Sunday, March 27, 2005

To reflect

Category: National, Personal

Photos that will never make the news...

I wanted to share these photos with you.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

AIM responds to public pressure... mostly

Category: Technology, National

AOL writes, "A number of online media outlets and blogs have recently written about rumors that AOL has changed the AIM Terms of Service (TOS) to weaken the privacy of AIM users. We want to assure you that those rumors are totally false."

This Page blogged about the ToS, but we knew we weren't dealing with recent changes -- just recently discovered problems. It's easier for them to redefine our legitimate complaints as "rumors" and build strawmen that can be called "totally false." Maybe it's too much to ask them to admit they're wrong, as long as they fix the problems.

Regardless of their privacy statements, AOL writes, "language in a different section of the AIM Terms of Service caused some confusion about the overall policy. The other section is called 'Content You Post' and, as the name indicates, it applies to content a user might choose to post in a public area of the AIM service, such as a chat room or online message board. It does not apply to private user-to-user communications over AIM."

No, I don't think that name indicates that at all. Do we see a definition of Post? Thankfully, they've made the clarification.

The story doesn't end here. They continue the confusing legalese. In the clarified AIM Terms of Service, they write: "The following terms and conditions apply to all users who either registered for AIM services or downloaded AIM updates or software on or after February 5, 2004. AIM users who do not register for AIM services or download AIM updates or software on or after February 5, 2004 and are members of the Netscape Network will remain bound by Netscape's terms and conditions. All other AIM users are bound by the aol.com terms and conditions."

My Screen Name predates February 2004. I do have the latest AIM software, but I don't use it regularly: I connect with Gaim; still others connect with Trillian or other comparable programs. Which ToS am I covered under? Am I part of "All other AIM users ... bound by the aol.com terms and conditions?" Why? And why do those aol.com terms and conditions perpetuate an unclarified "USER'S GRANT OF LIMITED LICENSE" section?

Sigh... I maintain my advice: don't say anything valuable via AIM.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A town with a different language

Category: National

Community would be home to deaf and hard-of-hearing

A privately-built town that will use American Sign Language and have other accomodations for people with aural disabilities. Kinda cool.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not so fast with those living wills...

Category: National

There's been lots of talk about living wills now that Terri's fight is winding down. That's a positive outcome. Although, I've heard several people say they have, or will, write living wills saying they don't want life support. I was flipping through the channels earlier and even saw Bill O'Reilly say that.

Life support can also include certain types of care after a potential nasty accident. Times when you most certainly should live. Be very careful if you craft a living will. Consult family members in addition to lawyers and doctors.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Checks and balances

Category: National

"I don't want the government to interfere with my end-of-life!"

Too late, folks. Courts are government too. And they're the part of our government which isn't accountable to the people.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Let it be in our day...

Category: National

Today is the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. This is not a moment of celebration; it is an opportunity for reflection.

The following are quotes from our president, George W. Bush.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America...

-- September 11, 2001

Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder.

This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.

-- September 14, 2001

Now this war [the war on terror] will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen.

-- September 20, 2001

In Afghanistan, we helped liberate an oppressed people. And we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society, and educate all their children -- boys and girls. In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine. Across the Earth, America is feeding the hungry -- more than 60 percent of international food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States. As our nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling as a blessed country is to make this world better.

...

Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States.

...

Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.

-- January 28, 2003

The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq.

The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people, themselves. Today they live in scarcity and fear, under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war, and misery, and torture. Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein -- but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us.

Bringing stability and unity to a free Iraq will not be easy. Yet that is no excuse to leave the Iraqi regime's torture chambers and poison labs in operation. Any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves will be better than the nightmare world that Saddam Hussein has chosen for them.

...

The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East ... A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.

...

Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated.

Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will be in a better position to choose new leaders. True leaders who strive for peace; true leaders who faithfully serve the people.

-- February 26, 2003

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign.

-- March 19, 2003

Our commitment to liberty is America's tradition -- declared at our founding; affirmed in Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms; asserted in the Truman Doctrine and in Ronald Reagan's challenge to an evil empire. We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in a peaceful Palestine. The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine the appeal of terror in the world. Where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values and American interests lead in the same direction: We stand for human liberty.

-- May 1, 2003 at the oft-mocked "Mission Accomplished" speech

As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world -- and I can assure you more are on the way.

...

Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root.

...

Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.

Other men, and groups of men, have gained influence in the Middle East and beyond through an ideology of theocratic terror. Behind their language of religion is the ambition for absolute political power. Ruling cabals like the Taliban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent. The Taliban promised religious purity and national pride. Instead, by systematically destroying a proud and working society, they left behind suffering and starvation.

...

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament ... In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer. Recent surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. These are the stirrings of Middle Eastern democracy, and they carry the promise of greater change to come.

-- November 6, 2003 at a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy

We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.

As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny, despair, and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East. We will challenge the enemies of reform, confront the allies of terror, and expect a higher standard from our friends.

...

I will send you [Congress] a proposal to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the development of free elections, free markets, free press, and free labor unions in the Middle East. And above all, we will finish the historic work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, so those nations can light the way for others, and help transform a troubled part of the world.

America is a Nation with a mission - and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace - a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great Republic will lead the cause of freedom.

-- January 20, 2004

Some have said that the President's idealism and commitment to democracy, as expressed in his Second Inaugural Address, were recent additions to his rationale. I hope the above proves that this could not be further from the truth.

Related:

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Category: Personal

You hear people say, "Don't take 'Christ' out of Christmas," but have you ever heard anybody say, Don't take "St. Patrick" out of St. Patrick's Day?

I'm kidding.. mostly.

But maybe I've guilted you into reading about St. Patrick after you sober up. ;)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, and if you care: Kevin isn't coming to Albany. He sucks.

UPDATE (3/19): I ended up going to Troy with Kev, to a place called O'Leary's. Drank Smithwick's (Smittick's!) and ordered nachos, an excellent Irish dish.

Mea culpa

Category: Technology, Regional, Site Info

I had taken out some of the Albany-area links from the blogroll, I wasn't sure if it was overkill. However one comment from an anonymous poster wanted the link for Capital Region People. I hopped over to that blog again, and there was an interesting post about the strength of the blogosphere.

In particular, the first link stood out: Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. The page essentially argues that, under social networking theory, the popularity of certain people or things over others is absolutely inevitable. Nice charts and a very interesting read.

Incidentally, I "fixed" the Blogroll.

Related: That long right-hand "tail" is being discussed by Michelle Malkin (she's one of the cool kids).

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Before Rathergate... before Connie Chung...

Category: National

Every dark cloud has a silver lining, even Dan Rather. The FCC had a "Fairness Doctrine" from 1949 until its repeal in 1987, which required TV and radio stations to report "balanced news." Starting in the 1960s, the DNC used it to stifle conservative talk radio (which only flourished in the 90s, after the repeal).

Some conservatives (including Ronald Reagan) and some liberals (including Dan Rather) knew that this whole situation was wrong and that it stifled free speech. Some prominent right-of-center interest groups, probably fearing change more than anything else, joined the DNC in wanting to keep the Doctrine.

Of course, the repeal did bring out the bias in the left-of-center media. But in due time the conservative voice caught up and now it's the DUmmie/Deaniac crowd that thinks the media is stacked against them!

I've tried to repeat as little of the original column as possible, so go read it. And I'll thank Dan Rather for being on the right side of history at least once.

Why can't more developments be like this?

Category: Regional, National

Winston showed me a very cool new urbanist project being proposed for Sand Lake: Bon Acre Hamlet. Why would people want to live in dead-end cul de sacs anyways? Isn't it nice to have some sort of community?

For the record, there's no relation between your trusty Op-"Ed"itor and broker Edward J. Patanian aside from a good choice of first names.

And I still prefer my neighborhood.