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User Journal

Journal Journal: Obama Lied About Benghazi 8

Some people don't know that Obama lied. But it's obvious fact based on the evidence. In another discussion some apparent trolls were complaining about the claim, but I am uninterested in discussing it, but for those who are interested, the basic summary is this:

* The administration said, for weeks, that the video and the unrest around it was a cause of the attack on the embassy in Benghazi.

* They claimed that the evidence led them to say so.

* They have never provided any such evidence. Some of what they claimed happened -- such as protests existing at the embassy in Benghazi -- was false, and there was never any evidence it was true (maybe in the first hours, but not after the first days).

* There was much evidence, even in the first days, that the attack was preplanned, but it was ignored in favor of the nonexistent evidence of spontaneity.

* The documentary evidence shows that, from the beginning, they had evidence that it was preplanned, and the only "evidence" of spontaneity cited was that it happened soon after protests in Cairo.

Draw your own conclusions, but I do not believe that the President would say it was a spontaneous reaction to the video without some evidence of it, and he had none. He said it because he thought it was believable and wanted to win an election, and if it were preplanned then it is a failure of his administration.

If you want more, check out last week's 60 Minutes report by Lara Logan. Most of it has to do with showing that we a. knew the attack was coming and b. didn't take reasonable steps to prevent it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Going to Prague 8

After a talk I gave in Bucharest last year, my name has apparently gotten on somebody's list of "speakers worth paying for". This fall I'll be going to Prague, invited by the same parent organization as last year. Unlike the trip to Bucharest, where I was traveling alone, I've managed to convince my wife to come along on this trip. Expensive, but it's a great time of life to do it, and when's the next time she's going to see Prague?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Achievement - 10 years? 3

I've been on Slashdot for more than 10 years, so I think this "Years Read" achievement is only backdated to when achievements came into being.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rumble in Romania 4

Had a great time with Stoolpigeon in Bucharest last Saturday. I was in town for some business, and he was able to come over from Budapest on an overnight sleeper train. We walked around the old part of the city; here in the 21st century, "old" is a complicated term. Without moving more than a couple of dozen steps, you can see a multi-layered kaleidoscope of old French-style rococo architecture, Soviet-era flat concrete, post-collapse plywood and corrugated steel, and glittering mylar/neon/LCD/stainless-steel-and-glass. Often, these layers of history appear right next door to each other, or even on the very same building.

The big sight-seeing event was the Palace of the Parliament, which is an astonishing monument to dictatorial egomania. It was built to house the executive branch, both chambers of the parliament and all of the federal courts under one roof, with the dictator-for-life living in palatial splendor in the vast penthouse suite overlooking the city. It was astonishing. Neither Stoolpigeon nor I could relate to the bigness of it, or to the profound Me Me Me-ness of needing to build the biggest building in the world, then make the longest street in the world and the grandest fountain in the world around it. How disappointed Nicolae CeauÈ(TM)escu must have been (posthumously) when several of the side sections of the building were dropped from the final design, leaving it with 2% less square footage than the Pentagon, and just a bit less volume than the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the space shuttle hanger at Cape Canaveral.

The best part of the day was talking with SP and getting a much better sense of how societies function and interact in Central & Eastern Europe, from antiquity through WW I, WW II, the Soviet Era and in the 21st century. The relationships among the countries there are confounded by the strategic ambitions of the larger powers: the US, USSR/Russia, the EU member states, and, presumably, Japan and China. Thoroughly fascinating discussion.

We had a great dinner at Caru Cu Bere (link to the restaurant's homepage). Talking, eating and drinking was a bit too much fun, as it made SP miss his train. For this, I apologize to SP, Mrs. SP and the little SPs, and return him to you late but lauded. If you're ever in Philadelphia, a round of cheesesteaks awaits.

Moral: if travel ever gives you a chance to do a physical get-together with online friends, do it. I have always been glad I did.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Checks and balances 1

I got two checks this week.

One was from Amazon KDP, for third quarter sales of a fiction anthology I wrote: $13.
The other was from a former employer, for continuing patent royalties of an chemical I helped invent: $97.

It's going to take a while (and a lot more book sales) for these to equal out.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Questions to be answered

ArsTechnica is reporting that:

US Sen. Al Franken today demanded answers from Carrier IQ about what kind of data its software for smartphones collects and how it is used and stored. Noting that Carrier IQ has been "accused of secretly logging location and private information of millions of smartphone users," Franken forwarded the company 11 questions, many of them with multiple parts, and asked for answers by Dec. 14. ... The senator strongly hints that he believes Carrier IQ has violated various federal laws.

"Does Carrier IQ believe that its actions comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, including the federal wiretap statute (18 U.S.C. Â 2511 et seq.), the pen register statute (18 USC Â 3121 et seq.), and the Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. Â 2701 et seq.)?" Franken's letter asks. "Does Carrier IQ believe that its actions comply with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. Â 1030)? Why?"

It is a disturbing thing to have a U.S. Senator contact you with a list of questions they want answered by some date certain. It's one thing when you hear talk about inquiries and investigations; it is an entirely different level of gut check when the letter is addressed to you personally.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Lego Robotics 2

The theme of the Lego Robotics competition this year is food safety. All it takes is a quick bit of Googling on "food safety", "technology", "processing", "awesome" and other obvious search terms to make me pop up to fore. In this morning's e.mail, I just got another request to serve as an expert adviser to a group of schoolkids. Given my soft spots for science, engineering and inquisitive kids, how can I say no?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Looking around the old place 2

Shadow Wrought's JE on saying goodbye to Slashdot made me want to post a JE about... something. Anything.

I'm reminded of how last year I finally made the decision not to renew my subscription to Scientific American. After almost twenty years, I stopped. The magazine had gotten too thin, too pretty, too political. For the last couple of years, I'd get each month's issue, flip through it, maybe read one or two articles, then chuck it. Pulling the plug on it meant turning the page and moving on, something that people in general are not especially good at.

Slashdot is like that. The stories on the front page are things I've already seen on DVICE or ArsTechnica. I never get involved in the discussions, and rarely read them, even when setting the filters extra high.

I've changed, Slashdot has changed. Time to accept that and move on.

United States

Journal Journal: Porn King of Abbottabad (Ballad of Osama Bin Laden) 1

My new song, "Porn King of Abbottabad", is up.

Some asked me when I might follow up on my song "Osama Bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday" (for which I won a coveted Schrammie award). Then, driving into work last week, hearing news about the porn cache Bin Laden had in his compound, it struck me that he probably used his terrorist information network to make some extra money on the side and became the number one provider of porn to the Greater Abbottabad region of Pakistan.

So there you go.

User Journal

Journal Journal: UPDATED: Target Map 3

I fixed a problem with Firefox, and maybe other browsers, where the entire target was not clickable. Should be good now: just click the target, see the links.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Target Map 8

I've started a map of targets. I won't bother saying what the point of this is, because no matter what I write, people will, intentionally or otherwise, misconstrue it. I hope the links on each name targeted gives you enough of a clue, if you are inclined toward reading and understanding.

If you have any submissions for the map, send me email to with the name of the individual or organization, and a link demonstrating why they should be on the map.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ending of 2010 1

It's been a strange year, one that has given me plenty of opportunities to change and grow as a person. The biggest surprise to me is how many times people have cited a good sense of humor as one of my chief attributes. Perhaps another surprise is that this comes as such a surprise to me.

2010 has been full of challenges, personal and professional. I've had successes and failures. I've also had successes that turned out to be mixed blessings or even failures and failures that turned out to be not so bad or even successes in disguise.

Why am I posting this here to Slashdot? Nostalgia, I suppose. My last JE here was in May; there's no way to know when my next one will be.

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011.

United States

Journal Journal: Koster/Larsen Debate 2

Many people, including myself, were disappointed that the Koster campaign chose to not participate in the KCTS 9 debate last Thursday.* But the next day, the pair debated and TVW has the video online.

If most voters watch this debate it's hard to see how Larsen could be re-elected, for one simple reason: everything Larsen said was about increasing the size, scope, power, and influence of the federal government. For every problem, Larsen sees the federal government as the solution. Even when Larsen correctly identifies mistakes Bush and the Republicans made in the last decade, Larsen indicts himself and his fellow Democrats because they want to do the same things the Republicans did, except more and bigger. Koster wants to go in the other direction: forward to liberty and smaller government instead of the monster debt that the Democrats and Republicans gave us last decade.

* I personally disagree with the Koster campaign decision to not participate on Thursday. Their stated reason was that Herald reporter and columnist Jerry Cornfield was one of the panelists, and the Koster campaign deemed him unacceptable because he's on the left, and they didn't believe he'd be fair. My take is that Koster could have handled Cornfield just fine, and that there's far less-fair journalists out there that Koster will run into if he's elected, and that he should have done the debate ... especially since, as this debate shows, the more Koster can put himself out there, side-by-side to Larsen, the better he looks: and that's something no journalist can take away, no matter how unfair they are.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

United States

Journal Journal: Larsen and Koster on KCTS 9 9

Last night KCTS 9 had nice profiles on both John Koster (R) and Rick Larsen (D-inc.), the candidates for Washington's Second Congressional District (whom we collectively interviewed recently here on Sound Politics). The KCTS piece uncritically showed Larsen's dishonest ad falsely accusing Koster of wanting to privatize social security, and referred to an "anti-incumbent" wave that is generally understood to be anti-establishment, not anti-incumbent, but otherwise it was a pretty good piece.

The discussion afterward, however, was fairly awful. All of the pundits -- including former state GOP chair Chris Vance -- said the only thing Koster has going for him is the "wave" in favor of Republican candidates. Joni Balter said Koster is "rigid" and "inflexible," while Larsen has "been there" for his constituents (as if Koster hasn't been). Perhaps she missed the memo that most voters in the Second CD want government to "be there" for us by being a lot less "flexible" on government spending.

Next Thursday, October 21, at 7 p.m., KCTS 9 will host a debate between Larsen and Koster. Tune in!

Also check out this non-endorsement endorsement of Koster by the Seattle Times. They call Larsen out for his dishonesty, his lack of fiscal responsibility, and his desire to increase taxes. They praise Koster for his fiscal prudence, his experience, his responsible record, and says he would benefit Congress. But they say they don't endorse him because he agrees too much with his own constituents: he is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and is (as every scientist and responsible politician is required by the rules of logic to be) skeptical of anthropogenic global warming.*

The Seattle Times says they endorse Larsen, but at the same time, they demonstrate that Koster would better represent his constituents. Draw your own conclusions.

* If you're a liberal, you're supposed to be skeptical of religion, skeptical of politicians, skeptical of authority and media of every kind, but not skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. Even the IPCC leaves open the door that AGW may not be true; how could any lay person think there's no room for that? To decry skepticism in the face of uncertainty is to be anti-intellectual, and it is incumbent upon every policymaker and scientist to remain open-minded on all such issues.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

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