Politics & Law

With the launch of the store at Pottermore.com, it’s now possible to get digital versions of all seven Harry Potter novels.

Pottermore Shop

I own all of the audiobooks twice over, and several of the printed books, but the eBooks represent something new: the chance to read the British version of the novels. Alas, due to insanely complicated—and stupid—international publication rights and restrictions, and my credit card’s USA billing address, the Pottermore.com store did not want to allow me to buy the UK version of the books.

Here’s how I bought them anyway. (You can do the same for the audiobooks, too.) Read the rest of this entry (383 words) »

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Who owns America’s job losses?

by Michael Alderete on 2/16/2010 · 0 comments

This chart makes it ridiculously easy to understand:

Job losses increased under George Bush, and are decreasing under Barack Obama

Any questions?

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Barack Obama for President

by Michael Alderete on 10/29/2008 · 2 comments

I’ve had 3-4 anti-McCain blog posts in draft status for weeks now, and have wanted to pull the trigger and publish them, sometimes coming within a button press of doing so. But I kept hesitating, and finally tonight decided to dump them, including those already published.

Partly because it’s too late, I doubt there are many true undecideds on the Internet, and none of them visiting here. But mostly because it’s just not Senator Obama’s message. While the other side can only speak terrible untruths, the Obama campaign has been about change, progress, and hope. It’s a message that is deeply patriotic, and for me personally, deeply moving. Getting off that train to take shots at the other guys is just about being sad. Barack is more positive, and that’s where I want to be.

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There’s a new web site launched this week, EveryBlock, that aggregates together all of the “news” and makes it available on a very geographically-specific basis — that is, specifically for your block. They launched covering only three cities, but San Francisco is one of them.

My block on EveryBlock.com

Want crime reports for your neighborhood? Got ‘em. Want restaurant inspection reports? Got ‘em. Want reviews of local establishments on Yelp? Got ‘em. They compile standard news outlets, public records, other local sites, and even geo-tagged Flickr photos.

Go to the site, type in your street address, and then spend the next hour (or more) browsing the different pieces of information available. This is seriously interesting. I think in the long run it’ll be as influential as craigslist.

(I have no affiliation with EveryBlock, I just figure that everyone has an interest in what’s happening in their neighborhood, and this looks like a compelling way to find out.)

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Sign of Machine Intelligence?

by Michael Alderete on 8/28/2007 · 0 comments

A friend sent me the following screen capture from Google News:

Google knows that President Bush thinks poor kids without health insurance is funny

I take this as another sign that the first true machine intelligence will emerge in the Googleplex.

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More dumbing down of America

by Michael Alderete on 10/22/2006 · 0 comments

Some visual analysis at The Daily Kos vividly illustrates just how little news is being presented on the CNN home page. It’s not clear to me whether this is worse than deliberately false and biased news. Indeed, as the writer points out Xinhua, one of China’s top news sites, does not suffer from the dumbing down that entombs CNN.

In any event, your best bet for getting actual news of what’s going on in America will be from NPR or the international edition of the BBC.

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I present without comment two articles. One comes complete with a video that should chill your bones.

  1. “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.” — Walden O’Dell, CEO of Diebold promises to deliver Ohio to George Bush in the 2004 election
  2. How To Steal an Election With Diebold Voting Machines — Security researchers demonstrate just how easy it is to rig an election run on Diebold machines. Like those rushed into use in Ohio in 2004.

Thinking “no, it couldn’t possibly have happened, they’re not criminals, just stupid.” Yeah. Right.

Hmmm, I guess this wasn’t entirely without comment. ;-)

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Bush lies, New Orleans dies

by Michael Alderete on 3/3/2006 · 2 comments

I can’t say that I’m surprised that Bush lied to America about the disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. I’m only surprised that there’s proof:

Video Shows Bush Warned before Katrina Hit
The Associated Press, March 1 2006

No wonder the administration doesn’t want to play the blame game.

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Get on the Global Frequency

June 21, 2005

You are being asked to do something and make a difference.

Read the full article →

More Neat Stuff: Google Maps API

April 9, 2005

A couple of days ago I saw an eloquent “4,000 word” essay (4 photos) about the impact of clear cutting, written with the new Google Maps feature, showing satellite photos of the map area, allowing you to zoom in and out using the same controls as the street map version.

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Not feeling sorry for Think Secret

March 9, 2005

There’s been a lot of press recently about Apple’s lawsuit against the Think Secret website, and virtually all of them assert that Think Secret has a First Amendment right to publish as they have been doing. Finally, someone has written — and done the research to back it up — what I had been thinking for a while: that it’s not unreasonable for Apple to sue people who publish their trade secrets.

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Spam counts for 2004

February 22, 2005

2004 was a big year for spam, after Congress voted to make it legal at the end of 2003. The result: spam increased sharply in 2004. But in my own, more personal battles with spam I’ve been more successful at holding back the tide.

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