Wednesday, November 19, 2008





- Thirty-one of the 47 people so far named to transition or staff posts have ties to the Clinton administration, including all but one of the members of his 12-person Transition Advisory Board and both of his White House staff choices.


Don't Tase Me Bro
- It's illegal for the FBI to use cell carriers to help surveil individuals without a warrant, according to statutes like Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and the Stored Communications Act. But apparently they've been deploying a constitutional "workaround" of sorts, called "triggerfish". Ars Technica reports: By posing as a cell tower, triggerfish trick nearby cell phones into transmitting their serial numbers, phone numbers, and other data to law enforcement. Most previous descriptions of the technology, however, suggested that because of range limitations, triggerfish were only useful for zeroing in on a phone's precise location once cooperative cell providers had given a general location. This summer, however, the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Justice Department, seeking documents related to the FBI's cell-phone tracking practices. Since August, they've received a stream of documents--the most recent batch on November 6--that were posted on the Internet last week. In a post on the progressive blog Daily Kos, ACLU spokesperson Rachel Myers drew attention to language in several of those documents implying that triggerfish have broader application than previously believed.

A 74 year old blind woman received a notice from the town of Attleboro, MA that a lien would be placed on her house if she didn't pay her overdue water bill. Amount of bill unpaind: one cent. Said the town collector, "My question is, how come it wasn't paid when the bills went out?"


Nearly half the respondents in a survey of U.S. primary care physicians said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative. . . A U.S. shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 primary care physicians by 2025 was predicted at last week's American Medical Association annual meeting.

New Scientist -
A committee of scientists set up by the US Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that nearly a third of veterans of the Gulf war of 1990-1991 - some 200,000 people - continue to suffer from a Gulf war syndrome caused by exposure to organophosphate nerve gas, nerve gas remedies and insecticides. "Gulf War illness is real," the report concludes. "Few veterans have recovered." Their last report in 2004 also concluded that GWS is not psychological but caused by organophosphates. Research since then, they report, has strengthened the association, and shows it may involve inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in the brain.

PR Watch - Science reporting "is more and more the direct product of PR shops," according to Charles Petit, a veteran science reporter who runs MIT's online Knight Science Journalism Tracker. Petit says information spoon-fed to reporters through news releases has "become a powerful subversive tool eroding the chance that reporters will craft their own stories." Cristine Russell reports that "institutional news offices from universities, government research agencies, and corporations are putting out large press packages that provide well-written press releases, graphics, and even video in a form that can be used directly by news outlets that are hungry for stories but lack the resources, time, and/or experience to do more thorough reporting."


Tikun Olam -
This coming weekend (November 21-23), forty communities throughout the U.S. will feature a local mosque and synagogue joining together to host a joint program on the subject of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The goal of this national project sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding is to combat ethnic tension between Muslims and Jews. The event will also seek common ground between the two religious traditions so that members of two faiths can study their shared sacred texts and discover their common humanity. The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding is the brainchild of Orthodox Rabbi Marc Schneier. It is his vehicle for international dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims.


We noted Claire McCaskill's grovelling post election comments about Obama reaching out to Republicans: "He will surprise America how quickly he will try to reach out to the millions of people who are voting for John McCain today - and the millions of people who have questions about his leadership. He'll want to reassure them, and he'll want to find Republicans to work with him in his cabinet." A staffer over at the Project on Government Oversight points out her good side, including drafting legislation to give the bailout out inspector general a staff, a congressional loose end forgotten in the rush to help the banks.

Canwest News Service - An unpopular name - like Alec, Ernest, Ivan, or Malcolm - is more likely to spell trouble than favourites Michael, Matthew or Christopher, according to research. "There is a positive correlation between unpopular first names and juvenile delinquency,'' said Daniel Lee, an economics professor at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

Eavesdrop DC
Overheard in the line for the bathroom at the Hirshhorn museum: That's going to be the next chapter of the book - Boys who Text but Won't Have Sex!!"


At November 21, 2008 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Olsen at Digital Equipment Corporation also decided that the "team of rivals" idea sounded nifty.

He implemented it at Digital, and the resulting turf wars killed the company.

Division heads focused on keeping their division in business instead of keeping the corporation in business.

So risks were avoided, process became more important than product, engineering focused on never slipping a schedule rather than on innovation, sales focused on the installed base rather than new share, and in staff meetings everyone took every chance to make a competitor look bad.

The corporation expired of congestive heart failure.

I suppose if the US survived BushCo (did we?) then we can survive ObamaCo. Probably.


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