Monday, April 23, 2012

The gray area and U.S. immigration

Think of a baby born in Mexico and smuggled across the border.  When that child grows up, does she deserve to be deported back to a country that she has never known?  This difficult policy situation is the fault of unimaginative federal law.  Tens of thousands of people fall into this gray area and nothing has been done about it.  They are marginalized and face diminished prospects.  There are several options, none of which is perfect but all of which would help to different extents and foster additional discussion about the subject.  Learn more about the options after the break.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Slaughter amendment of the Defense Authorization Act passed. No real news here, I just think that every Defense Authorization should have a slaughter amendment attached for good measure.

Like it or not, America, we've claimed country music

Even in these days of strife, the House has managed to agree on one thing unanimously: country music is a "uniquely American art form" that "has made a tremendous contribution to American life".

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R, Fl) thought that this would be a valuable use of the House's time and nobody disagreed. If anybody ever asks you what Congress does, show them this post.

Time for a vote in Puerto Rico?

Buried somewhere near the bottom of the daily Congressional Record is a note regarding HR 2499, short title the ‘Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009’. The bill would give Puerto Ricans the authority to vote for statehood, independance, or the status quo. In the latter case, there would be similar votes every 8 years.

What do to with Puerto Rico is a topic as fitting with the title of this blog as any other intracable political debate. There are passionately held opinions on all sides of the issue. I doubt that there will be a vote on this bill until after some version of the all-consuming healthcare bill finishes eeking its way through the House, but already the "United States Council for Puerto Rican Statehood" is celebrating the bill's survival through committee.
Below is a paragraph from a bill that is currently being considered by Congress. I was reading this bill and the end of the paragraph caught my attention. It would essentially require credit card companies to give away some of the copyright benefits for their operating rules. This could represent a new approach to government regulation and the dissemination of knowledge.

This is an excerpt from the text of the bill (status: Introduced in House). Jump to this paragraph in the full text. .

‘(a) Disclosure of Contract Terms- An electronic payment system network, and any agent, processor, or licensed member of the network, may not establish or maintain, directly or indirectly by contract or through a licensing arrangement, any agreement with a merchant, unless the network, agent, processor, or licensed member has made available to the merchant all of the rules, terms, and conditions to which such merchant will be bound under such agreement, including the complete operating rules of the relevant payment system using payment cards bearing any logo of such network, without restrictions on the merchant’s use of any such information.
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I think I'm going to like it here

So I've decided to start blogging again. Any posts before this one are from 2007. I hope that you like what I have to say but even if you don't, please comment let me know what you think!

The Horseless Carriage

It is a forgone conclusion that the United States was the world's foremost player in the automotive industry. It is worth remembering that we were once followers, too, just like Japan in the 1960s. In 1898 the New York Times published a special supplement that decried the sorry state of the lack of an American auto industry:
On almost every invention or improvement in machinery America, even if the idea has not originated here, has been pretty sure to develop it in the most beautiful and practical manner. Examples of this forwardness are too numerous to mention. The horseless carriage, however, which was invented in Europe, seems likely to prove an exception to the rule by being developed to its greatest perfection over there. Of course certain American cities now have their automobile cabs, which seem to come in for a fair share of patronage, but most of these, if not of foreign manufacture, are said to have been built on ideas originated and pushed to perfection by the French of the English, with one exception, perhaps, to be explained later. The automobile as a private vehicle is as yet comparatively unknown here, while London and Paris have their automobile clubs, which are as popular among certain classes of the very wealthy as bicycle clubs in America, are among all classes.
No matter how far ahead or behind a country is, it is important to remember that it is not a guarantee that things will stay that way in the future. After all, B. Altman is no longer America's best car manufacturer, as the article goes on to say.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Top 10 ways to attract StumbleUpon traffic

Over the course of my Internet wanderings I have noticed certain qualities shared by many popular links. If you ever want to get an article picked up by Digg, StumbleUpon, or other social networking websites, read on.

1. Make a top x list
People like lists featuring the best of something. Making it a definite number does two things: it makes people think that your items are the definitive best and it lets them know how much farther they have to keep reading.

2. Keep it brief
Short, sweet, and to the point. Use headings with little blocks of accompanying text so readers can skim. Internet readers don't read long chunks of text.

3. Know your audience
Who are you writing for? The more focused your audience the greater the interest. Only Stumblers who are interested in a certain topic will be directed to your site.

4. Encourage readers to leave comments
Readers spend more time on your site and are more likely to come back if they leave a comment. It is also an easy way to figure out roughly how many people are reading to the end.

5. Mention StumbleUpon in your post
StumbleUpon users tend to be the most dedicated to their network. Users of Digg and Reddit, by contrast, are generally not the devotees that Stumblers are so an explicit reference to StumbleUpon will help you.

6. Be an active Stumbler
Being an active user of any social network will draw attention to your site. StumbleUpon treats the elders (like me) with much more respect than the newbies. Join other social website while you're at it; even being a member of has allowed me to build some traffic.

7. Give yourself the first Thumb Up
Don't be afraid to give yourself the first review of your own article. Be humble and admit that it is your post.

8. Share it with your Stumble friends
Don't spam every person you find, but feel free to send your article to a few choice friends. Remember that you need to get at least two Thumbs Up before an article will be sent to the general public.

9. Bait your audience
Directly ask for what you want them to do. If you like this article, please thumb it up!

10. Relax
Stumble traffic is a consistent flow, unlike the breaking dam effect of Digg. It takes a while for a site to attract any attention in SU so don't expect an instant spike in traffic. Check your review page to see how many more people have given it a Thumbs Up or positive review lately.

Have more suggestions? Add them in comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amazon launches Endless supply of shoes and handbags

Amazon is launching a new website for shoes and handbags. I checked it out and found some dress shoes and workboots. There are a few good bargins but overall things are selling at MSRP. The real money saver is the better than free overnight shipping.
We’d like to introduce you to a new site built by Amazon and that is setting a new standard in service—meet Just as Amazon has revolutionized the way you shop for books and music, will change your expectations of shopping online for shoes and handbags. Our new site allows you to shop your way—using our unique category, brand, size, heel height, color or price selections-- and most importantly, for a limited time, we'll pay you $5 for the privilege of shipping your order overnight. No more waiting or paying extra to get your package fast.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Let the (special interest) games begin!

A job posting in a campaign newsletter caught my eye today. EMILY's List, the awkwardly named pro-abortion group with one of the biggest bank accounts in all of politics, is looking for someone to help develop their fundraising website. This is a reminder of how much special interest groups use election time to their advantage. As political issues become top-of-mind, political issue groups stand to make more money than in any of the other 3 years in the cycle.

EMILY's List seeks Web Assistant to help develop,
implement and maintain all online marketing
and fundraising efforts. Knowledge of
HTML, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop and
content management systems required, as well
as college degree and interest in electing prochoice
Democratic women. Salary commensurate
with experience. Comprehensive benefits
package. Fax résumé, writing sample and
cover letter to 202-326-1415, attn: Web
Manager or email at
– subject line: Web Assistant - NO CALLS. For
more information, visit

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's a small bomb after all (repeat 3000x)

The Happiest Place on Earth endured a tiny attack yesterday as a small "device similar to a pipe bomb" exploded in a trash bin. This was not a terrorist attack and no one was hurt, but it is enough to remind us how vulnerable we are in crowded places. Remember to take safety precautions. Know how to exit any place you go and designate meeting places in case you get separated from your party. More at

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Prove me wrong

I know that this blog is still new and I haven't made many posts, but here is a challenge I submit too all readers. I anyone can prove that I am substantially incorrect in any fact posted on this blog, I will make an entire post about the error and give you credit for finding it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A good 'ole server crash

Right now the head of the Unity08 third party is on the Colbert Report. Their website has crashed before the interview has ended.

I cannot remember the last time that there was a crash like this. Those of us who (vaguely) remember the Internet before the dot bomb might recall that websites used to crash regularly after being featured on television. Now websites are shown on screen at least every few minutes and it is not as big of a deal. Even websites featured in superbowl commercials often do not draw much lasting attention. The job of crashing servers has now shifted to Digg and Slashdot.

Although the crash of the Unity08 server is probably due to server management issues more than massive popularity, it makes me a bit nostalgic. It also goes to show the power of Colbert and his legion of nerdy fans, that we needed any more proof.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The most honest ad I've ever seen

I was browsing the homepage over at DownloadSquad when something caught my eye. It was a normal Google Adsense color placement except for one subtle difference: it seemed to know my computer. There was a message in the ad copy that seemed tailored to my brand new HP Pavilion dv9347cl: "*Not recommended for your system." My guess is that whatever they are hawking is not Vista compatible.

This brings up some interesting questions:

  • How much information about my computer can advertisers get through AdWords? By simply purchasing an ad, can they gather usage data about all those who view it?

  • If the ad could tell that I do not have the right computer, why did it appear at all? I did not click on this ad because of its advisory. I would have been more likely to click on another ad.

If anyone has seen anything like this before, tell me in comments.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Who else likes conferences? Hello? Anybody?

Since attending CPAC, I have realized how nifty conferences can be. Today I learned about greenfest philly that will be happening between 7th and 11th streets on September 9.

Let's put it this way, being the three time intern that I am I just can't resist a conference that has an open call for interns. I look forward to seeing the "Grease-Mobile" and not having to pay for admission.

Poll of criminal immigrants finds they will now start obeying the law

The LA Times has an interesting article: "In the first-ever public opinion poll of illegal immigrants, an overwhelming majority said they are intently following the Senate immigration debate and would comply with a proposed bill that would require them to pay fees and fines, undergo background checks and pass English exams to gain legal status."

Does anyone else find this to be utter and completely inaccurate? In my opinion this is the absolute worst polling data published in the popular media in over a decade. Of course illegals are going to pretend to want to obey the law, but how can we trust a group that is defined by breaking federal law?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter to a spammer

To date I have received multiple unsolicited e-mails from your organization. I have sent electronic requests to be removed from all of your mailing lists but the e-mails keep coming. The exact address sending these messages keeps changing as well, making simple blacklisting impossible.

I request that you remove my information from all databases used for marketing activities immediately and mail me a letter confirming that this has been done. I will wait 30 days from the date of this letter before referring this case to the Pennsylvania Attorney General for adjudication.

Your organization is in clear violation of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003,15 U.S.C. § 7701 etseq. ("CAN-SPAM Act"). This is a federal law that carries of maximum penalty of $11,000 per violation. In the time since it was first promulgated, the CAN-SPAM Act has been successfully used to prosecute many spammers. I look forward to a rapid resolution to my problem and a confirmation that it has been resolved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Washington Insider?

I have always been somewhat confused by the term "Washington Insider." Sometimes it is used in a pejorative sense. Noted CNet reporter Dan McCullagh used it in a recent recent attack piece. Carter was often thought of as being not a Washington Insider, which may or may not have been good for America.

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Who else thinks this is because scientists have trouble getting girls?

Discover Magazine is reporting that stem cells can potentially be used for creating new human life. In an attempt to render men even more obsolete, this process could only possibly create daughters.

In reality I oppose any process that creates human life using completely synthesized processes and I sincerely hope that politicians always respect the same principle. There is nothing morally wrong with contemporary procedures such as in vitro fertilization, but that is something completely different than artificially making new life.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

EBay versus Google

EBay has pulled all of its AdWords from Google. An informative BBC article blames increasing direct competition between the two Internet giants and reports that EBay used to spend $25 million annually on AdWords campaigns. This practice garnered the ire of some other users of AdWords users (like this one) for their incredibly vague keyword targeting. Google has canceled the most provocative action it had planned: a conference to compete with EBay's annual meetup.

It looks like EBay is preparing its own targeted ad technology and this may just be a convenient time for EBay to make excuses for cutting ties with Google.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Attack of the fish and the human's response

There are times when two different stories seem to interact too well to be mere coincidence. Three days ago brought a roundup of recent sturgeon attacks. Last weekend a Florida woman was sent to the hospital and in April another Florida woman was left in critical condition and ultimately lost a finger and a tooth in another attack.

It seems that the people of California are overreacting to this new round of man-versus-fish conflict. Authorities are looking for the person who recently shot and killed four dolphins.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

RAM price war underway

According to CNET, it looks like there is currently a price war underway in the computer memory market. Companies are growing increasingly willing to sacrifice profits in the name of market share. This promises to be good for the consumer as computer component prices continue to fall.

DC mayor continues revamping schools

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty has appointed Allen Y. Lew to run the $2.3 billion modernization effort in District schools. This continues Fenty's efforts to completely change the nature of DC public schools. His flagship initiative has been to try to replace the entire school board with the mayor. This level of control that Fenty wants to exercise over the school district is virtually unheard of, especially in large cities.

There are two main benefits to this policy: nimbleness and accountability. Without having to go through the inherently arduous process of collecting yays and nays from a beaurocratic school board. It also enhances mayoral accountability by making one person ultimately responsible for educational decisions.

The bad side of Fenty's plan is that it is a bit autocratic. He is distancing himself another step away from the Democratic process. His sweeping plans are also quite expensive and their efficacy is yet unproven.

It will be interesting to see if Fenty can turn around the failing DC public school system.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Illegal immigrants face FBI database

The cover of today's Washington Post is reporting that law enforcement officials have started adding outstanding deportation orders to the National Crime Information Center Database. The Department of Homeland Security says that they have found 25,000

The government has a mixed record of criminal databases. Its ill-fated Carnivore program was a dramatic failure, but the NCID has been a great way to catch criminals in casual interactions with the police. An officer performing a traffic stop can search a suspect for warrants.

There is some controversy over this practice, but I say the benefits far outweigh any criticism. It is necessary to treat illegal immigrants as criminals. Not surprisingly there are people who are willing to defend the act of disregarding an immigration order. From the article:
Separately, immigrant advocacy organizations are suing the government, saying that it had no legal standing to add administrative records to what has traditionally been a database for criminal warrants. Disregarding a deportation order is a violation of administrative, not criminal, law.

What these criminal apologists fail to realize is that the very act of entering the United States without permission is a violation of criminal law. I salute the government for doing something to enforce this all-to-often violated law of the land.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who else thinks I should write about current events?

I am still figuring out what exactly to write on this blog. I already contribute to a political blog and I just started an EMS blog. For the time being I will write about current events. My biggest blogging problem is that I do not write often enough. In order to fix that I will keep this updated at least all summer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Debate

Tonight's Republican debate (sponsored by CNN) was essentially more of the same as we have seen before. I have been a fan of Jim Gilmore since I met him at CPAC back in March. (In case you are curious my favorite member of the Democratic field is John Edwards, but that's another post for another day.) Gilmore is not afraid to engage in the type of rational analysis and transparent decision making that is necessary in contemporary politics. If you caught the first Republican debate you will realize that he is eager to talk about the policies of his peers much more directly than the other nine candidates.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Welcome to

It amazes me how some debates never really go away. No matter how much ink scholars and pundits spill and how many partisans shout themselves hoarse, these issues never completely leave the public eye. They may lay dormant for months, years, or decades, only to spring themselves unexpectedly with a new fervor. Although I do plan to move onto different topics from time to time, the original purpose of this new blog is to explore some of these issues that from time immemorial have been the target of public discourse. I doubt that this blog will ever have many readers, so I highly encourage those of you who read this to contact me with any thoughts or suggestions.