Saturday, May 23, 2009

Truth Stranger Than 'Strangelove'

"Dr. Strangelove," Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film about nuclear-war plans run amok, seems like a hideously funny satire but is a remarkably fact-based and specific guide to some of the oddest, most secretive chapters of the Cold War, says Fred Kaplan.Does this make it funnier, or more frightening?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Decline to Sign

Why do I decline to sign
Referendum 71? It's bad design
Attacks the bond of love divine
Between adults, like friends of mine
Who together have stood since '79;
They raised a son, both strong and fine;
They worked, paid taxes, toed the line,
To Marty and Bronze, I raise a stein
And toast the loving union thine;
And that is why that rightwing whine
( Referendum 71 ) I decline to sign.

(P.S. Don't you think it's a little creepy
When others obsess with whom you sleepy?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Twitter Democratizes News Feeds

News from people & organizations that you care about is a niche Twitter fills better than its current competitors. The converse is also true: it lets people who care about you & your organization get news about you easily. The result is a huge democratization of "News You Can Use".
  • Anyone can feed the news! It is trivially easy to set up a Twitter feed about yourself or their organization; simply set up a Twitter account and start posting news. This can be the headlines of the same press releases you send out by other means, with a link to your site for the full information.
  • Anyone can read your news. Potential readers simply "Follow" you, and it comes to their preferred device, e.g. cellphone or laptop. This is a lot simpler for the user than RSS feeds or Google Reader and much more customizable than news web sites.
  • Networking. Sharing twitters with others is easy. This makes every users a judge of what information is worth sharing. This democratization of the news has plusses and minusses similar to other information democratization efforts (e.g. wikipedia), but like them, it's not going to go away so you might as well get used to it.
  • Filtering. Twitter is deservedly mocked for silly content (e.g. "Britney Spears is getting a hair cut") but readers interested in more serious topics can simply choose not to follow Britney's account. Unlike conventional news aggregators, the Twitter default is to "ignore"; you proactively choose what to follow.
  • Efficient writing. Twitter compels brevity. This is good.
  • Add-Ons. It appears to be so easy to code add-ons to twitter that just keeping track of them could be a chore. Out of this explosion of creativity, a few great ones will rise. My current favorite is twitterfeed, which twitters blog postings so that (for example) this very post will get twitted soon and I don't have to do any extra work!


  • I'm interested in news about justices matter, media manipulation of the news, and my relatives. Therefore I follow the Twitters of accesstojustice, Media Matters for America, and several frieand my close relatives.
  • I furnish news about free Continuing Legal Education, and about my other interests. therefore I provide the Twitters 4freeCLE and rewinn.

Why Not?

If you provide news of any sort, ask yourself "Why am I not repurposing my content on twitter?"
  • Do you not want your news to reach a wider audience?
  • Are you unable to write a short headline?
  • Do you prefer that your competitors seize the niche?
The entry cost is low, the potential benefit is large and best of all, you'll contributing to the democratization of the news. Therefore, it's a no-brainer: YOU TWIT!
Update: A few tips from

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disbar Torture Enthusiasts

The practice of law is a privilege, not a right. No profession has no room for torturers, and especially not the practice of law.

It is therefore refreshing that the disbarment of torture enthusiasts are being requested. You can join the effort at

If you're into social media, digg it here and submit the site to the usual networking facilities.
Our corporate media is full of torture fans who argue against prosecuting torture lawyers on the specious grounds that they were only offering legal advice, or only following orders. This argument has no merit; to the contrary, every lawyer has an ethical duty not to assist torture with specious work-product. Under no circumstances do either the Model Code of Ethics or the Model Rules of Ethics (every American state incorporates one or the other) require an attorney to assist a client in the commission of a future crime.

This point is often misunderstood by non-lawyers, especially writers of television dramas & movies who need plot points more than accuracy.

A lawyer's duty to the client includes zealous defense of past acts, so that the Government must stay withn the rules that We The People have set up.

However, it is completely unethical knowingly to assist in the commission of FUTURE crimes. This includes inventing justifications for crimes of violence, such as assault, battery, kidnapping, rape, torture and murder.

If a lawyer is asked to participate in a conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, in which the attorney's work product will be used to urge underlings to carry out the violent act, then the lawyer's work is an instrumentality of crime for the provision of which the lawyer can and must be prosecuted, just as can any other co-conspirator.

None of these are novel legal concepts; however, they arise in a new context when, as now, lawyers have been sufficiently evil to join a conspiracy to commit crimes of violence. Don't be fooled by the defenders of torture.

But you may enjoy the delicious irony of the perverts who enjoyed ordering torture, against all law and civilized behavior, now seeking to cover themselves with the same law they shredded.
This is a time to be counted. Are you with torturers or against them?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Tyranny of Dead Ideas by Mark Miller

My review of this is lightheartedly, but I hope accurately, titled "Professor Miller Sounds The Alarm, But Cannot Kill the Zombies Alone!"

Just like the scientist in a horror movie, Miller uses The Tyranny of Dead Ideas to point out to a skeptical world that much of our current policy debates center around ideas that have died, but remain deeply into our American worldview. For example
  • Your employer should take care of you, e.g.  healthcare should come through employment 
  • Schools are a local matter
  • Free trade is always good, no matter how many people it hurts
  • Taxes are always bad, and they are always too high
  • Money follows merit:  wealth and even mere pay increases are based on performance
  • Most poignantly: our children will live better than we did. 
These ideas are dead. Whether or not these ideas should have died is not the issue; they HAVE died and we can no longer ignore their smell. Yet zombielike, the corpses of our old idea wander the land; instead of chanting "Brains!", they shout "Socialist!" or "Fascist!". They eat alive any attempt to solve our problems! Will we escape this horror, or fall prey to the dead ideas? 

Miller's description of these ideas seems straightforward and commonsensical. That in itself is remarkable and useful; clear writing makes itself look easy. We must face squarely the fact that our beloved economic Memes, still beautiful in memory, are now dead. It is our only hope of going beyond them.

What to do with the corpses wandering the landscape is where the book falls down. The prognosis chapters are much slimmer than the diagnosis chapters, and reflect a faith in business leadership that seems ill-placed.

However, this is not a fatal flaw. Once we villagers are made aware of the zombie infestation, and roused to action, then we ourselves can work out what to do. The first thing is to sound the warning persuasively, and that Miller has done.

Read this book, then think and act. We must not let the zombies win!