February 2005 Wayback

February 28, 2005

John Gilmore and the Search for the Mandatory ID Law

From this Slashdot post:

John Gilmore, the millionaire who co-founded the EFF, has been prohibited from travelling because he refused to show an ID while boarding an airplane. He’s been under this self-imposed ban since 2002. From the article: “The gate agent asked for his ID. Gilmore asked her why. It is the law, she said. Gilmore asked to see the law. Nobody could produce a copy. To date, nobody has. The regulation that mandates ID at airports is ‘Sensitive Security Information.’ The law, as it turns out, is unavailable for inspection. What started out as a weekend trip to Washington became a crawl through the courts in search of an answer to Gilmore’s question: Why?
Slashdot points to this Post Gazette article on Gilmore.
Gilmore’s the same person who got kicked off of a plane for wearing a ’suspected terrorist’ button back in 2003 and arrested for not turning on his laptop for airport security and showing ID. This last link from Declan McCullagh of Wired ends with the quote that “if Congress decides to sacrifice freedom for security, the country will ultimately enjoy neither.”

Posted by Michael at 08:01 PM
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Brain Implants

There’s a great article at Wired about Matthew Nagle and the BrainGate, an implant in Nagle’s head that allows him to control a computer cursor. Nagle, a quadriplegic paralyzed in a knife attack, has a chip embedded in his head which interfaces with the computer. Wired has an earlier article on how “if people with physical handicaps could control a computer by just thinking, they could also operate light switches, television, even a robotic arm,” and has a video of Matt using the BrainGate. (23MB .wmv file)

There was other news today on how researchers have developed a pacemaker for the brain to treat depression. The device uses deeply implanted electrodes to stimulate the brains of those with depression that has not been helped by traditional treatments. They basically stuck wires deep in the brain, ran them inside the back of the skull to the neck, and then around to the chest where a battery was implanted to provide constant electrical stimultaion.

Posted by Michael at 07:08 PM
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Our Founding Fathers: Deists and Secular Humanists

Not that I am an atheist, but the separation of church and state does mean something to me. Liberal magazine the Nation’s Brooke Allen reminds us that “In God We Trust” did not appear on our money until after the Civil War and “under God” was not part of the Pledge of Allegiance until McCarthy was doing his thing in 1954. He also quotes from the Treaty of Tripoli which contains the following:
As the Government of the United States…is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion–as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen–and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

He states that this treaty was ratified in the Senate in 1797, the 339th vote by them and only the 3rd unanimous.

He also talks about how most of the founding fathers were deists, that “if we define a Christian as a person who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, then it is safe to say that some of the key Founding Fathers were not Christians at all.” He quotes Franklin, who said “a man compounded of law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion and then destroy them under color of law.” He also quotes Jefferson as saying “no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”

Allen closes with the remark that “though for public consumption the Founding Fathers identified themselves as Christians, they were, at least by today’s standards, remarkably honest about their misgivings when it came to theological doctrine, and religion in general came very low on the list of their concerns and priorities–always excepting, that is, their determination to keep the new nation free from bondage to its rule.”

We should keep this in mind today.

Posted by Michael at 01:12 AM
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February 27, 2005

Unreal 3 Engine announced

Unreal technology has revealed thier Unreal 3 Engine. Check the screen shots, especially the detail on this shot. Wow. Hopefully Unreal 3 will be better than Quake 3 and Half Life 2. (Not that either of those were bad, but I can’t wait.)

Posted by Michael at 02:37 PM
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Barbara Boxer unveils Count Every Vote Act

via DailyKos and Boxer’s website:
The Count Every Vote Act of 2005 will provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensures access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The bill sets a uniform standard for provisional ballots so that every qualified voter will know their votes are treated equally, and requires the Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to voting machines and trained election personnel in every community. The bill also improves security measures for electronic voting machines.

To encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote, the Count Every Vote Act designates Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state. The bill also enacts “no-excuse” absentee balloting, enacts fair and uniform voter registration and identification, and requires states to allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day. It also requires the Election Assistance Commission to work with states to reduce wait times for voters at polling places. In addition, the legislation restores voting rights for felons who have repaid their debt to society.

The Count Every Vote Act also includes measures to protect voters from deceptive practices and conflicts of interest that harm voter trust in the integrity of the system. In particular, the bill restricts the ability of chief state election officials as well as owners and senior managers of voting machine manufacturers to engage in certain kinds of political activity. The bill also makes it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and makes these practices a felony punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.

While it’s not quite the Votestation, this bill should be passed because of the prohabition on state election officials. Having the chief election officals of Ohio and Florida and Dieblold’s senior exec campaign for Bush in the last election never should have happened. Restoring felon’s right’s to vote kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth and will be the main point that the right uses to squash this bill. I’m not sure that I believe that a person’s right to vote should be restored. I think that this provision of the bill should be dropped; you will never get conservatives to vote for this bill otherwise. Expect to hear a lot of talk about this in the coming week.

Posted by Michael at 11:48 AM

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