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Quality Standards

An aside prompted by studying for the PMI exam…

Isn't it odd that the term “quality standards” is common? A “standard” is voluntary by its very nature (ANSI goes so far as to say “voluntary consensus standard”) and is generally developed by mutual agreement. One does not have to comply with a standard but it is strongly encouraged. One hopes that complying with a standard would make a product compatible with another, but that's not always the case. I'll avoid the usual discussion of the “embrace and extend” strategy for now.

So, when it comes to specifying quality, one shouldn't call it a “quality standard” one should call it a “quality requirement.” A product or project must meet a specified level of quality to be acceptable. It's no wonder people often forget that quality is part of a project's constraints when changes have to be made.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Thursday, Oct 26 2006 09:51 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

SEFORA Commercials

Scientists and Engineers for America has highlighted three community-submitted commercials on their blog. The first is quite nice, but has a subtle quirk: it lingers on an image of the World Trade Center and another of prices at a gas station. The second is a total left-wing hit job, focused on funding embryonic stem cell research, imposition of a 33 mpg standard, and intelligent design. The third is kinda tepid, but is a reasonable pitch.

By no means am I a supporter of Intelligent Design, but I do feel there are alternatives to mandated fuel economy standards and embryonic stem research. Does that make me a support of “more of the same?” I find it interesting that the second commercial makes use of the word “responsible” which I highlighted as a code word for left wing viewpoints on contentious scientific issues. If this word is used it makes a scientific argument into a moral argument, and anything goes. SEFORA is supposed to be about science, not ideology.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Thursday, Oct 26 2006 08:47 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

min-width, max-width, and IE7

I made max-width on main entries 45em, min-width big enough for my ads at the bottom, and got rid of the Javascript to make IE support these css attributes now that IE7 is ready for the general public.

Please upgrade to IE7 if you haven't. (And Firefox 2 for that matter.)

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 10:26 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Bush Endorses Competing on the Edge

Realizing that “Stay the Course” sounded a little too much like Farragut's “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” President Bush has begun emphasizing a strategy of flexibility in contrast to the staid tone of his earlier catchphrase.

Changing his language to emphasize “flexibility” over “staying the course,” Bush said the coalition is adapting its strategy to guarantee a win. The president also reassured Americans that despite the lengthy deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq, America is winning the War on Terror.

From a business warrior's standpoint this is an emphasis of the “Competing on the Edge” strategy over the “Core Competence” model. It's about time. Core Competence emphasizes sustainable advantages and long-term dominance whereas Competing on the Edge emphasizes generating a continuous flow of advantages and reinvention in the face of competition. Amongst its goals it getting out of the mode of reacting to enemies, instead leading to anticipate and eventually lead in the marketplace.

The strategy in the Global War on Terror needs to be adaptive enough to deal with the hundreds of terrorists cells out there working independently to harm us. Our goal is clear: prevent terrorist attacks on Americans and our allies, but the sub-goals also need to be coherent. I believed tha the tactic of invading Iraq had great goals: remove a terror sponsor; concentrate terrorists on troops, not citizens; allow the exit from Saudi Arabia which inflamed many; remove access to WMDs thought to be owned by Saddam; give us a border with Iran and Syria. Only some of these have been successful. The web did catch a lot of terrorists. We did remove Saddam. However, Iran and Syria seem more of a threat now than those short years ago. There has been too much chaos.

Competing on the Edge is all about finding the right balance between terror and tyranny. While I won't recant the entire book, it's about a series of traps and how to find the balance between them. The first concerns communication and structure with the two extremes of chaos and bureaucracy and the balancing point being improvisation. If anything, the American approach seems far too structured to support improvisation, and any mistakes made improvising are immediately pounced upon by political elements scoring points. One message is clear, communications within the allied efforts are hardly real-time or loosely constructed to find synergies. They are stifled and second-guessed, as Able Danger has proved.

The next balance point involves collaboration, closely related to the above. The traps are “lockstep” where everyone collaborates and must get everyone else's approval for everything or “star” where every organization is out for itself and doesn't look for ways the rest of the organization can help. The US Government is definitely in the star trap. The FBI and CIA and the Defense Department seem as much at war with each other as with the terrorists. The Department of Homeland Security was supposed to fix this. It hasn't. The way out is “coadaption” where specific opportunities to collaborate are identified and driven and it is recognized that each part of the government is unique in its approach to the GWOT. I think we could get to the right place on this one fairly easily.

I could go on, but it's clear that the remaining Competing on the Edge elements of Regeneration, Experimentation, and Time Pacing could be used to balance the US Government's approach to the GWOT, making it flexible enough to deal with the changing threat, but not so flexible as to be chaos. We need to get out ahead of the terrorists and let them dance to our tune instead of us always reacting to their latest threats.

Amazon.com links:

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 08:54 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Dancing Cowboy Mortgage Ad

It looks as though I'm not the only one that hates the dancing cowboy mortgage ad. Like the X10 ads that made sure I would never buy their product because of the obvious voyeurism intended with X10 cameras, I would never refinance my mortgage with an organization that pushes ads with this obnoxious technique. Popovers and page peels are also on my hate list.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 07:43 AM  |  Permalink  |  4 comments  |  No trackbacks

LSB Developer Network

The Free Standards Group (FSG) has launched the LSB Developer Network (LDN) as a resource for Linux developers who want their programs to work across the various Linux distributions by coding to the interfaces defined by the Linux Standards Base (LSB). This should be a great resource for Linux developers interested in having their code run on as many Linux implementations as possible.

Amazon.com links:

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Linux” Tuesday, Oct 24 2006 06:25 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

The Choice

Are we really facing Porktrusters versus My Pet Gloat?

One would expect mainstream Republicans to hate excessive spending and one would expect mainstream Democrats not to wallow in conspiracy theories, but it sure seems like extremist elements rule the day.

Except that the extremists are the ones fighting pork and not believing in conspiracies these days.

Update: Bush tries to answer.

“The Democrats make a lot of predictions,” Bush said. “As a matter of fact, I think they may be measuring the drapes. If their electoral predictions are as reliable as their economic predictions, November 7 is going to be a good day for Republicans.”

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 24 2006 03:41 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Oh, We Owe, We Ooooowe

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 24 2006 12:04 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

IBM Files Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Amazon.com

Of course I can not and will not comment on this lawsuit, but I can point you at the official IBM press release about it.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Monday, Oct 23 2006 09:19 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

NYT Wrong To Publish SWIFT Exposé

The New York Times ombudsman finally admitted it was wrong to expose the SWIFT data mining efforts. (HT Michelle Malkin.) It wasn't against the law, they only looked at terrorists, and it not exactly secret, just not well-known.

It's about time.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Sunday, Oct 22 2006 09:01 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Costco Bans Guns

According to Keep And Bear Arms Costco doesn't want people to carry guns in its stores. They've never harassed me about it, but then again I don't open carry. Perhaps I should cancel my membership anyway.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns” Thursday, Oct 19 2006 03:56 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

IE7 Adds Lipstick To Porcine Web Browser

I have to agree with Walt Mossberg's column reviewing Internet Explorer version 7:

If you are a confirmed IE user, upgrading to this new version makes perfect sense, because it is likely to be more secure and its new features make Web browsing better. But if you are already using Firefox, IE's main competitor, I see nothing in IE 7 that should make you switch. It's mostly a catch-up release, adding to IE some features long present in Firefox and other browsers.

The only thing that prevents me from trying to excise Internet Explorer from every machine in my house is the stubborn insistence a small but diminishing number of web sites have for IE-only web browsing.

What's worse than IE's security is its standards support and at least that has been brought up to par with version 7. I hope people will upgrade so I don't have to keep putting cheap hacks into my web pages.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Thursday, Oct 19 2006 01:29 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


Well, one always expects the first scratch soon after getting a new car… but I just found out the “Top Banana” was backed into and had the driver's side all crunched up. First estimate back is $2500 of damage.


Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Wednesday, Oct 18 2006 05:17 PM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks


Instapundit predicts the GOP will lose and lists why it is deserved. My biggest issue has been pork, not social conservatism, immigration, or war. The GOP has always proclaimed themselves to be on top of the spending problem, and promised lower taxes and less invasiveness of government as a result. Not so in the Bush presidency. Bush's father lost because he raised taxes. I think the son will fall because he failed to veto anything significant. (No, stem cell research is not significant.)

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Monday, Oct 16 2006 12:52 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Dumped Individual Technorati Link

Technorati, which gets pinged by me for every post as required, with a valid embed below, thinks this blog hasn't been updated in over 100 days. I've dumped the individual entry link from each entry. Maybe now it will think I'm a good boy and recognize my updates.

I even did the rel="bookmark" for permalinks they suggested!


Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Monday, Oct 16 2006 12:28 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

PMP Exam Imminent

I'm scheduled for a PMP Exam on Friday, November 10th. Pre-tests have me passing, but just barely. I'm officially in crunch mode.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Sunday, Oct 15 2006 09:37 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Cowboy Blob Photoshopper Extreme

I love Cowboy Blob's photoshopping (it's one of the reasons he's on my blogroll, another is frequent submissions to the Carnival of Cordite), he's not always safe for the kids, but he always has some gems:


Keep it up!

Update: Oops! It wasn't one of his photoshops!

Here's one of his for sure:


Josh Poulson

Posted in category “General” Friday, Oct 13 2006 08:25 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Pac. Nw. Shooting Park v. City of Sequim

In a setback, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against Pacific Northwest Shooting Park, finding that statewide preemption applies only to criminal matters and not civil ones where a municipality or county “acts in a capacity that is comparable to that of a private party.” This is likely to have far-reaching effects.

I have noted before that preemption prevented municipalities and counties from restricting concealed carry on their various properties but with this ruling I predict the return to a multitude of new regulations to harass our people and eat out their substance. There is a glimmer of light in the opinion of the court:

The critical point is that the conditions the city imposed related to a permit for private use of its property. They were not laws or regulations of application to the general public.

Even so, this still implies any private function on public land can now have municipal restrictions on concealed carry.

Still, the court is being disingenuous here. Governments within the state are not private citizens, and they are of course restricted by RCW 9.41.290. Look at how it's worded:

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Clearly a contractual agreement has the force of the municipality behind it, and municipalities are specifically preempted from regulating firearms. Regulating by contract is not sufficiently different than regulating by ordinance or policy, especially when it affects the actions of the general public (and the general public is indeed invited to gun shows). Even if they were renting out the convention center for a wedding, this sort of contractual clause runs afoul of preemption. Cities that own public property and use that power to create the effect of regulation are sufficiently appearing to regulate in my humble opinion, and RCW 4.91.290 was specifically written to preempt such regulation.

The problem crops up in RCW 9.41.300. Convention centers are called out for local regulation except for CCW or “any showing, demonstration, or lecture involving the exhibition of firearms.” Yeah, they managed to weasel on that point. A gun show is not concealed carry or an showing, demonstration, or lecture. It is a gathering to trade firearms.

Except the section right after the above says this:

(3)(a) Cities, towns, and counties may enact ordinances restricting the areas in their respective jurisdictions in which firearms may be sold, but, except as provided in (b) of this subsection, a business selling firearms may not be treated more restrictively than other businesses located within the same zone. An ordinance requiring the cessation of business within a zone shall not have a shorter grandfather period for businesses selling firearms than for any other businesses within the zone.
(b) Cities, towns, and counties may restrict the location of a business selling firearms to not less than five hundred feet from primary or secondary school grounds, if the business has a storefront, has hours during which it is open for business, and posts advertisements or signs observable to passersby that firearms are available for sale. A business selling firearms that exists as of the date a restriction is enacted under this subsection (3)(b) shall be grandfathered according to existing law.

So, weaseling is not enough. It's pretty clear that gun shows cannot be treated any differently than any other show. Unless the City of Sequim has boilerplate on the sales of firearms to anyone renting the convention center, the gun show in question was treated differently because they were selling firearms!

Justice Richard B. Sanders's dissent is great:

The majority concludes Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association (PNSPA) insufficiently pleaded a claim of tortious interference with a business expectancy because its complaints do not specifically state it expected to do business with vendors and the general public. The majority is wrong. A pleading is sufficient so long as it provides notice of the general nature of the claim asserted. The nature of PNSPA's claim is pellucid and its complaints entirely adequate. It alleges tortious interference with its expectation of hosting a gun show. No additional specificity is required.
Furthermore, the majority concludes RCW 9.41.300, which prohibits municipalities from regulating gun shows, permits municipalities to regulate gun shows. I am nonplussed. The statute means what it says. City of Sequim lacked authority to regulate PNSPA's gun show.

Justice James M. Johnson's dissent was also pretty harsh:

I concur with the dissent; however, I write separately in order to briefly clarify Washington law regarding firearms and their sale, which was misstated or improperly applied by the police chief here. This is particularly important as the Washington constitutional right “of the individual citizen to bear arms” could have also been implicated in this case. Whether this right includes a corollary constitutional right to sell or trade firearms need not be decided since Washington statutory law, correctly understood, allows the sales. I concur with the dissent.
Police Chief Nelson made a significant legal error in his April 11, 2002 memo, which he personally distributed. The memo restricted gun sales at the show in a manner not allowed by Washington law. It is difficult to find that a law enforcement officer, who surely had access to the RCWs, could incorrectly state the law in good faith.

I have edited citations out of the opinions here for brevity. Check out the opinions directly for full text and the background information.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Guns, Politics” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 12:16 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

Fixing Site Styles

Tired of this site looking like crap in Internet Explorer, I figured out how to force IE to put rounded corners and support CSS max-width. It was more effort than I'd like to admit. As my copyright box now says, I have two sources to thank:

Nifty Corners” code for rounded corners was developed and released by Alessandro Fulciniti and is usable for free without modification.
MinMax” code for forcing Internet Explorer to support CSS max-width was developed and released by Andrew Clover and is usable for free.

I have a few things to tweak still, but the core work is done. Of course, you have to have Javascript enabled to see the effects of these two scripts, but it degrades nicely if you don't trust it.

Update: Misty says I should do a “cut off” corner style in honor of Battlestar Galactica. Hrm.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 10:54 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Honey Traps for Bloggers

The steps.

  1. Set up a nice little blog.
  2. Break the comments submission portion of the pages so it cannot successfully post a comment.
  3. Wait for the script kiddies to figure out the name of your submission script and post directly.
  4. Automatically ban, junk, sue, or otherwise cajole any poster that manages to send you a comment, because they cheated.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Blogging” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 09:24 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Mossberg Pans the Sony Reader

The Sony Reader with its long battery life looked cool, but with limited books available for it my only hope was PDF support. I have tons of files in this format (standards, specifications, etc.) I'd like to read in a reader. But Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal drives a nail into that coffin:

But the Reader's claim to display PDF documents proved hollow. In every PDF document I tried, the text was nearly unreadable and the text resizing feature of the Reader didn't help. Sony concedes that PDF documents work well on the Reader only if they are created for the Reader's screen size and resolution.

He calls it a good first draft. Sounds to me like resolution and color need to be dramatically enhanced and perhaps then the PDFs that inundate the web will be readable on it.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 07:11 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

The ACLU's Tax Status

Jay at Stop the ACLU makes a good case for the ACLU losing its tax-exempt status due to direct involvement in political campaigns.

The ACLU has consistently abused its tax exempt status by claiming to be non-partisan. However, a simple glimpse at the ACLU’s record shows many examples of how this is untrue.

The latest non-partisan advertisement from the ACLU attacks Joe Lieberman as soft on civil rights. It appears to be entirely in support of Ned Lamont, the Democratic candidate.

At least the NRA/ILA (the political arm of the NRA) can point out that it has supported candidates on both sides of the aisle based on their positions on a single issue. The ACLU has championed several issues on one side of the aisle and refuses to recognize the second amendment as defining a right. They are selective in the civil rights they champion and which candidates they support.

The amusing point of his note points out that the ACLU tried to remove the tax-exempt status of churches that attacked candidates on the basis of their stand on abortion, yet maintained that they were non-partisan.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 06:25 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

I Want This Whiteboard

We have a normal whiteboard in the homeschool room, but this one looks really cool:

(Found via Digital Journal, hat tip to Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator fnord)

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Technology” Wednesday, Oct 11 2006 06:45 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Proposed SEFORA Bill of Responsibilities

With all rights come responsibilities. I propose the following as a SEFORA “Bill of Responsibilities” for the organization, its leaders, and its members:

There are these corollary consequences to the stated SEFORA Bill of Rights for Scientists and Engineers:

  1. SEFORA shall not assert any position as true or valid without providing scientifically rigorous reasoning and clear documentation of axioms, research, and data supporting that position. SEFORA members will exhibit the same rigor and diligence SEFORA expects of other scientists and governments.
  2. SEFORA shall not protest published claims as false, invalid, or misleading without providing clear documentation of well-established truths contrary to the position being criticized. Where there is debate on an issue, SEFORA will hold accountable those who claim established truths where there is no consensus.
  3. SEFORA will not issue a statement about the SEFORA's membership without first ascertaining by consensus that the membership accepts the statement as true of them.
  4. SEFORA members shall hold others accountable for sloppy, contrived, or ideologically-driven research, analysis, or positions. SEFORA members are expected to immediately correct sloppy, contrived, or ideologically-driven scientific positions or publications where they are authors, reviewers, or participants.
  5. SEFORA members may hold scientifically rigorous contrary positions without fear of reprisal.
  6. SEFORA leadership positions and committee memberships shall be appointed based on the candidate’s scientific qualifications, not political affiliation or ideology.
  7. SEFORA shall support any science education programs that promote historical accuracy, scientific rigor, critical thinking, and truth-seeking. SEFORA members will seek out candidate science education programs and inform the membership of their existence.
  8. SEFORA decisions on policies and issues shall be made as the result of a fair, transparent, and participatory process.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 10 2006 06:34 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

It Wasn't a Nuke?

Several leaks say the North Koreans didn't detonate a nuke yesterday according to Bill Gertz of the Washingotn Times, Michael Yon at The Corner, and Fox News does a round-up and their own digging. Dud theories were already going around yesterday based on the lower-than-expected seismic readings from the event.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 10 2006 02:58 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Scientists and Engineers for America

Prompted by a Wall Street Journal editorial “Under the Microscope”, I looked into the Scientists and Engineers for America. I was intrigued by the editorial's assertion:

The more disturbing disingenuousness here involves the suggestion in some SEA statements that there is such a thing as absolute, accurate science—a body of facts—that is beyond further investigation. And that certain subjects or findings are not open to interpretation or discussion by nonscientists, including policy makers. In other words, when Americans raise questions about the moral implications of, say, stem-cell research, they are trumping science with “ideology.” Presumably, those who disagree have no ideology or political agenda, only factual knowledge on a case that is closed.

So I went and looked, expecting some horrible political grandstanding about stem cell research or global warming. Most of the statements on the site are innocuous.

I did find a blog post on global warming as well as a fairly partisan statement here:

Concerned about the ideological and partisan manipulation of science, compromising of scientific integrity and harassment of scientists by the Bush Administration and Congress, leaders in the scientific and engineering communities announced the launch of a new organization on Wednesday, September 27th. The group, called Scientists and Engineers for America, is a 527 political organization that will focus on the need to address the current state of science policy by electing new political leadership.
Over the last several years, scientists have come under political assault and the integrity of science has been compromised. The attacks have ranged from White House rewriting an Environmental Protection Agency report on global warming, to veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, to the promotion of intelligent design to disseminating inaccurate scientific information on federal websites.

Okay, that's pretty anti-GOP, but there's nothing wrong with that. GOP pandering to evangelical influencers is a long tradition and directly conflicts with the long scientific tradition. I'm one of those Internet Libertarians that popped up when freethinkers were able to (literally) network. Despite this strong kickoff post on the blog, most of the things on the organization's site are appealing to me. I'm a science buff, and a critical thinking buff.

Also on the blog is a call to stop the

…politicalization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA).

This one is troubling. The NOAA supposedly stripped comments linking global warming and hurricane strength because of legitimate concerns over the science. However, NOAA also forbade scientists from discussing the issue with the press. The first item is, of course, debatable and debate is healthy. The second item is unacceptable and there is evidence of suppressing the scientists in the form of emails and other materials.

Enough of the blog, let's look at their agenda. On the surface it's all clean, but each item has a link. Under the surface of the energy item we find a line item supporting the Kyoto “emission reduction unit” pay-for-pollution scheme:

Create tradable permits in greenhouse gases or equivalent incentives to encourage innovation and drive investment in cost-effective technologies;

I'm not a Kyoto fan. There are thousands of scientists who also don't like it. I don't like Kyoto being touted as a plank in the SEFORA agenda. However, I do support basic research funding (as opposed to public funding of technology productization efforts) and there is a call for that here.

Under health:

Remove inappropriate limits on stem cell research and reproductive health policy;

What “inappropriate” means here is the loaded question. The use of the word inappropriate leaves the comfortable environs of science and delves directly into the sphere of morality. If the purpose of SEFORA is to develop tools to separate fact from opinion in order to have a good debate on the morals of a course of action I'm all for it. If they have pre-supposed moral conclusions I will challenge them.

The word “inappropriate” is used again in the education section:

Ensure that inappropriate security concerns do not block American access to the best students and researchers from around the world.

I wonder what an inappropriate security concern is in the context of a scientific debate. Risk analysis is a science. Political analysis is a guessing game. Collaborating with and training new scientists is a straightforward process, but if those scientists are researching particular technologies in countries with particular political climates it does become a security concern. What scientific tools will SEFORA bring to this arena?

The rest of the education section is so good, however, that I can't help but support it. Especially the core statement:

America’s prosperity and security in the twenty-first century depend on our ability to develop scientific and technical talent. Quality of education and equality of educational opportunity are essential to compete in a tightly interconnected global economy. A firm grasp of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is essential for all Americans and so we must ensure that talent is identified, encouraged, and supported without prejudice.

I did not pick up a undercurrent of foregone conclusions or stifled debate in what I read of the web site. There are some issues that cause me concern, but I'm willing to see how they develop.

I joined SEFORA this morning. It was a leap of faith.

Update: I forgot to mention the SEFORA “Bill of Rights” for Scientists and Engineers:

Effective government depends on accurate, honest and timely advice from scientists and engineers. Science demands an open, transparent process of review and access to the best scholars from around the nation and the world. Mistakes dangerous to the nation’s welfare and security have been made when governments prevent scientists from presenting the best evidence and analysis. Americans should demand that all candidates support the following Bill of Rights:
  1. Federal policy shall be made using the best available science and analysis both from within the government and from the rest of society.
  2. The federal government shall never intentionally publish false or misleading scientific information nor post such material on federal websites.
  3. Scientists conducting research or analysis with federal funding shall be free to discuss and publish the results of unclassified research after a reasonable period of review without fear of intimidation or adverse personnel action.
  4. Federal employees reporting what they believe to be manipulation of federal research and analysis for political or ideological reasons should be free to bring this information to the attention of the public and shall be protected from intimidation, retribution or adverse personnel action by effective enforcement of Whistle Blower laws.
  5. No scientists should fear reprisals or intimidation because of the results of their research.
  6. Appointments to federal scientific advisory committees shall be based on the candidate’s scientific qualifications, not political affiliation or ideology.
  7. The federal government shall not support any science education program that includes instruction in concepts that are derived from ideology and not science.
  8. While scientists may elect to withhold methods or studies that might be misused there shall be no federal prohibition on publication of basic research results. Decisions made about blocking the release of information about specific applied research and technologies for reasons of national security shall be the result of a transparent process. Classification decisions shall be made by trained professionals using a clear set of published criteria and there shall be a clear process for challenging decisions and a process for remedying mistakes and abuses of the classification system.

The way whistle blower statutes are supposed to work is that when someone cannot correct a criminal situation through their normal avenues they may be protected from retaliation if they go public with the information. While the NOAA event about was dishonest, it wasn't criminal. I'm not sure what they expect to accomplish with item 4. As for #7, I suggest The Joy of Science by The Teaching Company as core curriculum.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 10 2006 10:33 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Labor Department Finds 810,000 Jobs

Newsbusters noticed that the Labor Department corrected jobs data for the year ending this past March. They found 810,000 jobs missing from the original figures.

The networks made no mention of the change, which increased the Bush job record to 6.6 million new jobs since August 2003. In all, that's 37 straight months of positive job growth—averaging nearly 180,000 jobs per month.

The networks must be awfully distracted with negative stories to miss an obvious winner like this one.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Tuesday, Oct 10 2006 10:03 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Taepo Dong Range Graphic

When I first saw this image on Michelle Malkin's blog, I first looked for my house.


Then I looked for Iraq. If Kim Jong Il really wanted to screw things up he'd “strike a blow to free Iraq.” I really don't like that idea.

Enough people are afraid North Korea will sell their nukes to the terrorists that they've already imagined the insurgents blowing up something in Iraq, or Hamas/Hezbollah doing something similar in Israel, but “Lil'Kim” is enough of a narcissist to do it himself.

Or imagine him hitting Iran and blaming it on us or the Israelis. How many would believe we did it instead of him?

It's been a rough day.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Oct 9 2006 02:20 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Secure Fence Act

Present Bush has not signed the Secure Fence Act, which was to pay for a 700 mile fence along the most-transgressed parts of the Mexican border. This legislation may become Bush's second veto, even if it only a pocket variety. (Bush's first veto regarded stem cell research.)

That Bush has failed to veto much chapped my hide in the 2004 election, now finally a spending bill goes under. However, it's sure to annoy those Republicans that passed this gesture in hopes of appearing tough on illegal aliens.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Monday, Oct 9 2006 12:48 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

North Korea Tests Nuclear Device

Well, the North Koreans went and did it, either to create chaos, or gain respect, or intimidate, or something. The usual bickering about the details has started, but the main points appear to be these:

  1. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Seoul, South Korea, today;
  2. South Korean Ban Ki-Moon became Secretary General of the United Nations yesterday; and
  3. Elections in the US sure seem to be coming up fast.

Don't bother questioning the timing. Kim Jong Il is a notorious grandstander.

Update: Okay, Ban Ki-Moon is not yet the secretary general, but the formal vote to nominate him was today.

Update: A second blast of a similar size.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Monday, Oct 9 2006 08:12 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Google To Buy YouTube?

According to the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch, the “do no evil” company that self-censors content for Chinese customers is in talks to buy a video service that censors content for liberals. Rumored valuation is $1.6B.

10/9 Update: The WSJ says the $1.65B deal will be announced after the market closes today.

10/9 After Market Close Update: It's a done deal. Reportedly YouTube will remain relatively independent within the Google hegemony. No news on whether YouTube will cease “doing evil.”

According to Google:

When the acquisition is complete, YouTube will retain its distinct brand identity, strengthening and complementing Google’s own fast-growing video business. YouTube will continue to be based in San Bruno, CA, and all YouTube employees will remain with the company. With Google’s technology, advertiser relationships and global reach, YouTube will continue to build on its success as one of the world's most popular services for video entertainment.

This does not bode well for a lack of evil:

The separate agreements with CBS, Vivendi's Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment come less than a month after YouTube reached a deal with Warner Music Group Corp. On Friday, Google was reported to be in talks to acquire the video site for $1.6 billion.

So, now we have “fake but accurate” CBS and “rootkit” Sony in the mix with “no gun rights” CNN/Time-Warner.

Do I have any more high-tech bridges I can burn in this posting?

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Business” Friday, Oct 6 2006 08:43 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Battlestar Galactica Season 3

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 officially kicks off this Friday, and the Sci-Fi channel is showing a preview of the first act.

My impressions in the full entry. Spoiler alert for those that have not watched the preview.

Seems straightforward. Four different people are tortured in the first act, with varying results. We are shown why they are being tortured (the bombing). All of them (Tigh, Adama, Kara, Ellen) are being tortured mentally, not physically. Adama's torture is his feeling of leaving people behind (why else would they recap that?).

I think they are showing the difference between the way humans fight and love (visceral, physical, raw) with the way Cylons fight (mental, calculating, a little OCD). When the Cylons were reduced to fighting *our* way they slaughtered almost everyone, but they are fascinated with humans. They feel they are missing something humans have. Is it passion? The only passionate players in Act 1 were humans. The happiest were destroying things. The saddest were toys of love.

For a steak knife it sure looked like a tactical folder. Nice trick. They made us focus on the knife (it looked like a fighting knife) when the innocuous fork became the murder weapon. I'm glad for the payoff of using that knife to eat her steak.

Another nice trick was giving the viewers the impression that a suicide bombing was coming up. Vaguely middle eastern music. Preparations and scene jumping that made us feel like there were flashbacks. Was Ellen sending a soldier off to battle? Were we going to lose Tigh? Ellen? Tyrol?

I look forward to this season.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Science Fiction” Wednesday, Oct 4 2006 08:55 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

More Help Migrating to Linux

IBM has released version two of the Redbook Linux Client Migration Cookbook. It should be a useful free resource for those looking to migrate to Linux on the desktop. While primarily focused on IT, others can benefit from the chapters on technical differences and integration how--tos.

Full disclosure: I work for IBM in the Linux Technology Center.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Linux” Monday, Oct 2 2006 06:21 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Deducting Your Sales Tax from Your Income Tax

An extension of the sales tax deduction from the Federal Income Tax didn't make it this year as congress has gone home and won't return before the October 15th deadline for changes to this year's tax code. My congressman, Brian Baird, and my Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray actively campaigned for an extension of the tax code change allowing for this deduction. It's not unnoticed by me that all three are Democrats campaigning for what is a tax cut.

A lot of people retire to states like Washington and Florida because there is no income tax. Apparently the greedy guts in Congress want to at least soak them for sales taxes, too, despite other states having deductible income taxes.

The Republican National Committee has called me repeatedly looking for money for campaigns and I have flatly turned them down this year because spending is ridiculous. While I appreciate the tax cuts they've delivered in the past, I have to notice this another miss.

In my last call with a RNC telemarketer I actually said, “Perhaps gridlock is better than what we have now, because a Republican-controlled Congress, Senate, and Presidency spends money like water.”

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics” Sunday, Oct 1 2006 10:13 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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