More often than not, politics can be annoying… So, a bunch of people finished a big meeting in Bali about climate change and how to deal with it. How did they do?
“This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change,” said Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, who served as conference president, at the conclusion of the talks.
Gee, that sounds swell. I have a feeling that Witoelar was prepared to say that even if a big turd had dropped from the sky and landed just outside of the conference hall. The way this breakthrough was achieved was:
The EU and US agreed to drop binding targets; then the EU and China agreed to soften language on commitments from developing countries.
Err, so they reached a deal without binding targets and with soft language about commitments. What kind of deal is that? Certainly not a breakthrough. The real statement to go with a meeting like this is:
“We have effectively managed to hold off any real decision making for two more years.”
Bruce Schneier has often spoken out against “security theater” (if you don’t know that term, it’s worth reading his new article). In Schneier on Security: In Praise of Security Theater, Schneier actually talks about the real pros and cons of security theater and instances in which it even makes sense. I don’t read tons of security-related material, but this is the best accessible, high-level description I’ve seen for “how to think intelligently about security”. This kind of thing should be a must-read for our members of Congress.
This is the best summary of why electronic voting machines are a problem. I’ve certainly been aware (and scared) of the issues for some time, but there are a lot of people that aren’t. This is a good one to forward around to people you know who aren’t aware of the issues. This is a really important issue to fix before the next election, and only some people in the government are aware and care about this issue.
Schneier on Security: Voting Technology and Security
Last week in Florida’s 13th Congressional district, the victory margin was only 386 votes out of 153,000. There’ll be a mandatory lawyered-up recount, but it won’t include the almost 18,000 votes that seem to have disappeared. The electronic voting machines didn’t include them in their final tallies, and there’s no backup to use for the recount. The district will pick a winner to send to Washington, but it won’t be because they are sure the majority voted for him. Maybe the majority did, and maybe it didn’t. There’s no way to know.
British believe Bush more dangerous than Kim Jong-il | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country’s reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Bush is not acting alone. He’s acting in concert with an almost completely docile Congress. In the past few years, we’ve seen our civil rights eroded (some of these bad laws will hopefully still get challenged in the courts!), a war started under false pretexts drag on and on because of complete mismanagement, completely unrealistic spending (and borrowing!) on taxpayer behalf, an environmental policy (and policies in general) that ignore science, etc. We’re also in danger of losing our very democracy to an appalling rollout of flawed election technology.
Contrary to what people might think, I am not a liberal. Or a Democrat. In fact, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I’m a registered Republican. If anything, I tend toward the Libertarians (though not far enough that way to actually vote for Libertarians). I believe in the basic freedoms given to us by the Constitution (which I guess makes me socially liberal), but I believe in running a fiscally conservative and responsible government.
If you don’t want to see your rights eroded further and more money stolen from your pockets, vote Democratic on Tuesday to ensure that, at least for the next two years, the overwhelming pace of outrageous lawmaking will finally come to a halt.
Probably one of the best articles you’ll see with a succinct message about how we’re doing all of the wrong things in the face of a terrorist threat:
Schneier on Security: What the Terrorists Want
Another thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the British government arrested the 23 suspects without fanfare. Imagine that the TSA and its European counterparts didn’t engage in pointless airline-security measures like banning liquids. And imagine that the press didn’t write about it endlessly, and that the politicians didn’t use the event to remind us all how scared we should be. If we’d reacted that way, then the terrorists would have truly failed.
Scan This Book! by Kevin Kelly is likely the best summary you’re going to find of the state of a massive “holds everything” library and some of the copyright issues around that.
Wikipedia has a great article about Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. The reaction to Colbert’s routine from the media is interesting, because Colbert was definitely roasting the media in addition to the President. But, this is the age of the net. Even if the mainstream media decides not to talk about Colbert’s speech or show actual funny clips, millions have already caught the video online.
A conservative magazine (Human Events) enlisted some folks to name the
Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries
Not surprisingly, The Communist Manifesto topped the list by a wide margin. The amusing part, and I wouldn’t be posting this if there wasn’t one, is #10 General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by Keynes. Here’s part of the Human Events summary:
The book is a recipe for ever-expanding government. When the business cycle threatens a contraction of industry, and thus of jobs, he argued, the government should run up deficits, borrowing and spending money to spur economic activity. FDR adopted the idea as U.S. policy, and the U.S. government now has a $2.6-trillion annual budget and an $8-trillion dollar debt.
Regardless of what one may think of FDR, the fact is that he had some pretty difficult challenges as President (the Great Depression and World War II). And yep, he did run up the debt. What’s funny though is that this paragraph wants to saddle the Democrat FDR with our current $8 trillion debt, which is more largely attributable to Republicans Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.
Robert Steinback’s op-ed in the Miami Herald, Fear destroys what bin Laden could not is a very nicely written piece that makes an important point about one of the things that makes America great (individual liberty) and why we should be trying to defend that.