Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Word of the Day

Since my readers so resoundingly objected to my persistent posting of words with negative connotations, I'll post a more neutral word from Slashdot (who would have thought anyone there knew how to spell? Oh, because they just cross-posted from Discover.com).

inchoate (adjective) -

being only partly in existence or operation; especially : imperfectly formed or formulated
In the discussions of intelligent design, one hears a yearning for an old-fashioned creation story, in which some singular, inchoate entity stepped in to give rise to complex life-forms--humans in particular. (link)

Word of the Day

I've got another good word already. I should probably be saving these up for use during dry spells, but oh well.

feckless -

The Republicans clung to their delusions for more than a quarter of a century believing that the Vietnam war was lost because it was sabotaged by the civilian leadership and the fecklessness of the American public. (link)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Politics: An interesting take on Specter's proposed FISA amendment

Glenn Greenwald is the blogger I turn to for expert opinion on Constitutional Law as it applies to current events. He's covered the NSA scandal, and taught me everything I need to know about FISA. Here's a quick primer:

  • FISA was designed in reaction to Nixon's failed power grabs. It was meant to provide strict rules for how domestic surveillance could be done without making it impossible for investigators and prosecutors to take down the bad guys. It specifies strict time limits for how long surveillance can occur before a warrant is required, and it specifies what must be done with the evidence if a warrant is denied.
  • The FISA court oversees requests for these emergency surveillance orders, and they have only declined a small handful of requests over the past few decades.
  • It was amended by the Patriot act to provide more time for investigators to bring their case to the FISA court. James A. Baker III himself declared that this extension was quite adequate for his department's needs.
  • Republican Congressman DeWine proposed even further liberalization of FISA, but it lost steam because the administration did not back it.
  • It turns out that Bush has been authorizing the NSA to override FISA since 2001, claiming that his constitutionally granted authority as Commander in Chief made it his utmost responsibility to do everything in his power to protect our country, even at the expense of these pesky "laws". Nevermind the fact that our country was in greater danger during the Cold War and felt no similar need to piss away our Constitutional rights...
Anyway, that was all off the top of my head so if there are any factual errors please let me know. Coming back to the point of this post, I wanted to highlight that Sen. Arlen Specter is attempting to amend FISA yet again to liberalize its purpose enough to allow Bush's domestic spying program to actually operate within our nation's laws. Read Glenn's analysis for why the Administration may still reject it, and why either outcome is a good thing.

Political Humor: protect the children!

According to State Senator Robert Hagan (D-Ohio), "credible research'' shows that adopted children raised in GOP households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."
This isn't just a partisan jab. It's in reaction to a Republican Senator's attempt to ban gay adoption. And if a point like Hagan's can be made without a bunch of screaming, let's hope it's more likely to be thoughtfully considered.

Humor: Pink Five Strikes Back

Supertaco showed me this video tonight, and it made my day :)

Word of the Day

I hope to have a regular "word of the day" posting here, though not likely daily. I'm not going to just repost a word of the day from some dictionary website; instead I want to highlight an interesting word that I encounter in my regular surfing which expands or refreshes my vocabulary. This way it'll have relevant context and modern applicability that will serve me (and hopefully you) well later.

So here's today's word: meretricious

1 : of or relating to a prostitute : having the nature of prostitution
2 a : tawdrily and falsely attractive b : superficially significant
Ever since the war on terrorism began, this meretricious military ruler (Musharraf) has tried to be counted as a U.S. ally while avoiding an all-out campaign against the Islamic extremists in his country... (link)

Finally starting my own blog...

I grew up around technology. Both of my parents are engineers, and I always felt comfortable with computers and electronics. I've tried to stay abreast of the latest technology, always open to trying new things. However when web-logging took off I thought it was no more a vessel of relevance than one's personal diary, with roughly the same readership level.

Then I started reading blogs. Not just those announcing one's daily mood, music selection, and stool content, but blogs discussing news and politics with a degree of curiosity and intellectual honesty that I couldn't find in newspapers, message boards or even rotten.com/news. Combined with my recent transition to RSS for almost every site I used to visit, I can read more interesting news across many websites in much less time. I must say I'm quite hooked now.

So now I'm finally starting my own blog. I hope what I say is entertaining, insightful and unique, but regardless my friends will be much happier with this opt-in means of voicing my opinion, as compared to e-mail. So come back here for amusing stories, political discourse, and my attempt at a Hippie Word of the Week that's new to my vocabulary.