Morning No: No Place Like Rome

by: Natasha Chart

Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 08:42

- In their ongoing quest for new legal innovations that would allow them to fluff their financial presentations, it's now revealed that Lehman was loaning money to itself and its subsidiaries through a shadow corporation.

- It's Confederate History Month in the great State of Virginia, so here's a bit about Mississippi's failure to ratify the constitutional amendment repealing slavery.

- What does a company get after an explosion at one of their unsafe facilities kills 29 people? Upgraded from 'hold' to 'buy.' Market. Failure.

- Young people in Greece and Ireland are starting to emigrate in larger numbers, after several years in which growing economies had been keeping them home or luring them back from careers abroad.

- Republicans and Tea Partiers are openly cheering plans to raise private armies to oppose the federal government. I think there's a word for that, starts with an 's', ...

- The Pakistani national government is starting to pay attention to acid attacks on women, but local officials often ignore them and for some reason, it seems to be ridiculously easy to get strong acid.

- A sidewise perspective on the role of celibacy in the Vatican child abuse scandal.

- There are no working 'clean' coal prototypes as yet, nothing that could be cost-effectively deployed, and yet there are governments who think it's a great thing to build a deregulated industry around.

- Good news out of President Obama's nuclear summit, as Ukraine has agreed to get rid of their weapons grade uranium by 2012, as well as change over their reactors so they won't need to be producing it anymore.

- Apple has moved to ban development for the iPhone using Adobe products, not by name, but worded in such a way that Flash applications can't be directly ported to the iPhone. This news actually makes me glad I don't have one, and ensures I won't get one.

Natasha Chart :: Morning No: No Place Like Rome

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The inevitable crossover of harassment and tasers (0.00 / 0)
Apparently shocking a female colleague can be a "spur of the moment" "joke."

Tim Wolfe

The Season of Treason (4.00 / 3)
Republicans and Tea Partiers are openly cheering plans to raise private armies to oppose the federal government. I think there's a word for that, starts with an 's', ...

Time to stop calling these folks "patriots", "tea partiers", or "militias" and time to start calling just plain traitors.

Digby linked to this WaPo story, which begins:

Okla. tea parties and lawmakers envision militia

The Associated Press
Monday, April 12, 2010; 9:30 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

Tea party movement leaders say they've discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.

"Is it scary? It sure is," said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. "But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?"

Thus far, the discussions have been exploratory. Even the proponents say they don't know how an armed force would be organized nor how a state-based militia could block federal mandates. Critics also asserted that the force could inflame extremism, and that the National Guard already provides for the state's military needs.

"Have they heard of the Oklahoma City bombing?" said Joseph Thai, a constitutional law professor at the University of Oklahoma. The state observes the 15th anniversary of the anti-government attack on Monday. Such actions could "throw fuel in the fire of radicals," he said.

But the militia talks reflect the frustration of some grass roots groups seeking new ways of fighting recent federal initiatives, such as the health reform plan, which requires all citizens to have health insurance. Over the last year, tea party groups across the country have staged rallies and pressured politicians to protest big government and demand reduced public spending.

If it's government spending they are all het up over, I repeat my admonition from last weekend that they just stop using it in their personal lives.

And since Oklahoma was the focus of this story, I checked out how much Oklahoma gets from the federal government.  I know the figures on these tend to lag a few years, and the most recent multi-year figures I could get quickly showed this:

Adjusted Federal Expenditures Per Dollar of Taxes
Over Time by State
Fiscal Years 1994-2003

State   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003
Oklahoma   1.28   1.29   1.32   1.33   1.36   1.40   1.44   1.43   1.47   1.48

A rising trend that had Oklahomans getting $1.48 from the federal government for every $1 they sent to the federal government.

And they're angry about that.  Angry enough for treason.

At some point, it's not only incumbent on us to call them traitors, because they are.  By the same logic, it's also incumbent on us to call them delusional as well.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Military bases (4.00 / 3)
Base closings have centered on Democratic states while protecting places like Oklahoma.  Oklahoma, endangered by domestic right wingers, has six bases (two army, three air force, and some how 1 coast guard) with 25,000 active personnel.  Connecticut, a similarly sized state in the Northeast has 4,000 active military.  New York, a much larger and more populated state attacked twice by foreign enemies has 20,000 active personnel.

Want to shrink the return?  Shrink the military.   Don't only close or reduce bases in NY City, Philadelphia, etc.  Close or reduce in Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Carolina.

[ Parent ]
FLASH (0.00 / 0)
Flash is pretty unstable... the newer HTML Video 5 is supposed to be pretty nice. Causes less lock-ups

Yeah... (4.00 / 1)
While I don't exactly like Apple's tactics here -- they are sort of becoming the new-old Microsoft, with the exception that their products don't actually suck -- if they succeed in ridding the world of Flash, I can't say that it wouldn't make me very, very happy.

Flash under Linux (and presumably Mac) is just horrendous. I leave it disabled per default, and only enable it when I occasionally want to watch a video on Youtube. Any time my browser lags up, crashes, or freezes, I immediately realize, "oh fuck, I accidentally left Flash enabled again". Flash is reportedly the biggest source of crashes on Mac OS X -- not just the browser, the entire OS.

That said, this is probably excessive. Simply refusing to support Flash on the iPhone/iPad, as they've been doing, without these kinds of actively hostile and anticompetitive actions, would have been enough.

[ Parent ]
Still Monopolistic (0.00 / 0)
I'm an Apple guy an hate Flash for all the reasons stated, so I'm fairly sympathetic with Jobs on this.  But that doesn't change the fact they are exerting their monopoly in an unfair way with regards to what developer platforms are allowed to be used.  That should be found clearly illegal.

Ironically, if they narrowed their limit to Adobe it might be more legal and justified.  In other words, if one of Adobe's libraries is found to be buggy or the cross platform generated application are several times larger than needed (due to excess libraries being included), that would be a good reason to exclude them.  But the reason would have to be real, not completion stiflingly.

[ Parent ]
And lets remember what closed platforms like Apple are for. (0.00 / 0)
So you will "have to" buy only more Apple products, and possibly more important, so they have control over the products. Like the Single Payer app that connected you to activists, your local politicians, phone numbers data etc. etc., that Apple wouldn't allow to be sold or given away. It's like a hammer that wont build houses for poor people, or blogs that wont allow criticism of Republicans.

Use free software, free as in speech, not expensive closed controlled software. I want tools that work for me, not that work for other people that I can use if it pleases them.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
The Devil's advocate weighs in.... (0.00 / 0)
Well, to my knowledge, Apple never restricted cross-compiled applications on the Mac. In many cases that would have reduced software choices on the platform, especially as it went through its operating system and cpu transitions. In other words, it was to Apple's benefit, as well as to their users'. On the other hand, many of those users, myself included, found those applications more often than not to be inefficient, and more seriously, inconsistent in the way they handled the Mac interface guidelines -- even those created by Apple itself.

The iPod, iPhone and iPad are consumer devices, operating in a cutting-edge  resource environment with much tighter operating parameters than general purpose computers. If they aren't fast, slick, reliable, and energy efficient, they also won't sell, or be of much use when bought. One of the overlooked reasons that the iPhone did sell so well, while other smartphones languished, is its superior interface -- i.e. it was simple and pleasant to use, and very responsive. In large part, this was a direct result of both Steve Jobs' fanatic standards of what constituted usability, and, less admirably, perhaps, his paranoia that anyone less fanatic about them could undermine the goal of creating a superior consumer experience. Perhaps Android phones, etc., will be able to match or exceed that standard of end-user satisfaction. If they can, then we can have an argument. Until that is shown to be the case, it's difficult to agree with your premise that Apple wants to deny you any essential freedom.

For example, without a 10-12 hour battery life, iPads might very well be thrown in a drawer by their users, just as many less power-efficient devices by other manufacturers have been. If they crash as often as PCs used to do -- Macs as well as Windows -- they couldn't be sold as hammers to anybody, poor or rich. Would you like to see the software for the Space Shuttle attitude control open-sourced? How about the throttle control/vehicle stability software on the Toyota in your garage. (They might not do any worse than Toyota, I suppose, but why would you want to run that risk?)

[ Parent ]
Cory Doctrow, internet deity, happy mutant and boingboing founder on why he left Mac (0.00 / 0)
DS: What's the deal with your Linux switch? You used to be a Mac guy, right?

CD: Yup, I mean, obviously, always Linux on the server, yeah, but I was always Mac on the desktop for a long time, starting with Apple II Plusses in 1979, and then Macs all my life-one or two a year minimum over the years.

DS: What prompted the switch, and what do you think so far?

CD: Well, there are a couple things-the DRM stuff keeps getting worse and worse. It seems like every time I turned around, Apple is doing something with its OS to add more bullshit to it. More DRM, more controls on how users use it....They're anti-features. There's no customer who woke up this morning and said, "Gosh, I wish there was a way I could do less with my music this morning-I hope there's an iTunes update waiting for me."

So, it just seemed to me, increasingly, that Apple wasn't making computers to suit my needs; they were making computers to suit the needs of some theoretical entertainment giant. And, you know, I think that's their business if they want to do it, but they're not a charity, so if they don't want to make the stuff I want to buy, I don't have to buy it. Which is exactly what I did-I stopped buying it.

DS: And this despite the noises that Steve Jobs keeps making about removing DRM from the iTunes store?

CD: ...they keep saying that. Meanwhile...Audible...has the exclusive contract to deliver audiobooks to the iTunes store-and is now actually the largest audiobook seller in the world by far (they're owned by Amazon now), and Audible won't turn the DRM off on their audiobooks, even when the authors and the publishers ask them to. And, it's not just when it's a weird little indie. With my latest book Little Brother, the audio edition is published by Random House audio-they're the largest publisher in the world; they're part of Bertlesmann....So, you know, if Steve Jobs really felt like he didn't want DRM, he would be setting things up so there were competitors of Audible in the iTunes store who were offering stuff without DRM.

...Meanwhile you have Steve Jobs running around saying-at one point he made this big speech-how you should never allow your videos to be available in HD if you're a movie studio executive, unless you are assured that no one is going to make an HD burner or ripper that will be capable of making your DVDs....So it seems awfully mealy-mouthed, basically.  


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either) (0.00 / 0)
The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a "consumer," what William Gibson memorably described as "something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote."

There is so much more to this article that needs reading, so many links to search.

If you dont't know this link, bookmark it. Then pay-up and join them.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
A bit over the top, I think (0.00 / 0)
I've created a lot of content on a Mac, and find it to be a superior tool for the purpose. Linux and Windows are equally good, if different. I still want a decent electronic book reader, browser, hand-held video viewer, etc. -- a multi-purpose consumption device, if you like.

Copyright in this country is insane, for all the reasons you note above, and which others, Lawrence Lessig, for example, have addressed in greater detail elsewhere. You can hardly blame Steve Jobs exclusively for that. I'd also point out that despite the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, there are still thousands of books in the public domain, available from the Gutenberg Project, et al. The future is another matter, but the future needs to be addressed more broadly, as you have done, I admit, as well as any of us.

I should also say that I spent my career in an academic library, and I can tell you that Elsevier and John Wiley were -- and possibly still are -- far worse rip-off artists than Steve Jobs could ever hope to be. Still, like I say, this doesn't add up to me to be a reason to demonize a gadget. It's another symptom, perhaps, of something we need to fix, but no way is a cause.

[ Parent ]
Better tools exist than ones that dont serve you. (0.00 / 0)
Its not that bad is faint praise. There are better tools. As citizens we should demand them.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
But that's it, exactly.... (0.00 / 0)
The tool in question does serve me, despite what you see as its limitations, and at the moment, I don't see a better one out there for my purposes. YMMV, of course.

[ Parent ]
Tablet Computing Has Been Around For Years (0.00 / 0)
If you want non-Apple tablet computing, there are several to choose from.  Most have been around for years and are completely open.

They just don't sell very well because they, apparently, suck.

I don't have a problem with the requirement of the approval process, per se.  This requirement, though, seems to over the top.

[ Parent ]
I said pretty much exactly the same thing. (0.00 / 0)
"Flash bad, but anticompetitive practices still also bad"

[ Parent ]

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