Dean is Doomed
Dec 18, 2003

I think Dean is doomed.

Why? Because he flared too soon.

The Internet may keep his core alive, but he'll need more then that to win the nomination, let alone the Presidency.

No political reason, just a structural one. His recent problems with things he said is, or perhaps more accurately, the recent reporting of bad things he's said, is just a sign that his star is setting. In other words, that's effect, not cause.

Surprisingly good predictions can be made with this methodology in politics. It's probably a sign of a diseased media, concentrating too intensely on a small set of stories until the public burns out on them, then moving to the next small set. Works for kidnappings, doesn't work when the politician is the story.

Padilla Released from Military Custody
Dec 18, 2003
I GUESS IT'S NOT 1984 YET: The Second Circuit has ordered the release of Jose Padilla. Here's a link to the opinion, but I can't get it to open -- the server seems to be saturated at the moment. Judging by the Reuters story, the court put emphasis on Padilla's American citizenship, and on the fact that he was on American soil -- both appropriate considerations in my opinion.

via Instapundit

This is a very important case that severely weakens what is by far the scariest aspects of recent government legislation, the ability for the Executive branch to simply declare you as an enemy combatant and essentially strip you of your Constitutional rights on little more then an assertion. I'm at work so I can't track this down as much as I'd like but I'm very happy to see this.

Note this doesn't mean Padilla is walking out a free man, just that as an American citizen, he must be tried normally, with all due process and rights. This is correct and proper. Once a man is detained, there is no conceivable benefit in cutting corners on Justice, and much possible harm.

The draft - a sick joke?
Dec 12, 2003

Ruh-roh, Raggy - it's getting *drafty* out there. I hadn't seen this before, but the "Universal National Service Act of 2003" (currently in the House and Senate) would require "that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service..." to provide for the common defense of Dubya's megalomaniacal mission, of course. [via rense][blackholebrain]

I thought this might be a sick joke but the link goes to "", no crazy IE bug either, it's the real deal.

Think of this as a tax; two years of income that the person won't generate, plus the income lost in the last two years that they would have been working but couldn't because they couldn't start working until their service was discharged, often the two most lucrative years in high-skill disciplines. A $50,000+ tax on everybody from 18 to 26, plus two years of their life.

I do not understand the rational motivation for this. The volunteer army has been critical to our nation's functioning because you can not, no matter how hard you whip them, force people to do what our army does, nor can you force them to be competent. I can't think of a faster way to destroy our armed forces then re-instating the draft.

While this is worth worrying about, I still have a hard time seeing this happen, though; 18-24 year-olds can vote, and if anything would shake their apathy, this would do it. I see recall campaigns being orchestrated over this issue, and even as a (current) Bush supporter (more or less, at least on war issues) and someone who won't be affected personally (well, probably not...), I'd help such campaigns anywhere I can. Reinstating the draft right now is a sick joke, a bad idea, and a recipe for disaster all rolled into one. It would be political suicide for anybody voting for it, and I don't see that changing, unless somebody actually occupies us; no amount of 9-11 events will make this acceptable, esp. as such events will make people join the army of their own free will.

I don't know how much stock to put in this, but it's been submitted to Congress, so eternal vigilence and all that requires taking this seriously.

Addendum: As a resident of the richest nation in the world, the taxes I pay this year will exceed the average yearly income of many countries of the world. How much more does my nation need from me? I'll vote against anybody who supports this, and bear in mind that despite dedicating years of my weblog writing to Internet rights I don't even use that as a one-issue touchstone.

Microsft Wins HTML App Patent
Dec 10, 2003

Slashdot - Microsoft on Tuesday won a patent for launching a certain kind of HTML application within Windows. The patent, "Method and apparatus for writing a Windows application in HTML" (Hypertext Markup Language), describes Microsoft's way of opening up HTML applications in a window free of navigation and other interface elements, known as "chrome," and browser security restrictions.'

Wow, I haven't written on a specific patent in a long time, because there's nothing much new to say. But this time there is: This is the first patent I've seen that isn't even in theory a patent on a new piece of technology, or even a new application of an old technique. It's a patent on not applying technology! It's a patent on not surrounding an HTML document with browser chrome and not forcing the embedded Javascript to be as secure as a browser normally does.

Putting aside the obvious nature of this patent, since it's literally a handful of parameters to the call of Javascript and not applying the security every browser since the introduction of Javascript has at least attempted to apply, since when has simply turning off pieces of machinery been patentable?

The canonical patent joke on Slashdot has been "patenting breathing". Perhaps now it should be "patenting not breathing".

Wierd. The more I think about it, the less I understand what is patented; I'm not even completely certain how to violate it other then precisely duplicating the HTML Application architecture.

Philosophical Musings

I tend to work on larger writing projects; deep down I don't believe that anybody cares to hear me say "[Link to something].... Hmmm...." on an hourly basis (w/ a tip o' the hat to Instapundit, who had two seperate "Hmm" messages on the front-page for me to choose). I think my next project is going to be "Critical Listening Fallacies"; these are the complement of the more traditional argument fallacies where the listener fails in their part of a debate. Much like my definition of dancing, a rhetorical argument fallacy where I had to make up the term because I don't know of anyone else talking about it, I'll have to make up names myself because as far as I can see, nobody's talking about these even though they happen all the time.

Read the rest (711 words)

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