Posts concerning politics

Je Suis Charlie

09:52 07 Jan 2015


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17:39 27 Oct 2013

I’ve been blogging regularly since 01 August 2006: every day for that first year, five times per week for four years after that, and at least once per week since 01 August 2011. Now it’s time for a break.

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“The System”: Tropa de Elite

23:27 01 Sep 2013

Tropa de Elite and Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora é Outro[1] are two Brazilian crime/action movies about the drug trade and corruption in Rio de Janeiro. While fictional[2], they clearly draw upon contemporary Brazilian politics. They both follow Roberto Nascimento, who at the start of the first film is a captain in BOPE, an elite unit roughly analogous to the American SWAT squads[3].

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The Zimmerman Verdict

23:15 14 Jul 2013

George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder and/or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin, was acquitted yesterday. The social media response I’ve seen has been almost uniformly one of disgust or despair, intermingled with the apparent belief that the verdict is representative of racism in the United States (and, perhaps, in Florida particularly).

Based on what I know, I think Zimmerman probably accosted Martin in some way and provoked or initiated the struggle that ended with his killing Martin. And had I been on the jury, I would have voted to acquit. Because “probably” isn’t enough.

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Not all Hacking Cases are Treated the Same

23:57 23 Jun 2013

From the UK, evidence that there’s a markedly higher tolerance among law enforcement for certain types of hackers. “The other hacking scandal: Suppressed report reveals that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance companies routinely hire criminals to steal rivals’ information”. You know, “the right people”.

I’m vaguely surprised that so far, we haven’t seen any hard evidence of data going from government sources to business entities for this kind of thing. Money clearly gets you access to police files and the like, but I’m curious about the extent to which “blue-chip companies” have been able to get their hands on state surveillance data such as that being collected by GCHQ.

That’s the thought I’ll leave you with this week; hopefully I’ll put together a longer post for next week. Take care out there.

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Trust Us

15:28 16 Jun 2013

It appears that the NSA has been collecting both phone call metadata and actual phone call content from an unknown, but very likely vast, number of American citizens, and that this likely extends to other forms of communication such as email and text messaging. They may have been doing this in violation of the US Constitution while avoiding getting that issue before the courts, but they may also have been doing this in violation of the guidelines that the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act court has laid down—i.e. illegally.

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Dropping the San Francisco Chronicle

23:54 19 May 2013

I’ve been a subscriber to the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 13 years, the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I started that subscription because I was used to living in a household where newspapers were a daily staple, and because I wanted to support local journalism. I also felt that major cities should have newspapers and I should thus support the city paper.

And now I’m ending my subscription.

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The Boston Marathon Bombings

21:28 21 Apr 2013

The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings made clear just how much the media—and apparently a substantial portion of the population—want to promote the notion that the “War on Terror” is a real war, that there’s a real and highly dangerous enemy, and that the US is engaged in a struggle where the nation itself is under threat.

Prior to the identification of the suspects, it seemed like many media figures were thinking, “please let it be Al Qaeda”—and that if if it had turned out to be some disgruntled middle-aged guy protesting IRS policies, they and a chunk of their audience would lose a lot of interest.

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Political Writing Burnout

22:25 24 Mar 2013

I’ve noticed over the last few months that I’ve had more and more difficulty writing about political subjects for my blog. This ranges from commentary on overly political matters such as legislative and judicial decisions to socio-political topics such as various forms of discrimination.

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A Joke Explained

19:06 23 Dec 2012

Sometimes, jokes need explanation; TV Tropes says you’re not supposed to explain the punchline, just the context, but in the case of this joke the two aren’t really separable. Furthermore, this one requires a great deal of broad knowledge in order to make sense; more breadth of knowledge than any other joke I’ve encountered so far. This became clear to me in my relating it to American friends; I didn’t notice the amount you need to know for it while I was living in Ireland[1].

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Portland Waffles

23:03 04 Nov 2012

Brief post today, as I’m on vacation in Portland. I highly recommend the Belgian waffles at sympatica; you should get the apple syrup on them rather than the green tomato syrup.

The election is on Tuesday, and you might like to review the California ballot measure overview I wrote last week.

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November 2012 California Ballot Measures

23:51 28 Oct 2012

I’m more interested in the state-level measures than I am in this year’s elections at any level, and this is how I’m going to vote on them. Quick highlights: YES on 34, NO on 35, YES on 36.

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It’s Safer, But Why Stop the Scaremongering?

18:50 22 Jul 2012

Radley Balko does a good job of putting into context statistics about police fatalities in the US, and pointing out that despite the impression you would get from every media outlet, it’s a job that seems to be getting safer—but this doesn’t seem to alter policy in any way.

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Technical Difficulties and Linkspam, 2012-06-17

22:56 17 Jun 2012

The death of my old MacBook Pro this evening has caused the loss (hopefully only temporary) of the blog post I was working on today (on androids in Alien and Prometheus), which I will try to recover and finish next week.

In the meantime, here are some interesting things I encountered on the internet this week.

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Marriage, Same-Sex and Other

23:17 13 May 2012

Same-sex marriage has been a major news topic this week, because of the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment One and Barack Obama’s statement that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to marry. A good time, then, to explore the subject.

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Corruption: Ireland’s Mahon Tribunal

23:34 01 Apr 2012

Dublin has grown a great deal over the last 30 years, and in so doing has become a case study in how not to manage urban/suburban development, planning, or transit policy[1].

The urban planning process for Dublin County in that period was endemically corrupt, which was common knowledge at the time but has been made extremely clear by the final report, released 22 March 2012, of the Mahon Tribunal, a body set up in 1997 to investigate such matters. It seems unlikely in the extreme that the corruption and the terrible urban sprawl aren’t connected.

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Too Few Good Men?

00:03 19 Mar 2012

I don’t usually comment on vapid “lifestyle” articles, particularly when they’re also year-old Wall Street Journal op-ed pieces, but Kay Hymowitz’s “Where Have The Good Men Gone?” has recently been shared by at least two friends and appears to need refutation.

Unfortunately, while it annoyed me greatly on first reading, further readings exposed a lot of difficulty in discerning what arguments it was making—mostly it’s composed of cultural buzzwords, snobbery, socially conservative hankering for the mores of yore, and the anecdata-driven slandering of an entire generation of males.

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Kirby Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix”, Part 4

21:55 19 Feb 2012. Updated: 23:44 02 Mar 2012

I mentioned this on Facebook earlier in the week, but it’s important enough to also write a post about.

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SOPA and Why I’m Against it

23:52 22 Jan 2012

Earlier this week I “blacked out” tadhg.com as part of the widespread protests against SOPA. This post includes a number of my reasons for opposing it.

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NYPD Notes

23:59 30 Oct 2011

I don’t recall any interactions with the police when I lived in New York, but over the years my accumulated impression has been that it’s a very corrupt organization. That’s not necessarily unusual—I suspect that most of the police forces in major American cities would be just as bad (and nothing I’ve heard about, say, the Los Angeles or Chicago police has made me think otherwise). At the moment, though, the NYPD seem to be at the forefront.

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Steve Jobs

23:47 09 Oct 2011

I wasn’t a big Steve Jobs fan; despite my working almost exclusively on Mac hardware for the last several years, I disagreed strongly with the direction I thought he was moving computing in. I was surprised to find myself feeling very sad at the news of his passing.

I’m not entirely sure what drove the extent of that sadness.

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Expression, Pseudonymity, Google+

23:06 21 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

Google+ has come under fire recently for banning users who don’t have usernames conforming to the service’s rules about what usernames should be like. Google’s policies on the matter are wrong, and the reasons why they’re wrong, as well as the potential implications of their policy, are important.

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The Rorschach Riots

23:28 14 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

I mean the various incidents of unrest in England earlier this week. The reference is not to the Watchmen character, but to the blots, because from what I can tell every commentator (I include myself here) is seeing in the events a confirmation of their already-existing political beliefs. That’s not unique to this particular issue, but it strikes me as a particularly egregious example of the phenomenon.

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