The end of civil liberties

The president has declared that the “War On Terror” is a real war, and that in order to fight this war, he needs extraordinary powers to protect us. This rationale has been used before to validate the erosion of Civil Liberties. It has been used in places like Soviet Russia during the cold war, Italy during World War 2, Germany under the rule of the Nazis. Just as in other wars used to justify the ending of people’s rights, this war will never end. You cannot win a war on terror just like you can’t win a war on gravity. Terrorism has existed for more than 2000 years. George Bush can’t defeat it, but by using it as an excuse, he can do whatever he wants for as long as he wants including monitoring his own citizens phone calls and internet usage and targeting American citizens who are members of the Muslim religion. His claim that he is only monitoring international traffic has already been proved false. The NSA is monitoring millions of Americans with no existing or possible ties to the terrorists. They have resumed their data-mining operations that were originally shut down when they were brought to light. Bush has restarted this with no congressional approval or oversight. Indeed, this “War on Terror” is not a war. Only congress has the right to declare war, but the administration is ignoring that check on its power as well.

US Mosques checked for radiation (BBC)
Muslims angered by FBI radiation checks at mosques (Seattle Times)
Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report (New York Times)
Seattle Times editorial

Oh, and before I forget

Happy Chanukah (don’t know if I’ll be on-line tomorrow)! And to all my Christian friends, Merry Christmas! And if anyone reading this celebrates Kwanzah, Happy Kwanzah!

And to Bill O’Reilly and Pat Robertson, Happy Holidays and bite me Jackasses!

CSS-based web design vs. table-based web design

a little experiment gave me pause

As I mentioned over on my Unit Circle Blog , I’m finally redesigning the Unit Circle Rekkids site. It must be at least 4-5 years since I last redid its look and I think it’s held together pretty good over that time, but it is definitely starting to look dated. I’m definitely a curmudgeon when it comes to web design on my own sites. Up until that last redesign, I avoided using tables in my sites because they didn’t always look good on Web TV or Lynx. Now for this time I’ve been thinking that it might be time to switch from a table-based design to a CSS-based one. (I was using CSS before, but in the simplest way to standardize formatting across many pages) The arguments are compelling: keeping data and presentation separate; ease of updating the look; etc… Also I’ve seen some pretty compelling sites that are done this way. I don’t have a book yet, so I’m just using Dreamweaver 8’s CSS features and using internet resources to figure it out. It isn’t too bad, but after putting together a simple design and testing it out in a few browsers I realized that the CSS implementations are different enough that trying to do this now is going to be an exercise in pain. I’m going back to my table-based layouts with maybe a bit more CSS formatting for this go-around, I think. Once the site is up, I will post my CSS and table based prototypes somewhere and link to them here.

I think that some of the CSS sites I’ve seen are a little to pretentious about it. I don’t think that CSS was originally meant to be the end-all be-all layout system for a website in the same way that tables weren’t either. People took the capabilities of these simple ideas and extended them into doing things that they were never originally meant to be used for. CSS files were supposed to be shared across groups of pages, creating more of template-like approach for similar pages. Tables were meant to help lay out tabular data. The war against table-based design seems a little unnecessary to me, especially since CSS consistency across browsers is still be pretty weak. My table based designs look awesome on IE4, how about your CSS ones? Now, I’m not arguing for table-based design here. I’m up for using whatever tools work well and make my life simpler. I’m going to be getting a CSS book or two for Chanukah maybe and I’ll see if I was just going about it wrong. What I am against is CSS proponents pretending that their use of CSS is more than hacking in the same way that tables were hacked.

anyway, once more into the breach.

Nice Daou report

My buddy Mike sent me a link to this article on salon which is just funny and sadly true about how Bush will survive the spying scandal just like he’s survived all the others… Also, he wanted me to have full posts in my RSS feed, so here is one.

The house of representatives screws the American people and then head home to gloat about it

This is so disgusting that I almost don’t know what to say

There is so much insanity here, I don’t know where to begin. On it’s way out for the Christmas break, the house stayed up all night attaching evil amendments to important bills and cutting critical health and social programs.

I don’t even know if I can actually comment on each thing it is just leaves me speechless. I’ll just list the crap.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was passed after it was added to a critical defense budget bill

The GOP is crowing about cutting the deficit by $40 billion which is a drop in the bucket not only of our national debt, but even in the bucket of the yearly deficit under President Bush. In that $40 billion they are so proud about cutting:

  • Medicare cut by $6.4 billion
  • Medicaid cut by $4.8 billion
  • Student loans raised to a fixed 6.8% instead of variable lower rates saving $13 Billion

So, in this big budget savings bill, they manage not only to screw over our past (cutting aid to senior citizens), but also our future (making student loans more expensive). I just can’t find the words to express how much these people hate the people they serve.

The president is spying on us

Again, the parallels between the current administration and communist-era Russia are almost frightening

So the administration has been using the guise of the war on terror to spy on its own citizens. Is anyone surprised by this? This is exactly what everyone who was actually paying attention to the Patriot Act language said was going to happen. Americans said they’d be willing to give up some civil liberties in order to be safe. Well, now you’ve given up your liberties and you aren’t any safer. Feeling cheated yet? You should be. What is actually interesting when you get into the details, is that this spying might have even been illegal within the rubric of the wiretapping laws.

It’s time once again for me to ask for a real congressional investigation, and for the Republicans to once again decide that, as President, cheating on your wife is worth of a special prosecutor and hundreds of hours of discussion, but lying to the American people, imprisoning American citizens for months without charges, torturing foreigners, spying on the American people and basically acting more like a dictator than a representative of a Democracy is A-OK.

The crazy-ass thing is that after getting caught at it, he says he’s going to keep doing it and that disclosing it was helping the enemy. These people make me insane. Bush wants to be the national father figure, but he’s the idiot dad with a drinking problem that says way too often “do what I say, not what I do.” The enemy, the enemy, doubting the administration is supporting the enemy, questioning the administration is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Cheney says “debate is good, discussion is good” while simultaneously slamming every lawmaker who steps forward to do just that.

“It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is discussing the enemy.” – President Bush

Get this George, you work for the American people. You work for us and we’ll discuss whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever medium or venue that we wish until you just declare yourself dictator and we get busy mobilizing against you.

hey, remember these things?

mission accomplished, my ass

The administration receiving many “F”s and “D”s from the 9-11 commission this week reminded me of a couple of other things that seem to have slipped out of the American memory banks. Hey, remember Osama Bin Laden? Remember how he was public enemy #1 after 9/11? Remember how we were going to “smoke him out of his hole”? Yeah, that never happened.

Remember how after Hurricane Katrina George Bush promised that we were going to rebuild New Orleans and the government was going to launch new initiatives to help the poor? Well, with the new rounds of tax and budget cuts, the war on Poverty has turned back into the war on the poor that had been going on since 2000.

A few predictions:
1) Congress will start withdrawing troops out of Iraq next year so that Republicans can hold on to their majority in the elections.
2) In 2008, we still will not have captured Osama Bin Laden. If we have pulled out of Iraq, it will be in full-on-civil war, or if we haven’t, we will still have our soldiers attacked daily.
3) Also in 2008, in New Orleans: The French Quarter, Garden District and downtown will be 100% back to where they were. In the poor outlying districts, away from the tourists, nothing will have changed since Katrina and the levees will still be inadequate.

Follow the bouncing ball

If you connect the dots between the various Bush Administrations failures, you can see the pattern emerge…

Hurricane Katrina showed how devastatingly out of touch and how slow to action George Bush is, right? Maybe you’ll get this realization if you’ve never seen the timeline for President Bush on 9/11. Just as Bush waited days before doing a flyby over what was left of New Orleans, he entered the classroom after the first tower had been hit. Hundreds of people had just died in a major catastrophe in a major American city (it may not have been clear that we were under attack at that point) and the President ignores this to sit down and read to children. It wasn’t until several minutes after the second tower was hit that he stood up to leave the room and only when his staff basically hauled him out. If there was ever any doubt to the lack of engagement of this president, 9/11 should have made it clear. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina just showed that the man still hadn’t learned the lesson that he should actually care about the American people instead of just using their deaths to further his own agenda.

Similarly, if you remember the flap around Armstrong Williams and the Bush administration planting false news reports and paying for favorable editorials in American media, the fact that we were doing the same in Iraq shouldn’t surprise anyone.

What surprises me these days isn’t the fact that our President continues to violate American law and the trust of the American people but that anyone is surprised about it anymore.

Griffin Smart Deck Review

it sux

owned it for less than two hours. It doesn’t work. Tracks jump in the middle without touching the cassette deck or iPod. Pressing FF or RWD sometimes doesn’t change tracks. Griffin really needed to test this thing before foisting it off into the market.

Consolidating chargers

Can I use one charger for everything?

My Ipod charges over USB, my cell phone has a charger with a mini USB connector… Can I use the USB charging adapter for my iPod with my cellie?