Sea of Noise

Tue, 08 Jan 2008

A Sobering Thought for New Hampshire Voters

As our fellow citizens in New Hampshire go to the polls today, Black Box Voting brings us a video demonstrating how easy it is to tamper with election results for 81% of New Hampshire voters. (And, incidentally, all of us Connecticut voters!)

More information and discussion here.

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Tue, 10 Oct 2006

Your Vote Will Count This Year, But For Whom?

From the good folks at Black Box Voting, an update on why you should keep your eyes open at the polls, and question the results, this year...


Memphis: Candidates in Memphis asked Black Box Voting for help securing public records from the Aug. 3, 2006 election. Black Box Voting recommended getting a copy of the Diebold GEMS database, along with the Windows event log. What we found shocked us: The sheer number of legal and security violations in the event log were horrifying, and it also showed that Shelby County -- or someone -- was accessing the file during the middle of a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting this.


Alaska: In early 2006, the Alaska Democratic Party asked Black Box Voting for help. The election numbers simply didn't add up. BBV's Jim March urged them to fight for the right to obtain the Diebold GEMS database, which Diebold had until then been asserting proprietary rights over. After months of hard-fought battling, they prevailed.

That database was released publicly at Black Box Voting. You can open it yourself in Microsoft Access, and when you do, choose the table called "audit." In this table you will see evidence that someone was changing things as recently as July 2006 -- after the matter was in court, before the file was released. The changes are substantial, and involve redefining ballot and candidate items, along with a reference to a second memory card.

If you don't have MS Access, here is a PDF copy of that controversial log.


In Georgia, Cynthia McKinney contacted Black Box Voting. Very odd things were happening in the 2006 primary and the runoff election that followed -- Democrats were being served up Republican primary ballots on the Diebold touch-screens; McKinney's name was left off some ballots, but reportedly appeared on other ballots nowhere near her district. The electronic poll books -- something Georgia voters never asked for and a whole new source of glitches -- were malfunctioning regularly.

Black Box Voting advised McKinney to seek the troubleshooter and pollworker logs. What we found on these shocked us -- in an election reported as "smooth" by the press, was evidence of dozens and dozens of voting machine malfunctions, electronic pollbook glitches, and most disturbing of all (given the dire consequences available based on the Hursti and Princeton studies), the seals for dozens of voting machines were missing, broken, and mismatched -- yet the machines were used anyway.


In Ohio, Richard Hayes Phillips examined ballots from the 2004 presidential election. They'd been kept locked up for 22 months, and he was under immense pressure to look at as many as he could before they were destroyed. What he found shocked him: patterns of tampering, as evidenced by statistically impossible overvotes, strategically placed and favoring George W. Bush.

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Tue, 15 Aug 2006

Bruce Schneier on Airport Security

Respected security expert Bruce Schneier weighs in on the latest airport security measures:

None of the airplane security measures implemented because of 9/11 -- no-fly lists, secondary screening, prohibitions against pocket knives and corkscrews -- had anything to do with last week's arrests. And they wouldn't have prevented the planned attacks, had the terrorists not been arrested. A national ID card wouldn't have made a difference, either.

In short: "It's easy to defend against what the terrorists planned last time, but it's shortsighted."

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Mon, 24 Jul 2006


I realize this is the least of our differences right now, but could we at least all get together and agree on how to pronounce Hezbollah?

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Sun, 16 Jul 2006

The IRS Owes You A Refund on Long Distance Tax!

The IRS will no longer collect tax on long distance telephone service, and may owe you a refund for the three years...

The tax on telephone services was first imposed in 1898. The current rate is 3% of the charges billed for these services. The IRS announcement follows decisions in five federal appeals courts holding that the tax does not apply to long-distance service as it is billed today.

Taxpayers will be eligible to file for refunds of all excise tax they have paid on long-distance service billed to them after Feb. 28, 2003. Interest will be paid on these refunds.

Taxpayers will claim this refund on their 2006 tax returns. In order to minimize burden, the IRS expects to announce soon a simplified method that individuals may use.

.So taxpayers won.t have to spend time digging through old telephone bills, designing a straightforward process that taxpayers may use when they file their tax returns next year,. said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. .Claiming a refund will be simple and fair..

The IRS announcement does not affect the federal excise tax on local telephone service, which remains in effect. Likewise, various state and local taxes and fees paid by telephone customers are also unaffected.

Next episode: cheating death!

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Wed, 22 Feb 2006

Islamic Freedom Danishes?

Stupidity does not respect international borders. First, it was "freedom fries". Now, Iranians have renamed Danish pastries. [via Beware of the Blog]

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Tue, 21 Feb 2006

So You Want an Abandoned House in Philly?

Here's a guide.

But don't expect the process to be rational...

For whatever reason, the City has established a bureauocracy that requires over $50,000 simply to undergo the process of condemnation (for an abandoned property appraised at $5,000.) In other words, they must pay about 10 times the property's value in order for it to be considered condemned. Moreover, they don't guarantee ownership of the propery after this process.

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Sun, 12 Feb 2006

Mohammed Image Archive

The anonymous author of has compiled an interesting archive of images of Mohammed, with both historical and current examples.

My personal favorite? Legohammed!


Among the other material at zombietime, there's an interesting look (in pictures and video) of some people peacefully excercising their right to free speech in San Francisco. It seems that religious fundamentalists aren't the only people uncomfortable with free speech.

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Wed, 30 Nov 2005

US Military Propaganda in Iraq: Subverting Democracy in Iraq & at Home

OK, so I wasn't completely surprised to hear NPR report that the Pentagon has been paying a Washington, D.C.-based firm to produce positive stories, translate them into Arabic and have them placed as legitimate news in Baghdad newspapers; still, the kind of arrogance it takes for Donald Rumsfeld to simultaneously claim that the "free press" is flourishing in Iraq amazes even me.

But wait! According to the Los Angeles Times, there's more!

One of the military officials said that, as part of a psychological operations campaign that has intensified over the last year, the task force also had purchased an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, and was using them to channel pro-American messages to the Iraqi public. Neither is identified as a military mouthpiece.

Now how much would you pay for this fine propaganda campaign?

Remember, we're not just talking about subverting democracy in Iraq:

... several officials said that given the globalization of media driven by the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, the Pentagon's efforts were carried out with the knowledge that coverage in the foreign press inevitably "bleeds" into the Western media and influences coverage in U.S. news outlets.

[via Reason]

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Mon, 05 Sep 2005

Hold the Spin

This video of Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera reporting from New Orleans on Fox's Hannity and Colmes last week is shocking on so many levels.

[via tiny nibbles (yes, I get my news in strange places)]

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Mon, 04 Jul 2005

God Bless America

In honor of Independence Day, ladies and gentlemen, the First Amendement:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And remember, kids: beer and fireworks, both good, but not at the same time.

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Fri, 01 Jul 2005

Does Sesame Street Oppose Its Own Funding?

Cookie Monster has some thoughts about taxation.

Remember, people, public subsidies are a sometimes food!

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Sat, 18 Jun 2005

Soviet America?

Is this Soviet-style MARC poster insidious propaganda or just really bad marketing? You decide.

The story has also been picked up by the Baltimore Sun.

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Tue, 31 May 2005

Deep Throat's Identity Revealed

The Washington Post has confirmed that W. Mark Felt, then a senior FBI official, was Woodward and Bernstein's mysterious source, "Deep Throat".

Wounded that he was passed over for the top job, furious at Nixon's choice of an outsider, Assistant Attorney General L. Patrick Gray III, determined that the White House not be allowed to steer and stall the FBI's Watergate investigation, Mark Felt slipped into the role that would forever alter his life.

[via Jes]

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Thu, 21 Apr 2005

Civil Unions Bill Signed Into Law

Yesterday Connecticut became the third state to legally recognize same-sex couples:

The landmark law permits same-sex partners to enter into civil unions and grants nearly all of the rights and responsibilities available to married couples.
The new law extends to gay couples the rights and responsibilities married couples have under 588 state statutes, including the right to file a joint tax return and make medical decisions for a partner.

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Sun, 23 Jan 2005

Liberals vs. Conservatives: Truths and Lies


My friends have, on the whole, disappointed me this election year. Not because of whom they voted for, but because of how they've reacted to who won.

Many of my friends are what you might call "liberals". And many of them are young--for some, 2004 was only their first or second opportunity to vote in a presidential election. So, while I didn't agree with their assessment of John Kerry, their enthusiam was encouraging.

But, though I should have known better, I wasn't prepared for their reaction to Kerry's loss.

It turns out that many of my friends, despite their other fine qualities, are--I have no better words for it--ignorant and even intolerant when it comes to those with different political views. They don't understand why other people might support different candidates or policy positions, unless those people are uneducated or just plain evil.

So Kerry's loss has come as a bit of a shock to some of my friends. They didn't think the country was that badly off--that full of uneducated, evil, big-corporation-loving, WalMart-shopping, baby-seal-killing, SUV-driving, war-loving, redneck, gun-toting voters. Their reactions to the results haven't been pretty.

I'll never forget something that happened a few years ago, when a group of us headed to the local diner after a dance. When I got out of my car, which was decorated with my NRA membership decal and a Clinton-era "Don't Blame Me, I Voted Republican" bumper sticker, I found a Wesleyan student staring at me in amazement. "You're a Republican?" she asked. "But you seem so nice!"

I'm pretty sure she was at least half-serious. And she's fairly typical of the college students and recent grads I meet here in the northeast.

Which is not to say that I don't meet many folks from the other side of the metaphorical fence--of all ages--who are equally befuddled.

If you're among the befuddled, here's your homework: Steven Waldman's excellent essay, "Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels: Why Can't Liberals and Conservatives Get Along? Because They Fundamentally Misunderstand Each Other".

[via kbuxton]

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Fri, 17 Dec 2004

Buckley, Online

Recently I did a bit of out-of-season spring cleaning and, difficult though it was, parted with many of my back issues of National Review. How much easier it would have been had I known that Hillsdale College is kindly making William F. Buckley, Jr.'s archives available online!

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Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Numbers Stations

Numbers Stations, those mysterious signals thought to be one way transmissions to espionage agents working in foreign countries, have been a hot topic lately thanks to the popularity of The Conet Project's recordings. Simon Mason has compiled a great list of related resources.

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Thu, 14 Oct 2004

Bush vs. Kerry: The Final Debate

Well, "debate" is probably stretching it. But that's what folks are calling it...

If, like me, you had better things to do last night than sit home glued to the TV, you can listen to the debate at NPR's site.

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Why Conservatives Must Not Vote for Bush

The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow nicely summarizes the reasons that conservatives (and, even more so, libertarians) shouldn't vote for Bush in Salon:

Jonah Goldberg, a regular contributor to NRO, one of Bush's strongest bastions, complains that the president has "asked for a major new commitment by the federal government to insert itself into everything from religious charities to marriage counseling." Indeed, Bush seems to aspire to be America's moralizer in chief. He would use the federal government to micromanage education, combat the scourge of steroid use, push drug testing of high school kids, encourage character education, promote marriage, hire mentors for children of prisoners and provide coaches for ex-cons.

Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan worries that Bush "is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious right moralism. It's the nanny state with more cash."

Yet, that's not the same as saying that we should vote for Kerry. (Though, Doonesbury creator Gary Teudeau can hope.) The best argument for voting Kerry is only a little better than "how much worse could he be?"

Moreover, whatever the personal preferences of a President Kerry, he could spend only whatever legislators allowed, so assuming that the GOP maintains its control over Congress, outlays almost certainly would rise less than if Bush won reelection. History convincingly demonstrates that divided government delivers less spending than unitary control. Give either party complete control of government and the treasury vaults quickly empty. Share power between the parties and, out of principle or malice, they check each other. The American Conservative Union's Don Devine says bluntly: "A rational conservative would calculate a vote for Kerry as likely to do less damage" fiscally.

This does seem a lot to expect from a Republican majority that has gone along with the Bush agenda and renominated him with little in the way of principled opposition. Perhaps this is the year for libertarian Republicans to ask, instead, "how much worse could it be if I voted my principles?"

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