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November 04th, 2008

Election Day prediction

Filed under: Politics — jm @ 07:56

Well, after reading the polls again, I predict that Barack Obama will today become the first African-American President of the United States. He'll get at least 52% of the popular vote, but I would wish for it being more than that. Of course, this isn't a very bold projection as 538.com has Obama already at a 98% chance of winning this election. Still, I'm feeling very good about this :-).

October 17th, 2008

Airport security is, for the most part, total stupidity

Filed under: Cutting the crap,Politics,Security — jm @ 23:25

When I went to Egypt a few weeks ago for two weeks of diving, beaches and general fun in the Lahami Bay Resort, me and my friend had to leave two bottles of rather expensive, but very tasty, Whiskey behind at the Munich airport. Idiots that we were, we believed that, as we were on our way to one of these "Arab terrorist countries", we could keep two obviously unopened bottles of liquid. Germany's secretary of the interior would certainly have been very proud of us if we had blown up something over there using a "magic port-barrel-aged alcohol vapor bomb".

We were wrong. I guess that duty-free shops in Germany are just as fine with the new stupid regulations as their American counter-parts are and thus these regulations are enforced regardless of the country you go to. As a western tourist you can have alcohol with you in Egypt, it's just very hard to buy some there, so we bought another two bottles of whiskey in the local duty-free store. The only difference between the new bottles and the old bottles was that the new bottles were placed in a plastic bag with huge red lettering that said "DO NOT OPEN". A MacGyver-esque terrorist that can build a bomb out of whiskey would have been clearly defeated by that security.

So this article on airport security by "The Atlantic" resonated a lot with me: "The Things He Carried". Especially, since it features Bruce Schneier, who helped the journalist print his own fake boarding passes.

August 23rd, 2008

Here’s your ticket

Filed under: Politics — jm @ 18:02

Well, Obama/Biden it is!

I'm glad, because Joe Biden took a great position on Iran in the democratic debates. He will truly make up for Obama's lack of foreign policy experience and from what I read about him, be an informed voice of reason in international relations.

President Bush: Like a rock, only dumber

What a great team to kick Bush and the Republicans out of the White House.

July 23rd, 2008

Berlin

Filed under: General,Politics — jm @ 16:55

Poster for Senator Obama's speech in Berlin

I wish I could be there :-).

March 20th, 2008

Global integrity report

Filed under: Politics — jm @ 04:29

If you want to know if your country is corrupt, you look at the global integrity report.

One more reason to support Obama for America: he wants to build a database that lets every citizen, every news outlet and anyone else track every dollar that goes through congress. Well, of course, it probably would miss a huge chunk of "secret money", but it would be a step in the right direction.

Germany is currently missing from the report, though.

March 04th, 2008

In other news: Diebold accidentally leaks the results of the 2008 elections

Filed under: Cutting the crap,Politics — jm @ 12:08

Awwwww... I was so going to enjoy the show and now they've ruined it for me :-(

Direct access to campaign conference calls

Filed under: Politics — jm @ 10:34

Dave Winer blogged about campaign conference calls a few weeks ago. These give the "real media" people access to the managing teams of the candidates in the presidential race. He put up a recording of a Clinton campaign call.

This is one area where direct access means: having access to a lot of information that falls through the cracks, because CNN would never report on it, or the New York Times would never print it. It seems that we have again stumbled upon something that can be disintermediated by the internet. I, for one, would love to hear the spin that the campaigns put on recent events without the additional spin and filters that the main-stream media put on it when they decide what to report. Simply because I

  • care a lot about politics and

  • more importantly: it's an area where in my opinion the media has time and again proven that they don't serve society in any kind of meaningful way besides dumbing down the process

In particular, listening to the one recording from the Clinton campaign that Dave has put online so far, the key difference is that the campaign perceives the journalists as intelligent people and talk to them like they are. What a huge change to their normal mode of communication that is. I'm anxious to hear the new recordings that Dave put up on Pownce today (no need to check, though, they're private items). He also said that there will be a public RSS feed with enclosures soon, because he found a media partner that will provide the recordings.

I hope! I sincerely hope that something similar can be established in Germany in time for the next elections. I would have loved to have this kind of information back in 2005 when Angela Merkel became chancellor.

October 24th, 2007

The story of Abdallah Higazy

Filed under: Cutting the crap,Politics — jm @ 23:05

Rafe Coburn writes about how to get an innocent man to admit to being a terrorist: the story of Abdallah Higazy.

Abdallah Higazy was staying in a hotel in New York City on September 11 and the hotel emptied out when the planes hit the tower. In his room, a radio was found that can be used to talk to airline pilots. FBI agents threatened Mr. Higazy, that his family in Egypt would be tortured if he didn't confess that he was connected to the events of 9/11, so he confessed even though he's innocent. It turned out that an actual pilot had forgot the radio in the room that Mr. Higazy was staying in.

This is what you get if you allow "coercion". This is what you get if you give law-enforcement officials too much power. It's a prime example of racial profiling and an important reminder that threatening people cannot be part of fighting terrorism. Ever.

June 14th, 2007

Some interesting stuff

Filed under: Education,General,Politics — jm @ 20:29

Time sure flies. My last post seems like yesterday, but somehow I missed a month inbetween :-/. However, interesting stuff is happening everywhere:

Link time

  • The BBC reports: FBI tries to fight zombie hordes. It finally happened, the Umbrella corporation messed up big time! (I should have known better, but I really thought of the walking dead, in a shopping mall preferably, first).

  • Safari for Windows, now I don’t need to buy a MacBook to test our websites. Somehow that hurts a little bit inside :-(

  • I don’t know about you, but somehow this site is disturbing: OMG!!1!

Maps

A couple of interesting maps came my way recently

Teh funnies

March 26th, 2007

“Schöne Grüße an Herrn Beckstein”

Filed under: Cutting the crap,Deutschland,Politics — jm @ 15:26

“Greetings to Mr. Beckstein”

Mr. Beckstein is the secretary of the interior for Bavaria. In my opinion one of the most dysfunctional politicians ever elected, he’s constantly trying to erode every constitutional right in Germany to further his own agenda and his far-right conservative viewpoint. He’s not really a topic for this post, just someone I really disagree with and who constantly spouts ill-informed ideas on how Germany has to protect itself from terrorists to computer-gamers.

Now, Bruce Schneier mentions an article by The Guardian that the British “Home office” released a statement saying that 10,000 passports have been issued in fake names in the last year.

10,000!

…and that’s what they admit to. The real number is probably higher. Just to make this clear: these aren’t fake passports, these passports are real passports, with RFID-chip, biometric security, holograms and every other gimmick these expensive booklets have, they are just issued in a fake name. So much for increasing our security against terrorism with technology.

I’ve said it before: “biometric security” in passports is nothing but a idiotic, boneheaded and incredibly expensive subsidy for the “Bundesdruckerei”. Simply because counterfeit passports are at most a small threat to our security. The british government itself gives out enough fake passports each year for an army of terrorists. How many have been issued in Germany?

This kind of crap happens when you confuse identity with intention, like every one of these self-anointed “terrorism-fighter-politicians” does (here’s where Mr. Beckstein comes into the picture). They should have invested all this money in the fire departments and other emergency services. That would have helped not only against terrorism, but against all kinds of threats, it’s just not something these people care about anymore.

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