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Comment Transparency is the best solution of the 4 pledges (Score 2, Interesting) 126

1. No money from lobbyists or PACs
      While we like to think of politicians as corrupt, money-grubbing jerks who'll take money from any lobbyist in order to stay in office, the truth is that most politicians already believe in certain causes and will gladly take money from their allies in those causes. The NRA is not likely to change the mind of an anti-gun senator with promises of money. That senator is likely getting money from an anti-gun group already, since that group's aims match his own. Perhaps this would be less true of corporate lobbying, but transparency could help alleviate this by letting voters see who a politicians allies are. If a politician were known to be taking Archer-Daniels money, and that politician then voted for more ethanol subsidies, I might be less likely to vote for him next time. Long story short, I don't think there is much quid-pro-quo going on, it's more an aligning of interests between pols and PACs. This is not to mention the potential freedom of speech issues of banning lobbying. After all, everyone has the right to petition the government.

2. Vote to end earmarks
      This is kind of like laws against profanity - "I know it when I hear it". One man's earmark is another's worthy cause. It would be ideal if we could prevent earmarks, but defining exactly what an earmark is in such a way as to make it difficult or impossible to pass another earmark without also impacting useful legislation is practically impossible. English is a rich language that lets you say one thing and mean another in some cases, and politicians are especially adept at using the language to get what they want. Transparency is the best choice here as well, since the only sure way for "obvious" earmarks to be stopped is if the people are aware that they have been attached to unrelated bills or perverted the intentions of related bills.

3. Support publicly-financed campaigns
      To me, this is the worst of all the pledges. Why should we have political welfare for people running for office? Do we really want our tax dollars spent so that some candidates can have an election allegedly free of special interests? Remember, he who controls the gold makes the rules, so public financing could be perverted into an institution that funds only "worthy" candidates, with "worthy" defined by whomever is currently in power. Even with the currently limited system for Presidential candidates, the candidates have to raise a certain amount of money and be subject to other restrictions that they find onerous. This is one reason why many of the present candidates did not accept public funding - it got in the way of raising the real sums they needed to win.

4. Support reform to increase Congressional transparency
      This is one pledge I can get behind, but the devil is in the implementation. Every donation to every candidate would need to be disclosed, preferably on the web, and there would need to be dire consequences if anyone was caught trying to hide a donation or the source of a donation. Every bill, including amendments and votes, would need to be available as well. All meetings would need to be open, meaning that the press (at the least) is invited and minutes are taken and made available on-line (with reasonable exceptions for things like national security issues and maybe a few others - of course, this can be perverted as well). There are numerous documents that the government has erroneously (or illegally, if it was to CYA) classified as secret which would need to be declassified, and better oversight for what can be classified should be put into place (perhaps this is a bit beyond the scope of Congress itself). Some of these things already exist, to some degree.


Submission + - Entrance, An Open Source MySQL Browser With Charts

Tod Landis writes: "This is on MacNN.com: Entrance generates Access-like charts
An avid Mac developer has released Entrance, a new MySQL browser that generates Access-like charts based on data in MySQL databases with a "match box" search facility that works like Apple's Spotlight technology for database tables. (Entrance releases are announced on freshmeat)."

Submission + - Classic Samurai Movie Action That Can't Be Touched

Afro Thunder writes: "Romeo & Juliet Meet Hamlet in a Hell of Samurai Swords

Samurai Rebellion. While the title is a bit cheesy, the movie is far from the fake drama you'd find in an old Hollywood film, or the heartbreaking scenes from your favorite prime television shows. No, the title is Samurai Rebellion because they didnt speak much English when they were naming it. This is sort of how the naming process came about.

{Translated from Japanese}
Director: So, this movie is really coming along nicely.
Producer: Yes, I agree, however, we still havent got a proper name for it.
Director: Yes, Ive been meaning to talk to you about that. I suppose were both in agreement that Sword of Fluff is out.
Producer: Im pretty sure that one wont fly. How about Samurais R Us?
Director: No, this will never go to America.
Producer: Neither will I, but I still practice my English.
Director: Yeah? What words do you know; we might be able to give it an English title.
Producer: Well, I know Samurai is the same. I also know Rebuild, on and family. Thats about it.
Director: Thats good. Well call it Samurai Rebuild On Family. Everyone will come to see our bloody family movie.
Together Director and Producer: BIG BUCKS!!!

Unfortunately, their accents were too thick, and they had red necks for partners, so as soon as they said Samurai Rebuild On, they didnt want to hear the rest. Samurai Rebellion was good enough for them.

Anyways, the movie itself is more tragic than Romeo and Juliet. Everyone that matters or you actually might care about, dies. Its kind of like Romeo and Juliet because the main couple are fated lovers that die, but with a twist, because now families, the friar, the prince, and every small role from The Guard to The Apothecary dies. Even characters that you didnt think were in the movie/play died. It was like watching Romeo and Juliet mixed with Hamlet. But, that doesnt mean it was bad, it just means it was tragic. I mean, tragedy might suck for everyone, but that doesnt mean its not entertaining, or enlightening.

The situation in the movie is a bit different though. In the movie, Toshiro Mifune (The John Wayne of Samurai films) plays the father of a prestigious family to their lord of the area. This takes place during the time of the Daimyos, Shoguns, and of course, Samurai. Toshiros son is hooked up with their lords mistress, whos already borne a son to their lord. At first theyre a bit hesitant about the relationship, but eventually, they learn to love each other with great intensity. However, the lords heir dies, and the only other heir left is the one Toshiros sons wife bore (say that ten times fast). So, the lord now wants her back, but Toshiro and the gang say no. So, what happens is that the lord sends a bazillion people to capture/kill Toshiro and his son. Theres a big fight, and Toshiro does some major sword swinging and ass kicking. However, some asshole out of nowhere stabs the poor girl, and so Toshiros son runs to her. A spear stabs him too. Now Toshiros pretty pissed, so he slashes everyone to ribbons and then takes his grandson, Tomi, and storms out of town to tell the Shoguns and Daimyos of their lords treachery. However, on his way out, his best friend and partner who guards the town border stops him. They fight and his friend dies. While Toshiro is returning to Tomi, he gets shot 5 times, but not before offing a few dozen swords men, eight riflemen, and some poor saps that had a sword but didnt do anything. Toshiro nearly gets to Tomi, but hes crawling and dies inches away from reaching him. Lucky, Tomis picked up by his wet nurse and they return home. Thats pretty much how it ends. And when I tell it like this, it kind of sucks.

However, you should go rent it because the movie is incredible. The emotions expressed by each character seems real, and you feel sorry for everyone and the situations theyre in. Especially since this is Feudal Japan and everyone is expected to act like robots and not express any emotion, but all the people with problems dont hold back. As well, you might want to see it just to see actual sword play, and not that foney-balogne stuff you get now a days. When you get sliced, it hurts, and it doesnt take fifty thousand swipes to kill a man. It only takes a maximum of two, or a few bullets. Thats basically how everyone dies except the heir to the lord, who dies of the cold. Sucks to be him.

Also, movies that involve weapons or martial arts are usually under appreciated by those that dont partake in either. Thats why I bought some weapons and started practicing outdoors. I swung a few Nunchaku (pronounced Nun-Chak-Ew [not Numchuks]) around, some sai, a couple of tonfas, and a wooden sword. All of them hurt and all of them were hard to keep in my hands. Theyd fly and hit my dog, or crash through a window, or break a leg. So, I have to say that those guys with the clubs, swords, batons, knives, hammers, etc. know what theyre doing and they deserve more credit and appreciation from us, especially if they hit themselves half as much as I do.

So all in all, the movie should have been called, Romeo, Hamlet, and Juliet in Japan and was good if youve got time to appreciate the classics. I give it a three out of five.

Catch more of Afro Thunder's reviews at PositiveBrand.net."

Submission + - Noise cancelling windows comming pretty soon

GadgetMike writes: "Noise is a major stress factor in the modern society, especially for the people living in a big and crowded metropolis, but the problem could pe surpassed by the invention of the noise cancelling windows. Is is known that when the sound wave hits the surface of a window, the last one starts vibrating. In order to reduce the level of the sound passing through the glass, a team of German scientists uses a system of piezoelectric patches connected to a central processing unit. The idea is to create some calculated vibrations to reduce the initial ones caused by the noise. All these happen in just fractions of a second and the technology could pe perfected in just a couple of years."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - E-Gold Taken Down by Feds for Money Laundering

loqi writes: Citing child pornographers and online scammers as the beneficiaries of an effectively anonymous payment system, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed charges of conspiracy and money laundering against the online payment system E-Gold. With advances in cryptographic techniques like Brands credentials and transparent servers, will money laundering laws continue to be enforceable?

Submission + - E-Gold Indicted for Money Laundering.

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. Department of Justice propag^h^h^h^h press release has announced the unsealing of an indictment charging E-Gold Ltd., Gold & Silver Reserve, Inc., and their owners each with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and money transmission without a license under US Federal law. This comes despite repeated attempts by e-gold to be classified for regulatory purposes as a currency, enabling G&SR to register as a currency exchange, and the Department of Treasury reaffirming their interpretation of the USC and CFR definitions of currency as excluding e-gold.
Since the US government is answering e-gold's attempts to be transparent with a heavy handed enforcement action, while ignoring massive customer complaints against companies like PayPal, one must wonder: Is this the first step in an effort to destroy any open currency backed by gold, not controlled by a nation state, or not linked to the US Dollar?

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