Monday, 27 October 2008


Explainer: How charge card transactions work

Re: The Obama online contribution controversy,[1] a lot of people are doing a lot of unformed– and erroneous– theorizing about the way authentication of charge card transactions work, and who is left holding the bag if they fail or are fraudulent.  If you really want to know the nuts and bolts, go read this explanation by “Wind Rider.”

Additional geeky pedantry after the jump.

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The Press

“Simon” calls out CNN

in a comment at Althouse:

A controversial claim resting on attribution to an unnamed source, that serves the agenda of the agency? Why should I not think it’s a lie? I say they made it up. Name the source and give us the video of them saying it, or tell us why we shouldn’t think you're lying. You don't get to behave the way you’ve behaved and ask for trust.

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Saturday, 25 October 2008

Dear Diary...

Sometimes life is cruel

So I’m sitting in the office, and the phone rings.

It’s the sibling-in-law and the sibling.  Calling from the Orange Garden restaurant in Chicago.  Raving about the Sweet-n-Sour Egg Foo Young.

“You didn’t tell me you were going to be thereI could have driven up!”

(Hey, it’s only– what– 200 miles...)


(Guess they’re taking revenge for the time I called them from Hall’s!)

Later:  Of COURSE somebody has posted a picture!  And here’s another.

Elsewhere:  Chicago Reader’s review

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In Passing

Um.. I dunno about THIS...

Oh look! Tam has an ad for COLORFUL guns!

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Rights? *What* Rights?

When “border” means “100 miles inland”

From the American Civil Liberties Union:
...Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches.  The border, however, has always been an exception.  There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply.  For example the authorities do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a “routine search.”

But what is “the border”?  According to the government, it is a 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the “external boundary” of the United States.  As a result of this claimed authority, individuals who are far away from the border, American citizens traveling from one place in America to another, are being stopped and harassed in ways that our Constitution does not permit...

On the roads of California and elsewhere in the nation – places far removed from the actual border – agents are stopping, interrogating, and searching Americans on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing.
The ACLU estimates that two-thirds of the country’s population (including 9 of the top 10 metro areas) fall within the “100 miles from the border” zone.  It encompasses the entirety of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  For your convenience, the ACLU has produced a handy map of what they call the United States’ “Constitution-Free” Zone.

The map:
map of “The Constitution-Free Zone of the United States” (source: American Civil Liberties Union)

At first glance this might appear another case of post-9/11 overreach.  But inland Border Patrol roadblocks were actually found legal[1] in 1976[2] by the Supreme Court decision UNITED STATES vs. MARTINEZ-FUERTE, ET AL.[3]  The decision permitted “immigration check” roadblocks many miles inland.  As seems inevitable, in the thirty-some years since the decision there has been mission creep.  Today other agencies often participate, and searches have snared American citizens for the (also seemingly-inevitable) “drugs” and “child porn.”

Meanwhile, the federal government has made little effort to monitor or limit the scope of these actions– yet another example of failure by the Congress and the subsequent administrations to look out for the rights of ordinary citizens.[4]

Random “your papers please” stops are an opprobium to a free society.  I’m old enough to remember American propaganda (which was propaganda, even if it was true) that used such stops to draw the line between the Free United States and the Evil Communist Bloc.[5]  It’s beyond ironic that, less than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, our government engages in the very thing it used to condemn.

And if we want to consider “original intent,” I certainly doubt if the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Vermont would have voted to adopt a constitution in which the Fourth Amendment was effectively a dead letter within their boundaries.  (Not to mention that in 1787 a “border zone” of 100 miles would have effectively included the entire country.)

I wonder how someone in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; Lynchburg, Virginia; or Columbia, South Carolina will react when they’re stopped (and searched) by Border Patrol agents and, on asking the reason, being told “we don’t need one.”

Roadblock Revelations weblog
National Motorists Association’s Roadblock Registry

Related (immigration enforcement and border security):

Provoked by:  Slashdot, where there are several first-person accounts in the comments
[1]  for the purpose of immigration enforcement, and because the effect of such checkpoints on legitimate motorists would be “minimal.”

[2]   Ironically enough, the bicentennial year of the American revolution.

[3]  HT: “TheGeneration

[4]  Hey, aren’t the Democrats all about “human rights,” and the Republicans all about “less intrusive government”?  Oh, snap!  What was I thinking?

[5]  ...and Communism was evil.  After all, the best propaganda is propaganda in which you don’t have to lie!

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Friday, 24 October 2008


Six Billion Dollars per Week

...larger than any one time “rebate” being talked about by government, and this money arrives every week.
But then there are those who think high fuel prices are a good thing.

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In Passing

Pennsylvania turns out the lights

If I worked in our governor’s office, I’d be dispatching a bunch of business-relocation specialists to Pennsylvania right now:

Pennsylvania has begun a major effort to cut electricity use, requiring the state's 11 utilities to not only stop power usage from rising, but to cut it starting in 2011.

Legislation that Gov. Ed Rendell [who happens to be a Democrat - o.g.] signed Wednesday requires the utilities to cut annual electricity usage by at least 1 percent by May 31, 2011, based on usage estimates made by state regulators, who can take into account a major anomaly, such as an unusually hot summer or a substantial surge in demand from a new user, such as a factory.

To ensure that utilities take the task seriously, the new law allows up to $20 million in penalties for failure to meet the benchmarks for electricity usage cuts...

By May 31, 2013, utilities have to cut usage by at least 3 percent, as well as slash 4.5 percent from electricity usage during the 100 highest-use hours of the year.
Well, look on the bright side: The last person out of PA won’t have to turn out the lights – they’ll already be out.

Via: Billy Beck via TheIrritableArchitect, who notes:
I am currently putting wraps on a facility in central Pennsylvania, a manufacturing plant, of over 1,000,000 square feet.  There is an area for incoming raw material storage, the processing area, then another finished storage warehouse, and an administrative office, all under one roof.  The project was supposed to be phasing in a second building, of approximately the same size, after this first one got online.

A few weeks ago, we received word that the next phase is on hold.  I now have at least some indication as to why.

Why?  Because this one building requires 2,500 kVA feed, that's why, and the fucking chiselers in the think it's A-OK to arbitrarily tell producers and consumers what they can do and what, and how much, they can consume.

I hope the assholes in the Keystone State enjoy watching their economy degrade even further.
Amen. Although there’s a good chance the EPA’s coming carbon regulations will wind up putting us all in the same (sinking) boat.

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The Press

National Public Newspaper?

Mark Steyn:

In her report on Moody's possible downgrading of The New York Times to junk status, Michelle Malkin concludes with a throwaway line:
Anyone smelling a bailout plea coming on?
I hadn't thought about it like that but now you mention it, it sounds all too plausible.
From time to time[1] I’ve encountered talk about whether “professional journalism” (usually meaning: journalism as presently practiced by most of the MSM) is “commercially viable.”  I expect that in coming weeks we’ll be hearing even more talk (and seeing more stories) about the “vital role” that an “independent, unbiased, speaking-truth-to-power” press plays in a democracy, and how we “can’t afford” to have it disappear.

What won’t be addressed is the degree to which the problems of the press are self-inflicted (e.g., the objectivity issue or the MBA-ization of the media in general[2]).  Equally verboten will be any consideration of whether an organization which depends on the government for its survival can ever be “independent, unbiased, speaking-truth-to-power.”

And anyway, getting the government to pry money out of others to prop up your failing operation is always easier than looking within, finding the problems, and fixing them.  Just look at Wall Street.


Via:  IP
[1]  Mostly in the comment threads of industry-related weblogs. No specific links right now, but I may add some later.

[2]  When your business morphs from “producing a newspaper” to “selling eyeballs to advertisers” to “keeping the stock price up,” management’s attention tends to concentrate on different things.

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Thursday, 23 October 2008


Sighted: New tracking tool?

This little warning popped up today when I loaded Ace’s site.  It’s new there, although I’ve been getting the same warning from a couple of newspaper sites for the last month or so.  Interesting thing about it is, I’m not filling out any forms; the message just appears as the page loads.

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The epitome of culinary creation

...or not.

Posted by: Old Grouch in Linkage at 18:12:02 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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