News Briefs 10-11-2006

My feet still haven’t recovered from nearly 3 hours of standing in line to vote in Denver. For many others, the wait was closer to 6 hours. But if we have to, I’m sure we’ll gladly wait even longer the next time Denver’s Elections Commissioners come up for reelection.

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending – if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.

Hugo Award winning Sci-Fi author Charles Stross
(Sorry, I thought this crowd would instantly recognize his name – and dry wit – without all these descriptors.)

  1. Scottish immigration
    The articles states that 100 million ships traveled from Scotland to the US over a 140 year period. Thats almost 2,000 per day. I think someone needs to check their decimal point.
    Terrific site.

    1. 100m ?
      I thought ‘100m crossings’ meant crossings of people, not ships. Even that seemed at bit high, but I figured someone would help us straighten out the numbers this weekend. 😉


  2. Rover woes
    Ahh, those brains at NASA! I quote from the article:

    “It turns out this rover is better at going downhill than it is at going uphill”

    No shit! Who would have guessed, downhill easier than uphill? – Nah…….

  3. Today’s Quote
    Are the ramblings of the confessed fuzzy-headed really something worthy of quoting? I’m sure the fuzzy-headed would say “no”. But then again, they are fuzzy-headed…. I guess all that time spent standing in line to pull levers for Democrats gives the fuzzy mind time to imagine and convince itself of its intellectual supremacy.


    Which reminds me… what happened to all the Democrat claims of faulty voting machines, disenfranchised voters and other assorted irregularities that they planned (before the election) to fight tooth and nail against with their dispatched army of lawyers? I guess since they won, all is good. Huh. Imagine that. Also notice how the Republicans, unlike the Dems, are completely gracious and not throwing a hissy fit.

    “History was made this week! For the first time in four election cycles, Democrats are not attacking the Diebold Corp. the day after the election, accusing it of rigging its voting machines. I guess Diebold has finally been vindicated.” – (author’s name temporarily withheld to protect the delicate sensibilities of liberals)

    1. demonising the democrats
      Which reminds me… what happened to all the Democrat claims of faulty voting machines, disenfranchised voters and other assorted irregularities[/quote]

      Don’t say that to Kat, she’s still waiting in line.

      [quote=Anonymous](author’s name temporarily withheld to protect the delicate sensibilities of liberals)[/quote]

      Or to protect the identity of a cowardly conservative. 😉

      1. Anything for a laugh
        Hi Rick & Kat,

        Not everyone that demonizes the dems is a repub. But this girl is a real hoot, “If it was up to the Democrats, we would still be living under Saddam’s tyranny,” Tariq said in an interview Wednesday in the Sadoun Street shopping district. “I’m afraid that this change is going to affect the American presence in Iraq. I don’t want them to leave.”

        Those people that live in Iraq are really funny folks, aren’t they. You can read more at, Democrats’ Victory Unnerves Baghdad.


        1. Forget
          Ah, how quickly they forget that it was George Bush Senior who withdrew from Iraq when the US could easily have caught Saddam, abandoning local resistance forces (Kurdish, Marsh and Iraqi alike) to be caught, tortured and murdered by Saddam for the rest of the 90s. Imagine if Bush had’ve just finished what he started 15 years ago?

          Bring on the next election, and a Clinton/Obama victory.

          1. Who forgot what
            Why, Rick, you are becoming forgetful. An invasion of Iraq by UN forces would have violated the agreement with the Saudia family. The then-President stuck with the agreement to remove Iraq troops from Kuwait.

            In the long-run it’s best to stick with the truth. But I don’t really understand what this has to do with having a sense of humor.


            PS: Republicans would pray for that ticket. I’m a Liberterian so I don’t really care.

          2. “Ah, how quickly they forget
            “Ah, how quickly they forget that it was George Bush Senior who withdrew from Iraq when the US could easily have caught Saddam”

            Please. Liberals were already wetting their pants before we went into Kuwait. They nearly had a mental breakdown when we, *gasp*, killed scores on the so-called highway of death. Yeah, liberals would’ve tolerated us going all the way up to Baghdad to get Saddam. Sure. Which is it – follow the U.N. or ignore the U.N.? I wish the wishy-washy libs would make up their minds.

    2. Charles Stross QotD
      As usual, Anonymous, you have no sense of humor whatsoever. That being the case, I doubt you’d enjoy another dose of Hugo Award winning SciFi author Charles Stross’s dry wit, but since there are plenty of others here who might find it funny…

      A Short Hallowe’en Horror Story

      [The scene: The Oval Office. The President is addressing the nation — and the wider world.]

      “My fellow Americans:

      “I’d like to start by confessing to a minor, but necessary, deception. My published biography has up to now listed my highest academic achievement as being an MBA. I’d like to take this opportunity to correct the record by revealing that in actual fact it was a Masters’ degree in social psychology. In addition, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for dissembling about my intelligence to you, over the past decade. Believe me, it has been hard work pretending to be stupid. However, I am sure that those of you who have spent the past six years disparaging my lack of insight will be relieved to learn that your President is in fact a former member of MENSA, and has a higher IQ than Richard Feynman.

      “And now, for the key issue I’d like to talk about today. For the past six years, in addition to occupying the office of President of the United States, I have been working on my doctoral thesis — a large-scale empirical verification of the pioneering studies of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo. After consulting with my supervisors, Professors Cheney and bin Laden, I have concluded that the control phase of the largest ever experiment in applied social psychology has achieved its intended goals. We are therefore terminating the so-called ‘War on Terror’ with immediate effect. Thank you for you co-operation, which has been deeply appreciated. Those of you who have found yourself assigned to the ‘reality based community’ for the past six years will doubtless be relieved to learn that your performance has been excellent. I’d also like to ask for a warm round of applause for your ‘winger’ opponents, who have given sterling service in following their thankless (albeit lucrative) script.

      “Finally, I’m very pleased to announce that the next phase of the experiment will commence shortly. Good night, and sleep well.”

      (This is Jay Lake’s fault. He’s been challenging SF writers to come up with their scariest short horror story for the season …)

      Posted by Charlie Stross on October 31, 2006

      Several comments follow at the link above.

      If you enjoyed this Hallowe’en hors d’oeuvre, you can read a novelette by Charles Stross online: A Colder War (Published in Spectrum SF #3, Summer 2000; republished in “The Year’s Best Science Fiction #18”)

      Or, if you’d like to super-size your order, you could try Stross’s The Atrocity Archives, originally pub. in 2004, now in paperback, and rated 4 1/2 stars (Amazon US & UK) along with its just-published sequel The Jennifer Morgue (Amazon US & UK).

      >>(author’s name temporarily withheld to protect the delicate sensibilities of liberals)

      Judy, Judy, Judy – You don’t need to worry about offending this delicate flower – I’ve known all along.



      1. Originality
        Even Judy was more original than that tired, old, sophomoric jab at my name. [rolleyes]At leat you addressed the topic rather than avoiding it in favor of taking a jab at me personally.[/rolleyes] But that quote was actually Ann Coulter . And Stross’s wit is dry. Too dry to actually be funny, in fact. He should take a lesson or two from Ms. Coulter.

        Regardless, the pupose of my citical post had nothing to do with Stross but with your decision to use it in an election week in which Democrats actually won. Somehow I found your decision to use it to be far funnier, in a dry, witty sort of way, that how Stross used it. I guess a lot of people have trouble with dry wit. Hell, I even threw in a “LOL” to help with that. But apparently it is I that have no sense of humor. Yep, you’re a riot Kat.

        1. yeah, right
          So your original LOL was intended to denote that you intended your remark to be funny rather than sarcastic. Yeah, right – and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell you on the cheap.

          And btw, ‘Judy’, although it may be neither humorous or original of me to say so, you and BGarland do have a certain nastiness in common, such as, for instance, your affinity for personal attacks and sarcasm, but I guess that’s to be expected between such ‘friends’, not to mention it being a great example of just how gratious conservatives are actually being about their recent electoral losses. But by all means, do go on lobbing your grenades – since it’s precisely this sort of behavior which disgusts people to the point that they decide it’s time to vote for those damn lib’ruls again.


          1. “your affinity for personal
            “your affinity for personal attacks and sarcasm”

            I, quite proudly, cop to the sarcasm charge (I think you’d admit to an affinity for that too). However you may want to go back and see who went personal first. As a liberal, I know you aren’t interested in facts as much as how you “feel” about it. But check it out.

    3. Diebold and the future of elections like the future of war?
      [quote]”History was made this week! For the first time in four election cycles, Democrats are not attacking the Diebold Corp. the day after the election, accusing it of rigging its voting machines. I guess Diebold has finally been vindicated.” [/quote]

      Democrats are just some sort of ‘soft’ Republicans.

      More on the ‘voting machines’ though:

      Rumsfeld replacement

      Those Damned Machines: Cui Bono?

      Interestingly, companies such as Halliburton and its subsidiaries who have been cashing in big time have provided the Bush administration with rather high ranking officials. The Oil and the Military Industrial complex have been established in Republican governments since Nixon although admitedly they have never been so well placed to drive ‘their’ economy.

      Now, we see that the new Secretary of Defense is both tied to those corporations and to the voting machines themselves.

      Does that ring a bell to any one?

      1. speaking of Diebold
        In a comment at a political blog before the recent election, I predicted there wouldn’t be even a hint of vote-tampering via the electronic voting machines in the 2006 election — 1. to lull the electorate into believing there’s not really a possibility of the machines being hacked, and 2. so that when the totals are magically switched in 2008, the culprits will be able to more credibly say it ain’t so by pointing to a lack of such problems in ’06.

        I not only want a paper trail for each voter, I want a cumulative paper trail for each machine which would allow both election officials and individual voters to verify that each individual paper receipt was actually recorded by the machine the way all the individual paper receipts say they were.

        Btw Richard, thanks for the link to Ted Ralls’ op/ed.


        1. paper trail
          There is a real problem with a paper trail for each voter, which is quite independent of any political preference.

          If you have a paper trail of how Ms or Mr Voter voted, you set them up for bribery, for voter intimidation, and other things like that.

          I don’t want my employer, my trade union, my party, or my mother, to have a way to find out how I voted. Nevermind the ruling government. My vote should be my secret, so that I have no fear of anyone who would influence my vote.

          I think what you want is for the individual voter to verify that their vote was recorded correctly. And sure, to make sure that each vote is recorded correctly.

          A complete paper trail of who voted for what is not what we want.

          1. paper trail
            Since there’s no record of who votes when, or which machine they vote on, all you’d have to do is have a number or combination of numbers and letters assigned as the ‘name’ of each machine, and then each machine would print both its’ ‘name’, and the consecutive numbers of each vote that’s cast on it, along with who was voted for. That way, any voter could check the cumulative scroll from the machine he voted on – perhaps the next day, to be sure that his/her vote is printed the same there as it was printed on his individual receipt. In cities at least, voters are unlikely to even see the person who voted on a particular machine just before or after them, much less know who they are. I’m sure some system to assure voter anonymity could be worked out for every precinct, regardless of size.


          2. Paper trail
            Anybody could write the software that recorded your vote incorrectly but issued you a correct receipt. But just for argument’s sake, let’s say you were given receipt that matched your vote.

            Under your system a voter would be able to check to see if the vote cast was actually tallied correctly. By this method you propose that each voter could declare an election valid (or invalid).

            What if it the voter made a mistake? What if the voter meant to vote for Alpha but actually voted for Beta and doesn’t know it?

            What if I check and my vote were recorded correctly, but I didn’t like the outcome? Let’s see, no one really knows how the voter actually voted except the one that cast the vote. So why don’t I claim that my vote was recorded in error?

            Now, what are the options if a voter declares (by mistake or fraud) that the count and the vote don’t match? Do we declare this election null and hold another election? And another, until all voters are satisfied?

            I think you have devised a system that would end all democratically held elections forever. Thanks for playing.


          3. voting record
            There is a big problem with a voter having a record of how they voted.

            The record can (and will) serve as a receipt for people selling their vote. And it can serve as a receipt for voters under pressure from employers, family, organized crime, trade unions, and other such nefarious organizations.

          4. Paper trail
            The paper trail should not be in the hands of the voters but in the hands of officials.

            As mentioned above, the machines can be fixed to yield different results anyway. The idea behind a paper trail is to allow manual recount.

            In my book, elections should use the usual paper ballots. That is a lot harder to hack.

          5. paper
            paper ballots can be forged too. You just put some extra ballots in the box, or you remove some. Or you just count them incorrectly. How hard is that?

            In good old fashioned communist countries, like East Germany, they just made up the numbers. A very efficient method.

          6. True
            You can’t prevent all possibilities.

            Counting incorrectly could lead to nasty prosecutions where a recount would be had.

            Also, usually you have representatives of various interests as witness of the process.

            Extra ballots may also not add up when comparing the number of votes with the actual list of people who voted.

          7. The paper trail won’t help a bit
            Hi Richard,

            Now you’re back to square one. Mayor Daley of Chicago “found” tens of thousands of dead people to “vote” for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election, all done by paper ballots.

            But “walks on water”-Abraham Lincoln was the master according to this article. In truth, both parties fear an honest system, probably for good reason.


          8. the answer….
            is simple….toll road machines. Each candidate in an area is desinated a coin size. People just collect a hand full of all sizes and walk or run through a toll area and through in their choice and discard the others in a basket on the other side. These machines are very good at counting coin sizes. Nobody would know what the person in front of them through in. Voting would take a few seconds.

          9. Actually, I think it does make it harder
            Although not impossible at all.

            Hi Bill, how are ya?

            I know Kennedy had the mafia rig the vote for him and so on.

            The paper ballots are obviously not fool proof. What you are mentioning just goes on to prove that politicians will use whatever means they can to win. After all, that is their mandate and that is all they care about.

            Still, I contend that it is harder to pull this off than having machines that can be remotely accessed and that leave no trace behind.

            Even bugs can be a problem. System failures and so on.

            The only real fix is a change in psychology that can only afford integral honesty. We are just not there yet.

          10. Main point of failure
            The main point of failure is the people counting the votes, all the way to the top.

            On a local level, with simple paper ballots, someone counts. Then these local counts et reported and summed up, several layers up.

            If you control the top layer, like most communist governments did, it doesn’t matter at all what the accuracy is at the lower levels. It is trivial to manipulate paper ballots.

            What you need is a reliable infrastructure of vote counters. And if you have that, you also need a reliable way to identify voters.

            don’t let people drive you crazy, when it is within walking distance

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