Tales of the Sausage Factory:
A good week for civil liberties — mostly

Three opinions came out last week that made a nice little Chanukah gift for civil liberties buffs. Two related to Ashcroft’s attempts to circumvent the Constitution in the name fo security, one cuts short the RIAA’s efforts to gut the Constitution in the name of copyright. But the opinions still leave a lot of room for concern.

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Inventing the Future:
access to media, privacy, conspiracies, nerds fighting back, and information architecture

The Government Information Awareness project is intended to bring transparency to politically and socially relevent information. A major idea is to allow users to post and contest unchecked information while retaining anonymity. It involves some really hard information architecture issues.

The inspiration came from a plot to collect and relate info on US citizens, by a man convicted of attempting to run a shadow government. That man is Admiral John Poindexter, and his Total Information Awareness plot has actually been implemented as the the more marketable Terrorism Information Awareness program.

I haven’t heard about GIA since its launch. I’m not sure if this is an interesting experiment that didn’t pan out, or if the idea could have legs.

Tales of the Sausage Factory:
Tales From the Sausage Factory: Saddam and Howard Dean

I seem to be the only one in America who fails to see the link between the capture of Saddam Hussein this week and the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary. Or so says an op ed in today’s Washington Post. On the other hand, I do see this as a classic example of media group think.

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My Thoughts Exactly:
Will the real Monty Meekman please stand up?

I only heard about this guy after my book was written, so he’s really not the model for Monty Meekman, the mad-scientist cartoon-villain of Acts of the Apostles. However it is odd (creepy?) that everything he does seems to have been done first by Monty.


And oddly enough I find a lot of what he has to say very compelling. Maybe I should check my brain frequencies. . . maybe I’m just one more happy Feynman Nine customer?

Inventing the Future:
where does the Wetmachine crowd go for breaking news?

With Saddams capture last night, I’d like to know the implications for trial. If we turn him over to an international court for, say, gasing Kurdish forces, won’t he want to tell the court where he got his intelligence reports? Could that lead to a subpoena of previous US administrations? What happens at trial and in world opinion if he’s tried by us or by a US-controlled Iraqi “government”.

Where can one go to get the poop? Google isn’t current enough. CBS, ABC, and NBC (GE and Microsoft, my two least favorite corporations) are covering the story, but say nothing of relevence about trial. NPR has an audio report that hasn’t been transcribed yet, so I can’t search for the word “trial”. Slashdot and kuro5hin aren’t on to this yet. (I wonder if I should check Urban Legends.)

My regional newspaper has some coverage (go print media!), but the New York Times and the Washington Post want me to fill out forms before they tell me anything. (And besides, the stuff about trial at the NYT isn’t transcribed from audio yet. Odd, for a newspaper.)

The day after the last election, and on the moring of 9/11, I was at work and had the resources of a hundred well-informed people. While getting paid a lot of money to come up with technology to change the world, we had each other and the best broadband money could buy to get info throughout the day. Now we’re all isolated in our homes. Where do you go for the real deal?

Neutrino:
Heinlein predicts again

Starship Troopers was Robert Heinlein’s novel about future soldiers. One feature of the book, besides a very right-wing political stance, was the suits worn by the soldiers in battle. Just as inventors made real the remote controlled hands in Heinlein’s novella Waldo, the military is looking to nanotechnology and MIT to make battle suits.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory:
Tales From the Sausage Factory: Telephone Competition in the U.S.

I’m taking the opportunity to post a little essay I wrote when I moved last March. It illustrates the problems of implementing domestic phone competition in the U.S. I have no reason to believe that anyone in either company (Verizon or Cavalier Telephone) were trying to screw us or were playing fast and lose with the rules. Each one was genuinely trying to do its job, and all the people I talked with were uniformly polite, friendly, and well intentioned. I love well intentioned people, they provide me with such great paving stones that the handcart I’m in rides smooth to the end. . .

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