melanoman: (Default)
I once read a story allegedly cowritten by a boy and a girl for an English assignment, where one would write a passage, then the other, back and forth. It starts out with the female character trying to choose between flavors of tea and goes over to a male character who is some kind of space military guy, then degenerates rapidly as the two authors work to sabotage each other.

What is the story called? And where do I find it?
melanoman: (Default)
Some sage advice from 1947 from people who had lived the consequences of the alternative.

"Here in America it is not a question of whether we tolerate minorities. America IS minorities."

melanoman: (Default)
I have a bunch. E-mail me if you want one.
melanoman: (Default)
In case you haven't heard, the Iroquois National Lacrosse team is being denied travel rights to England by the UK ministries. The team is ranked 4th in the world, and is a huge source of pride from the nation where the game was invented. The coverage I'm hearing on NPR keeps referring to the "special passports" the team members hold. I can't stand that term. When they say "special" they don't mean that the thing is made of some special material. The "special" part is that a tribal government is issuing them.

The travel problems started in La Guardia (a New York, USA airport) where the officials there had trouble validating the passports. The consultations went all the to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who NPR reported gave "special" permission for the Iroquois to use their passports. The UK ministries did not allow the passports in Heathrow, so the team was turned back and missed their first match. The host team England won that match by denying its rival admission to the match.

The Haudenosaunee Nation (which includes the Iroquois, Mohawk, and other tribes) has been issuing these passports since the 1970s and continues to upgrade to the evolving anti-fraud standards. Other hosts have honored the passports, which is how the team managed it's 4th-place world ranking. In practice, the big difference between the Iroquois passports and those of the US and Canada is inclusion in an anti-fraud database controlled by the United Nations. The Nation has expended over US$1.5 million to upgrade to the latest anti-fraud technologies, so at this point the difference is in international recognition, not the physical documents. England was party to a treaty with the Nation in the 18th century that allowed them travel rights, but isn't living up to that agreement now, even though Canadian transport on many Haudenosaunee roads is still permitted because of that treaty.

I'd like to see the governing body for lacrosse refuse to recognize the UK as a potential host until the UK recognizes the travel rights of the league's most senior member.
melanoman: (Default)
The key phrase is around 0:27-0:29. Mr. Steel (The Republican National Committee Chair) calls Afghanistan a "War of Obama's choosing ... not something the U.S. ... wanted to engage in."

melanoman: (Default)
The Texas GOP seems to have removed their party platform from their website. You can still find it at the Texas Tribune.

The Platform states
Except for non-citizens, we further oppose any national ID program.
The context goes on to defy the urban legend of a government conspiracy from hell to put the mark of the Beast on everyone, with the old fear of UPC tattoos updated as RFID tags.

How the hell are people whose citizenship is questioned supposed to verify their legal status?
melanoman: (Default)
Consider Alvin Green, an unfunded candidate who looked like a deer in traffic in a recent interview. To be fair, I suspect the problem with that interview was akin to the Bush debate where he wore a transmitter to let someone feed him the answers. Apparently playing Cyrano de Bergerac doesn't work in Live Television.

That said, his victory in the SC primary does not appear to be luck, but neither does it appear to be the result of Democratic support. Rather it seems he was the beneficiary of a whole lot of Republican votes in the open primary. With their own nomination secured, the GOP seemed to focus their efforts to push a non-viable candidate to center stage.

Watch carefully California. You'll see more of the same once our own open primary takes effect. Let's expand on the example of the last post, where the Purple party shuts the Black party out of the election use the open choose-2 format we just adopted. In this variant, the Black Party has candidate Black-B step down to create a safe primary. Having investigated Purple A, B, and C thoroughly, they find some devastating scandal information on Purple-C, perhaps that he took a Black Party bribe.

Black keeps this information secret and using a secret email campaign, gets a sizable chunk of its voters to open-primary their vote to Purple-C. Now the primary vote looks like the added column to the table from my last post:


Viola, the Purple Party favorite Purple-A has been replaced with Purple-C, who can be soundly defeated on election day. The core problem with an open primary is that members of one party get to tell members of another party who they should support by casting their primary vote for someone they have no intention of voting for in the general election. That's corrupt.
melanoman: (Default)
The new primary system California just adopted is stupid. The way it works is that the candidates from all parties are put into one big lump, and only the top two appear on the formal ballot. This is a great way to shut out the minor parties and squelch debate within the major parties. Let's take an example to see how.

Let's imagine that the vote is primarily held by two major parties. To make the math easy, I'm going to split the whole vote 51%/45% between them, with 4% in the minor party.

Let's say that one major party (Purple) has a vigorous debate with 10 candidates. The other is a tightly controlled party (Black) with exactly two candidates. Votes shake out something like this:


So the Purple Party has the majority of the vote, but will not appear on the ballot. The party that makes the ballot will be the party that shuts out discussion and selects a champion before the primary even starts.

The purpose of the primary was for the parties to be able to pick their candidates for the main election. This new structure thoroughly undermines that goal, and forces the parties to shut out competition or risk being shut out of the election altogether. This means that the meaningful decisions are made earlier in a campaign.

Money works fast. Grass roots take time. This is a way to shut out the grass roots.
melanoman: (Default)
Coming soon, one journal
melanoman: (Default)
I've been looking at the Lieberman amendment for the repeal of DADT. It's been widely panned by the right as a terrible advance of the liberal agenda, and by most of the LGBT boards as a sell-out compromise. As usual, a huge chunk of the early comments show signs of not having read the actual legislation, so I provide it here.
Committee Amendment Proposed by Mr. Lieberman

At the appropriate place in title V, insert the following:


(1) IN GENERAL.-On March 2, 2010, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing the Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. § 654 (section 654 of title 10, United States Code).
(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW.-The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretary's memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:

(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.

(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.

(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.

(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. § 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.

(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.

(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. § 654.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect only on the date on which the last of the following occurs:

(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).
(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report's proposed plan of action.
(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).
(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.


Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.

(d) BENEFITS.-Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions
of ''marriage'' and ''spouse'' and referred to as the ''Defense of Marriage Act'').

(e) NO PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION.-Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.

(1) TITLE 10.-Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), chapter 37 of title 10, United States Code, is amended-
(A) by striking section 654; and
(B) in the table of sections at the beginning of such chapter, by striking the item relating to section 654.
(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.-Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), section 5571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 1994 (10 U.S.C. 654 note) is amended by striking subsections (b), (c), and (d).

The way I read this legislation, Congress is transferring the power to repeal DADT from its own hands to the executive branch. A determined executive could use this either to defer the repeal indefinitely or to ram it through this year. The SecDef position (currently held by Gates, a republican appointed by Bush) is specifically named as one of the signoffs.

I need to get to work. I'll try to do some serious analysis tonight.

[---------- Time passes --------------]

Things I've heard that I want to respond to.

1. This legislation does nothing. It's just a study.

No. This creates a trigger if passed. When the listed events all occur, DADT will be repealed without needing another act of congress. For example, if the Republicans take back the house in November, then the study completes in December, and the events specified above all occur), then no fillibuster or other stalling tactic in congress would matter.

2. The trigger might never occur.

Absolutely true. If SecDef Gates refuses to sign the stipulation, DADT remains in effect until the SecDef can be replaced by someone who will.

3. This is unconstitutional because only Congress has the power to repeal DADT.

No. This is a rather ordinary proxy of the sort the makes the IRS(e.g.) able to write regulations. Even though the President and others must conduct the actions that satisfy the conditions, they are not repealing DADT, just activating the trigger that congress authorized.

4. A future president could retroactively bring DADT back into effect.

Not without a new act of congress to sign. The trigger defined above takes place when the last of the defined events occurs. Because they are defined as events rather than conditions, they cannot be rescinded. For example, If SecDef Robert Gates were to sign a letter asserting the stipulated items, and later he or a future Sec Def were to state that the stipulated items were no longer true, the signing of the letter would have already happened, so the condition that "the last of the events has occurred" would still be satisfied.

A new act of congress could reinstate DADT or just change the UCMJ to make service by homosexuals illegal again. Short of a finding by the SCOTUS under equal protection, there is no way around this part.

5. Even with DADT repealed, there are still laws in the UCMJ that would make open service illegal.

Mostly true. The sodomy laws in the UCMJ prohibit both oral and anal sex (yes, even consensually; yes, regardless of gender). Unless those laws and laws like them were additionally repealed, the removal of DADT would still leave homosexuals exposed to legal actions and a DD. There is a specific clause in the study authorization asking the Pentagon for a list of UCMJ codes like the Sodomy laws which would need to additionally repealed to make the legislation meaningful, but unlike DADT itself, these would not be automatically repealed. A second act of congress would be required to get rid of these other parts of the code.

fork( );

May. 21st, 2010 05:32 pm
melanoman: (Default)
Earlier this year, R and a couple of his friends decided to hold their own CS AP class even though the high school doesn't offer it. He pretty much knew everything on the test before he started, except possibly for the details of how double type encoding works. The real impact of this is that they've become a group, and have started programming. They just wrote all the back-end code for a word game, and are now working on the GUI.

Richard even took his hopelessly infected, defunct, old Windows laptop and wiped it down to the metal to install Linux. Time to fight off nostalgia and not project.

Well, maybe after today...
melanoman: (Default)
The term "persons of diversity" came up in the Language Log. It's a newly coined lexical item used to mean "people belonging to groups that were historically excluded [from X]" where X is drawn from the context but is always something where inclusion is socio-economically desirable. This coinage is super-new, but will probably catch on in American Boardroom Dialects for technical linguistic reasons that I don't want to go into here.

What I did want to talk about was that the early comments on the subject were overwhelmingly looking to deny the existence of the term. The comments felt... out of character for the board. It nagged me until I realized that this felt just like the Tone Argument. I wrote this comment about that:
At the risk of going off-topic for the log, strong reactions to terms that come up addressing racism are common, so much so that most discussion groups dedicated to analyzing, addressing, or otherwise discussing racism have coined the term "the tone argument" to refer to a way-too-common tactic of derailing the discussion. The derailer will talk about terms and politeness to shift blame for his or her own discomfort onto the person pointing out the uncomfortable truth.

The tone argument can't be accommodated. Begrudging members of the discussion aren't really objecting to the words, but to the very idea that they need to do something about the unfair advantages or even that those unfair advantages exist.

Even though the attempts are in vain, people in those discussions will and do try to accommodate the inconsolable. Trying to say something when someone is trying to squelch the idea is inherently broken. They end up coining increasingly opaque terms, which is where monstrosities like this really come from.

The annoying part of all that is that by arguing for the plainer terms instead of the obfuscated ones, that just adds to the distraction from the core argument.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying discussion of the terms nor GKP's reaction are at all out of bounds nor objectionable. This is the Language Log, so the discussion of terms is core to the purpose of this forum. "The tone argument" is about squelching people in other forums by changing the topic from the subject matter to the expression thereof.
I was satisfied with my analysis of the subject, but that disclaimer at the end bugs me. The social pressure got me to specifically exempt Dr. Pullum, and in doing so I took the edge off raising the question fully. I wonder if anyone in the forum will get the connection between trying to reinterpret the semantics of the new lexical item and the tone argument itself. I think I managed to get the worst of both worlds where I will pay the social price for touching on the taboo point, but without actually getting that point across. Damn.
melanoman: (Default)
When at home, I can't breathe. When I go out, I'm fine. My landlord and/or his management company hasn't paid the pool guy in months, so we just got a note on the door that he isn't coming any more. They guy won't fix the open leak on the roof (on, not in...the solar water heater is making a fountain). I had planned to move in the summer of 2011, but moving this year is starting to look better and better.


Apr. 22nd, 2010 07:20 pm
melanoman: (Default)
I need to process. Typing helps.

C was in a car crash yesterday. She isn't hurt, but her beautiful new muscle car got rear ended and is the car hospital for a bumper replacement and related body work. I just had a 400mile round trip commute today to recruit at the CalPoly career fair today and my ears are ringing from the sustained noise. This is on top of a drive to Sacto coming up this weekend. My drive was in no way uneventful.

As a result of C's excitement, I spent the whole 6+ hours of driving hyper-aware of every idiot who wasn't holding lane position or speed and unable to relax. At. All.

A compact made a really stupid pass of a big, white F-150 that was in front of me and went into a minor skid. I not sure if there was really any contact between the vehicles, but the F-150 stopped really short anyway. Normally I'd stop short as well, but I'd been vexedly aware of the sedan tailgating me WAY too close, so I took my car into the left lane. I managed to miss the truck easily and came to a stop on the median shoulder. The Mazda tapped the bumper of the F150 lightly, causing no damage to either vehicle.

I'm thinking that were I between the two, the result would have been different. As it was an officer showed up within 5 minutes, took my statement first, and I was gone within 15 or 20 minutes total and none the worse off.

Well, except that I now have so much adrenaline in my system I can taste it.
melanoman: (Default)
The Dan Rooney Rule in the NFL (Pro Football) states that any senior position must have at least one minority candidate interviewed before a hiring decision is made for certain senior positions. The idea was to provide a less unfair playing field, but the rule is not effective.

For example, Seattle just fired their Mark Whalberg look-alike head coach Jim Mora. Flush with cash, it was no surprise to anyone that USC powerhouse Pete Carroll (who is also white) is being tapped to replace him. What did surprise me was that the Seattle management has announced that they are going to hire him before complying with the Rooney Rule, less than 24 hours after dumping their old coach. They were quite open about it, and have made a press announcement that they have an agreement in principal to hire Carroll, and that they will comply with the Rooney Rule by interviewing the Defensive coordinator from the Vikings to comply with the rule before hiring Carroll.

Obviously if the hiring decision has already been made, this isn't that much of an interview.

Click here for details as long as the ESPN video lasts.
melanoman: (Default)
In the Language Log there was a recent article about a syntactic form the author didn't understand. My analysis is in one of the comments, and I also wanted to preserve it here:

This sentence is fully grammatical and semantically valid in my native dialect. Let's isolate the most important elements.

"In a recent survey, more people liked Pepsi than they did Coke."

I take this sentence to be equivalent to:

"The percentage of people in a recent survey who expressed a preference for Pepsi exceeded the percentage of people in that survey who expressed a preference for Coke."

The less interesting (to me) change in the translation is from "like" to "prefers." I see that the sentence takes for granted an assumed model of how the survey works.

The assumed model of the survey in this example is that of a taste test where the person indicates a preference between the two drinks. This is a little different than the original example where the assumed model is that the survey gives the person a chance to characterize each group of ads, and that one or more of the responses counts as negative. In both cases, if the hearer were to take a different model of the way the survey works, the derived meaning changes to match the model. If the models of the speaker and hearer do not match, a misunderstanding is likely.

A more interesting change to me involves the verb "did." Did what? In this example, the predicate is "to express a preference for " and the phrase "...did Coke" uses a structure where the predicate is the same and "Coke" fills the valence . In the original example the predicate is "found to be negative." This works almost the same, except it adds the extra twist that "Mr. Kerry's" is a shortening of "Mr. Kerry's ads" in context.

That leaves the frustrating "they." I we treat "they" like a pronoun with a rigid referent then "...they did Coke" would have "they" refer to the subset of people on the survey who liked Coke. The problem is that if we believe that the rigid reference is drawn from the context, the only compatible choice in the context is "More people" which refers to the people who liked Pepsi --- exactly the opposite of the people who liked Coke.

My theory is that the same structure which allows the word "Coke" to replace the word "Pepsi" in the predicate (or "Mr. Bush's ads" with "Mr. Kerry's [ads]") also affects the interpretation of "they." The syntax of the predicate form requires a survey subset as a subject, and the semantic of the fully qualified predicate selects which subset.


Nov. 21st, 2009 10:25 am
melanoman: (Default)
I was discussing early European occupation of the American continent with my son. He made the point that one of the most effective themes of propaganda was to portray the Europeans as strong, smart, capable parents and to portray the indigenous as weak, ignorant, helpless children.

Then I read this article about Iraq. Some themes never go out of style.
melanoman: (Default)
I was looking through the question one material and ran across the following advertisement against Prop 8 that never aired.

It's part of a series of ads. The best, in my opinion, because it takes the "think of the children" line at face value and makes people actually think of the children.

I wish the state-wide ad buys ran this and ads like it instead of those abstract ads that try to refute opposing talking points but really just give them more air time. I bet it would have moved the electorate about four points.
melanoman: (Default)
I woke up this morning to the sound of my wife's voice. She was still asleep, but her voice was on the radio. Then mine. We were reviewing "Capitalism: A Love Story" at a special press screening we saw last night.

I highly recommend the movie. Moore doesn't spoon feed his conclusions. Instead he puts provocative material that most viewers will be unfamiliar with in context. This gives politically motivated reviewers plenty of ammunition to pan his work by claiming a lack of connections. A few of them seem to have willfully missed even the most obvious points to do so.

I'll hold off on any deconstruction at least until the movie opens. Go see it so we can talk about it.


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