoy. Vote.

If you have a moment, please go to:
http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/contest/finalists/
where you can see (and vote for) the finalists in the Duke Center for the
Study of the Public Domain moving image competition. The competition was an international one for the best 2 minute video or animation about the ways that intellectual property affects art– specifically documentary film or music. The videos range from the account of a documentarian trying to cover army recruiters in the North Carolina Piedmont, to a Polish animator’s science fiction vision of music’s apocalyptic future, from a college student’s efforts to make a Public Service Announcement about the Civil Rights movement, to a dissection of the law behind “Super Size Me.” You can vote for your favorite entry at the site. The winners — both Judges’ Selections and “the People’s Choice” — will be announced on January 15th. The competition is part of the Arts Project, which is supported by a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Happy Holidays.
Jennifer Jenkins
www.law.duke.edu/cspd

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Strong Bad
So, some of you reading this have a little radio show or are working at a college station or a community station or even dare I say it at a National Public Radio station. You may now get advice and see how you are seen and heard in Strongbadia as interpreted by the man amongst men himself, Strong Bad, as he answers email from a Scottish radio wannabe.

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Hooray for Santy Claus
From Italy comes the best of bad Christmas music — and it’s free! Senor Tonto has recorded the wonderful song “Hooray for Santy Claus” (from the American Christmas classic “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” which was also released as a comic book, a Dell Classic). The song is downloadable in mp3 format in two versions. One with a delightful vocal and one instrumental so that you can sing it at Christmas karaoke parties. Yes, there is a lyric sheet and even a 50s style pinup cover suitable for printing and enclosing with a CD gift. If you are thinking of buying the movie on video, be sure to read the Amazon reviews.

For those of you in a more religious and less humorous mood, Roger McGuinn offers “The First Noel” also free but of a distinctly different quality and taste. Roger writes:

One of my fondest childhood memories is of standing around the piano with my mother and father at my grandparents’ house in Chicago. My grandfather and grandmother sat at the keyboard. Every Christmas we would go through the small book of carols. The tree in the next room was decorated with lots of nineteenth century ornaments, and tin toys from Germany were abundantly scattered around the blanket of white material made to look like snow. This is one of the prettiest carols I remember from that time. An English Carol from before 1823.

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I’ve been enjoying the new Low Power FM station in town, in Carrboro really. WCOM is really community radio — their URL says so it’s communityradio.coop. They play an eclectic mix that I love. Tonight Triangle Slim was spinning his Roots Rampage set — roots and blues and eclectic music from all decades and continents — when he put out a call to win tickets to the Nighthawks concert this Saturday up in Hillsborough at the Blue Bayou Club. Yes we have a winner! Me. See you there.

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King Ken in Orange
Max and Sean are graduating and leaving ibiblio to seek their fortunes. Before they left they gave me a delightful gift. I have had consumer lust for King Ken since I first saw him. I am still trying to understand why I feel like I should own a designer vinyl toy, but here I am with one and delighted to have him. I think of King Ken as comix sculpture.

The burning man of the White House is back in the news. This is the spy/informer/whatever Mohamed Alanssi who set himself on fire in front of the White House and almost in front of me last month. The NY Times reports that Alanssi will probably not testify against Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, and his assistant who Alanssi aided by an FBI agent posing as a Black Panther (as in Huey Newton not as in the big cat) lured to Germany and eventually into US hands. I wrote about my experiences being nearby the Alanssi drama while in DC here
, here, and here.

The library and online world are all abuzz with the news that Google will be scanning in the contents of several major libraries (the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford and Oxford Universities, and the New York City Public Library) into their print.google.com product. A part of the Google goal is to seek patents for their scanning process and part is to lead the book searching market (lookout Amazon) and part is, honestly I believe, to “to unlock the wealth of information that’s only available offline and bring it online,” as Google Director of Product Management Susan Wojcicki has said. Despite the loss of the Kahle vs Ashcroft case, there are many many books and articles that can be preserved (in some sense, archivists bear with me), indexed and better accessed legally and digitally. Google are the folks to do the job for sure.
I have no idea how the Google project interacts with, replaces, or augments the plans and work of Project Gutenberg, archive.org’s scanning project or our local Documenting the American South project. I do think that the work of scanning and making the information (if not the knowledge) that is available in books more widely accessible is a great thing and now the bar is raised quite a bit. Thanks Google.

UPDATE: Just took a call from Michelle Kessler of USA Today about the Google scanning story. Tried to get in good words about Documenting the American South, Project Gutenberg and archive.org. We’ll see what, if anything, she uses tomorrow morning.

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UNC photographer, Dan Sears, is a miracle worker. He can make the most obvious shill look like an intelligent expert. It doesn’t help make Dan’s task any lighter when he has to deal with a subject who can’t seem to trim his stashe evenly though.

Should I try to get Dan to fix the neck here? My loose mockturtle and my chicken neck make for an oddly matched team.

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Today, if you are a certain kind of Episcopalian (that is American at least), is “Stir Up Sunday” or the Third Sunday in Advent. It’s called “Stir Up Sunday” for two reasons. First the collect for this day in the Book of Common Prayer reads:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

But the “Stir up Sunday” of earlier Prayer Books is the Sunday before Advent or late November. In the earlier Books going back to 1549 the Collect of the Day is:

Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Second, the Collect, in England, became not just a call to God or to his people to do good works, but it became a reminder to “stir up” your Christmas cake or pudding. If you took the Prayer Book as guide, you’d realize that Americans need less time from “stir” to pudding than our co-religionist in the UK.

We were stirred up into getting our tree between Tucker’s two NC Boys’ Choir concerts of the day — one at the service at Duke Chapel and one evening program at Christ Church in Southern Village. Both went very well. Christ Church concert was filled to overflowing and the boys sounded great in that space.

The Boys Choir will be doing their annual Christmas Concert in Duke Chapel next Monday.

Our tree this year will be outside our window dressed with food for the birds, deer, squirrels and whatever else shows up. We will have lights and popcorn and apple slices and suet and whatever else we can find to share with the life in our yard.

There is a magnicent stirring up in the skies now as well. The Geminid shower is called by PhysOrg, “the Best Meteor Shower of 2004,” and the peak is said to be tomorrow night, December 13th.

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It is particularly sad to me to see the word “Christian” used to defend aborrant ideas that at particularly un-Christ-like. The Cary Christian School is, sadly, one such case. The School selected a pamphlet called, “Southern Slavery, As It Was” by Douglas Wilson and Steve Wilkins. The book explains the relationship of slavery to Southern pride (pride not being a sin in this case) by “attempting to correct the gross slanders of that culture”. The book goes on to tell how slavery “was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.” Then there are the parts about how slavery is related it Roe v. Wade. If you have doubts, you can look inside the book (thanks Amazon).

The School, which says that it’s philosophy is based on another book by Wilson, first defended the book, but has now pulled the text and apologized, sort of, “We apologize for this oversight and covet your prayers for our school.” Further the pamphlet while still listed at Wilson’s Canon Press website and on Amazon has vanished from print — because of either “faulty footnotes and citation errors” according to the School or “Southern Slavery will be out of print for several months” according to Canon Press.
Obviously the School and even Wilson are embarassed by the 1996 book, but not enough
Kos reports:

Wilson’s Association of Classical and Christian Schools accredited Cary Christian, and he is scheduled to speak at the school’s graduation in May.

and what about Steven Wilkins? He’s a National Director of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization classed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Read what he had to say about 911.
But to see the long history and direction of Wilson and of Wilkins, read the SPLC report called “Taliban on the Palouse? A religious empire based in Idaho is part of the far-right theological movement fueling neo-Confederate groups”.

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Last night on my way home from the eVoting panel, I caught the last part of an On Point interview with 95 year old Peter Drucker. Drucker, in case you have been under a rock for the past about 1945 when his “Concept of the Corporation,” a study of General Motors, was published, is the Management Guru and was long before the word Guru was used in America.

Drucker didn’t talk directly about IBM‘s sale of their PC line to the China-based Lenovo (formerly known as Legend), but he did have a lot to say about changes in the global economy that are reflected in that sale.

Drucker was born in the Austro-hungarian Empire, escaped the Nazis, went to England then the USA. His present take is that the global moment is now (too bad usa). That in 1960, the USA was 45%+ of the world economy. Now Europe is much bigger as is Asia (both China and India are bigger on their own than USA) so that the lone superpower is already not lone and not super. That diversity of all business operations is not only the future but already here. That US employees working for a Chinese company (as IBMers in the PC Division will soon be) is not even odd. That we are headed to an economy that is not driven by American values or European values but by broader global values that are a fusion and profusion of cultures. The ability to not only be flexible but also tolerant and open and tied by information exchange will define the next generation. Also his hint, as I recall (I need to listen to the show online), is that the USA like England post-WW2, will never be as much an economic leader as we were in the 60s.

The IBM sale brought back to me a chat I had with Bruce Toglozzini some years back. We were both speaking to a Sun-sponsored conference in Mexico. Tog said once innovation hits and is accepted the real work is on changes at the bottom and at the top ends. Meaning in his case, very small interfaces as in portable phones (just then on the horizon) and very large interfaces such as smart rooms and projectors as opposed to desktops (what he was working on at Sun Labs).

IBM is confronting, perhaps successfully, a classic case of the Innovator’s Dilemma as described by Clayton Christensen in his book by that name. We know that the move is to services and that IBM is no doubt hoping to move from the low end and probably dead end PC market to handhelds and to servers too. Will they make it or become like RCA and ITT, a company that has losses its roots and its heritage?

Extra note on Innovator’s Delimma: I find Christensen much more useful than Thomas Kuhn, the paradigm shifter, for understanding changes in IT. Not that IT doesn’t cause paradigms to shift, but that the responses are described by Christensen are more obvious in the IT market place. Kuhn is about bigger and broader changes.

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Martin Kuhn wants your opinions and your help.

I am a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I have recently started a project that seeks to determine what ethic (if any) is at work in the blogosphere. Also, I am trying to uncover any “duties” bloggers think they may or may not have and to whom.

Please consider visiting blogethics2004.blogspot.com and sharing your opinion by commenting on some questions I have posted there.

I will be posting a completed research paper on the site in January for your open comment. I may use quotes from the site in that paper.

Many thanks,
Martin

Martin Kuhn
Roy H. Park Fellow, Ph.D. Student
Journalism & Mass Communication
University of North Carolina
CB#3365
384 Carroll Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3365
919-843-5859

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A note on the crowd. The Council Chambers were comfortably filled by the crowd of what was described probably accurately as “Chapel Hill Liberals.” Many I recognized were involved in peace activism over the years, in Bill of Rights activism — in ACLU or other, some were “Raging Grannies,” one man read political poetry (corny political poetry but he was loved for the effort).
There was a big table of hand-outs outside the Chambers most all about Verified Voting efforts and organizations.

One handbill handed to all of us read:

VERIFY OUR VOTE RALLY

Sunday, December 12th
Noon – 2 pm (12/12@12)
NC State Capitol grounds
Raleigh
116 West Jones Street (at the end of Hillsborough Street)

Be part of simultaneous rallies at State Capitols across the country

Speakers:
Joyce McCloy, NC Coallition for Verified Voting
David Allen, Black Box Voting
Chuck Herrin, Republican computer security analyst
Cecil Bothwell, The Progressive Project
and many more including elected officials and musicians

Voices for Verified Voting
a coallition of concerned citizens organizing to educate others about election irregularities, and mobilize effective action to ensure transparent, verifiable elections

for more information: http://www.51capitalmarch.com/
to set up a table with information, contact: info@divas4democracy.net

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Public testimony is going on now. George Entenman at the pulpit following a guy from Wake County. David Allen talks about initiatives at NC legislative initiatives. Props to Joyce McCloy of NC Verified Voting from David. She put this together. She tells us about upcoming NC laws for verified voting. see her site.
Justin testifies that folks need to be poll watchers.
More audience testimony. Things getting cranky as I have to leave without any more power. Basically the “I’m sure there was fraud involved, but I can’t prove it” people are reving up.
Running out of power. Thanks to Chapel Hill Town Hall computer folks for providing wireless so I could live-blog this meeting.

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Justin is debunking the arguments for machine voting. “We trust software to control airplanes, so why not voting” not the same standards for planes. “we don’t connect to the internet, only to phines lines, so hacking is impossible.” (shows hack examples including Kevin Mitnick) “Open Source eliminates all problems wuth trusting the source code” even if we have good software it must be installed and verified. “Our system can print out paper ballots at the end of the day” funniest one. can i let the printer fix my spelling too? “only a few people will bother to loks at a paper ballot, so why bother?” even small checks give a good audit.
Next speaker, Lewis Pitts from Legal Aid appologizes for not being as funny and clear as geeks. But then he switches the subject to democracy and activism. He notices that he is among Chapel Hill liberals. Notes MLK Blvd vote favorably. Much from MLK told here. Stem winding liberal talk completely off the voting topic. Uses the MLK “silence of good people” quote from Letter from the Birmingham Jail. Found the quote: “More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” “Keep hope alive”
While this is a mostly Democratic audience, the problem of flawed voting is trans-party. I hope that that becomes the case.

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Intro by Christian Stalberg who asks if any public officials are in the audience. None are — except that I am there as Mr. Sally Greene.
Greetings now from Congressman David Price. Who is clued as to the problems with voting machines and with other procedures. He mentions the “Help America Vote” act which was to replace broke and funky voting procedures (read machines) with better. Unfortunately places like Carteret County bought new equally bogus and/or flawed machine. They just got shiny e-baubbles not better machines. Lots of talk about Florida and the purging of the voters there. He introduced a bill (like one already on the books in NC) which requires that you be notified if you are to be removed from the voting rolls. This bill is stalled it seems. Protect American Voters.
He has another called “Count Every Vote” act which addresses the pretext on which the Supreme Court denied the recount in Fla. This has to do with recount protections.
Rush Holt’s bill requiring a paper trail is co-sponsored by Price.
John Conyers requests assurance that 2004 be inspected for fraud from GAO. They will do this. The Democratic National Committee will participate in Ohio review.
David Allen of Plan Nine and blockboxvoting.com. NB: Plan Nine is publishing Dr. Fun! Testifies as an alphaGeek and shows geek pride. Gives a review of the pathetic security and lack of functionality of the machines and software. He points out that 4500 votes were lost in Carteret because there was no error trapping in the machines.
Justin Moore from Duke CS and National Committee for Voting Integrity. These slides will also be seen by the NC Legislature. Pretty much a summary of the applications/os/hardware layers of computers. Def CS slides — bland sans serif fonts and too much text on each slide. Nonetheless, he describes open source correctly ;-> Shocking info: bugs are in all software! Shows examples in Italian airport monitors. Now into the clouds (that is the clouds of CS and process graphs). Examples from Guilford County (NC) where the software counted backwards. Paper trail saved it. Gaston County: data transfer breakage not noticed by software so that no votes were recorded from some precincts. Craven County: broken touch screens followed by multiple uploads from the same precinct. also no passwds on some machines. but that’s okay with Craven. Cateret County: overflow caused rewrite. disk is full did not stop voting.

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