March 01, 2002

Wow! In less than three hours after my original posting, Bush's "Shadow Government" has become a "Bunker Government", courtesy of CNN.

Of course, it's still a bad idea for all of same reasons.

See the unattributed CNN article based on the heresay of an unidentified senior government official at:
Bunker U.S. government in place.

The lessons, according to this official, included a dramatic need to improve computer and other communications equipment and capabilities at the secure locations. Also, several departments are reviewing legal requirements to make sure those serving in the bunker government have the authority to carry out key government functions, should contact with Washington somehow be severed.

Well I didn't get into CAL Berkeley for graduate school. Damn.

There's still a chance I could get in to Stanford -- I haven't heard back from them yet. Think good thoughts everybody :-)

Here's a cool blog that shadows the actions of Mr. Bush's Administration and suggests progressive alternatives to them (still no word yet on the Shadow Government Blog's progressive alternative to a Shadow Puppet Government):
The Shadow Government of the USA

I Don't Want A Shadow Puppet Government

Our Representatives on Capitol Hill need to be more involved in the selection process of any sort of "back-up governement" to ensure so that our country is not turned over to the wrong hands, which would only make things worse in a time of crisis.

The circumstances under which such a back-up government would take over also need to be clarified. Are we talking about when every last member of the House and Senate have been taken out by some huge cross-global conspiracy over a 24-hour period? To the extent where the existing chain of command rules would not be allowed to operate accordingly?

Would this back-up government be temporarily in charge? Or will our government effectively be dissolved irreversibly as a side-effect of the change-over, as the quote below would suggest?

Whatever it is, let's codify it explicitly and have the House and the Senate vote on it. Let's take advantage of the checks and balances that are still firmly in place and do this thing right after everyone agrees that it even needs to be done.

I don't want to find out, after the fact, who's been placed in charge of my country and why. In many ways, that's what happened during our last Presidential election. It wasn't okay then, and it wouldn't be okay now.

In a nutshell: who are these people and under what circumstances will they be placed in control of me and my country?

Or as a friend of mine put it when he heard the news: "Hey, who's picking 'em? What is this a dictatorship all of a sudden?"

For more information, please read:

Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret (By Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt for the Washington Post)

Shadow Government Activated for U.S. (Associated Press)

This clip is from the Washington Post article:

Deployed "on the fly" in the first hours of turmoil on Sept. 11, one participant said, the shadow government has evolved into an indefinite precaution. For that reason, the high-ranking officials representing their departments have begun rotating in and out of the assignment at one of two fortified locations along the East Coast. Rotation is among several changes made in late October or early November, sources said, to the standing directive Bush inherited from a line of presidents reaching back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Officials who are activated for what some of them call "bunker duty" live and work underground 24 hours a day, away from their families. As it settles in for the long haul, the shadow government has sent home most of the first wave of deployed personnel, replacing them most commonly at 90-day intervals.

The civilian cadre present in the bunkers usually numbers 70 to 150, and "fluctuates based on intelligence" about terrorist threats, according to a senior official involved in managing the program. It draws from every Cabinet department and some independent agencies. Its first mission, in the event of a disabling blow to Washington, would be to prevent collapse of essential government functions.

Assuming command of regional federal offices, officials said, the underground government would try to contain disruptions of the nation's food and water supplies, transportation links, energy and telecommunications networks, public health and civil order. Later it would begin to reconstitute the government.

February 27, 2002

And the people who would have us all branded like cattle and trackable via a publicly interconnected (but ultimately, privately owned and maintained) centralized network move one step closer to reaching their goal...

Hey Lisa -- that's a pretty slanted intro -- what's your beef?

Well, I have two actually, thanks for asking :-) :

Beef #1 -- This company is basically asking for permission to market a treatment that hasn't been approved by the FDA yet. According to this AP article, the company hasn't even started the process yet. I don't like non-FDA approved drugs being marketed like FDA approved drugs (for hopefully obvious reasons).

Beef #2 -- We, as a country and a world, haven't figured out the legal, privacy and ethical issues yet if this whole implant thing, and until we do, I think that giving the private sector the "ok" to move forward with producing and marketing such systems as if they are already legal is a really bad idea. (Much in the same way that we aren't officially cloning humans yet until we figure out that mess.)

Anyway, what do you think about this stuff people? Are you ready to run out and have an uber-tracking device implanted under your skin?

Okay, next question: Are you ready to have one implanted into your newborn child?

Check out:
U.S. to Weigh Computer Chip Implant.

A Florida technology company is poised to ask the government for permission to market a first-ever computer ID chip that could be embedded beneath a person's skin.

For airports, nuclear power plants and other high security facilities, the immediate benefits could be a closer-to-foolproof security system. But privacy advocates warn the chip could lead to encroachments on civil liberties.

The implant technology is another case of science fiction evolving into fact. Those who have long advanced the idea of implant chips say it could someday mean no more easy-to-counterfeit ID cards nor dozing security guards.

Just a computer chip - about the size of a grain of rice - that would be difficult to remove and tough to mimic.

Other uses of the technology on the horizon, from an added device that would allow satellite tracking of an individual's every movement to the storage of sensitive data like medical records, are already attracting interest across the globe for tasks like foiling kidnappings or assisting paramedics.

Applied Digital Solutions' new "VeriChip'' is another sign that Sept. 11 has catapulted the science of security into a realm with uncharted possibilities - and also new fears for privacy.

"The problem is that you always have to think about what the device will be used for tomorrow,'' said Lee Tien, a senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group.

February 26, 2002

Here's the poop on the Bush Administration's short-lived Ministry of Disinformation...oops! I mean Department of Strategic Influence:
Rumsfeld: Pentagon to Close Office.

Guess the government is going to go back to its usual disinformation distribution channels :-)

The Judge (hand)picked to decide on the case the GAO has brought against Vice President Cheney for not cooperating with its Enron investigation is former Whitewater Prosecutor John Bates.

See the Washingon Post article by Pete Yost:
Judge in Cheney Case Was Prosecutor.

The W3C has released a new Patent Policy Working Draft, and Simon St. Laurent has taken a whack at explaining it in english.

Here's another meta-blog entry (meta-blogs = blogs about other blogs).

This time it's written by MIT's Henry Jenkins for the MIT Technology Review:
Blog This.

What will happen to democracy in the current media environment, where power is concentrated in the hands of a few publishers and networks? Media scholar Robert McChesney warns that the range of voices in policy debates will become constrained. The University of Chicago Law School's Cass Sunstein worries that fragmentation of the Web is apt to result in the loss of the shared values and common culture that democracy requires. As consumers, we experience these dual tensions: turn on the TV and it feels like the same programs are on all the channels; turn to the Web and it's impossible to distinguish the good stuff from the noise. Bloggers respond to both extremes, expanding the range of perspectives and, if they're clever, creating order from the informational chaos.

Here's a nice piece by Brenda Sandburg for Law.com that helped me to better understand the relationship between all the latest developments in Copyright Law (such as the DMCA), Copyright Regulations (such as all of the recent compulsory licensing proceedings), the Eldred vs. Ashcroft case that will soon go before the Supreme Court, and the recent investigations by the FTC and DOJ's into whether our country's IP policies conflict with our Antitrust laws.

Check out:
Under the Microscope.
(Thanks, Jon.)

February 25, 2002

Here's a Forbes article by Dan Ackman that has more of the business-oriented details about the music industry's current situation:

Digital Music After Napster: The Digital Rights Future.

Good news for CD Burner company Roxio -- Business is booming and the company is moving into the digital photo and video editing space. Good move -- since I predict recordable DVDs will be as popular as recordable audio CDs by this time next year!

See the Businessweek article by Jane Black:
Roxio: Burning Its Way to Bigger Things?.

These days, it's pretty rare for any company, let alone a high-tech outfit, to raise its guidance for revenues and earnings per share. But that's just what Roxio (ROXI ), which makes popular CD-burning software, did on Feb. 25. Thanks to its acquisition of Toronto software company MGI and brisk holiday sales, revenues for fiscal 2002 (ending Mar. 30) are expected to total $142 million, up 5% from its original projection of $135 million. Earnings will come in at 91 cents per share, up from 89 cents forecast earlier.

The fact that the digital-media sector is littered with failures makes Roxio's performance all the more impressive. The company, which went public in May, 2001, has been profitable throughout its six-year history. And analysts expect Roxio to keep growing. Its products, which include software for CD and DVD burning, photo and video editing, and data recovery, dominate some of the high-tech sector's most explosive markets.

The number of CD burners will increase from 120 million in 2001 to 546 million in 2005, according to market research firm International Data Corp (IDC). DVD burning is also expected to take off. In 2001, IDC reports just 2.4 million DVD burners were sold. By 2005, that number will be higher than 72 million, a compound annual growth rate of 135%. Those trends could translate into big sales and even bigger profits for Roxio. With the stock trading at around $15, as of Feb. 22, analysts say now could be a good time to buy.

President Bush is ready to start drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Check out the Wired News article:
Bush's Energy Plan: Let's Drill.