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September 24, 2005


How about how to get those fancy characters in "papier mâchè" to show up on TypePad? My preferred method? Google "papier mache," click on a web site that has the correct squiggles, then cut and paste.

That's what Democrats call "stealing," and Republicans call "outsourcing."

How about George Miller helping Dick Pombo gut the Endangered Species Act?

Is it a nickel a piece, or for the whole batch?

1. Isn't it kind of weird to assume blacks will prefer an hispanic candidate over a white one? What is the calculus of minority political exchange rates -- 1 black = .8 hispanics, .5 whites, .4 Asians, .2 Jews?

2. Abusing a blind trust is such a compelling metaphor for Republican leaders today. I just love it. ok, that one's not really a question.

3. Airlines are getting hammered by rising fuel prices. Why is it alternative fuels being put in action seem to be from the bottom up rather than big-consumers-down? Surely we'd need to put hundreds or thousands of eco-friendly cars on the road for the impact of a couple of eco-friendlier jumbo jets. (Cities putting green buses on the road have taken up this idea already.)

4. New prison abuse reports put it plainly: "soldiers... routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves." What are we doing wrong that we've got soldiers who think this is fun?

5. What's wrong with me, or with the current structure of blogs, that I know details of Ohio congressional races but would have to think quite a while before I could come up with the name of my own representative?

There's a menu to get started. Pick one from column A and two from column B. Indicate if you want extra spicy.

kagro, your aigu is grave. Google ≠ dictionary.

Who's getting indicted in Plame (and when) and when's (as Cafferty asked on CNN) DeLay getting indicted?

Some parallels are connecting now, or will when Fitzgerald finishes October 18, Real Soon Now.
Brown and Owen were Graham-Kyl-McCain's reward, not, as KX observed yesterday evening, the Dem Senators'; no, Cheney and Frist and Bush are eager to press the avuncular button and end filibuster as it is known. Prefilibuster almost harkens back to pre New Deal.
I even encouraged Floor Leader Reid to chuck the mess onto the Majority Leader's poker table and call his bluff. Avunk them and be darned.
At some level this is about individuality in the new age, character which is developed, perhaps, as it has ungainly on dK but as yet only rarely in public office. Times will progress and ours will be viewed as a quaint time indeed, with all due respect to AG Gonzales and crew.
The same debates that had hungry Hugenots jousting with Robespierre determinists remains the backdrop in this trope.
Nationstates fill their own personnae fulfilling their wildest dreams encapsulating them in organic image. France, Germany, we say. The Old Europe. The next elections turn, and both governments' compositions are bared for their respectively disjointed component parts. Economies move along. The EU movement slows. Schroeder would like to go farther, might, somehow. French retirees remain reassured.
US Wall Street devalues; bluechip pension plans all over the land begin reporting how far their adventurist risk strategies had overstepped.
Some Democrats in the Senate are prepared to speak in floor debate on Roberts; he niftily avoided and deflected each and every barb in the Judiciary Committee last week. When Howard Dean completes the community level reorganization of the Democratic party, a Sen Dean voice would add some color, if he could tolerate the commity in that august chamber, where the marble treads on the stairs are worn by thousands of the best minds and sandals.
Is Bush going to take the rap for climate overheat?, rhetorically we ask; fat chance; ask KR. It was Reagan's fault, you know, Robert's first political sponsor; to be precise, it never was Ron R, but George HWB Sr in control there, you know, a trend issuing since disintegrated Laos then VietNam, GHWB Sr issued forth from that, holding reins of government as surely as Al Haig in a trying sad moment. To return to the overcharged climate topic, it was RR who ascribed cow burps the cause, methane. There is a UC Davis recent attempted repeat on that research, and another in Bakersfield. The methane data utilized evidently very antique cars as the comparison, one cow ruminating in a stall, one antique car idling in a garage, gas chromatograph fractionated the pollution component.
Somehow the science makes more sense when it is published, instead of edited at the political liaison's desk before release to the media; KR's post, and an Achilles heel if ever he had one.
Thing is, come October 18, KR is going to need part time help in the evening, as indictments begin to roll. Though maybe Fitzgerald will begin by accusing more reporters; you know, a phased deployment. Ewheel has done legion advanced research recently here. The Agency and to some degree even the current Foggy B are more aware how this will pan out, in court, protracted. Wrist slap for KR et al., by then SCOTUS is assigning cases for the approaching term; KR can hope for the SCOTUS processes to serve as ephemeral decoys.
There may be a question whether his visceral drive is more partisan or instead personally loyal. The strategy is to shore up Bush's image while required, and hopefully until the passing of the baton in 2008.
My sense is the power struggle between House of Representatives and Senate will liberalize the Senate. Though those future times will be superb for society, the processes to arrive there will remain these contentious and murky melees in which we have lived in the US over the past sixty years, and Roberts will do his utmost to temporize, excusing as wit his urge to restrain civil rights and impede small business.
As his children grow up, he is learning. Fortunately, our children teach us much about ourselves, interpret our world anew for us if we can see. What a Saturday reader might call an Open Threaded panorama.


I'm fairly certain that, no matter what happens with the criminal case, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wilson are still entitled to take a civil case against Karl and friends for loss of livelihood/endangerment and a bunch of other things. Which makes this very different from Iran-Contra. A pardon does not necessarily end this thing.

one more random thought I've had this week. Using the internet as a political tool in China is a risky proposition. In a publicized story last week, a Chinese journalist was arrested for emailing forbidden notes to a Chinese dissident in the US who posted them online. In that case, Yahoo! apparently turned the journalist's identifying info over to the Chinese government.

Taking it for granted that an individual's right to send and receive information trumps a sovereign nation's right to govern its citizens:

Is anyone interested in trying to brainstorm a better set of political web tools for use by Chinese (or any other setting where internet use is monitored or restricted). In such a system, sender and receiver should be anonymous (even to IP logbooks), monitoring should be difficult.

Some preliminary very rough thoughts. Make all text into images to make it hard to automatically filter. Distribute the web server over a peer network in Napster fashion. Use a Scoop-like ratings system to prevent co-option of the network by other users who would like to remain anonymous for nefarious reasons (porn, terrorism, EZ LOW MOTR$GAGEs NOw!!!!).

Come check out petey's 2008 Cattle Call.

OK, let's see...

Chris, that's some story. We should find out what the nuts and bolts were on that. Miller's no fool, but it looks for all the world like he got rolled on that one. Was his starting point supposed to be some sort of Sister Souljah moment for environmentalists? And what happened after? Was he really just caught flatfooted by Pombo's willingness to chuck it all and have no qualms about failing to deliver on promised compromises? Were any even promised?

Maybe we should ask. In my fantasy world, Democratic officials will one day sit down with some quiet corner of the supportive blog community and explain, in Member-to-Member detail, how and why their stances on legislation develop the way they do. It'll be a story about the process, not a position paper on the substance. Maybe some day.

'pockets, that is kind of weird. I didn't realize they were making that assumption. But in their world, minority relations are an "us vs. them" game, so maybe in that framework it makes sense to them. Not "them," so much, but them.

Next, finding alternative aviation fuels presents unique challenges. Since aviation is one of only a very few modes of transportation that's used as much (if not more) in international travel, by worldwide convention, aviation fuel is of pretty much uniform composition -- and has to stay that way -- in order to guarantee compatible supplies around the world. Of course, we could switch the entire world to a new fuel, or keep two sets of fuel at every U.S. airport so that the domestic fleet can fly on the new stuff. But then that domestic fleet would either have to be capable of using either fuel, or never leave the United States. And whatever we replace jet fuel with, it has to have the same combination of energy density per unit of weight, relatively low cost, and resistance to freezing during long distance, high altitude flight.

Did you want to talk about aviation fuel, or were you just making small talk?

Prison abuse: When training paid killers, are you doing something wrong when you make it fun? Shouldn't they love what they do? What color are their parachutes? I don't know how you control for this sort of thing, other than give good training both to the troops and to the JAG corps, and hope for the best. Because this seems like one of those internally inconsistent things that seem to pop up so often in the military context. Things like "rules of engagement," or "international law." I guess when your business is literally a matter of life and death, and mistakes and omissions are not appealable, strange things are sure to follow.

And nothing's wrong with you that isn't wrong with the rest of America. Why do you know what's happening in Ohio, but not in your own backyard? I don't know. Is it related to why you can name all the short-listers for Justice O'Connor's seat, but not Brittney Spears' husband?

Dem: Fleitz and Libby? How about Columbus Day weekend? Why them? They have eminently indictable names. Just swap HH, Howard Hunt, for FF, Fred Fleitz. And G. Gordon Liddy for I. Lewis Libby. We should just keep a template for these things. And Columbus Day weekend seems a good time. Let's say Friday, heading into the long weekend and the Jewish High Holy Days.

In no order:

Did you want to talk about aviation fuel, or were you just making small talk?

Just seeing what kind of crazy shit you'd respond to.

It emerges that my question was inartfully phrased. If there were no technical or logistical hurdles to using alternative fuels of course they would likely be in use. Given all the barriers you mention, what price would oil need to jump to for it to become worthwhile? Are we getting close?

But in their world, minority relations are an "us vs. them" game, so maybe in that framework it makes sense to them.

I should have put in some background. I've been thinking about this in relation to the NYC mayoral race. The breakdown of primary voters showed a clear racial split, with whites going mostly for the two white candidates and blacks and hispanics going for the two minority candidates; but voters of Asian descent were evenly spread across the white, hispanic, and black candidates. I don't think I understand this pattern. Specifically, why are blacks and hispanics behaving somewhat as a bloc and Asian-Americans are not in that bloc?

"Paid killers": Shouldn't they love what they do?

I am at sea here. My gut says, no, they should hate it and dread it and despise it, from soldiers to officers to commander-in-chief, and do all they can to avoid it and still preserve our freedoms.

Another part of me thinks, jesus, maybe they just need some hobbies. Like, other hobbies. Not stacking naked prisoners in pyramids.

Is it related to why you can name all the short-listers for Justice O'Connor's seat, but not Brittney Spears' husband?

Really? "Justice Federline"?

I just don't want to hear it from Leahy after next confirmation voting: "oops I did it again."

Ok, so where do I put this nickel? ...Don't answer that.


About web tools to avoid censorship:

I'm not sure if developing a new system, such as an anonymous peer-to-peer network, is the right solution. A new system almost always generates network traffic which can be distinguished, by port numbers, packet signatures, etc. If the censors monitor the network, they can first block this traffic, then take steps to investigate.

I think a better approach is to try to "blend in" with the other traffic on the network. For instance, one could use the same crypto protocols (HTTP/SSL) that are used for e-commerce; they would defeat filters, without attracting much attention. For the scenario you mentioned, communicating sensitive information out of the country, one could use steganography (i.e., encode the text into an image, then put the image on a public web page).

My general view is that, if you're trying to evade government censorship, it's not enough to hide the contents of a message; you need to hide the fact that a message even exists. Once you get noticed by the censors, software isn't a match for the government's police powers.

Wow, that sounded really paranoid... think of that as the worst-case scenario, I guess.

YK, good points. I was thinking that by distributing the web server across many computers the traffic to that site would "blend in" with all of China's traffic to all kinds of sites everywhere. For example, if every time you went to load a TheNextHurrah page, you got it from a different IP address -- and same for every other user -- there would be no single address that would stand out. Port numbers are only an issue if you're running a discrete server/client program (like Napster, where the program connects to other copies of itself) -- if it's all run as web browsers connecting to servers then it's all port 80 like any web page. Don't know about packet signatures, can you explain (or link..)?

Encryption would be fine but who decrypts it? Or rather, how do you keep the site open and public without letting the snoops read it too? Maybe one could have a central server that communicates by SSL, decrypts, and then makes the post anonymous and public. But I'd be nervous putting too much trust in any one central server like that.

Again, I'm imagining how do you set up www.thenexthurrah.cn (or www.dailykos.cn for that matter) -- not just for individuals to get secret communications out of the country once in a while to a single recipient, but regular postings to a blog-fashion site.


You know about the adopt a blog program for China, don't you? I'll try to find a link. But that might be the place to start looking.


No way Libby gets indicted without Rove (in fact, I think Rove will get indicted first, if anything). Rove has demonstrably perjured himself. Libby, probably but not definitely (it depends on what Tim Russert said to the Grand Jury). Also, Fleitz probably wouldn't be guilty directly. He passed information to someone with the clearance for it, arguably. Same would be true if he reported it at an NSC meeting or something like that. I think either Bolton gets the IIPA violation (he would have leaked to Judy if the leak got there, in which case he'd be the first leak to someone without clearance). Or someone on AF1, maybe Dan Bartlett. And in any case, I suspect Fitz will name all the conspirators at once, so they can start undercutting each other. But I like your high holy days suggestion. The open book and whatnot. Nice touch.

~pockets again:

Regarding jet fuel. I suspect it's harder to do an alternative fuel for jets than cars. During WWII, the Japanese managed to make an alternative to petroleum out of pine tar (honest!). It worked for vehicles and ships, IIRC. But it didn't work for planes, not enough power. Thus, the kamikaze phenom. As someone who flies regularly, I'd like to avoid the kamikaze thing.

But making flying more efficient, that woudl be the thing. When I calculate my ecological footprint using the short form, I come in much lower than the average American. But when I do it with the long form, my score starts to go down all the way through the diet questions. But then when it asks what class you fly your 100+ hours on, my score shoots the roof. If we could just stop me flying business class to Asia, we might not need to go to war in Asia minor, basically.

Sometimes I like to see what kind of crazy shit I'm capable of fashioning a response to. Anyway, I have no idea how high oil prices would have to go. What's the relative cost difference between refining gasoline from petroleum versus kerosene? And who would drive this change, anyway? Airlines who are almost everywhere surviving on government subsidizies, when they survive at all? Private aviators? I would think this would have to be driven by some worldwide consortium of aircraft manufacturers.

Minority issues: Rent Do the Right Thing tonight. Why does everyone -- and here we include Rosie Perez, but don't know for sure -- hate the Korean grocer? And he, them?

And of course, no, paid killers shouldn't love that part of their jobs. Nor should they view themselves as paid killers. But in atmospheres in which death becomes routine (and thus prompts few questions) and accountability is lacking, there's almost always someone testing the boundaries. Looters (real looters) in New Orleans. "Bad apples" (no matter in what proportion to good ones) in Iraq. Lawlessness often changes peoples' perspectives on the definition of "wrong." Even in Washington, DC, where no hard and fast "law" applies to the games people play, people consider that they've honored confidentiality agreements if they've taken care to do their leaking anonymously.

As to Brittney's husband, it came to me in the supermarket today that John Edwards' "two Americas" are probably closer to two dozen. "Renee and Kenny Split!" said the tabloid headline. Picture was of Renee Zellweger, and a guy in a huge hat. "Who's Kenny?" I asked my wife. "I don't know. A country star, I guess. I recall that they just got married recently, though." In the other America, I am a dumbass.

Where do you put the nickel? Right in the old can, of course.

When I said "packet signatures," I actually meant any technique that infers information about a remote computer (such as the server software and operating system) from its network traffic. See here for a recent example of this.

But for what you suggested--a blog site whose traffic is spread out over many addresses--there are some standard network engineering tricks: virtual hosting, network address translation (NAT), and the Akamai DNS hack (I don't know if it has a proper name). These are all fairly technical, and though they will cause headaches for the censors, they can still be defeated. The good news is that these tricks don't have "political dissident" written all over them; internet businesses do these things too.

Ultimately, you can't avoid having some kind of a central server. At the least, you'd need it to relay requests to a collection of individual servers. Also, if a Chinese DailyKos ever became popular, the authorities would have to know, and if they wanted to shut it down, only popular pressure, not technical tricks, would be able to stop them.

ok, one more entry in the crazy shit fashioning contest. (actually, not so crazy, but wait 'til next week. I'll think up something extra crazy just for you.) If John Kerry had become President, who would his Court nominee have been... and would that person have been confirmed?

If you didn't know about the Zellweger-Chesney split you must not read the CNN crawl. I'm still trying to find the one America in which I'm not a dumbass. The America where knowing lyrics to 1940s country songs is a virtue, and people are judged not by the contents of their characters but by the number of buffalo hot wings they can eat in a row.

Looters, leakers, they do it for personal gain, right? Not for "amusement." Or do they?

YK, you clearly know a lot more about computer networks than I do, or at least more fancy words to bluff with! (But I think you really do know more.) As to peer-networking, the wikipedia page on it refers to "second" and "third" generation systems that are more pure peer-based systems that would be relevant here (no central server). Of course, you still basically need a web address to start out at. I haven't thought of anything clever to get around that.

although, as emptywheel points out, someone else has. Thanks for letting me know about that -- the "adopt a blog" system seems to ask owners of legitimate sites (not these scurrilous blogs) to set aside a directory on their server for a Chinese blog. Visitors would appear to be visiting www.ApoliticalHarmlessCorp.com and actually getting to their blog of interest.

This feels like a field in its infancy -- it will be interesting to see where it leads!

emptypockets: Specifically, why are blacks and hispanics behaving somewhat as a bloc and Asian-Americans are not in that bloc?

This is not too hard actually. Urban blacks and hispanics live in the same neighborhood, have the same economic opportunities -- often aren't part of the political class at all -- but when they are, behave somewhat similarly. "Asians" are a multitude of ethnicities, but more importantly in relation to this question, a bifurcated community. There are quite educated, quite affluent people of Asian backgrounds who act politically like similarly situated white people. And then there are very poor, new immigrant populations, mostly arrived in the last 20 years, who are every bit as outside the white mainstream as many Hispanics and blacks and who act accordingly.

At least this how it works in California -- the exception is when black and Hispanics compete directly for an office -- then you get an ethnic rather than economic break.


I'd say that I'm half-bluffing: I know *about* computer networks, but I couldn't actually build one myself.

Before we let go of this topic, I did a quick search on what is known about Chinese internet filtering. According to this report, as of 2002, sites were blocked by IP address only. But as of 2005, it is reported that China can block individual URL's, without blocking the entire web site. (Thanks to new routers from Cisco!) They also are doing things to filter web search results.

Finally, Wikipedia says that SSH and VPN connections are not blocked, so one can circumvent the filters by connecting to computers outside of China. They also mention an anonymous networking system called Tor.

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